Not Quite There

My cup runneth over

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The Boracay Horizon is ablaze in orange and blue at sunset. To borrow my 22-year-old American-grown grandson’s expression—stock for him maybe, but, in my own case, definitely special—Awesome!

As I take in the scenery and breathe the cool air, feelings of gratitude arise in me: First, for having retained the faculties to perceive and appreciate such generous gifts of nature; and second, and more profoundly, for being aware that I am in the right place at the right time— that I am, indeed, in my perfect moment.

There’s nothing like the splendor of nature to kick such swell and surge of gratitude within me, nothing like it to make me realize how blessed I truly am—we all are.

As I’ve said again and again, it’s a sense that springs from a philosophy of life learned from a spiritual teacher who specializes in happiness; it’s a way of thinking that has made me realize that envy, a wretched state I myself would fall into now and again, is in fact a major enemy of happiness.

While I certainly had no problem feeling happy for other people when good fortune smiled at them, I also couldn’t help thinking others deserved it more—others, not necessarily me, which itself I now see as something that smacks of a fraudulently selfless and virtuous attitude.

Unfortunately, despite my access to information that would seem critical in making the judgment, the Lord doesn’t consult me in deciding, say, which husbands should pass on ahead of others, a matter in which I thought decisive consideration should be given to husbands who have made their wives happy, and who therefore should not be taken so early as to make unhappy premature widows of them.

At any rate, I’ve finally learned to stay out of divine decision-making. When I pray, I leave out unsolicited, if well-intentioned, suggestions to God; I leave Him properly alone to decide issues big or small—to decide who goes first, or what kind of weather to bring me.

Blessings and good wishes

My prayers are now confined to thank-you notes and repetitions of a mantra that affirms the goodness, nay, divinity, of my own heart, from which I send blessings and good wishes to people all around.

And what a difference it has made in my life! In my youth, as well as in a good part of my adult years, I was envious, for instance, of how my parents doted on my younger brother, an only son, even as, indeed, I concede he was a cuter baby; about how they seemed to me to have overprotected and over-supported him. Life viewed from a peephole doesn’t seem fair, indeed.

My brother himself has confessed, in turn, to some admiration bordering on envy for traits I had that he felt he lacked. As we grew older, and mature, we saw how life had evened things out between us.

It took years for me to come to terms with my situation, to be sure. And to think I only had to ask myself one question: Would you like to change places with them? I wouldn’t, and I doubt anyone else in that situation would, if the question were taken up from a much wider perspective than that formed from a peephole view. A proper perspective is bound to suggest things could be worse, an alternative that should make one happy enough to have avoided.

I’m not saying it’s easy to understand nature’s sense of equity, let alone accept it. All I’m saying is that wealth comes in various forms; that one assigns values to things according to one’s sense of perspective, according to one’s attitude.

I remember a survey not long ago showing us to be the happiest people in these parts, and I wonder hopefully whether, in our Third World poverty, mine is a philosophy of life that has caught on after all.

Right now, anyway, I feel filthy rich simply watching the Boracay sunset. Two sunsets are all my share in this wealth, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s. But as it is, it already makes my own cup runneth over, and I haven’t the slightest envy for the holidaymakers staying longer or the natives who have owned the sunset all their lives. I can only be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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