On being human

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By Nina S. Custodio

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Saturday, May 24, 2014


I BOUGHT a book last December. I had ordered it from the bookstore and was quite pleased that it had arrived at a much earlier time than I expected. The cover was quite plain compared to most books (it had three-fourths of a sunflower, the title, a passage from the book and the author’s name). Again, this is one of those times when you know why you should never judge a book by its cover.

May is almost over and guess what? I have not been able to go beyond its first six pages! It is one of those books that I find of most import to be by my lonesome, devoid of all the distractions that our world willingly presents. It is one of those books that the only ground noise that I want to hear is my breathing and my heart beating.

Whenever I open a page and read this book, I want to hear myself think and see my thoughts being wafted in my mind, sailing with the words from the book that made so much sense to me that I find myself always stuck in my own reverie, perturbed and inspired at the same time.

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Actually, I am unsuccessful in going beyond the introduction. All two pages of it! I know I have managed to read four more pages but in reality, even as I read those extra four, my thoughts often drift back to the first two, and it happens everytime I open the book! It goes without saying that there are books that can affect avid readers like me, like this.

At the moment, I can say that this is only the third book that has made me behave this way. First book was Paulo Coelho’s Like A Flowing River. It is a compilation of short stories and essays that he made. If you could only see the first copy I read, I had annotations in almost all of the pages! (I had since bought two more copies because for some reason, the copies I lent, never find its way back to me!) I have read and reread this book countless times and it still affects me the same way each time! The second book was Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman which is also a compilation of 24 stories. I have yet to finish this book and I have lent it to friends because I keep repeating one story over and over!

I feel the need to share some passages from the book. So here:

“It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from the fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain...without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.”

“It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul..”

“I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence. I want to know if you can live with failure..and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done..”

“I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.”

These passages just sets me on a journey to my inner self and makes me reflect on the life that I have managed to live so far. It has got me to thinking about my progress as a human being trying to make sense of life and whether I am really making any progress towards coming into a better version of me each time I am challenged to make decisions or rise above experiences that has caused me to fall. I wonder if anyone else who reads this, will end up feeling and thinking the way I do.

In the face of challenges, it is inherent to fight it and try to make things better. Pain, in all its shapes and forms, is unpleasurable and unwanted. To actually go through the motions of feeling it takes a brave person. But, there is much to learn from living through it. I have always believed that what does not kill you, makes you stronger. We should be true to ourselves and try not to falter nor abandon what we believe to be true and right, based on other people’s views and opinions. We just need to be brave enough to sit through it. We a need to be brave to face possible failure and still find something good in every day.

When all else falls away, when we are left by ourselves, knowing that we are capable to pick ourselves up and start over makes a world of a difference. Knowing that we have family and friends who conditionally love us and will support us is always encouraging. To know that we can rely on our Faith and that there is Someone, above us and beyond our mortal understanding who me can look up to and cast our worries and lift up our personal hurts to, gives us that extra spark to keep the flame going until we finally see the light at the end of our dark tunnel.

Thats is life and living it to the best that we can is not only what makes us human, it also teaches us how to be humane.

Happy Sunday Everyone!

PS. Just in case you were wondering. The book is titled “The Invitation” written by Oriah.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 25, 2014.

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