Thursday, February 09, 2012


The Need for Spiritual Fitness

As I write this post, I am celebrating passing another half-year without major incident.  As one gets older and gets to know one's moods and flows more intimately I know when I need some time to milk off my frustrations and put them into words.  It isn't fair, honestly, to the whole process and to the process of my writing (which I am refining further in the hopes of making the trade full-time), but for now this is what with which I have to work.

Not a fan of today's quoted author, but one key component of health is the spiritual side.  The whole concept of wellness is not only what we project on the outside, but what is also happening within.  I was born and raised in a Catholic home, though not very strict and characterized more by the free spirit that we had - we thanked God with the rites of our faith, but my parents did not insist that we close our minds.

All this did not prevent me from being a Catholic volunteer during my late teens and early twenties.  While I may not count much in the world with what I was making, that was certainly the most fulfilling time of my life. 

Since then, I won't say it's been downhill, but the happy times seem a lot spottier and harder to come by.  Disclaimer, though, those times have been considerably blurred by a lot of nostalgia.  As the happy times were more profound, so were the wounds to my psyche.

The turning point, I can say, to my shift from "not caring" to "looking for a plan" was in 2001.  I can say that I lived my youth as foolishly as I could possibly have and still have little or no regrets.  I  only wish to this day that I had prepared for my real life much more responsibly.  (Sidebar: I'm sure some people would nod along with me.  Such is life.)

In 2001, I came face-to-face with major illness.  I finally knew what it meant to be debilitated.  And with normal knee-jerk reaction, I panicked.  I went vegan and lost 25+ kg in six months.  I noticed though, that my lifestyle and atttitudes had changed.  Instead of being more inclusive, I became narrow-minded and testy.    There had to be "one way" instead of "looking for creative ways."  Ironically, even as I was part of an HR consultancy at the time, I had become more emotionally brittle and inflexible.

When I was at my physical best, I was at my emotional low.

Throughout the next three years, I had a mixed bag of results and mostly it all boiled down to this: my state of mind is much more important than whatever physical challenges I was facing.  The office ran three major programs and I was deeply involved in them all.  I went home at 5:00 in the morning, got into the office at 7:30am, and was hard at work even during the weekend.  I got chewed out repeatedly, put to shame in a  most unprofessional manner, and did all forms of work to get things done - from escorting the delegates to their transports, completing meeting kits and presentations, writing speeches and press releases, and even pulling in a campaign party.

It took some hard-nosed sacrifices, but it proved to me that I can, as I must.

Saudi Arabia was no different - if necessary I could marshal an amazing amount of energy and resilience from where there seemed no reserves - but in the end I realized I was mishandling my priorities.  I was more concerned with the end result it didn't matter to me what were the means.  As a result I had blocked the pathways in my relationships with other people.  That imbalance resulted to a lot of emotional stress.

By succeeding at the less important things, I had forgotten the most important ones - relationships, my total well-being, my whole self.  I made myself a victim and paid the price for it.

I had forgotten that my search for perfection pales in comparison with the beauty to which I can lead my spirit.

We can always strive for perfection - from a physical standpoint or from the state of our finances.  There are ways to get ahead and ways to project that one is better than others. All these things are part of the competitive world we live in and at one point or another we have to get at the starting line and run along with the race.  But I most vehemently refuse to be held up by one standard or criterion for this perfection.

I refuse to be judged by my physical appearance - I acknwoledge that I am still physically unhealthy and have ways to go before I get some balance - but I will never be bullied into thinking I am less healthy because of it.  I am not an athlete or runway model or a pin-up on a billboard.  My job does not require me to be the paragon of physical perfection, but only to be fit enough to live up to the challenges of every day.

If I am to further succeed, I have to succor my soul.

We are all challenged to holiness - here more so where there is less opportunity to be nourished by the rites of our faith.  I get inspiration where I can and affirm Him in my own way, in prayer or in song, mostly while I am alone.  I don't know if I will find the correct faith community here --- I am tired with people who bother mostly with the forms of holiness and not necessarily its substance.  I believe in a God of faith and miracles, and not one who takes attendance.

We are challenged to live the words of our Scripture in our lives --- not as dogma or rules but as guidelines whose true intention is to uplift people and promote their welfare.  There is often the struggle between maintaining the "pragmatism" of business and the desire to help people --- mostly I am unhappy with how things work, but somehow I am tempered by accepting that we cannot solve all the problems of the world at once, and that we must choose which role we have to discharge - to preserve and to unify, or to reform and disperse.  Or to do a little of both.

We are meant to wear out and die.  That is our purpose.  By taking care of myself I can be of more use a little longer to others.  However, I am also reminded that I have so much left to do before I would consider my time here a success.

For me to do that, I have to continue teaching lives in a positive way, in the manner that I live, and in the activities to which I choose to commit.

Sounds exciting.  And it should be.

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