“DEAR J.” (An Open Letter to a Dear Nephew and the Youth of Today)
I really wish I lived closer or was just there to witness and be a part of your growing up years. In this hectic world we live in, we always find ourselves running after time; only to realize one day that everything has changed right before our very eyes and we barely even noticed it. Children grow up almost in haste. Lives change in a matter of a split-second decision. The very things and people we always thought would be there for and with us no matter what, just the way we always remember them, will all of a sudden change courses/paths when we least expect it…Then one morning we wake up and find ourselves wondering what have we really done with our lives. What have we really accomplished? Who are we sharing all our triumphs and failures with? Where are we to go from this point forward?
That’s where we’re at right now. You have turned into a fine young man, yet, for some reason, I still see and think of you as the little boy who visited me ten years ago. I still remember (I’m not sure if you still do though) that night we went to this eat-all-you-can restaurant and you ate that sushi with so much gusto, you literally ate the whole thing with one swoop to your mouth. We were all laughing then. At you. At what you did. At how you looked like. You were so animated then. So open to new things. So full of life and promise. And you didn’t care if you looked funny or quaint. At that time, all you wanted was to relish that piece of sushi. You did and everybody allowed you to do just that, much to your satisfaction and our delight. Oh! to be young and foolish. To be vibrant and free. To be loved and adored no matter what. To be happy just because. How I wish I could hold on to that moment/memory forever.
However, I don’t really think, at this point in your life, you are already filled with so much nostalgia of your younger days. Perhaps, more than anything else, all you are so raring about is to be set free and be allowed to do things on your own. If there’s one prayer you must be saying over and over, it would be, “Dear God, please let my parents see the light so that they’ll realize I am now old enough to discern right from wrong and I do know what I am doing”. Like that sushi moment of your childhood, perhaps all you’re asking for is the same entitlement to do things your own way. You just want to BE, and still be adored and accepted and understood the same way.
I was once young, too. The belief that I have all the time in the world to explore life is still fresh in my memory. I still can remember the angst of being held back and to be relentlessly told what to do, what not to do, or just not yet, as if they all happened yesterday. I can still feel the nagging urge to break free and let loose and be who I wanted to be. Believe me, patience is not a virtue of the young. But, ironic as it may seem, I now feel grateful that I had people telling me to hold on, not now, no, or yes back then when I honestly thought I already knew everything I ought to know. Though I don’t think I would want to change my past (I am who I am right now because of everything that happened to me before) I still sometimes wish I didn’t have to learn some things the hard way. Believe it or not, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have complicated my life with so much anxiety, frustration, resentments and/or restlessness.
I am not telling you this just so you would start heeding every word your mom and dad are telling you. Neither am I expecting that you will all of a sudden have a change of heart and become this super-duper obedient child with a halo, your tail hidden and your budding horns stunted. All I am hoping for is that you will stop for a moment and try, and I mean really try with all your might and effort, to look and truly see what you have in your hands at this awesome time of your life. All I am praying for is that you will somehow realize how fortunate you are and how with every right decision and responsible choice, you truly have the freedom to be who you want to be. All that I am wishing for is that you will acknowledge the importance of listening (to the truest sense of the word), thinking before acting (and being brave enough to accept and deal with the consequences of your every choice), praying (and having enough faith that God has the best plans for you) and most of all, gratitude (for being alive, able and loved despite of, in spite of, no matter what frailties or idiosyncracies you’re owning up to). Perhaps, when you find yourself ingrained with these vital credence in life, you will find it much easier to deal with any storm or challenge or adventure that will come your way. And not to scare you or anything, your rollercoaster ride is yet to begin.
More so, my fervent hope for you is that on that day when you reach the age your parents are or I am at right now, or maybe older, you will be able to look back with a smile on your face and not much regrets in your heart. The journey will never be easy, mind you; but as long as you’re willing to accept every defeat without losing faith, as long as you revel in your glorious moments without having to sacrifice your principles and forgetting where you came from, and for as long as you open your heart to the valuable lessons in life and remain grateful and true to yourself, you will find contentment and peace no matter what.
And maybe, if you should ever find yourself at a crossroad, it might help to think of our sushi moment and remember that no matter what you do, you are free; and no matter what happens, ninang (mom and dad and the rest of us who sincerely love you) will never be far behind to share (in) your experience and be truly happy for you.
Live well. And never forget to thank God for all your blessings….even your heartaches. They are both valuable in this journey we call life. :o)
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