Letting The Sun Rise On Mirador Hill

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.

The sun rising on Mirador Hill

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.


Thank you for reading! See you on the next post!

Leave your thoughts on the comments below.


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Ever Asked Yourself: Am I Just Surviving Or Fully Living?

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?


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Creating Spaces for Connection

Many people would not believe me if I told them that I’m an introvert. If I didn’t know myself well enough I wouldn’t believe it either! Haha! How is that dude who can speak energetically on stage, strike random conversations with strangers, and sing with total abandon be an introvert? I know, I’m surprised myself!

From grade school going to high school I was well-known for being that gentle, quiet, and sometimes quirky kid in the corner. It was the perfect place where I wouldn’t draw attention to myself. Speaking in front of the class terrified me so much that I would involuntarily shake in my seat (It’s a miracle I didn’t pee my pants!). I only have select friends growing up so when they’re off to somewhere else I’m left with my rich inner world to keep me company. Being alone does not bother me much. My weekend activities would usually rotate around reading books, playing video games, and building amazing chair forts. Being alone is great because you can just be yourself around yourself without worry.

“Aww, you’re so shy! Do you want cake?” or “Vin, meet Mark, you can be friends with him!” were some of the things that the friends and colleagues of my parents would say to me when I was a kid to get me out of my shell. Did I get some of that cake? OH YES, I DID! – Was I able to make friends with Mark? Only for a while.

Getting to know myself was easier for me than letting my walls down and giving others an opportunity to get to know me. I craved something deeper. I didn’t realize back then that the more I kept to myself, the more isolated I became, and loneliness would get to me as I am always stuck in my head. My teachers warned my parents that my behavior could be an early sign of depression. I didn’t know how to make sense of that back then. Connecting with others was a real struggle for me.

Vulnerability

Life loses its meaning without other people.

As human beings, we are not only rational beings but emotional ones as well. We become fully alive when we have shared experiences with each other and being able to experience feelings such as pain, joy, sadness, grief, hope, and love are some of life’s greatest gifts. Death could mean being void of all these things.

Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. True connection with others will not happen if you want to remain hidden. Coming out of your hiding place can be terrifying because it makes you vulnerable to whatever you’re hiding from and telling them the truth of where you are – “I’m here! I’m scared but I’m here! I’m here!”

Vulnerability is not a weakness. Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly says “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness… Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.” The more we share, the more we connect, in reverse, the more we withhold ourselves from others, the more we disconnect.

The journey of unhiding was difficult for me. To let other people in and at the same time giving them a part of yourself, being vulnerable in sharing my story. The most challenging part about it was finding the right safe people to share it with. The path of vulnerability led me to find a home in a community whose members has the capacity to be patient with me when I’m in hiding, meet me where I am and even run after me when I’ve gone away, accept my flaws as they are, and love me fully especially at times when I don’t feel worthy of love.

They would listen not only to the perfect version of my story that I have carefully crafted to hide behind but also to the unedited, raw, and messy story of my struggle. I was provided with a free space where I can recreate myself, make mistakes, and breathe until I can finally stand on my own. It took many years of hard work but whatever disconnect I was in, turned into multiple lines of connection I didn’t expect to have.

Create a Space

I was at a wedding reception when my phone rang in my pocket. I immediately went outside the banquet hall to receive a call that would shake up my life.

“Hello Kalvin, the leaders have been discerning this at length” ate Kathy (we dearly call her “ate” /ah-te/ – older sister) said, “We’d like to invite you to be part of the core as the Connect Ministry Head.”

“What? Connect Ministry? Me? Are you serious?” I replied in disbelief, thinking it was a joke as I heard her laugh at my reaction at the other end of the line. After getting over the initial moment of shock, I told her I needed to think about it.

I said yes. Even if I felt like I wasn’t the right fit, and even if I didn’t see myself functioning properly in that role, I went for it because I trusted the people who saw it in me. From being the disconnected one who found a safe place, a home; Now, I’m the one trying to bring people home, making a room for them, and creating a free space where they can nest in and grow.

Creating space can be hard work, it takes a sincere welcoming heart, an openness to change, and eyes that see beyond imperfection. Starting out can be a little uncomfortable as you allow others to become fully alive by being themselves even if it gets gross and stinky sometimes. Letting people take their garbage out by helping them tell their stories and share their experiences. Sharing your space is a great gift especially when you finally see them begin to stand on their own.

When you create a space for someone, oftentimes, they will create a space for you too. Sometimes people will just pass by and some special few will make a home there forever. The hardest but necessary thing when letting people in is to accept and know that there will come a time that you will have to let them go so they can grow. If we hold on for too long or too tight we end up imprisoning them rather than creating a free space for them to live. The same applies for you too.

 Connect

We are all invited to create spaces for connection. The world we’re living in now is in so much disconnect even if there are so many advances in social media where the attempts at bridging gaps ends up building more gaps. There’s a current trend where many people are content to be in hiding afraid of wanting to be found or seen because they don’t want to be labelled soft, different, weak.

The world needs you, the real you. The world needs your story of struggle, joy, sadness, grief, hope, and love – this is what makes us human, this is what makes us strong and it binds us together. Are you in hiding? Are you searching for a safe space? Or are you the one leading people home? We are all invited to create spaces for connection so we can fully live. 

 

 

 

For my first post, my heartfelt gratitude goes out to:

“Forest lady / editor / friend forever” for believing in me more than I believed in myself.

“Friend wearing a scratched silver watch” for giving me the right amount of nudge to get me started.

Art (c) Grant Snider [http://www.incidentalcomics.com/]

 

You’re welcome to stay in my space. Stay tuned for more!


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