As the Philippines enters into a complete and total pause — as it always does during the week of Easter — and most of the people living in Manila (and in all the cities all over the country, to be exact) are rushing out to the nearest beach or mountain to enjoy the extremely long vacation, all the work I’ve been juggling also takes a pause, fortunately. All of a sudden, I have a few days to breathe. I was expecting to work during the Easter holiday week. I already spoke and planned with one of my current projects and asked if we were working over the holidays and they said “yes” but I found out last night that we weren’t.
I could’ve made plans to get out of town; but then again, I’m glad I didn’t because Manila is actually lovely during this time of year. There’s nobody in the city and it’s quiet and peaceful. You could actually drive around and get to where you want to go within half an hour. It’s really bliss.
Of course, I’d love to be at a beach but then, the pool at the roof top of my condominium will have to do. I’m not greedy. That’s good enough for me.
But two days ago, a good friend of mine that I don’t see often asked if I had plans of leaving the city during the Easter holidays and I told her I wasn’t and she asked if we could meet and catch up and talk about a possible project and I said “sure.”
I came from her house just now and while we began to talk about a possible socially conscious project that would utilise art in improving public school education and while we were talking about the possibilities, I realised that there was more to this — something more personal — that was eating at her.
So we ended business immediately and began talking about her and her issues and in the process, I did my best to listen and not give advice unless she asked for it. I just wanted to hear her out and helped her articulate the things that were battling it out in her head and her heart. That’s something I am so glad I am very aware of about myself. When I find myself at the other end of someone’s internal struggle, I can remove myself from having to try and give advice and wait until s/he asks for it. Otherwise, I ask questions to help him/her articulate it better (with the hopes that s/he would be able to discover the solution when s/he says it aloud) and to just listen.
And this time, my friend really asked me for my advice and so I told her what I thought of the situation and what I saw as the problem and asked her if I had the right perception of it. We did this over and over again until we started to come to the root of the problem and I was able to give the advice I felt would help her and was within her capacity to do. I also gave her the alternatives, things that I couldn’t do and things I didn’t think she could do, just so she could see all her options.
It was a very deep and profound discussion that involved both of our personal lives because I had to go deep into my life to explain how I handled similar situations and what happened when I approached it in this way.
This whole process made us understand each other better as people — how we have changed over the course of the year that we didn’t see each other — and we allowed ourselves to come to terms with who we are.
It was funny, because, in giving her advice, I found myself hearing words that I needed to hear for myself.
I must’ve heard it a couple of times or seen it on Facebook a few times, the quote that goes something like “you can’t save someone without saving yourself in the process.” Something like that. I think I’m remembering it wrong.
But the gist is each time you try to help someone, you are also helping yourself in the process.
That never rang so true to me as it did just awhile ago. Helping her allowed me to question and confirm the choices I have made in the past few months and it helped me feel more confident about the decisions I’ve made and the direction I’m heading. In helping her, I found strength in what I’m doing for myself. And, sensing that and hearing me say that aloud, she found strength in me that she could adopt and take for her own to push forward with what she has to do for herself.
It’s quite confusing but I am completely bowled over by the whole experience.
I’m glad that I was able to catch up with my friend and that I still have time to break away from myself and just be there for someone else. That even in this mad dash to take care of my needs and to put myself first, that I can still be who I have always been and share the strength and wisdom that I’ve gained over the years with someone I really care about. I’m still glad that is who I am, even when I’m all about putting myself first.
I’ve gotten so far in this life from the kindness and generosity of others and I’m glad that it is within my nature now to give back to other people. That’s one thing I don’t ever want to change in me; this kindness and generosity of spirit. This gratitude that allows me to be there for others, no matter how tough things get for me.
I have so much to be thankful for, and in return, I will try my best to make the lives of the people around me as happy and as wonderful as my life has been so far. Once you are on that path, then it never stops. The giving and the sharing of the human spirit — that’s the only true form of perpetual motion that I am aware of.