Words That I Live By
By Apolinario Villalobos
As a human being with so many limitations, I have always tried my best to live up to even a tiny percentage of the Creator’s expectation of me. It is not easy because of the teeming temptations and influences that make up a good portion of the world – we practically breath them. All creatures, be they humans, animals and plants are governed by some kind of survival norms which are also adapted to their kind of environment and needs. As what I am doing is an effort of sharing, I do not want to impose to others, for what are good for me may not be good for others. I just want them to know that somehow, I am surviving because of the principles that are guiding me…principles that are compressed in words for easy recall.
1. Faith – I firmly believe in the Creator. I do not believe that everything in the universe became what they are now by chance. I respect science, but it showed its inadequacy in giving convincing answers to so many questions that for centuries have been asked. Everything cannot just evolve from nothing. If science insists on some kind of a force as the beginning of everything, then, where did that force come from? For me, salvation depends on one’s faith and actions that conform with the Law.
2. Charity – Many say, charity should begin at home. It should start within the family, within the home. But others always forget the word “begin” in that reminder. As the act has a beginning, it should have a continuation…outside the home and extended to others. Unfortunately, others just cannot take the idea of sharing a few of their hard-earned pesos with others. Let them work for their money, they would say. Though, many really tried to find work, opportunities are denied to them. They are willing to break their back just to earn enough, even just for a day of survival, but they are exploited. I have seen how families would scour garbage dumps in an exhausting effort to collect scraps that can be sold to junk shops, and even discarded food that they immediately put to their mouth. I have been with families who exert much effort in saving extra coins for medicine, most of them making do with one meal a day, consisting of rice sprinkled with soy or fish sauce. I have been with families whose children walk kilometers of distance just to attend school with empty stomach and tattered school bags slung over their shoulders. I have seen children who sell wilting vegetables on sidewalks at dawn to earn a pittance for their allowance when they go to school at the strike of seven in the morning. How can one then refuse to extend a hand to them?
3. Piety – For me, it begins with sincerity in acknowledging His presence. This act need not be done in cathedrals, churches, mosques. It should not be imposed by any institution. An act of piety should not be expressed by mumbling memorized prayers or those that are read.Thanking Him with sincerity as one wakes up to another day is one simple act. And, enhancing that day with a warm smile to others is better than a hundred pages of hollow prayers mumbled with closed eyes.
4. Frugality – A life of dignity can be lived in frugality. One need not be clad in signature trappings in order to be affable. It is how one carries the clothes that fit his persona. Strangers on the street will not give a damn where one bought his shirt or shoes. But they will be offended with the “trying hards” who wear signature clothes that do not fit, they who thought others have the super penetrating eyes that will enable them to read the brand name in the collar of their shirts. The few pesos that I am saving if there is an opportunity have always helped me, aside from those with whom I share them.
5. Self-reliance – It pays to be on our own, as much as possible, in all our undertakings. One who struggles on his own, need not worry about favors to be returned…and most especially, his dignity is preserved.I have survived on that. Having been orphaned at a very young age, I have proven that all it takes for one to achieve one’s goal is by working hard for it.
6. Gratitude – To those who gave me favors voluntarily, I have always been generous with my thanks.
7. Honesty – First, we have to be honest with ourselves. We have to be honest as to what we want to do, hence, ask ourselves…can we do it? Others do things that made others successful. It is a wrong notion. Failures resulting from this kind of attitude can only bring disappointment, discouragement that could just hinder one’s effort to move on. The success of others can be an inspiration, but achieving the same need not be in the same field of endeavor. Honesty is also crucial in maintaining good relationship between husbands and wives. It is simply, about love, which for some is difficult to nurture, because they mistook lust for love. Worse, some couples cannot honestly accept the fact that marriage has bound them together for life. As regards students, dishonesty by submitting plagiarized projects is an indication that in the future, committing similar act can already be an easy thing to do for them. That is why the corporate jungle is beset with opportunistic managers, the government teems with corrupt politicians and lawmakers, even the pope himself, admits that there are priests who are not honest about their vow of celibacy and other commitments.…dishonesty, practically has overshadowed mankind.
8. Humility – Let others speak about you. But what if others refuse to acknowledge your ability? There are subtle ways to “assert” yourself that can be done but not at the expense of others. Allow the adage, “action speaks louder than words” rule your life.Just do your best in anything you do.
9. Fairness – Being fair to others does not require much effort and money. Giving recognition to one who deserves it is one of the best expressions of fairness. A tap at the back, a profuse appreciation of a good deed, and other fair acts do not cost anything but sincerity that comes from the heart. The fair recognition bolsters the spirit of one who receives it, thereby, making him strive more. We should be, likewise, profuse in thanking others who give us due recognition.
10. Love – This is the foundation of my life. It is only in loving that we can be sincere in dealing with ourselves and others.
11. Common sense – This is the spice of my life. Without common sense in everything I do, my life would have been dull.
Life is a book and from it we learn so many things. All that one has to do is be observant. Things that come our way can give us lessons that we need as we move on towards our goal. We should never get tired of learning from our own experiences and from those that we discern from others. We should always look back to see our mistakes… be sincere in accepting them and learn from them so that we can move on.