Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lessons From A Seesaw

When I was growing up, people tell me, "Jay, soar high" or "Fly high like an eagle." Now that I am over 20’s, they tell me, "Jay, What goes up, must come down" or Jay, it's lonely at the top." Now I end up confused. Then I realized the world is full of confusing Confucius. And so I began to think, really, where should I position myself - up or down.

Then this Pia Wurtzback moment happened  in one of the seminars I attended with this question, "If you were to find an object that resembles your life, what would that be?" I began to do what they say, connecting the dots by looking backward. Confidently beautiful with a heart, I answered, “My life is like a seesaw.”

My sister and I are not only siblings. We are also the best of friends. Every sundays, after we attend mass, we would sneak out of our parents eyes, and play the seesaw. My sister, being bigger and heavier at that time, would always bring the other end of the seesaw at its highest position, her evil smile all over her face while my face got paler and paler out of fear from falling. Then I realized its not only lonely at the top. It is scary at the top.

My academic life in grade school and in high school also resembles that of a seesaw. I was first honors in grade 1, second honors in grade 2, third honors in grade 3, and guess what  place I landed in grade 4? I was first honors again. In grade 5, I was second honors, and in grade 6, I graduated... Second honors. In high school, I finished 1st year with fourth honors, 2nd year with 3rd honors, 3rd year with 1st honors, and graduated high school with 2nd honors. My medal collection just like your multivitamins, they are complete. And I bet if my parents can only bring back time, they would have named me Segundo or Thirdy.

For a high school student who devoted his exciting four years with extra curricular activities writing for the school paper as a feature editor, competed in Regional Schools Press Conference, represented the school in declamation and oratorical contests, and end up being a Chemist, elicited reactions ranging from a simple rise of the right eyebrow to the most detestable question as if  I committed a heinous crime, "Why? What happened?" And when I tell them, “Chemistry has all the solutions in life.” They just look at me, leave, and never look back.

I spent my four years in college, balancing equations. Our chemistry professor will just barge inside  Science Complex 115,  write chemical reactions on the board, and tell us, "balance the equation!" When she comes back, she will tell us, "Insufficient, inadequate, wrong. You cannot graduate if you cannot balance equations!”

Many years ago, I had a funny story in Dumaguete City where I was already followed by the ambulance because I was already the last runner and made a resolve to hitch in the vehicle instead thus I restored my 7 pesos fare going back to the hotel, and most especially, my ego.  I got super addicted to running. At first I was content with 5 kilometers, progressed to 10 kilometers, then to 21 kilometers. I ran all runs there were available, from 30 kilometers to 34 kilometers, and to 50 kilometers while working, while staying late at night with friends, while making the most out of life. I was always in a hurry. I was always beating the red light trying to do all things in day. Because I thought I am invincible. No one and nothing can stop me.

Until I was confined in the hospital for 4 days. It was the longest red light of my life. Like in a seminar when things go out of order we say, "Process Check!", "Process Check!"

And then suddenly, I remembered the seesaw game with my sister. How I felt fear gripped me because because  I was at the top. Had it been going up and down, I would have enjoyed the game.  And how my academic years were going up and down nevertheless I discovered my love for writing and public speaking. And how in College should we muster the art of balancing equations to graduate. These events in my life point to one word: Balance. Chemists balance equations. CPA's balance worksheets. Jounalists write balanced stories.

Man by natute is insatiable. Ambitious. When we achieve small sucessess in life we don’t usually stop. We want more. More money. More fame. More power. But in those four days I spent lying in my hospital bed made me realize that the traffic of our life cannot just be purely green. To just go, go, and go. Get, get, and get. We must learn to obey the orange light and most especially the red light. Learning when to pause and learning when to stop. When times comes when you are so down, strike a balance. When you are over speeding, strike a balance. From a balanced seesaw, to a balanced equation, to what we call a balanced life. So its not, "Jay soar high, or Jay what goes up must come down, but Jay srike to balance."