Finding the beautiful in the mess
By Virginia J. Pasalo
NOT so very long ago, I used to cry over oppressors and bullies in my life. My father dealt with my crying by making me face my tormentors and taught me to engage them in their own fight. It was a liberating feeling to know that I can defend myself this way. My mother taught me something else, to fight in silence, to overpower the noise with the silence, to call on my inner guides, the way my grandfather called on spirits to heal.
Growing up, there were more complicated challenges, as I moved around circles fighting for social change, ecological change and equality for the vulnerable sectors of society. Like everybody else, I put the blame on the institutions of oppression, and sought their reform, if not their dissolution. So many cultural norms, practices and thought processes ingrained over years of foreign occupation superimposed themselves on strategies to achieve desired changes, that at times caused bitterness, hopelessness and resulted most often in drastic actions.
During these times, when I thought that the world is so messed up, I call on the lessons my father and mother taught me, and take instructions from the waves of the sea or listen to the pine trees to clear my mind and to recover the part of me that was eaten up by hate.
In one of these trips, I met a lifelong friend and mentor in whose presence, I strangely believed, that the changes I desired, were in fact, possible. Change in imperceptible increments, he said, but accumulated in time, it can trigger a wave of unimaginable changes. When I got stuck on a perspective, he would bring me from the ground level of a building to walk up on the second floor, and see the street from there. From the second floor, we would walk up to the seventh, and again, look at the view from there. From the seventh, we would take the elevator to the penthouse, and look again, and by this time, I can see the whole city before my eyes, a magnificent collage of pulsating life, dancing to the evening sky.
I recall this to mind, with all the cuss words I hear about the traffic, the corruption, the garbage, sidewalks that have become parking lots, street children and families, character assassinations and demolition jobs, a deluge of promises to deliver the country from poverty by messiahs who think that they can change the Philippines by providing free internet, expanding the graveyards, I can go on, blah blah blah – something I live with every day, but “Putang Ina!”, with a little walk up the stairs, Metro Manila is actually “Hayop sa Ganda!” (Beastly Beautiful!).
For all those stuck on the ground, take a walk, walk your talk. One man cannot do the walking for a whole country. One small step up, from everyone, will surely take us where we want to go.
Take a walk
walk the talk
the green grass sways
from the music
of the soil beneath
find your rhythm
dance in the rain
swallow the raindrops
as they drop, drop, drop
sweet little pearls from the sky,
soothing the worry
of the angry and the weary
chasing away the madness
and the cussing of men’s feet
sores on a battered street
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