I have always believed that happiness is how one defines it for one’s self. What makes me happy might not be enough to make you happy – my leap of faith might be a suicidal choice for others. I can find happiness in simply watching my boys (the father and the son) playing in Angel’s play area.. it can be as simple as a good caramel sauce discovered while doing a random tasting in some gourmet shop.

We define that which makes us happy – and it is important that we know what it is, otherwise, we will never find it.

One of my dearest friends is a young woman who has so much potential and has accomplished a lot, but at 30 years old, flanked by friends who seem to have out-maneuvered her in terms of success as she defines it, thinks that her life has amounted to nothing. Once again, just as she was countless times before, she has proclaimed she is in a rut.

Don’t we all find ourselves stuck in a hole we can’t seem to pull ourselves out of? That try as we might, we cannot seem to shake the blues away and just get going. When even if we saw a train heading straight for us, our feet seem to have been cemented to the ground and find ourselves unable to budge. And yet it’s all in the mind. There are no chains shackling us, or no boulder tied to our feet. The chains are burdens that are of our making.

I, like my friend, have always been a free spirit. I do not tie myself down to five-year plans the implementation of which would make or break me. Even when I was younger, I tried to set very reasonable expectations of myself and of others – molded by my mom’s wisdom and my parents’ constant encouragement. I knew I had to go for a course that would not involve too much Math, but towards the end of high school, I knew in my heart I wanted to be a lawyer.

When I landed in the University of the Philippines for college, I chose my pre-law course based on the number of Math classes, and after pre-law, I managed to land in the Ateneo School of Law where I persevered under their Juris Doctor program. I passed the 1995 Bar Exams without a review, and I fulfilled my life’s ambition.

Along the way there were a lot of challenges and I made a lot of mistakes. There are some parts of my life that I wish I could relive and do over in a different way, but all that is part of the past now. Rather than feel embittered, I take those heartaches and mistakes as lessons in life I would do well not to repeat in the future.

Stubborn as I am, accepting my mistake has not always been easy, but I have tried to own up to wrong decisions when reality hit me. I did not wait for the proverbial ship to sink before I got on a life raft and made for shore. Being sentimental at heart, I always tend to wallow in my heartache, but I have learned that moving on makes the pain go away faster, because if I waited for it to dissipate on its own, I would just continue to drown in my sorrow.

I may not have always made the right choices, but I have tried to go with the flow so to speak.  It has taken me time to try and sit still through the turbulence and listen.  Often we choose to play deaf when what we are hearing is not what we would want to hear — much like we pray and ask for a sign, but if the sign we are given is not what we had hoped to get, we refuse to see that our prayer has indeed been answered.

Nobody said life was fair — I remember one of the men who broke my heart when I was younger had told me.  When we parted years later, he was the one telling me the same thing because I had broken his heart by moving on.  I could’ve chosen to keep him  happy and just wallow in my misery — but instead I searched long and hard for an answer to what would make me happy, and when I found it, I hung on to it for dear life as Alan had told me to.  When I found him, I never let go, and now I not only have him but I have Angel as well.

Sometimes we keep searching for something we already have — and the endless search only bogs us down.  We can all be happy now if we choose to, no matter what travails we may have or what debacles we are facing in our lives. 

It’s one’s own choice — and it’s always there for the taking.



Written on the way to work on the Q88

I wanted to pray but my head is still throbbing, although the 2 tablets of Ibuprofen (Motrin) seems to be dulling the pain some.  (Finally!)  It’s cloudy and muggy — the sky is threatening rain so I’m wearing my pretty-in-pink light coat.  (I was going to write “rain” coat but in Manila, this would conjure images of plastic coats which we don’t really wear in New York except when you go out in the pouring rain.)

My cold is getting better because despite the congestion, I’m able to expel it.  The lady in front of me, though, seems to be bothered hearing me blow my nose so I’m trying to “hold it”.  I should’ve know.  Americans are very squeamish about germs.  They won’t shake your hand if they or you have a cold.  They would politely excuse themselves from being part of a conversation because they might pass it on to you.  And try sneezing or coughing without covering your mouth (which, even in Manila, is considered impolite) and you will get some angry stares.

So unlike in Manila where a cold is but a common occurence, and even if you come to work with a temperature, everyone else goes about their business without a care.  (I was sniffing ever so quietly and the lady in front looks behind her peripherally and now I fell like wanting to strangle her because I can’t believe even my sniffing is getting her goat — considering I’m sniffing because I can’t blow my nose because she’s being snotty!)

Rules in public.. so different here and back home.  But of course — people have different ways of going about their day.  Have you ever thought about how different cultures can view something as elementary as blowing one’s nose?  I know, it’s probably the head cold — it’s got my mind all messed up.  Wednesday.. another day closer to the weekend, and maybe time to start a new novena.