Tuesday, March 21, 2006

End of the Year

Today marks the end of another contract in Saudi Arabia.

Two years. Has it been that long? (Mental image: Jeremy Piven going ballistic on John Cusack in "Grosse Pointe Blank" Yes, it's been that long, only). It seems quite longer.

Was it because I finally became more of my own person because of my stay here in Saudi Arabia? Maybe.

My personal theory is that the entire world that you could move around in --- work, friends, friends of friends (to the nth degree that you can reach) --- is a very small place. Masikip ang mundo mo, 'ika nga. And because that world is so small --- it's easy to get caught up in it, so easy for your life to flow into the cracks and seams and fill this world. Or be filled by it. Time will distend and distort, and your sense of place is slowly redefined.

Soon enough, you would think of this as your own place, and everyone else except Saudis becomes a "foreigner," even though you yourself are an expatriate. At odd moments, you would refer to your usual haunts in the Philippines as if they are just a taxi ride away. More often than not, when you talk about a place back home with a kababayan, you would say "dito" without finding it strange. The mind is a mystical thing, and its resilience is something to which I will put no limits.

Still, we are all finite creatures. Time has its own claim on us. Though the year 2005 did not have as much personal drama as 2004 did, it still had its own share of changes. Now 2006 has unfurled her cloak ... and there is one significant change that will happen in our family - one of my sisters is finally getting married.

I still don't know what to make of it. Overall I am happy that her time has finally come. A wise friend once said that marriage does not necessarily mean a better life, it just means a different set of priorities. As a single person you are free to give your heart to a cause or to your job. The job won't love you back, but you can afford to be consumed by your personal trail of success. That doesn't mean that there is less passion in your life. Passion is not controlled by an "on" or "off" switch.

Of course I have no true moral authority to talk about married life, being an unmarried person. While dreams of a true love may occupy my thoughts once in a while, I have since come to accept that marriage is more a pragmatic decision than a romantic one. It's still the same kind of decisions --- when to clean up, what to eat, how to spend free time. Only now it's multiplied by two, and then by three, and so on and so forth.

Even though I know this intellectually, it's still difficult to lap up. Not enough trust, primarily in my own self, I guess.

So now my sister is taking this step - and I do hope she will have children very very soon, as her time to have one is growing short. I wouldn't mind if she were to come home this June with a growing seed within her womb. Among my sisters, with all due respect, she was the one who was best equipped for motherhood. As to being a wife, we-ell, that's the part I don't know what to make of.

TRUST. TRUST and BELIEVE. My faith in people, ironically, has been reinforced by my stay in the Middle East rather than detracting from it. People are essentially born good. It's this world and twisted thinking that does us in. I will trust and believe that my sister and her husband-to-be will enjoy all the sweet things that life will make possible for them. Ehem, last correction. It's not I will. I do.

So what does all of this have to do with me? Nothing much, really. But I feel the additional burden of time weighing down on me. Soon I will be faced with the reality that should I wish to make the change, I will have less people of the ideal age (whom I will regularly encounter, mind you) for me to make the choice. Pressure? Inasmuch that I don't allow it to take front-and-center stage in my consciousness, undoubtedly the pressure is there.

It all comes back to this - why did I leave my home? I have found a niche here in Saudi Arabia, but this land is alien to me. Every now and then I watch the clock, and my heart still ticks on Manila time. My tongue still longs for the flavor of home-cooked meals, and my nose will always miss the aroma of the wet, damp earth of our garden. Mix and mesh all of these experiences together and it all boils down to this one question - for whom or what am I exactly doing all this?

I am confident I won't be alone come THE DAY --- I led my life, and my life has led me, all through these years, to be with young people who would someday live the life I have not lived --- and they or their children, will be with me in some way or other, wherever this road that I tread will take me.

Still, it would be nice to cross the threshold of my own door, dust my shoes on the welcome mat, and figuratively hang my hat at the end of each day in a place I call my own, and hear the patter of little feet rushing to meet me, and the din of excited voices expressing gladness that I have come home.

That will be another day, and something I wish will come very soon. Insh'allah. Insh'allah. God will reveal this to me in His own time. Let's just leave it for now that I would like to have a tiny hint, pretty please?

It is appropriate that I end this post with something from Marianne Williamson, from her book A Return to Love. This particular quote has been attributed, quite erroneously, to former South African President Nelson Mandela. Thanks to Charmaine V. for sharing this.

May these words light my path for another year here in Saudi Arabia.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

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