28 December 2003

Fire Play

I treated myself with Catch-22, Pesto, Four Seasons and Fire in the Sky.

Straight from a mediocre day at work, I hung at the Town Center to wait for the fireworks display at 7:00 pm. I came there at 5:30 and went to PowerBooks to engage myself in book-hunting; and the gold I found was Joseph Heller's Catch-22. I'd been wanting to read this book for four years already and it was just a while ago that I took possession of it. Scouting the bountiful bookstore took much time, but it seemed to have flown so fast as I clearly immersed myself in the wanderland of words.

After the book-hunt, I went to Seattle's Best to taste their new fruit juice concoction. The Four Seasons wasn't disappointing. I finished my snack then checked my watch: 6:30 pm. Time slowed down.

I stood from my chair and readied myself to leave. Passing by the town plaza hallway, I saw the pack of people at the center of the square. I was wondering if there was a concert ahead, or other performances. I asked someone what the fuzz was all about and he mentioned the fireworks. Without thinking, I sat on the bench and stilled myself for a while. I browsed through my new book, and what do you know, it's a few minutes before seven.

And then it was 7:00 pm. An announcer introduced the fireworks display and a number of firecrackers were set ablaze. I was amazed by the unabashed display of excitement of the crowd. They were wowing from the onset of the sky show.

In my view, the sky wasn't a clear slate. There was a tall tree at the forefront and so there were leaves and some branches overlapping the display of fire play.

Marguerite Yourcenar tells of the stars' light that often only astonishes and enlightens, but doesn't warm. I didn't find any enlightenment by the dazzling and distant lights I just witnessed, but I was absolutely indulged in delight. I was spoiled by the fancy display of fire. More than anything else, I felt a strange warmth. A strange relief. I figured it was sourced from the oohs and ahhs of the people around me. I was one with them in that minute and minor pleasure. My bones softened at the sight of colors fusing, with cold and black as their backdrop--with people with different businesses to mind afterwards. I felt that no one among us there--at that moment--was shallow. Euphoria is difficult to quantify. Pleasure is in itself its purpose.

At that point when I realized I was enjoying myself, I looked at my watch to see the time and hoped that there were still more to come. Like with all good things, I became afraid of the fireworks display's conclusion. Like many good things, it was for free. My watch read 7:04. Fast. Fast gone as the embers erased by air, immediately after the fire. After the light.

The warmth lingers. And that is why I am writing this. To extend its life.

25 December 2003

A greeting, a wish

Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves

—Robert Frost
May the gift we give be the beauty that is ourselves, the way Jesus did.

01 December 2003

Gestures of grace

What you have is not yours; what you give is yours.

—From the cartoon, Committed
Thought doesn't count for me. Good intention is a quarter of a good thing. The well-thought-out and well-prepared gift is what truly matters.

Gift-preparation is one of my favorite activities. I consider it a project. I even love it during my college days when my budget is at its littlest. I get to be creative. More than that, I get to test my ingenuity and intuition about the person whom I intend to give something.

What urges me to give is the idea of letting someone know that they are remembered and loved. Not only that, since gifts are symbols, it is also important for me that the they not only feel remembered and loved, but seen. It's like silently saying, From what I understand of you, you might need and like this.

It's nice to open this month with the gift of attention. Attend not only to your friends or yourself, but to your environment as well. Do the curtains need washing? The study desk, polishing? Mind to plant another tree in your front yard? These are all in return, gifts to yourself.

How about the gift of reconciliation? That's another smashing idea, but it is so much easier said than done. Perhaps one of the grandest things money can't buy.

I love making people feel that I have seen them the way they wanted to be seen. I also love finding in their faces the expression of surprise and delight. And of course, affirmation. The last thing I would want to make them feel is guilt—that they should reciprocate the act. I'm not a fan of utang na loob. Often, after giving something with the extravagance of pure sincerity, the receiver would say to me, Oh, you shouldn't have done that, or You shouldn't have bothered. I think they forget that gestures of gratitude, admiration and tenderness are non-obligatory.

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