Our worries and fears-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
WE ALL have worries and fears. Or specifically, we go through moments that evoke these feelings in us. Like during aftershocks.
When I frequented Poro and Tudela towns in the Camotes group of islands, the birth place of my parents, I had to overcome the worries and fears I attached to sea travel.
Those were times of wooden motorboats and small pump boats plying the rough seas between mainland Cebu and Camotes.
One time, on board a boat wiggling from its mooring from the old pier in Poro because of the big waves, I sat beside a man who was so calm he seemed to be dozing off the constant swaying of the vessel. I later asked him about the seeming lack of worries.
“Wa tay mahimo kun magsigi tag hunahuna sa bawod,” he said. “Kun malunod ta, aw, wa’y swerte.”
His words were the embodiment of fatalism, true, but it gave him the calmness that we didn’t have under that circumstance. It was the same admonition laid down in a poem by American poet Marilyn Hacker: “The art of living isn’t hard to muster: Enjoy the hour, what it might portend.”
My first few years in the hinterlands were the best moments of my younger years. But things changed when the anti-insurgency war intensified in those areas and violence erupted. As the killings mounted, I was soon gripped with worries about the future and fears for my life. I didn’t know when my time would come.
And so I learned to live by the day. I didn’t want to go far ahead because that was when the worries and the fears would worsen. I learned to objectify things by getting as much information as possible and to assess the situation I was in. I tried not to dwell on the subjective.
That was also what I did in my second arrest. I did lose my composure in the initial stages, when a scene in the movie “War and Peace” darted into my mind while my captors blindfolded me. That scene was about a dying man and an open door. “Kun mamatay ko, asa man ko padung?” I asked myself, seemingly certain of my fate.
But when reality returned, I went back to analyzing the situation I was in, to assessing what “they” were doing and to live by the minute, by the hour, by the day, by the month. If I had gone too far ahead, my worries and fears would have gotten the better of me, made me insane.
Make no mistake about it, I am still a worrier. There are many moments that fear grips me. But every time the worries and the fears come, I go back to using the method that sustained me through life’s challenges: to objectify the situation, to live by the moment and to not go far ahead in time.
That’s the lesson I would like to impart to us who are dealing with the aftershocks.
Assess the situation, sift through the information and try to be objective. Listen to the experts. More than that do not go too far ahead by imagining things.
It’s the same lesson summed up by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in his “Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity/ to accept the things I cannot change;/ courage to change the things I can;/ and wisdom to know the difference.
“Living one day at a time;/ Enjoying one moment at a time;/ Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;/ Taking, as He did, this sinful world/ as it is, not as I would have it;/ Trusting that He will make all things right/ if I surrender to His Will;/ That I may be reasonably happy in this life/ and supremely happy with Him/ Forever in the next/ Amen.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2013.