I read Conrado de Quiros’ column (Inquirer) the other day titled ‘Possibilities’, where one Sunday afternoon, he saw P-Noy in the embrace of his people and there he saw possibilities.
The article left me wondering not about President Noynoy Aquino and how in his own way he would make a mark in our country’s history, over and beyond what his parents have accomplished but the article made me think of the word ‘Possibilities’.
We are sometimes married to our goals and aspirations, clinging closely to what we have and not wanting to let go of the things that make us feel secure or complete, in a way we perceive them to be. But we also sometimes lack the courage to go beyond and think of other possibilities.
One of my favourite films is ‘The Last Holiday’ and in that movie, Queen Latifah has a scrapbook which she called ‘The Book of Possibilities’. She compiled all her wishes and desires in that book and when she learned that her days are numbered, she looked at her scrapbook and started to chase and make each of those possibilities a reality.
We are always asked what our dreams and aspirations in life are but we are seldom invited to think and explore the different and other possibilities that are presented before us which little do we know, will ultimately bring us authentic happiness.
One Saturday afternoon, I look at myself and everything around me and there I try to look for some possibilities.
It was a couple of Sundays ago when I took a photo of these cute little trainers. Little did I know that during that time, the riot in London which was initially reported that weekend has continued and has spread to different parts of England.
I remained silent and did not make any comments apart from reassuring friends and relatives that I am safe. I couldn’t believe what I was watching on TV. My feelings evolved from disbelief to not understanding why it happened. I have heard stories about gangs. I have seen incidents of riots. I have heard cases of looting. I have seen news about arson. But I have not seen it happen all at the same time, at least, not in my lifetime. Not miles away from where I work and live. Not until that week.
I think the most striking images to me are those of very young people looting a pair of trainers from a sports shop. Each of those children who joined the riots had their own stories – stories that cannot be amalgamated into one reason why the riot happened. I have heard numerous personalities and politicians making their own assessment and expressing their opinions on why it happened. Economic condition, unemployment and cuts in public services, gang culture, recreational violence and many others. I have heard commentators linking it to absence of a father or a model authority in the family. The Prime Minister recently called it a moral collapse, promising that his government will review all policies that may have an influence on this.
I saw one article titled, ‘Broken Britain’ – and I think the keyword to everything that happened is ‘brokenness’. Society is broken. Each one of us has our own brokenness. But what is sad is that when people fail to live above and beyond this brokenness.
I look at this pair of little trainers and remember the child in me. The days when everything was provided for. Days when all I needed to do was to cry or throw a tantrum and I’ll get what I wanted. Unfortunately, we cannot forever remain as a child. One day, we will have to buy our own trainers or get a pair for someone.
When I think of those kids looting trainers, I ask myself ‘Did their parents fail to provide them the things these kiddos need?’, or ‘Did the government fail to provide proper employment for parents so they can provide for their family?’, or ‘Did society fail to provide a nurturing environment for the members of its community?’. We leave these questions for sociologists to explore and analyse. For us who watch from a distance, is it enough that we can buy our own trainers or are we being invited to do more?
One of my favourite scenes in the movie, “How Do You Know?” is when Paul Rudd explained to Reese Witherspoon the story behind Play Doh. The malleable substance was originally developed as a wallpaper cleaner. An unused cleaner was left in a nursery school and children started playing with it and used it to mould Christmas ornaments. It was then altered (made it softer and produced in different colours) and became one of the most successful modeling compound for arts and crafts.
Paul said that just like Play-Doh, “We are just one small adjustment away from making our life work.”
True. Very true.
When we sometimes feel that we are not ‘fit to purpose’, we probably just need that one ‘A-ha’ moment in discovering what is that small alteration we need to make in our lives so we find our real purpose and at the same time achieve genuine joy and satisfaction.
“I’ve been looking out of a window for 18 years, dreaming what I might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”
“It will be.”
“And what if it is? What do I do then?”
“Well, that’s the good part I guess. You get to go find a new dream.”
Like Rapunzel, we sometimes find ourselves close enough to our dreams and when it is almost within reach, we ask, we doubt, we fear.
It was a couple of months ago when I joined two friends visiting a butterfly exhibit. While I find inspiration from the life cycle of butterflies, I’ve never had the chance to have a close and focused encounter with these sensational creatures. My two friends came prepared – they have their proper cameras with them while I have to rely on my semi-battery drained compact camera.
My heart leapt when I saw a striped butterfly. I remember one of my favourite books – “Hope for the flowers” – a book about life, about friendship, about hope. One of the main characters in the book is Stripe. I suddenly felt connected in that little butterfly world.
I chased Stripe but there’s so much restlessness. Stripe was flying endlessly and unlike other butterflies who flip their wings gracefully, Stripe was flying aimlessly. Until my camera ran out of battery, I didn’t get the chance to take a photo of Stripe. I asked my friend if she could kindly take a photo of that ‘aligagang’ (restless) butterfly. When I got home, I emailed my friend and asked if she could email me the photo of Stripe. Unfortunately, she also failed to capture my Stripe.
You know when we like something and if for some reasons we couldn’t get what we want at that particular moment, we say, ‘Next time’ or ‘One day’ or ‘I’ll come back and have you’ – that’s what I silently told myself. One day, before the exhibit ends, I will come back for Stripe.
Few weeks had passed and time just didn’t allow me to go back to the exhibit. Until one day, I have a window for an hour to spare, I hurriedly went back to the exhibit. My Stripe was there, no longer restless. I went near Stripe and said, ‘I came back for you’. As if my Stripe has been bestowed with knighthood or damehood, Stripe posed for me like a royal – so much graciousness and elegance.
Meet my Stripe – and try to read the book ‘Hope for the flowers’ and you’ll learn more about Stripe and Yellow (the other butterfly).