A few weeks ago, a former classmate visiting from the US reminded me about next year’s diamond jubilee (60th anniversary) of our Ateneo college class of 1960.
Before going back home, he wanted to know what our local plans were to celebrate the event so he could organize our US-based classmates to come over and join us.
My first reaction was to ask him, “Are we already there? Haven’t we just celebrated our high school golden jubilee a few years back?”
Laughing, he said, “Pare, that was 13 years ago. We’re now celebrating the 60th year of our graduation from college.”
The thought suddenly came to me that, indeed, about 40 of our batch mates in high school and college had passed on in those 13 intervening years, and the toll was increasing by the year.
In 2006, we filled the Makati Sports Club’s main dining room with our wives. Then in our mid-60s, we had a once-in-a-lifetime night of fun and reminiscing. I’m hoping we can still raise half that number next year.
After my friend’s phone call, I rushed to look up our golden jubilee yearbook titled “HS ’56 in 2006: A Fifty-Year Journey,” which I had produced and edited. True enough, as I leafed through the pages, quite a number of those featured in it had already died.
But to make the yearbook memorable, I had originally asked everyone to put down a brief history of their life journey from high school—their career, their family, their life lessons, and the most valuable things they had learned from our school—up to that point in their lives.
I then began to wonder what those of us still remaining will say about ourselves at our college diamond jubilee next year.
When I got to my page in the 2006 yearbook, I saw that instead of a brief biography, I chose only to share the life lessons and insights I had accumulated in 50 years.
Today, 13 years later, these learnings are truer than ever for me, and probably will remain so, possibly with some new nuggets of insight added in the remaining years.
I have updated them with some clarifying notes and examples:
Enjoy the process as well as the result. In the journey called life, live every day to the fullest. Sometimes we focus so much on our final goals and look forward so eagerly to future landmark events that we forget to savor the moment, both the highs and lows of the daily journey.
Actually, the thrill of striving and anticipation is oftentimes more exciting than the actual attainment of the goal.
There is a reason and purpose for everything that happens. Although this sounds like a cliché, it has proven true for me time and time again. One memorable example: When we parted ways with our original business partner, things looked very dim and I thought this could be the end of the road for our company. But it turned out that the setback paved the way for us to gain a much better partner that propelled our company to long-term success.
The best expectations sometimes produce the worst results, and vice versa. Example: I had eagerly looked forward to receiving the proceeds of a big sale, only to lose a big portion of those proceeds when I made a bad investment right after I got them. If the proceeds had come about a month later, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to make the bad investment.
There is such a thing as the law of cause and effect, commonly known as karma. “What you sow, you reap,” a universal aphorism found even in the Bible, is very true. I have seen it manifested so often in other people’s lives, and in my own, that I have made it a guiding principle to sow only good deeds as much as I can to receive good karma in return.
Friends may be a dime a dozen, but true friends come free and they are priceless. To me, the hallmark of true friendship is mutuality, meaning someone who is not only there for you when you need him, but for whom you are also there when he needs you. Although I have many good friends, I can count the truest ones with the fingers of one hand.
God is ineffable in human terms. Many world religions attempt to describe God with the numerous attributes of perfection. In school, we were taught that God was almighty, all-knowing, all-good, all-just, all-merciful, etc. But human language inevitably fails because in truth, God is ineffable, i.e., too great or extreme to be described with words. Probably the closest we can get to describing Him is with His own words in the Bible, “I am that I am.”
God is so indescribable that He simply IS.
True spirituality is beyond religion. No matter what a person’s religious beliefs are, I’m convinced the road to the fulfillment of his purpose and existence on this earth is through a personal relationship with his version of his Creator—his spirituality, as opposed to his religiosity. His role in life is to recognize and nurture this personal relationship.
Integrity is a lifelong habit, not an occasional virtue. Although it is difficult, I believe this is the standard we should all strive for.
Do your best, strive for excellence, perfection is elusive. The best that we can be and do is all that is expected of us. Nothing more.
As a final tribute to my school, to which I owe much, I ended my enumeration of life lessons and insights with this: “Lastly, the most valuable thing I got from the Ateneo is that it taught me to think for myself, and, therefore, not to believe some of the things they taught me at the Ateneo, and to learn life’s lessons well.” —CONTRIBUTED