About 2 weeks ago, I turned 28. And from the weeks prior until the aftermath, the only word to describe anything and everything that’s been going on is: thanks. Things this year went on a bit differently from last year and the year before that, but just as happy. I dunno where my head has been these last few weeks; if it’s been high up there lost in the clouds, or buried so deep into a growing mountain of articles, scripts, and website content, but I surely did not expect this tidal wave of good stuff and good vibes. Good news, opportunities, moments, people—small things yet overwhelming. And so, because I must bust it all out of my system and because I am cheesy and corny like that, here are some few things I’ve been grateful for in the past year.
- Work. A person once said, if you’re happy doing what you’re doing, then you’ll never have to work a single day of your life. This would be the case, if one had such a negative and burdensome reference for work. Or that, happiness is equated to sheer leisure or absence of challenge. I understand that, for as long as we live within a society and its economic system for the rewards of security that entail responsibility, compromises prevail. Such is why, every single day, each morning I enter the office, or drag my sleepy self and 45L backpack on yet another flight, I catch myself shaking my head in disbelief and gratitude. Okay, sometimes, frustration and exhaustion; but the kind that mirrors the pains of a gruelling climb for which the best balm is the answer to “Why am I doing this again?” and seeing it all around and most especially at the summit. Am I still making sense? My point is, I am truly happy doing what I do for a living, and I love it for what it is. I love it that it is not easy, nor that it offers its rewards so readily or nonchalantly. I love that it maintains a sense of integrity and dignity, and this respect is reflected amongst the staff. I love how there’s one or a gazillion new things to learn, and how the primary indication of stress is the corny-joke-meter (the cornier the jokes, the higher the stress level—go figger). I love how wisdom is earned and imparted, that I am ever so fortunate to have mentors and superiors that guide and encourage to learn from stumbling or a new skill you might fancy. So, with all this gushing, do you understand why people have joked that, ‘I am in a committed relationship with my job and am in it for the long haul’? If you’re getting images of Liz Lemon, I’d happily agree except I’m not eating my feelings (not now, at least) and my bosses are rather more stable than Alec Baldwin’s character.
- Four/five o’clock mornings, the stillness of dawn, and watching/listening/smelling/feeling the next 20 hours just about to begin.
- The opportunity to learn Vipassana meditation and how to be present.
- The look that my lump of fat and fur (otherwise known as Yogi, my dog) gives me during our daily walking routine.
- Good, good coffee in the office and at home.
- Taho, pan de sal, bibingka, native chocolate tablea, and all the banana leaf-wrapped sticky rice goodness (kakanin).
- Starting and ending the birthday with people important to me—family and friends, all in the same room and under the same roof, all generally happy and sincere, their collective presence just overwhelming—I couldn’t ask for more.
- Dancehall. Times like these call for furious dancing. I normally run or meditate or call my therapist (San Miguel) but in the more recent past, there’s nothing better than shaking and gyrating all that stuff out of your system. I mean, who cares about everyone else. It’s all Murder She Wrote or good ol’ Elephant Man that matters is what. Do you know what I mean? Okay, here, remember this video.
- The opportunity to visit two countries I’ve dreamed of since I was young, and even more so the opportunity to immerse in the culture and their daily rituals, visit their homes, eat their food, learn their language. The mishaps and exhaustion were minuscule compared to the kindness and goodness I encountered throughout my journeys in India and Nepal—both deeply embedded in my heart.
- There will always be that one person around with you during those dark moments. Then perhaps not always—but suffice to say, I was never alone or on a park bench. Perhaps it’s a water-sign* sisterhood thing or just their kind nature, but I am eternally grateful and in debt. (*You know who you are)
- The time with my mom and family. I had been away for quite a while and it was the anxiety of wondering about their safety and wellbeing more than homesickness that kept me up on many nights. Nothing can compare to the frustration and helplessness of learning about a parent being rushed to the E.R. while you are miles away and unable to do anything. I know I have been failing greatly to show patience or gratitude, but I am also aware that this seemingly overextended period of transition back home means quality time with the people that matter most to me. I guess the challenge is to let them know this too.
- Skype and FaceTime. Some of my deepest connections and worthwhile conversations have transcended geographical distance and time zones, thanks to the powers of ICT and the series of tubes. From swapping New Year’s Eve greeting videos between Bangalore and Ho Chi Minh, to transoceanic insomnia-ridden brokenhearted SOS meltdowns crossing SF to SG, to good ol’ coffee/lunch break chats; these are just some reasons why I am ever so glad I am living in this day and age way beyond the telegram and the pigeons and the bottles.
- This time alone with myself. If you’ve spent the last decade with a partner or in a relationship, the time and space just to finally get to know and be able to trust your self feels as amazing as…a job promotion WITH your very own office.
There are lots (tons!) more to go but I don’t think either one of us can handle the sap and cheese of a longer list. Also, I am getting sleepy. So, THANK YOU, universe (!!!) for 28 years of existence, and thank YOU for being with me on this crazy ride. Let’s hope for another one this year, perhaps together or perhaps not, maybe with less detours and loops and sharp turns—or maybe not.