"LIFE'S important. Walking, houses, family. Birth and pain and joy."-- Katherine Hepburn

During the book launch I learned a valuable lesson about my own life. Of course I have always known about it but to see it is an entirely different thing. I learned that what really matters in life are the simple things and the persons that you share your life with.

And I have always told Chona that if I am unlucky in some things, I am very lucky when it comes to friends because in truth I really have great and wonderful friends. As one friend said, the launch was like a reunion and that even if some of them did not know each other, it was a wonderful event because there was a commonality present.

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We all shared something -- the simplicity of gestures, the grace of presence and the comfort and gift of friendship -- intangible things, simple things make up the beauty of life.

I have always believed that the simpler your pleasures are, the more profound you are. If you can find pleasure in mere walking or in houses as Katherine Hepburn says, it says a lot about you, and your ability to find joy in some of the simplest things in life.

A quiet walk can do wonders for you if you know how to take the walk. There is so much wisdom and beauty hidden in quiet solitary walks. You merely have to listen to your inner voice.

Whenever I am anxious, whenever I need to make a major decision, whenever I am happy, I take long walks. It is my way of seeing through the haze and the ecstasy of the moment. I take walks not to get away but to go deeper. A little drizzle would make the walk perfect. Take walks. They help. And it is free and healthy.

A day before the launch Nandie who was one of the speakers I chose to talk about the book sent me a text message and invited me for coffee together with Dennis who I asked to be the emcee for the launch. It never occurred to me to ask them what they would say or do at the launch so I did not call them. That is how I trust them.

Anyway, Nandie called me and the three of us had coffee (strictly speaking I had lunch! And we invited Pol to join us but he was busy). Our conversation was filled with banter and teasing and occasional seriousness. It felt light and right.

The way conversations go with true friends. I find pleasure and happiness in simple talks over coffee and pastry (but in my case, a big sandwich!) Friends are great especially if they treat you to coffee and sandwiches!

Sometime ago I was browsing through the net and I came across this reviews of the ten best films of 2009. I saw this entry called Ponyo on the cliff. It was a Japanese animated film and because I think I was Japanese in one of my previous lives I was hoping that I could find the film. I was curious about it.

But knowing the quality of most DVD dealers in Davao, who just peddle the newest films, I was not so optimistic about finding it. But I did. The Ponyo DVD was hidden behind some blockbuster movies. I was happy that I found it, I guess that taught me to never lose hope. So when I got home, I told my wife about it.

I played the movie and it was fun. The animation was wonderful and the worlds in which the movie took place were really so creative. I had fun watching Ponyo. I gave the movie to my children and told them to watch it. I do not know if they will because their idea of fun greatly differs from that of mine. But Ponyo is fun. Get a copy if you can.

Sometimes we search for meaning and happiness in other places when in fact meaning and happiness are within us. We just have to take the first step, open our eyes and see the wonder of it all. A lot of us buy things we do not need hoping that they will bring us happiness and meaning.

They may bring us temporary pleasure much like new toys for children but after some time, they lose the novelty and again we search for another toy.

We travel thousands of miles to try to find ourselves but in truth wherever we go, that is there we find ourselves. The quietest temple we can ever find is the temple of our soul. Silent havens and mysterious places might help but the silence and the mystery have always been within us.

It is the simple things that matter.