I was clueless about it the entire day, until I received a text message from my dad. He forwarded a message from his friend, who complimented him about my contribution to Young Blood, the popular column for the “twentysomething and below”, regularly published on the opinion page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
My dad’s friend was referring to my essay entitled “View from my window”, which I had first written on this site as an entry in mid-June. I eventually decided to send it to PDI.
I was ecstatic! I would even have literally jumped for joy, only if I wasn’t driving at the time. So I hurried home to see it for myself — to also prove that I wasn’t hallucinating! Haha! Truth be told, while I remember having written it for this site, I had almost forgotten about sending it to the Young Blood.
I have always loved writing, and it has been a long-time dream to get an essay published. It’s not because of any mundane illusion of becoming famous, nor any pretensions of being an award-winning writer. I simply wanted to share my thoughts and contribute to the free market.
I partly fulfilled this dream through PDI’s Junior Inquirer section, when I was a feature writer for it in high school. The opinion section had also featured a commentary of mine in 2002 when I was chairperson of our student organization, the UP Communicators for Good Governance. But Young Blood is different. This column has been a wonderful opportunity for the youth to speak up and be heard.
Thank you, Philippine Daily Inquirer! A lot of people do not know this, but I became a writer (and eventually became of journalist) because of PDI. I am deeply honored and humbled to see my work on the same spread as the newspaper editorial and the columns of the country’s most respected opinion-makers. A dream has come true indeed! Prior to yesterday, I would joke myself often that if I don’t get to share anything on Young Blood by the time I reach 30, I would then have to aim for PDI’s other column, High Blood, which is for senior citizens!
I’d like to thank all of you friends for the very encouraging feedback and continued support. The essay, after all, tells the story of my transition from one season to another. I continue to realize more and more the power of writing, of sharing, and how any individual could be an instrument of good news.
View from My Window
Ralph Pascual Guzman
There is an exercise in corporate training called “My Window,” which we trainers give for personal planning and visioning.
I first took this exercise many years back at a conference for students. We were given a sheet of paper each, with a blank rectangle on the center, which is the window. Inside this rectangle, we were asked to draw the things we wanted to see and achieve in the next several years: our dreams, aspirations, and the things we wished for.
I enjoyed the activity much, being a meticulous planner (some people have called me “obsessive-compulsive”). Not surprisingly, my drawing wasn’t much different from those of the others, who drew houses with picket fences, stick figures of happy families, drawings representing successful careers, and even some material possessions.
I lost my drawing. But over the years, I kept an imaginary window, keeping in mind the things I drew.
Then, there is also the window in my bedroom.
I’ve turned to this when I am in deep thought and in need of inspiration. The view before was spectacular! I had the very calming view of vacant lots, which were covered with short, wild grass that danced gracefully when it was windy. During the rainy season, some of these empty properties would turn into virtual lakes and ponds, where, after a downpour, a number of birds would play and look for food. Meanwhile, on New Year’s Eve, I enjoy the breathtaking view of fireworks from the houses nearby.
Unfortunately, this view has now been “obstructed.” But I still enjoy looking out of my window. From time to time, I would even have the pleasure of listening to our neighbors play the piano, which reminds me of the innocent days when I still played it for hours.
While drawing windows and having imaginary windows are a good, I’ve stopped turning to my imaginary window.
From high school up to the first years in the professional world, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted. I realized practically each goal that I had set to achieve. I surpassed every hurdle. I conquered. And I was thankful. My clear vision and direction are the reason for all triumphs.
But then came times when things didn’t turn out as expected, and occasions when all the best plans still fail. I was disillusioned, discouraged, and confused. I was haunted by many doubts: Is this what I really want? Will this truly make me happy? Am I realizing my life’s purpose by doing this or that? Am I really getting closer to my goals and dreams? Why am I doing this?
I had all the symptoms of a quarter life crisis, and I was not happy with my very own plans, even if I realized them. The results weren’t as fulfilling as I had thought they would be.
As my unhappiness and restlessness continued to grow, I confronted all my doubts. I realized that as we grow and we mature, our definitions of happiness, security, and fulfillment may change. Our very own dreams change. And yes, the people we encounter along the way – people who are also very much part of the journey – change, too.
A good and wise friend of mine also told me that while we achieve certain dreams, we may be called to be there at a certain place only for a limited time as we enter different seasons in our lives that will bring us closer to greater goals and true happiness. What may be a good place today may not be the best one. It may not be the final, long-term destination, for God may be leading us to another path. Oftentimes, these are paths that we are usually hesitant or afraid to take. But it is really a much better path, the path we are really meant to take.
So I took a leap of faith: I left my dream job, and shifted to another, which was initially way out of my comfort zone. At first, I was somewhat disappointed, thinking I had committed a failure in planning and lacked foresight. Now I am standing by my decision because at the end of the day I now know not only what I am doing, but why I am doing everything. And, after much complaining and praying, I’ve come cherish that God’s “worst” plans are much better than our best ones. So as long as I’ve done my best and worked with all faith and fervor I have nothing to complain about. After all, He is the better architect.
I don’t know what is in store for me in the future. But everyday has been a true blessing and a pleasant surprise in big and small ways. I’ve stopped drawing windows in my mind. I’ve stopped stressing myself, and stopped planning too much. Instead, I’ve learned to take one day at a time, to live the moment, to enjoy the ride, choosing to look at my real window and to watch the birds dancing, hear my neighbor playing Bach and Mozart, and appreciate the real, beautiful music that each day gives.
Ralph Pascual Guzman is a former TV news correspondent and now works as a management consultant.
(published on August 16, 2008 by the Philippine Daily Inquirer)