Year: 2020

A Place of Yearning

Wherever we are, we are always, it seems, in the same place–a place of yearning. Yearning to rest, yearning to work; yearning to be someone better, yearning to do something great. Yearning to be relevant and yearning to be invisible, unburdened. Yearning to finally start, yearning to finish. Yearning to be free and yearning to love. Even in our moments of supreme happiness and contentment, there are flashes of how it could be better if… Exhibit A: I was lying down on my yoga mat on the terrace, sunbathing as I do every morning now (vitamin D vs COVID-19, people), when I heard the determined singing of a bird. I scanned my mother’s plants, then the spots where my two-year-old niece Nami leaves biscuits for her bird friends; I finally found it perched on our metal sliding door–the little sparrow belting out like it was in a karaoke bar. I don’t know if it sensed a human watching but it stopped singing, glanced at me, and flew off. And I laughed at such snotty behavior. …

Lessons from a Lockdown

I’ve been working from home for seven years now, so when the Philippine government announced a month-long community quarantine beginning March 15, my first thought was, “Pfft, I do lockdowns like a pro,” followed by “I’m an introvert; I invented social distancing,” and finally, “We’re going to need a huge supply of food, toiletries and donuts.” Three weeks later, we all know what happened here: 3,018 COVID-19 cases, 136 deaths, and thousands more under investigation or monitoring, many of them dying without even being tested because hey, VIPs first, then their families, and then their staff, right? It has become clear that this new coronavirus is serious (even if many elected officials are not). Health care systems are collapsing even in the most advanced countries; people are losing jobs and losing hope; families don’t get to see or hold loved-ones on their death beds, receiving them only as ashes later on; and tensions are high everywhere, especially on social media. People are beginning to wonder: will this be the new normal? To keep me sane …

The gift of sameness

The thing with new years is that people tend to look for the big things when they look back — better jobs, financial breakthroughs, new romance, bucket-list travels, dreams fulfilled. Any milestone that could mark the year as “good” or at least different from years past. I’ve been around four decades now (which suddenly makes me sound old). I won’t pretend to be wiser than I was 10 years ago, but I do know this: the non-events of our lives are as important as the “highlights.” The series of actions that make up our every day is no less special than the special occasions that we like to dress up for. In fact, the older I get, the more I find comfort in sameness: waking up in the same bed that knows my sleepless nights; spending Christmas in the same house that has been our home for nine years; seeing the same weathered faces with the same old jokes in family reunions; wearing the same shirt and nightgown that were among the last gifts from …