On Turning 35
I turned 35 last year. Months before my birthday, I felt the need to celebrate, which was unusual since I practically break out in hives at the word “party”. But that birthday was special. I didn’t want the usual celebration. I wanted to mark something. I was announcing the public coming out of my authentic self. So, I asked my sister to help craft my celebration into something meaningful.
I invited people I felt had been supportive of my life journey thus far. My husband agreed to read a verse from “The Velveteen Rabbit” and I shared something I had written straight from my heart. It was a time for owning everything I stood for. I made a stand to contribute to the healing of humanity and asked everyone to go within and state their innermost wishes for the world and for themselves. Together we sent our messages of love to the universe. It was solemn and magical. I had marked the birth of my real, conscious adult self and it felt right.
I recall the purity and strength of our intentions that evening and think how difficult it is to maintain and express one’s authenticity, especially in this town where form over substance reigns supreme. All one needs to do is peek into the Senate to see the pettiness, small-mindedness, shallowness, and egotistical contortions that prevail. In a country where nation building is a real concern, what do we do? Tear down walls. That’s what. Why do we keep engaging in activities that bring us further away from that place of emancipation we so need as a country; as a people? I fear it is because we have buried that authentic place inside that links us to all humanity.
Living your authentic life means facing up to the truth about yourself. It means not misrepresenting your intentions. It means walking your talk. It is so Filipino to gossip about other people, unleashing verbal venom, then ending the session with “but I really like him” or “kawawa naman siya” just to show we meant well. Who are you kidding? You spent a whole hour destroying someone with the power of your words. A token phrase of fake caring doesn’t change it. It merely coats the damage with a layer of hypocrisy.
There is an actual physical sensation that accompanies our words and actions. When I am around negative people or find myself participating in destructive behavior, I become lazy, sluggish, muddled, weighed down. I feel as though I am sitting in a corner, completely immobile, willing my coagulated insides to digest a tub of lard. Then a kind of separation takes place. My eyes glaze over while something like a film of oil slides away from the sludge that is my soul. Before long, I am completely disengaged, in all likelihood sporting a lifeless grin on my face. But when I am doing something positive that lifts my spirit, I am all there—energized, awake, buoyed by clarity. A well opens inside me and I am filled with space and light. Like an internal compass, these physical sensations guide us towards our best self. It isn’t the self that is superior—not the richest, not the most powerful, not the one with the daintiest sapatilla, not the one with the most toys–but the one that effects the most positive changes in the world.
You would think that after Edsa 2 and September 11 there would be a palpable shift in each of us. But it seems that whatever caused us to kneel and pray, to link our arms in solidarity and brotherhood for a higher purpose, has faded away. I am not looking for a public gesture, but I do want to feel that people are making an effort to bring the truth a little closer to home; that in our everyday lives, we are weeding out the unnecessary to make room for what matters most.
The call for authenticity is a call to act from that place in you that resonates with universal truths. It is the dogged pursuit of the path that gives depth to your soul and flight to your spirit, no matter how rugged the terrain. I believe that when you aim to live from that place, reverence and respect for life in all its forms become embedded in your core and you begin to contribute to the evolution of the collective human soul.
Each of us is responsible for the steady destruction of the human race. After September 11, that realization hit me hard. But the flip side is that we also have the power to heal it. The future of the human soul doesn’t depend on some big miracle. It is in the persistent striving to do a little better each day, in our every thought and action. These are the things that make an imprint on the world. Isn’t it wonderful to know that your efforts can bring living, healing nourishment to the table of humanity?
So, what will it be? Are you going to be the guy who spreads nasty rumors about everyone and their mother, or are you going to be the one who bites his tongue because you’ve made the conscious decision to make it stop? Are you going to be the cause of all the little cracks in the foundation or are you going to be the one who reinforces it, brick by brick? Are you going to be the one who confirms the good guy or the one who would rather die nit picking, just because putting him there exposes the festering ulcer in your soul?
There is, in each of us, an incredible capacity to do good. We have spent enough time wasting it. The world is telling us that it is time to own that power and make things right. You are not insignificant. Every time you do good, you are laying that foundation. You can be the change—and I don’t mean that in the beauty contestant way. I MEAN IT. Make a quiet, heartfelt oath to start living your life from that space of truth and clarity. Celebrate your authentic self. It’s time to cut the crap. Make no mistake. The state of your soul affects us all.