I call it the Ten to Ten crowd. Every morning, as I sit inside my neighborhood Starbucks, a crowd of eager senior citizens patiently wait for the adjacent mall to open. The mall opens at 10 in the morning, but as early as 9.30, a small crowd is already gathered outside, excited to do their daily rituals here, maybe twice-thrice a week or maybe weekly, but whatever the frequency, they're here. They're always here. And it never fails. Their presence never fails.
I wonder what parallel faith awaits me and my partner when we reach that twilight of our lives. Will we be mall rats, too, looking for quotidian ways to spend our breaths? Will we be cooped up in our home, shying away from such crowds? Will we nitpick on each other, lovingly or annoyingly? We don't know what kind of development awaits us. But if we'll base it on how we interact now, then it's going to be a fun time. As always.
Before we parted ways earlier to head on to our respective job duties, she was talking about feeling old already. Adulting never prepares one for such stages when you have to make huge decisions for your own self or your loved ones. No one said adulting is easy. No one also said the difficulty won't pass. In the end, it wil aways be your kind, your kind of adulting, that will enhance your growth as a human being, or will make you devolve back to the dark ages.
In my own adulting journey, I've learned one important lesson for myself: that there's no such thing as unconditional. All things have their limits, their breaking points, their tipping points. Things we consume have expiration dates. So do feelings we afford some humans. You can only have such finite amounts of patience for a situation. You can only shower a being with enough love for a relationship to grow. Some smother, and they think smothering is the same as loving. Love can get suffocating at times, too, when applied carelessly, or selfishly. Plants wither if they don't get watered the proper way. They die, too, if watered too much.
I think life teaches you to balance, to know how much is too much, and when enough is enough. I've also learned that during my adulting years, sometimes the hard way. It's a lesson I'll cherish bringing with me during my twilight years. I will share my stories of recklessness to whoever cares to listen then. I'll share my life lessons with whoever has the patience to be with me and listen to them. And I'll welcome their thoughts about my thoughts, for that is also an important adulting lesson I've learned in my life so far: having a fair exchange. Walang overspending, walang nalulugi. Win-win situation, as suggested for those who want a habit of being effective. Fair exchange: It's the humane way of being.
But if you really insist on betting one way, you can also bet on losing something the other way. That's how fair exchange works. You win some, you lose some. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. You can't put all your eggs in one basket. Insert the next lines of cliché here. You get the drift.
Like these lolos and lolas who have already undergone so much in their lives, as evident in their eyes, in the lines on their faces, I'm positive they've already had their fair share of exchanges. Like a dead star's last glimmers reaching the earth too late, some of the sparks in their eyes might have been hints of pain in their past, losses already grieved over, but they just blink it away now. Because they've already done their part, their duty. The rest is up to the rest of them folks they deal with.
You cannot pour from an empty cup, as that Buddhist thought goes. That's also one thing I learned growing up: you can stir in stuff in your cup, but you have to be ready for what your concoction will taste like. And before you help others, you have to help your own self first. For what will you pour if you've already dried up?
And lastly, one thing people taught me about people in this life holds water to this day: You can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped. I think this is the most difficult lesson I had to swallow in this life. Of course you want to always help those in need, especially the ones you love. But sometimes, the best way to help them is to *not* help them, for some people need to learn their lessons the way they need to be learned: in their own way, in their own time, in their own pace. No, you can't hurry anything in this life; not love, not epiphanies, and certainly not growth. Unless we humans learn how to make GMO feelings, then let's amplify all that needs jazzing up. But until then, we have to accept the fact that learning takes time. Like aging properly. And adulting.
Take a hint from these Ten to Ten seniors, the ones "rushing" to get inside the closed mall. For in their appearance of rushing, they're actually patiently waiting, waiting for what they know will come (i.e. for the mall to open at 10am) but they don't stress about something they know they have no control over (i.e. the mall still remaining closed before 10am). Another adulting lesson I picked up in life: You can't stress over all things beyond your control. You learn to pick your battles, conserve your energy, pour it where it's more needed, in the process refilling your cup repeatedly, until it's time to pour.
Have a happy coffee morning, folks. Easy on the sugar. ☕❤
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