Obvious but overlooked

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

M: Life is full of ironies. I have a friend who was constantly irritated with her husband that she longed for and looked forward every time he would travel for work because it would mean peace in the house. But there was one week that her husband was out of town and he didn’t call or text her, and he wouldn’t even respond to her messages. She got worried and started calling and texting him, asking him when he would come home.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and wonder! Serves her right, right? We have to be careful with what we wish for because we might just get it.

DJ: This reminds me of a story of a woman who freed a magical frog from a trap. In return, she got two wishes and for each wish she’d make, her husband would get 10 times as much. Her first wish was to make her the richest woman in the world even if that will also make her husband the richest man in the world because there was a twist in her second wish: she asked that she’d have a mild heart attack!


She got what she wished for although not in the way she expected it to be. Her husband did get a heart attack but it was 10 times milder than hers. Moral of the story? Some people are supposedly in a better position to help. But unfortunately, a number of them still choose to do harm on others. So if you happen to be on the receiving end of this unfortunate situation, make every effort to still choose to do good.

M: Several years ago I talked to a cancer survivor, and what struck me was her zest for life, her sense of involvement and determination to make a difference in the lives of other cancer survivors like her. I could not help but compare her to stories I heard of people who wanted to end their lives because of love problems, financial reverses—or one woman who was depressed because she gained weight.

We have different ways of dealing with our trials and more often than not it boils down to our outlook and attitude. The irony is that there are those who are about to lose their lives to sickness or health problems who want to go on living, but there are those who no longer want to prolong their lives because of a temporary setback or inconvenience. Sometimes the easy way out is not so easy after all. Some never appreciate life or what they have until they lose it.

DJ: We miss even the obvious when we always choose to look at things the way we want them to be. There’s a story of a man who was stopped by a guard while crossing the US-Mexican border on his bicycle. He had two sacks on his shoulders. “What’s in the bags?” he was asked. “Sand” was his reply. “Get them off. We’ll take a look,” demanded the guard. The man on the bike did as he was told and emptied the bags. Indeed, there was nothing in them but sand.

Two weeks later, the same thing happened. Again, the guard asked to see what was inside the two bags. And once again, they contained nothing but sand. This went on every week for a year. Then he stopped crossing the border. One sunny day, the guard saw him downtown. He approached him and said, “Hey, friend, you sure had us crazy. We knew you were smuggling something across the border. I won’t say a word, but what is it you were smuggling?” The man said, “Bicycles.”

M: One very important aspect in life is the willingness to stop and look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. Focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of having an attitude of gratitude and the ability to truly help those in need, especially the less fortunate. My sister Jasmin once told me a story that made me think of the irony of some people’s misplaced sense of empathy or compassion.

There was an ordinary worker whose infant son died after several days in the hospital. The man incurred more than a P100 thousand in medical bills. He went to different government and charitable institutions to ask for donations. He also requested the doctors who attended to his son if they could lower their fees, but they did not favorably grant the man’s request.

My sister commented, “Why couldn’t those doctors make an exception knowing that the person appealing for their help was obviously in dire need, when they can give discounts or not charge their friends or acquaintances who can well afford to pay their fees?” It's ironic, don’t you think?

DJ: It is. But at times, that’s how life is. That’s why we need not only courage to fight for things that we can change. We also need serenity to accept those that we can’t change. Life is imperfect. Life can sometimes be unfair. But it is still beautiful when we have the wisdom to know the difference, when we can make a difference and when we can inspire others to make a difference.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 13, 2014.


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