On a certainevening, in a dimly cramped room, my seven-year old self still quite remembersthat hazy memory in which the three of us are peacefully lying on the same bed.
I was half-asleep, but I can still remember my mother snoring, and my father tryinghis hard to stay conscious at that moment, just to diligently tap my butt to makeme fall asleep. Usually, mom was the one who used to stay awake the longestamong the three of us, but I guess at that night she was just so tired fromwork that she immediately dozed herself to sleep. Thatnight, my dad took an extra effort to narrate a story, entitled “A Village onthe Road”, which really left a great impression in my life. It was a story abouta town which was greatly suffering from extreme poverty. One day, three wealthymen were journeying in a convoy on the same road and found themselveswitnessing this calamity.
The first man cannot bear to witness this desperatesituation, so he gave all his golds and jewels to the people, and then immediatelyleft. The second man, on the other hand, paused for a while then gave the peoplean equal share of food and water that would probably last for some time, sincehe thought that it would be much beneficial for them to receive those kinds ofgoods than the material ones, and so he also left. The third man however, only dashedand travelled straight along the path while just taking notice of the poverty. Theother two men saw this from afar and judged him on how he showed lack ofcompassion and charity. They thought that it was good that they were there tohelp the villagers, feeling so proud of themselves. Howbeit, three days later,from the opposite direction, they saw the third wealthy man travelling back tothe village, carrying in his convoy some farming tools, and sacks of grains andseeds, instead of the golds and treasures that their convoy had been carrying earlier.He was there to help the village OUT of poverty. Uponhearing the story from my dad, I said to him that there was nothing reallywrong with the two wealthy men trying to help the villagers with some treasuresor some food and water, because the villagers also needed them, and that theonly bad thing they’ve done was to judge the third men without knowing hisintentions.
My dad agreed with me, however, he also claimed that some “generous”people only try to give so that others can see how much they are giving, and sothat they can feel that good about themselves. There is nothing wrong with wantingto feel good about helping others, but feeling good just because of the praisesor recognition, he said, is very foolish and selfish. He also said that, inhelping other people, one must be disciplined enough to think objectively abouthow he could genuinely give his best to improve the situation and lives ofthose whom he is trying to help, just like how the third wealthy man criticallythought hard enough to change the condition of the villagers. After having some realizationsabout the story, he told me to close my eyes, clasp my hands, and put themtogether on the top of my chest. He told me to feel my heartbeat. He told me toempty myself from other thoughts, and he told me to breathe and feel the windrunning through my nostrils. Finally, he said, “Anak, sa pagtanda mo, masmarami ka pang paghihirap na mapagdadaanan. Gusto kitang maging sobrangmatatag, madisiplina’t, maresponsable sa mga gagawin mo.
Dahil sa rami ng mgamasasakit at mahihirap na nangyayari sa mundo, wag na wag mong kalimutang tumulongsa iba. As much as possible, wag mo na ipahalata. Basta disiplinahin mo yungsarili mong di ka magpapadala sa sakim at sa mga papuri, at siguraduhin mongmaganda yung mga intensyon mo. Palagi mong pakiramdaman puso mo.” Those were not the exact words,but just some of what I’ve remembered he told me that night. I admire my dad somuch. His profound sense of justice and his great self-discipline deeplyinfluenced and molded me into someone who wants to have that kind of meaningfullife. However, despite of wanting tohave that kind of meaningful life, I am guilty of not telling him this.
That I’ve already grown into a person who isvery insecure about herself, and who has always been procrastinating andfeeling worthless, gradually losing a sense of self-discipline. That I’vealready up to some mischievous and useless acts that don’t make me any better. ThatI’ve already been struggling to interact socially, let alone reach out to helpother people who are suffering.
That he’s already got an eighteen-year olddaughter who is a failure and who can’t live up with his expectations, withouthis knowing. Whenever I feel down and useless,I repeat the same act over and over again- closing my eyes and clasping my hands above mychest to feel my heartbeat. But something has changed, because when I do that, mythoughts already turned way too different than before.
“I don’t want to live,but I can’t also kill myself either, which is why I will just do my best tohelp other people stay alive so that they can also live for me.” I know thatthis is probably more foolish than trying to help other people with theintentions of getting praises or recognition. That’s why it was better when Iwas seven. I was better when I was seven.