There really is so much to process when you are a trainer: a participant’s strengths, areas for improvement (which I would rather call “future strengths”), the use of the tools of communication, application of assertiveness in communicating, listening etc. Now, multiply that by 20 participants at a time and what do you get?
A very busy trainer.
We get to be very busy that sometimes, I feel that there is not enough time to process oneself, or to process and internalize very important things that happen to us. I know of another professional from another company, for example, who broke up with his girlfriend the night before training. For him, there was no time to cry, there was no time to really process how he felt about the situation. Something was inside him, and he wanted to let it out. But because he was very professional — and I highly respect him for that — he chose to set aside his feelings until after training. By the time training had ended, the bottled up feelings have fizzled out. The good and ironic thing is that he was spared the heartache, and was able to recover faster.
I am thankful that I don’t have any heartaches (and I am not even to think about any, lest I attract them). But I could not let this week pass without even stopping to think of the learnings and “aha moments” that I have encountered. I am at a loss of words when I think about it alone, so allow me to process them out aloud. The people I will mention, just like the trainer I had just mentioned, value their privacy so much, so I will need to be a little general with the info.
I had not been able to speak to a mentor of mine for five years. I was under her for more than a decade. I lost her number and she had gone abroad. She didn’t have e-mail, and truth be told, I didn’t think she was the type who would be on Facebook. I remember how awkward it was when I had graduated from her mentoring a few years back. We couldn’t say goodbye to each other because we had gotten so fond of each other. She was more than a mentor. She had become family to me. And I remember bringing her home one last time, the last time she hitched with me. What broke my heart back then was a line that she had mentioned about one of her students wishing that she would be under her forever. It broke my heart so much because I felt the same way — I didn’t want to stop learning.
Work got in its way (though I don’t blame it), and so I needed to stop getting mentoring. But one thing was sure, there was no goodbye. We couldn’t.
I wish I could say the same for other special people — friends whom I gotten to care about a lot — who have said hello and goodbye over the past several years. The goodbye (and “see you soon”) would always be good, but more often than not, the goodbye is the last thing I would hear from them. I am, of course, only human, and would feel bad. And admittedly, I sometimes wondered if it was worth caring to begin with.
Now, back to my mentor. Thankfully, a common friend had her number. So I made a long distance call right away. My heart pounded in the very few seconds that her son-in-law called her to the phone — It was the longest five seconds of my week. Everything had gotten so familiar again when I heard the first note of her voice. It was as if we only talked yesterday. The warmth, the care, and yes, the love of two “almost-relatives” all came back. I was so overwhelmed, and was trying to keep my voice from cracking on the phone. She’ll be coming home in February on a vacation, and I will not let the month pass without seeing her.
I could not help but think now about the people I care about. There are people you know who will be friends for life. There are those who will be occasional friends. There are some who will be friends only at certain short points. And there are even some whom you’ll burn bridges with. So I ask myself: is caring and loving worth the potential heartache? I’ve now come to believe so. So it’s true: real love is love without expecting anything in return. Because we are humanized by the experience. Because our feet are kept on the ground. And simply because love, whether it is actually returned to us via gestures or words, still returns to us and makes us better people.
When the opposition would always look at the country’s situation from a negative perspective, I remember very well that it was not unusual for the bigwigs to say that they are looking at the glass half full, rather than half empty. It is always easy to complain and look at the negative, whether one is talking about politics — or real life.
My friends in Facebook may have read my metaphor about closing a door recently and even adding seven padlocks to it. I officially closed a life-chapter last week. Nothing too personal. But as I closed the door, I agonized on whether I was truly happy about officially moving on, and whether I would want to go through the same experience again. It wasn’t all that bad. I suppose I had unrealistic expectations, which, to a certain extent, made me realize that I wasn’t even grateful enough. I only looked at negatives — and failed to see for myself that the glass was more than half-full. And so, as the door was about to close, I agonized and thought to myself: will I continue the chapter and continue writing on it? A talk with another good friend made me realize what I now have, how blessed I really am. Had it not been for my friends’s surprise talk and feedback, I may have almost given up something good. I had forgotten why I closed the door to begin with. And so tonight, I added seven padlocks to make sure I will never open it again.
We all have regrets in life. My greatest regret? Hmmm…. I would say, not being able to learn basketball (considering my relatively good height).
There are things that, even if they happen, we do not brand as regrets, but as lessons. I agree with this. There are lessons in life that only make us better people. But then there are things that anyone may regret — and that is how some may behave in close relationships. In the past week, I saw three people realize this. I saw three people realize that there is no turning back time, and that because of their own shortcomings, have caused damage to their relationships with people close to them. I saw three people regret now being able to love when it mattered the most, and feel the full consequences years after.
My perennial question: is it too late? Based on the people whom they’ve strained relations with, it seemed like that. It is sad that some people realize too late how much time they spent just thinking about what they think is right, what they feel, the work they need to do, etc.
I always hope that it is not too late, although sometimes I’d be tempted to give in and not expect anything good anymore. But true love always conquers — when it is given unselfishly.
Sure, we may not rewind time. But love can be given anytime. And love and respect can be received again if one were to patiently and slowly rebuild the relationship. A relationship can be rebuilt if one were to just listen more and learn from the mistakes of the past. It is never too late.
What I Know for Sure
There are many more lessons to be learned, and there are many more uncertainties. What do I know for sure about tomorrow? I know and trust that goodness will have its way — one just needs to wait, to be grateful, and to keep the faith. I know that being idealistic is not for the naive but for the righteous.
And, there is no goodbye to people you really care about, because they will always be in your heart, wherever their circumstances take them. And if there are heartaches in between, they are symptoms of our capacity to really love and care for others.