Last December 2019, amidst all the loud Christmas celebrations, I was going through unrest. So I went up Mirador Hill in Baguio (a Jesuit Villa in the Philippines) for a silent retreat. A silent retreat, as I would describe it, is a retreat where you quiet yourself and listen intently to your body, your mind, your emotions, and importantly, listen to God (or if you may, to a higher being). Months leading to the end of last year was filled with overwhelming events and emotions, and the only thing I wanted was to walk away from all the noise.
With all the buzz and busyness that we have in our fast-paced world, silence can be one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself.
One night during my retreat, I found myself awake very early in the morning. It was still dark outside. Sensing a thrill of adventure, I put on my hoodie and went outside submitting myself to the cold morning air. The moon’s gentle light caressed the trees and the gardens, illuminating the pathways on the hill. I let my feet do the wandering until I found a comfortable spot on a viewing deck facing where the sun will rise. I sat there in solitude, patiently waiting for the night to give way for the day.
Relishing the cool breeze, I observed the lights of the city by the hillside. I felt anxious as I saw cars zoom around making early errands. A heavy sigh came out of my chest. I didn’t want to go back to the city. At least, not yet.
From the busy city below, my eyes fixed itself on an instrument bearing the four cardinal directions with a spinning arrow on top – a wind vane. The North, East, West, and South signs were fixed but the arrow will always point towards where the wind blows with no objections. The arrow was obedient to the wind. It didn’t resist its gale but instead followed it, even if it was spun around and around not knowing where it will point to next. I watched the wind vane fulfill its purpose. As I took in the view, the sun gradually filled the sky with magnificent light.
I was teary-eyed as the rays painted the sky with beautiful colors. A masterpiece made just for me. It’s one of the moments that will last in my heart forever.
Let The Sun Rise
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
– Thich Nhat Hanh
That morning taught me an important lesson that I’m still learning today –letting go.
Letting go is hard especially when pain comes with it. We tend to always associate letting go with giving up control but it is also accepting things for ‘what they are’ and ‘what they are not’. Overthinking and replaying memories can ever change what has already happened or steer possible outcomes. It hurts more when we fight to tighten our grip on things that are not meant to stay.
Letting go is trusting, accepting, and embracing uncertainties knowing that you’ll be ok. Although it seems frightening, there is freedom and peace when you let things go their natural course. When we let go we make space for new things that are sometimes packaged in uncertainty.
Uncertainties will always come into our lives. It’s as constant as the rising of the sun and untamed like the blowing of the wind. It can come at us from any direction and point us toward uncharted territory. Wherever it leads, we just need to keep faith that we are exactly where we are meant to be. To experience new things that are not meant to harm us but strengthen us and make us better.
We cannot go to where we are meant to be unless we let go.
Whatever you’re going through or if you’re in the middle of letting go. You’re doing great! During this pandemic maybe we are all invited to let go of what has been and embrace the new. Whatever that “new” thing is for you. As we continue to move, dear friends, hold on to hope, let go, and let the sun rise.
A thought struck me with all this pandemic crisis going on. Let me re-frame what’s happening at this angle. What if, right now, as we are staying home we are being resuscitated and we’re experiencing a very gentle near-death experience. Where us being resuscitated means choosing between living a new and better life after the crisis or just go back to the same old uneventful life we’ve had before. It’s like a reboot for a 2nd chance in life!
I’ve been battling with my own thoughts these past few days and been attempting to clean the clutter inside my mental space. It’s hard work because you have to submit yourself to the process of taking things out of the closets and cupboards of your mind and see if what you have pulled out still serves you well and contribute to you being a better version of yourself.
It’s like spring cleaning but instead of taking things out, you take out memories, habits, weaknesses, flaws, joys, triumphs and etc. and see if they are still helping you grow. Otherwise, you have to decide whether to throw them away or not. It’s not an easy process. Because like spring cleaning you will encounter stuff that is unmistakable “clutter” that has served you well in the past but it’s of no use to you now, something hard to let go, but you must. Throw the garbage out.
Restlessness and discontent about where I am right now have been one of my driving forces to move forward. There is a lot of resistance that needs to be slain so I can keep on moving. Resistance is a b**ch (saying it as it is!). It tells you to go back down in comfort and not do anything to take a step towards your fullest potential. I don’t want to just survive, I want to fully live! I want to make my dreams reality, I want to make better choices for myself, and I want to spend more time with people I love. The one thing I fear most after the lockdown here gets lifted is that I will stay the same, that nothing has changed within me even just a little.
When discontent makes you restless – move. When you are not satisfied with where you are – move. When you’re not happy – move. When you’re stuck – move. Even if it looks like nothing is happening you still did something – you moved.
You know, I consider this restlessness, discontent, and fear a blessing because it tells me where I want to go and who I want to become. I now know who I want myself to be. And I’m going to spend my 2nd life moving towards it. I want to make a little ripple that can change the world and make the most of what life has in store for me, not only surviving but fully living. For when we fully live our lives the breaths we take for granted gain more meaning because in fully living, we give more of ourselves to the world that is striving to survive.
How is your mental space? Does it need a spring cleaning? Are you just surviving or are you fully living?