Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Temperance and Uncertainty

"Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your heights. How the mighty have fallen!". - 2 Samuel 1:19

A lesson for all OFWs is temperance.

It is always easy to think the world revolves around one's problems - the next bill to be paid, the next problem to be hurdled, the next loan to be taken out with all the accompanying guarantees. Life seems to be always about worry.

Worrying about the future, the unknown, the prospect of being powerless to stop the tide of the future. The odd thing, worrying always paints the future to either negative or positive prospects but trivializes the present.

Which leads us to my little additional realization for today - there is no antidote against the coming of the future.  Problems, worries, consequences - we have no control over them.  They come because they must, because with every effect there is cause. What we do control is the cause - our present. The vista of the future pales in comparison with the wonderment of the present - of being in the Moment, of seeing life as it is, and letting the world and one's self be.

Instead of appreciating life from our mere personal lens, we begin to understand the essential relationships that exist among us.

The present is more than just our own personal feelings and ambitions. There are other people too, and their feelings, thoughts, ideas, constantly interact with our own. Instead of enjoying this moment, many of us choose to worry about the next moment - a moment which we have already wasted thinking about instead of living.

Temperance, then, is the lesson of living this life within oneself - appreciating all that we have but taking no more than what we need. Temper one's ambition with the realization that goals, like buildings, are built one piece at a time. Temperance thus teaches patience.

Temper one's worry with the appreciation that we are blessed and that we still live, that there are a few more hours to live and that there is a prospect of a new day. Temperance thus teaches contentment, and in some cases, temperance teaches us fortitude - in the same way that we must temper our enthusiasm for change with the practical needs of the moment, where our determination is more folly than courage.

Temperance teaches us to conserve and to delay gratification, and thus learn prudence.

I was struck by this quote (wherein David laments the slaying of Saul and Jonathan) in that whatever we strive to build, so shall they can (and will) fall even with the best of our efforts. But we cannot worry about that uncertainty, we only know that we do what needs must. It is also a lesson that all good things have their limit, and we must tread carefully if we are to keep true to our course.

Living outside our home country is both a privilege and a burden - a privilege because we are given opportunities to learn about ourselves and the world - that bonus is much more important than the money itself. It is a burden because we must represent the best and the noblest characteristics of our people - because this is the picture other nationalities have of our entire country as a whole.

Keeping on point means we get closer to realizing our dreams for our family and country.

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