With the New Year teetering on the edge, a man is always compelled to evaluate the year that was. It sounds trendy and absurd – absurd because there is plenty of time in a year to reflect – but there is no time more apt to look back than now.
Unlike most people who would either regret how they spent 2014 or declare incessantly their accomplishments and discoveries, my year has been pretty ordinary. Apart from travelling and meeting new people, most of my days were spent working: writing, designing, meeting deadlines, organizing events, and attending to social activities. In my job, all of it is pretty standard. Nevertheless, the demands of each duty are strenuous. How do they call it these days – time consuming?
Countless hours were spent in front of the computer (which I regret) with so little creative output, if one would compare how prolific I wrote the year before. But I would blame the sudden decline in writing anything worth posting on how taxing my job has been. While a great deal of my work requires intimacy with technology, the free periods were easily filled by what we call front-line activities. If I weren’t immersed in my emails, Photoshop, or spreadsheets, I was busy attending to meetings with other units and departments, talking to suppliers on the phone, rearranging furniture in event venues (yes, there’s a bit of manual labor involved), or quarrelling (on a professional level) with my colleagues. There have been many mornings wherein my body repelled the idea of going to working simply because there were too many tasks to finish and it seemed, at least at the time, that I was finally about to call it quits.
And yet I have stayed in my job, and to put it in a positive light, have flourished under the creative mentoring I received not just from a dedicated mentor, but also from my bosses. While the previously mentioned activities may lead you to think my job is easy, in reality it requires a lot of grace under pressure, patience, and humility. After all, people can be far more difficult dealing with than technology. So I don’t think I would have succeeded in overcoming the endless obstacles without the guidance of my supervisors who really pushed me to extremes and as a consequence, made me professionally and emotionally malleable.
Regardless of how exhausting my professional life was this past year, I rather enjoyed meeting new people, both the good and unpleasant (I refuse to call others bad, that’s one resolution I’m making). Drivers, janitors, suppliers, priests, doctors, lawyers, sales men and women – they all had stories to share, anecdotes which they so trustingly and generously left perhaps without them even knowing. They broadened my perspective and deflated my ego (just a bit), allowing me to peer into their own lives and realize that suffering is not exclusive to an individual, as we so often are tempted to think. When my days got rough, their stories inspired and reenergized.
But nothing could be more reenergizing than travelling. While I’m not one possessed by wanderlust, I was finally able to sneak a bit of vacationing this year. And perhaps I could also blame it for missing out on writing. But it was all for the better because seeing foreign lands finally opened my eyes to how vast and endless the world is. Stuck and consumed by Manila, life for me was becoming claustrophobic. With few enticing distractions from work, my day to day motions had been dulled. Both travelling abroad and discovering new corners of my city quite literally opened new horizons. Seeing the sky from a different vantage point afforded me new stories to share, and fresh resources for creative endeavors.
I never really make a big deal out of New Year. Even when I was younger, Christmas was always more festive than waiting up until twelve midnight to welcome what always seemed to be another day. It’s no different now that I’m older. Of course, in my twenties I can boast of holding up sleep to stay up late better than when I was a young boy. But New Year’s celebrations now come across with a sense of urgency. Beyond the festivities, it reminds me of life’s brevity, and the value of hindsight. So many people make the mistake of burying the past, and never learning from their mistakes. While I’m not always inclined to be in a celebratory mood, I’m still very grateful I have – even without the certainty of tomorrow – the opportunity to write this reflection and cling on some form of hope maybe things will indeed be better.