MANY say 2016 was a bad year in many respects. Many prominent and well-loved names passed on, there were a number of disasters, and Filipinos got a surprise they never quite bargained for. I know some friends for whom the year carried a less-than-fair dose of surprises and tragedies. Personally, 2016 for me was still good, and I would prefer to call even the bad episodes sobering.
The best takeaway I had was that we should, for the sake of our sanity, make time for just a little bit of everything.
The cliché is that we work so hard on regular days that we should find time, on weekends or during breaks, to spend time with the people who matter to us. Whether it’s a movie date, dinner, coffee or drinks, what is important is the opportunity to catch up and be updated with what is going on in our loved ones’ lives. Perhaps we dish out advice, but for the most part, we offer companionship and that’s good enough as it is.
In doing all these, we forget there is one other important person to spend quality time with—ourselves. Some people, extroverts mostly, may be horrified at the idea of dining out or going to the cinema alone, or even spending one full day indoors with no human interaction whatsoever. This year I learned that time alone is premium time. It recharges you, gives you the proper perspective and puts you in your place.
Time to bring order into chaos.
When you don’t clear your desk, the paper piles up and entropy takes over until what lies in front of you is a large blob of things made up of things you need, things you don’t need, and things you think you may need at some future time. It’s a kind of laziness, really, to avoid making these little decisions so that we get rid of the baggage and accumulate less. As for me, I try to set aside 10 minutes every day for this exercise. It’s liberating.
Time to shed the image of perfection or invincibility.
Parents, especially, or those occupying positions of ascendancy, may find themselves bogged down with the pressure of always having to be perfect: Knowing all the answers, always being right. In truth, this is all an illusion. Even the brightest people are bright only in their field of expertise, and sometimes make serious errors in judgment. The compulsion to let everybody else believe they are not capable of being wrong, or stupid, may take a toll on their well-being.
So, for once, it may be good to show one’s weak side. Slip up and let others know you are capable of hurting, or crying, or admitting your frailty. After all, what is important is the journey back up, not the fall.
Time to indulge.
We sometimes confuse being smart as always playing by the rules and always doing the right thing. This is the ideal behavior, but we are not robots. I learned that it is not a crime to indulge ourselves sometimes: overloading on your favorite food (whatever the doctor says), binge watching your favorite series at the expense of your scheduled tasks, traveling without an itinerary, or even spending an insane amount of time conversing with a friend online.
We must all be adults sometimes and need to get back to what we have to do, eventually. We must not punish ourselves so if we slip up from time to time—so long as we know when it is time to whip ourselves back into shape.
Time for processes.
Everyone has had to deal with varying kinds of disappointment. The human reaction to such is not at all pretty. In fact, it could be ugly. For somebody who is always reasonable, logical and in charge, unpleasant surprises and frustrations may seem like a death knell. Imagine being lodged out of your equilibrium, not having all the answers, wondering whether you have all the truth in front of you, and feeling as though you just want to disappear from it all.
You will yearn for immediate resolutions. You wish you can get over your disappointments right away, and cross over to the part when you are already okay. You will give anything, do anything, to be in charge and logical and whole once again.
You can’t. Processes take time, and there is no way to get around them. Otherwise, progress will be a sham. Don’t worry—it will come, just not now. Don’t you want to stick around to experience how awesome it will be?
Time to do nothing.
We were brought up to believe that to be idle is a bad thing. Working, and working hard, is the ideal situation. Perhaps it is knowing more about life, or growing old, or both, but more and more my idea of a perfect day is a day to do nothing. Again, it is not a crime. On the contrary, we need it so that when it is really time for is to do something, we will be rested and powered and raring to do more than we ever set out to do.
Time to disconnect.
Over the past few years, the internet has changed the way we live. We have always been available, easy to reach and easy volunteer information about ourselves, whether we realize it or not.
Being “out there” all the time can be quite exhausting. How to keep up with friends and family who are all also out there, discoverable with just a click of a finger?
To deliberately take time off might then be the single biggest favor you can do yourself. If a matter is truly urgent, people can call you on your landline or mobile. Everything else can seem to wait. It’s magical, quiet and immensely peaceful. And then after this lull, you feel you can take on and make sense of the noise of the world again.