Rejoice in your treasures. They are but temporary.
How can I miss you if you don’t go away?
– from a song in a concert of the APO
Taking things for Granted
I was at Bonifacio High Street with my pamangkins Tracy, Nathalie and Julian. Julian grew up in San Francisco, was here for a visit and we were taking him around to see some of the beauty and reality of the Philippines.
At Bonifacio High Street, we took some photos of the giant Gummi Bear. I pointed out the “shadow” of the bear on the ground made with a darker shade of cement on the ground. I explained to Julian that the sculpture depicted what a real shadow would look like on a clear day.
I continued to share to Julian a story about our guests from Intel China back in 2008. In Chengdu, China where our Intel counterparts were from, they had an overcast sky all year round. It was partly due to smog from the industrial plants in the area, and partly due to the natural climate of Chengdu.
When our Chinese counterparts flew in for a conference in Cavite on a February, we noticed how much they were enjoying the sunshine of the Philippines. They took pleasure in basking in the sun, and were delighted just seeing the clear blue sky with just a few clouds.
The clear blue sky – one of the wonderful treasures that many of us take for granted.
Julian and I also exchanged insights of travel. I shared that I want to live away from the Philippines for a few years. I want this for myself because I know that by living away from the Philippines, I will learn to appreciate the Philippines more, and I will learn more about what being a Filipino means to me.
I wonder, what have I taken for granted in my life?
What are the treasures I have now that I have not been appreciating or putting value on?
How can I become more aware of the treasures that lack my appreciation or acknowledgement?
After some reflection and recollection, I’ve found that ultimately, there is just one way to consciously become more aware of the treasures we take for granted. We become more aware of unacknowledged treasures by losing them.
Lose your Treasures!
This sometimes happens to us by circumstance.
For instance, forgetting to bring our cellphone or wallet with us when we leave home and spending the day without it. Or having no electricity to power some of the conveniences we have. This helps us appreciates the basics like reading a book, using a paypay (hand-fan), or just having a meaningful conversation instead of watching TV.
I personally lost my wallet while I was in Batanes on a tour. I realized then that I was okay losing a wallet. To me, my wallet was something that held my money and some plastic cards – ATMs, credit card, driver’s license. All of these things are replaceable, it just takes a matter of time and a little inconvenience to replace them.
What I did learn to cherish more were my photographs. I realized I would have been soooo sad if I had lost my photos. These photos capture snapshots of joy or bliss in my life. I want these photos to remind me of this joy, and to remind me to create joy in my life.
Losing something by accident or circumstance can help us become more aware of our unacknowledged treasures.
On the other hand, we can consciously lose our treasure, even if temporary, so that we gain an appreciation of what we have.
Here are some ways to lose our treasures to help us increase the joy of having our treasures.
1.) Pa-miss technique.
They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. I know this is true. I’ve experienced this in oh so many ways in my life. When a loved one is lost due to death or a break-up, these are times when we begin to value more deeply the value of this person in our lives.
We don’t want to wait for death or a break-up to discover how much we value our loved ones.
One way to discover our treasures is to get away from our “normal”. By being away from our normal, by being away from our “comfort zone”, we discover what it is we value.
Go on a personal retreat. Go on a solo journey. I’ve done these a couple of times in the past 15 years. And I have always always come out of it a better person, more aware of the people, goals, dreams or things that I value in life = my treasures.
2.) Fasting technique.
In January of this year, I went on a 7-day fast with a few friends from Victory Christian Church. I head heard about fasting from my brother, Eric in 2009. It was an easy decision for me this year to join the fast this year.
While fasting, I had the support of good friends Richard, Jill and Caloy who were fasting too. We had a guide to keep our fasting safe healthwise. The guide helped us make the experience more meaningful spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
During the fast, I experienced many moments of sheer longing. Longing for food. Longing for rest. Longing for sleep. It was funny how my senses were extremely heightened by the sight of food (or *pictures* of food), the scent of food, the mention of food, and even the *sound* of food (e.g. the sound of somebody munching on chicharon 5 – yes, 5! – cubicles away).
More than the physical hunger, I also began to acknowledge and appreciate my spiritual hunger. I wanted to express more deeply the spiritual side of my being. I felt a deeper connection to my God in my times of hunger.
Go on a fast. Be guided by family or friends or a community. Do it together with them. You will discover the many treasures within yourself, the many treasures around you, the many treasures that God has created for you.
3.) Lose your senses technique.
When was the last time you got an ankle sprain or a stiff neck? During these times, maybe you couldn’t walk fast enough to hail a cab or jeep. Maybe you couldn’t drive safely with a stiff neck not being able to look at your sideview mirrors. Maybe you couldn’t sleep well.
These are times when you begin to appreciate more your “normal” flexibility. I personally have some strained back muscles. And I’ve been missing shooting out of bed without the pain.
During our teenage years, my eldest brother, Elmer, took an afternoon off from having sight and made himself blind. He took an eye-shade (the one we use for sleeping to keep our eyes from seeing the light through our eyelids) and wore it for more than half a day. He wanted to know what it’s like to be blind. From this experience, he learned how to appreciate what he is able to do because he can see. He learned to appreciate the beauty of seeing, the beauty of things that we can see.
How can you disable yourself safely? Here are some ideas.
For one day, do not use your dominant hand. Imagine you have disabled your dominant hand and are forced to use your non-dominant hand. What are the things you’ll be less comfortable doing?
For one day, force yourself to stay seated for long periods. Stay stuck to your ergo chair.
When you can’t walk, what things can’t you do much? Will you make better use of your “trip” to the filing cabinet?
For one whole day, wear gloves. See what things you can’t do when you lose your sense of touch.
4.) No media technique.
I’ve personally stopped watching TV for almost 5 years now. I’ve had a TV before. But that has gone un-used. In the condo I live in now, I don’t have a TV. I don’t need one because I don’t watch TV. My father complains too that I should get a radio. When I *need* to listen to radio, I use my cellphone. I don’t turn on any radio as a *default*. I like hearing my thoughts.
If I want to listen to something, I choose classical music, piano music or other instrumentals. This allows me to continue reflecting as I do work or chores. I also like listening to audio books when I’m doing chores.
What media can you forego. Try taking a break from radio. From TV. From your cellphone. From the internet. From Facebook. You may discover that a face-to-face conversation is meaningful beyond a personal message. You may discover that the silence helps you reflect more, or appreciate the chirping of the birds more.
How to rejoice in our treasures
I have described how we can discover treasures that we take for granted.
Armed with this new awareness, how can we rejoice in our treasures so that we no longer take these treasures for granted?
- If we’ve taken our body for granted, rejoice in what our body allows us to do. Nurture our body with healthy food and meaningful exercise and rest.
- If we’ve taken our skills and talents for granted, rejoice by sharing them. Teach someone your skill. Share the blessing by using your skill as a gift to others.
- If we’ve taken our material assets for granted, rejoice by sharing them. There may be things at home that we no longer use. Give these things a chance to achieve their purpose. Give them away to someone who can make good use of it. The space that’s freed up allows us more growth.
- If we’ve taken our loved ones for granted, rejoice by expressing your honest appreciation for them.
- If we’ve taken our good God for granted, be more thankful for His blessings. Share the blessings to His loved ones, to your loved ones. As you give, so shall you receive.
When was the last time you embraced your loved one?
When was the last time you said you love them?
To end, I’d like to share a message I got through my sister. “I wish you enough”
Today is the 20th anniversary of the big 7.7 earthquake that rocked Baguio and other provinces in Luzon on July 16, 1990.
If today we lose a loved one to a catastrophe or an accident, would you say you’ve rejoiced enough in them while they were with you?
Do something today to rejoice in your treasures and rejoice in your loved ones. Hug your loved ones today!
I wish you enough.