“Stop the Universe. I Want to Get Off.” (Random Thoughts When It’s January and Everything Looks Off)

This morning I woke up with a message from my immediate boss sharing the message from our global Environment, Health and Safety advisory that staff who spent a vacation in China during the Lunar New Year are advised to work from home and be cleared form any symptoms of flu before returning physically to the office. The other day, I went to a drugstore and found no stock of facial surgical masks.
Yesterday earlier morning, I woke up with a message from a friend a that Kobe Bryant and his daughter are confirmed dead from a helicopter crash. Was that for real?
The other week, the prince I have been following since the day his parents got wed and during the ancient days when internet has not yet been discovered, left his royal title and announced to the whole wide platform of Instagram that he and his wife are pursuing to be “financial independent”. Prince renouncing title?
The other week, I woke out from a nap with a message from my sister back home relaying that the volcano where we go to frequently, every time I am in my parents’ house, spew heavy smokes and that 72 flights were cancelled on that day.
It’s still January and life has already thrown biggest situations the universe can ever experience. I don’t know what to say, or, I will just borrow the words of an author of an acclaimed short story,

“Stop the universe. I want to get off.”

Life is running so fast and I am not getting well with its ride. In the midst of fear, I realized twenty things from all four big events happened in the recent days:

1. Heroes are born during the odd times. We love heroes and so we must welcome challenging times.
2. Life is short. Spend it excellently.

3. Life is fragile. Let it be under one higher and mightier power.
4. There is a holy and sacred reason why wild animals are not part of the mainstream life. So, let them be far and welcome the diversity.
5. Not all adorable, tall and athletic men like to be prince. One wishes to be a commoner.
6. Legends are never made overnight. It takes 20 years or so and a whole dose of hardwork and perseverance.
7. Travel insurance is worth buying regardless how long the travel is. Period.
8. Mask is a must. Keep always a box.
9. Blessed are the fathers who can hold their child’s hand up to the last breathing moments of their child’s life.
10. Blessed are those who left earth while wearing shoes of a supportive and guiding parent.
11. Blessed are those who experienced ashfall and continue to rise from the ashes.
12. Blessed are the people who looked and cared after victims while they are also at high risk.
13. Blessed are the people who spent their wisdom and skills to protect the people.
14. Blessed are the courageous for courage is infectious.
15. Legends are those who never committed failures, but those who accepts their mistakes and change their ways.
16.  One of the biggest legacies that can be passed-on on to child is neither money not power. Neither, fame nor influence, but the ability to smile during trying times.
17. Blessed are the passionate for they shall bring glory to God.
18. I have been writing this write up since January 28th . It’s already first of February and I still am stuck at number 17. I guess sometimes life is like that you thought for 20 but you only have until 17 and that it is completely OK.
19. Virus does not discriminate and so should the possible carriers.
20. Look – out  for each other. After all, we need one another to survive.

Who Are You (What Is Your Purpose)

It was the usual afternoon mood at the school, crowded at the canteen, warm but every corner was filled with students laughing as if there would be no more tomorrow, that kind of having the last laugh on earth.

Then, it was my turn. I picked a paper and unrolled it. It says “Who Am I”. After reading, in splitting seconds countless thoughts came running into my mind. My heart begun to pound but my hands remained calm and so was my mind, I went to the middle of the crowd and these were few of those words that came out and will be forever in my memory.

I was walking towards the venue. My steps relaxed but defined, then I entered a room and I saw few familiar faces, both students and faculty members. Few minutes after everyone got settled, a familiar person spoke and an instruction was given. Looking back more than relaxed and little lesser nervous, I was exactly excited to be called.

“I am Benia. I am a middle child. I watch basketball at playground near to my home with my baby sister in my arms. I believe she is cheering for my favorite team, although she’s only less than 2 years old. My mother assigned me to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen after every lunch and I love doing it because the dishes love me because they are too many every lunchtime.” The crowd smiled and allowed me to hear the sound of it. I continued.” I am also tasked to pick up the daily newspaper at the plaza and this is the only time I could be free. Days ago, the President declared a wipe-out drive against the Abu Sayyaff there in Mindanao. It might be peaceful here in our school and we can all laugh but somewhere down at our island, within our country, there are people might be as young as us, running for the safety for their lives. They might be having dreams same as mine. If there is one thing I have come to desire in picking up our daily newspaper, my noble task for my family is that rebellion in the country comes to rest. So, they don’t have to flee but can enjoy simple moments like watching basketball with a sibling and washing the dishes for the family. “

I looked around and the crowd looked back intently at me.

In today’s gospel, John the Baptist answered the question of “Who are you? ” not with descriptive words but what is he for. He illustrated his task for the Saviour. “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.” He is to prepare the way of the One who is to come whose sandals John says he is unworthy to untie.

Just like the John the Baptist and I when asked during my younger years,”Who are you?”, let that question triggers our purpose.

Who are you is what is your purpose.
This new year may you have an answer and live it.

Dear Lord, thank you for this brand new year.
Thank you for the gift of our past. May our learnings be the best gift of it.
Arouse our purpose and grant us the love, grace and faith to live it, for Your greater glory and honor.

Thank you for reading.

There Is Light At The End of The Tunnel

Here’s to last working Friday of the year 2019.

The 46km-travel from Tampines to Tuas from Monday to Friday allowed me to sleep, to message loved ones, to read and to pray or sometimes just to enjoy how beautiful the tress along the way, how beautiful Singapore is.

In that 46 km travel, my most favorite part is when the bus has to go through the tunnel of AYE. Although there are lights, that tunnel is generally dark and vehicles travel quite fast as if saying no one wants to be travelling through the tunnel, rushing to be at the main road again. But right after the travel through the tunnel, I will be ushered to the sight, at my left side the sea and ships manifesting the large busines of importation in Singapore and at my right side is the view of Marina Bay Sands and Singapore flyer. It is this part that I am reminded that like in life, sometimes there is no other options but to travel through a dark tunnel, but if we travel even with a dim light and without stopping, we shall reach the end of the tunnel where light is awaiting gloriously for us.

Keep a steady pace. Keep walking. Destination is waiting for your arrival.

Grateful for Closures

Last year of this month, I witnessed the coffee shop near to my workplace closed down after 40 years in operation. As their way of expressing gratitude, the owner offered discounted food items on the last day and people pasted farewell sticky notes. Here in Singapore, the local coffee business is quite huge and each has it’s own loyal customers.

It was sad, but, heartwarming, too.

It never dawned on me that closures can be good and that closures are also necessary, it is most specially for relationships, not until my favorite office coffee shop closed their business.

On the month of November, I looked back how the Lord granted my prayers to find a closure to someone I truly love. Someone I will endlesy love.

I was working on a night shift when I thought I have done what I had to do and thought it was OK to take a nap. So, I placed my pink chair pillow on the table and placed my head on it. I was all ready for a power nap. I checked the time, clock said it was 2:50 am. After a while I heard somone approaching. I hid my pillow and stretched my bent body then seated straight. I was supposed to be alone that night shift but my boss had the habit of staying until 4am of the following day whenever we had audits. My boss office room was at ground floor while mine was at second floor. Prepared to see my boss, I was all ready to smile. But, a man in white shirt came. He was not my boss but he was someone so familiar. He looked like me and there was so much resemblance to my father.

He was smiling and I smiled back. I finally said, “I knew it, Kuya (elder brother). Your son is right when he said you didn’t die.” He continued to smile outside the door of the office and I was just sitting on my chair. He was about 2 arms away from me. Suddenly, I saw the mirror for our office halls and realized that he does not have a reflection. There, I realised that time was coming to an end. I gently said, “I love you Kuya. Sorry for not being there when it all happened. Please take care.” I rose to my chair and wanted to hug him when I heard an alarm. I stopped from taking steps and heard an engine of a motorbike started while my phone alarm continued to ring. I started to panick and remembered clearly well that my Kuya was saying goodbye too. There were no words but my mind can interpret. The sound of the engine was getting louder and so was my phone alarm.

My eyes saw it was 4:00 am. I saw that my chair pillow was still on top of my table and my head resting on it while still sitting on the chair. I was dreaming.

I started to cry.

Finally, I got a closure, two years after he left. Ironically, there was so much joy in my heart. The void has been filled. That joy brought me to call my mama, we are all ready for new beginnings.

When closures transpire, a new beginning is set to take place.