THE BLANK PAGE CHALLENGE

Makinig at Magbago
December 11, 2020
Hindi Kita Susukuan
January 15, 2021

Yesterday was the first day of 2021 and many of us greeted it with hope mixed with uncertainty. Will it be a better year? Will the natural calamities and killings stop? Will corruption worsen as the national elections draw near? Will we be able to breathe fresh air again without fear of getting infected by a killer virus? Will we be able to hug our friends and loved ones again and let them know how much they mean to us?

Before this pandemic broke out, we were too smug and complacent living life’s normal grind —make a list of resolutions as the year draws to a close, bid the old year goodbye and welcome the new one with a bang, eat and party, wake up with a hangover, then go back to the daily routine and forget all the resolutions for the year. Repeat cycle.

Our present circumstances dare us to do it differently this new year. The cycle has been broken; the routine has changed. For some, there is no work/duty waiting to be performed.  For some, there is no business to operate. For some, the loss is permanent – as with the death of a loved. Well-thought-out plans have gone askew. Last year was all about learning to adapt to changes that nobody ever thought would happen in his/her lifetime. Our awkward attempts to adapt continue this year and we have a blank page to fill.

Two days before New Year’s Day, fire broke out in Brgy. Culiat in Quezon City. About a hundred families lost their homes. Among those interviewed by a news reporter was a middle-aged woman who lamented the loss of everything she had – her job, then a loved one, and now her home and everything in it. “I have nothing left. I leave it all to God,” she said.

How does one start anew with nothing? Like a writer confronted with the challenge of the blank page, who gropes for the first word to become a sentence to become a paragraph to become a story. Just go on and write the first word.

This new year is like a blank page for everyone. We are all writers who have to fill our respective blank pages with words to weave a beautiful story. Some are eager to start, some are afraid, some are inspired, some are taking it slow. What kind of writer do you choose to be?

One lady who was featured recently in a television show opted to write PERSIST as the first word on her blank page. She grew up in a poor family and eked out a living as a maid. She couldn’t remember an instance of having Noche Buena with her family. They couldn’t afford it. Even an apple was a luxury that she couldn’t afford to buy. One day, her employer gave her an apple. She didn’t eat it. She caressed it and smelled it and stared at it and marveled at how smooth and fragrant it was. It was too precious to eat.

Years later, the lady succeeded in rewriting her story. She got married, left her work as a maid and became a fruit dealer. “It wasn’t a smooth transition,” she said. The first time she tried, she lost the capital she borrowed. She persisted until her business grew. “Malakas ang loob ng Misis ko,” declared the proud husband. A strong will to get out of the rut she was in, coupled with Divine guidance and a strong desire to help others gave her story a beautiful twist. It all began with an uneaten apple.

The blank page challenge starts now. How are we supposed to fill it? The “haiku” that I shared yesterday goes like this:

New Year in a Time of Pandemic

A blank page to fill,

Oh! To have nothing but faith,

Write on without fear.

May we recognize the graces that surround us in our state of nothingness. Hello Twenny Twenny One!

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