A Repost: An Authentic Christmas
In trying to keep up with the rhythm I am trying to start picking up with this blog I start looking through old pages and found a post I wrote back in 2009. It's one of those posts that I just delved myself into. Long and emotional. Obviously I had used writing as a lifeline to cope with my grandmother's passing. I hope life's meaning keeps unraveling for us everyday.
written January 3, 2009.
It's been a while since I wrote and really sat down with myself to think about everything that has happened for me this Christmas season.
For quite some time, I have been blogging with the sole effort of picking up my writing habit. So that little by little I can start feeling productive as I pursue my writer's dream. For quite some time I have been taking tabs on myself like how meaningful my posts have been or how many pictures I have uploaded in Flickr that caught how many number of views or comments. For quite some time I have been metering myself on my own progress without the knowledge of many so that I know if I am moving or not. So that I can tell myself I am doing good or not. So that I will not be affected when anybody tells me that I am doing good or not.
Experiencing the death of a loved one changes all the perspectives you can have about success or about living a meaningful life or about what fulfillment is for you. I'm not sure if I have gotten mine articulated clearly but I know my perspectives have changed.
I have experienced 4 loved ones pass away but I have never contemplated on the reality of death this long and this deep as when my grandmother passed away. I've written snippets of my thoughts everywhere and have chatted about it with those I constantly confide in. Somehow I can never repeat it enough. My full appreciation for her life came only at a point when she is gone. Mostly because I never understood the way she lived. I never understood the stories I have heard about how she raised her children. I never understood how I witnessed her strict and unpleasant air as she was taking care of my grandfather in his last days. I never understood why I was always afraid of making her cross. I never understood why despite all these, I still follow her and respect her ways.
Perhaps it is this irony that makes me ponder so much upon the effect her death has on me. And why I am suddenly awakened to want to discover how her interior life has been instead of the exterior one. There must be something inside her that I have not fully understood. A feeling. A hidden experience. A trauma. A hurt. That manifested itself as uptightness. As strict-ness. As an idiosyncrasy that never really sits quite well or leaves me at ease. As I reflect upon these things, I also reflect upon my relationship with my own mother and I find several parallelisms in the patterns of our lives woven together. As I reflect upon my own relationship with my mother I also reflect upon the relationships of those I have nurtured. Though I may never be quite the mother many continue to hope for me to be, God has somehow graced me with some experiences that can resonate with what its like to be in a mother's position.
The patterns cycle flawlessly. My lack of understanding for my grandmother's tough shell is the same as my lack of understanding for my mother's tough shell. It is also the same for those who I have nurtured as they try to continue to understand me. However there are breaks I have noticed and these breaks signify a certain illumination on my mother's part and on my part as we probably catch ourselves affecting others too strongly with our "fierce" exterior leading to the weak understanding of others on our intentions from the inside.
As I continue to sort out my grandmother's things, I realized the many similarities I have with her and that my mother has with her. The love for keeping mementos. The love for books and reading. The love for quaint beauty. I also realize the similarities in things we dislike. Of which I would rather not enumerate anymore because it is so much easier to dislike things than to love things and this recount is an attempt to increase my own capability to love.
I realize that there is so much meaning in the word HEREDITY. It can encircle you in a certain perimeter and keep you there forever or you can make the circle wider encompassing and embracing more of life in a variety of ways but in the same nature. For example, my love for the art of diary keeping is something I share with most people. My reflections are something I rarely keep private because I find liberation in sharing them with others. But writing is not only a trait I acquired. It is a trait I inherited from my mother who is quite a profilic writer herself and was a thespian in her day who inherited it from my grandmother who I recently found out does her own writing in the form of calendared thoughts on pages of an old notebook. However, the break in the cycle shows that they are both more private with their reflections compared to mine and perhaps that's when my circle become a little bit more wider because as I take the risk to share my inmost thoughts to others I acquire certain experiences that teach me something else that they may not have experienced while keeping their thoughts private.
It is not to discount the value of whatever our experiences have given us but reflecting this way now helps me realize that even with our similarities there can be a point of difference. What to do with this difference now becomes an act borne out of love. Love can bring about further understanding with one another. Patience when understanding becomes a struggle and Faith that understanding will be a new dawn that is promised to one who remains steadfast.
I suppose it is true when they say that in understanding death, you begin to learn how to live. I never quite finished Tuesdays with Morrie but I'm sure I got myself to that part of the book.
My journey to authenticity centers around living my life as meaningfully as possible. Bearing fruit through the love I receive from my family, relatives and close friends. But there is a difference in how I want to remain authentic. I want it effortless. I want it natural. Not because I want to slack off or not work at anything at all but on the contrary. I suppose I want my authenticity to pervade externally as naturally as it can be and that can't be possible without acquiring a certain interior steadfastness of character.
I suppose this is another break in the circle. For generations of my family, developing character is acquired through discipline. Discipline is quite a strong word that never fails to manifest itself through uptightness. This uptightness weakens the expression of tenderness (not to say that it is not present because how can one love without being tender?). But the pursuit of good and noble character becomes a rigourous pursuit for discipline. I would say if one is kept in a straightjacket for too long, one would really ache to break free from a routine that can inhibit the other expressions that one naturally expresses because of their own individual nature.
So the big question is, what can I do to continue pursuing good without becoming too uptight that my pursuit is misunderstood?
As I have reflected in the previous paragraphs, I have inherited favorable traits and unfavorable ones. The general weakness of man tends to magnify the unfavorable ones. Perhaps this is what Catholics call "the effects of original sin". To remain there would be a painful way to live. So how do I live beyond it? How do I magnify the favorable traits instead? I realize now that everything favorable is not a result of my own effort. I have come to a point where I have felt and pondered upon my weaknesses to the core that trying to overcome them on my own is quite an ardous task. If one is already burdened with having to overcome a weakness, how can one effortlessly exhibit a strength?
Of course one can always say that practice makes perfect. Virtuouso pianists practice the whole day. Athletes train the whole day. But what is it that makes them internally willing to go through the rigor and the toil? What makes them even love it? What makes it effortless for them to subject themselves to such an molding of mind, body and spirit?
I suppose a musician knows that without thoroughly completing the scales, his fingers will lose their dexterity. I suppose an athlete knows that without properly stretching his limbs, he will lose his flexibility. Dexterity. Flexibility. Both associate with the ability to bend and stretch beyond what is normally capable. It is an admittance on their part that they become weak in their craft/art/sport if they do not remain a certain degree flexibility in mind, body and spirit.
Taking it to its intrinsic value, what causes interior flexibility?
I may sound like I'm trying to prove a point but I'm not. It's just that I find no other answer in my mind as far as my experience in this lifetime can say aside from the word Grace. And how timely that I just refer back to 2 Corinthians 12:9 where it says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness."
Someone who knows that his body will not bend that far without a certain surrendering to a routine knows that he is intrisically weak without that routine. For the spiritual person, this routine is prayer. I suppose that's why for musicians practicing their instrument becomes a sacred moment as well as morning walks or jogs are for athletes. The rhythm of repetition in the beginning causes a tension but with consistency produces fluidity and a calming effect that lulls the senses and makes what is being done an effortless motion expressed.
It may seem that I have gone off tangent already but the whole point of extracting this out of my system is to face what I have been absorbing the past Christmas season.
It definitely has made me understand a lot of things. Now making me comfortable in sitting with some of them. And that's all I need to be for now.
Remembering that I belong to a family of women who may live fierce but love just as fiercely. Grateful that I am given the wisdom to understand some things I found difficult to understand. Relying on the grace of God to propel me to move forward and continue to journey the authentic and blessed life I have always longed to live.
I realize now that even if this Christmas may not have been as Merry or as Happy and even if it didn't seem to bring "glad tidings", it has been the most authentic Christmas I have ever experienced because it is during this Christmas I realized a lot about the truth behind significant people in my life and in realizing that I come to know that I have always been loved.