December 26, 2006
It’s so easy to get caught up in the cacophony of our everyday activities that we forget to tune in to the “inner rhythm” of our lives.
When that happens, we not only lose touch with ourselves and end up feeling disoriented or somewhat disjointed; we also lose touch with our life’s Higher Purpose—and the means with which to reach it.
For instance, have you ever experienced dodging an “extra-curricular” activity because of not having enough time or energy to do it—only to realize later on that you needed to do it precisely to recharge and re-energize yourself?
Or, was there ever a time when you started to notice patterns in the way that things were happening in your life—only to shrug them off as mere, meaningless coincidences?
OR… Was there ever a time when you gave in to a particular food craving and realized that your body was looking for it because you needed it to cope with a certain situation that you were going through?
Everyone has had such an experience at one time or another; however, not everyone actively tunes in to these experiences to figure out what they mean.
If there’s one important thing that I’ve learned about human beings in this whole process of living, it’s that our minds and our bodies sometimes function so separately that our minds think and say one thing, while our bodies do another. Because of certain roles and responsibilities that we have to fulfill every day, our bodies go into “auto-pilot,” accomplishing routine tasks almost mechanically and without a second thought. Our minds, on the other hand, float above us in a higher plane, searching for Meaning and Truth without actually being able to integrate these into our lives.
Then, when Mind and Body finally do merge, we feel a jolt, a strong electrical signal that wakes us up and enlightens us about certain aspects of our current reality. That’s when we feel that we’ve “seen the light.” In truth, the light has always been there within us; we’ve just forgotten how to activate
One weeknight, after a particularly draining day at work, I decided to stop by Powerbooks at Greenbelt before heading home. Greenbelt is out of the way from my everyday route (I work in Ortigas and live by the Manila/Pasay boundary), but it has become a comfort zone, a “home base” for me. By that time, too, it had already been months since I dropped by Powerbooks, another comfort zone. I figured that a visit was long overdue.
The light has always been there within us; we’ve just forgotten how to activate the switch.I’ll never forget what transpired the moment I walked into Powerbooks’ doors: it was as if a huge and heavy burden—a blanket, more specifically—had been lifted off my eyes, head, and shoulders, and as if something had freed up in my nasal area, allowing me to take deep breaths again. My vision seemed clearer, my head lighter, and my heart fuller. I wanted to cry.
Of course, being in a public place in the thick of the Christmas rush, I decided to rein my tears in. Instead, I slowly made my way around the store, wide-eyed and in awe, as if I were exploring the territory for the first time. It was a strange but exhilarating feeling—like being a kid in a candy mansion. But I had been to Powerbooks countless times already—why, then, was I feeling the way I did then?
I casually mentioned this to one of my mentors at a pre-Christmas dinner. He then proceeded to ask me what Powerbooks meant to me, and why I thought I felt that way. I told him that, to me, Powerbooks is the place where I go to “escape” from the world and “just be still.” There, I am not obliged to chat with anyone or do anything; I could just get a book and browse its pages or, better yet, sit down with a cup of hot tea and do absolutely nothing.
(It also helped that none of my boyfriends, past or present, were book buffs. For one ex-boyfriend, in particular, Powerbooks was like a town library—who’d wanna go there, right?—so I would announce a trip there just to get him off my back for a few hours, maybe even the whole day. Mean, but true.)
“From the way you’re answering, Nines,” my mentor replied, “it seems to me that you want to be alone for a while.”
I was struck by his one-liner because it was so simple—and yet so true. For me, 2006 had been all about taking care of other people—from playing domestic diva to Paul at home, to being an emotional pillar for the rest of my family and my close friends, to being “mother hen” at the office. I never really had the time nor the space to just do the things I wanted to do—and it was starting to eat me up and manifest itself in my physical realities.
I was able to breathe more deeply when I entered Powerbooks that night because my life was suffocating me! (And it took a trip to the bookshop for me to realize that!)
And I had to remember that it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. Paul, my family, my staff—they all expect certain things of me because of the dynamics of our respective relationships. I also expect certain things of myself—but I have not been able to fulfill these expectations.
Having omelette and tea for breakfast, being able to lie down on a couch to read, having enough space to exercise and meditate at home, being able to jog outdoors… Although routine and seemingly mundane, these were integral aspects of my life rhythm that I had learned to drown out because of so many things. Not being able to do them made me feel disjointed and out of synch with myself and with the world.
Our daily routines help bring order into our day and make sense of what’s going on around us. If we fail to give in to those little comforts that ground us, it’s like failing to take a bath and brush our teeth—we’ll feel uncomfortable, out of focus, and unable to do the things that really matter.
So, yesterday being Christmas, I did exactly what I wanted to do: ate ensaymada and hot chocolate for breakfast, laid in bed for most of the day, and attempted to read the latest issue of Time (the one where “we” are on the cover) from cover to cover. Again, these were seemingly mundane activities—but, to me, they spelled the difference between a day filled with holiday obligations and a day where I could just be myself. And, when it comes to tuning in to one’s inner rhythm, that’s what really counts.