Times of our life
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2019 - 12:00am

Life is not always happy but you must always think about what will make you happy and always work towards that.

In the blink of an eye we are almost halfway through the year. At the end of this month 2019 will be halfway over. Recently I spent some time with our grandchildren. Charming little Zari celebrated her fourth birthday in a lovely red dress. She loved the ribbons on her gifts, wove them on the backs of chairs. She said they would get “yonging.” It took me a bit to figure out she meant “longing,” the ribbons would get longer as she wove. What an enviable imagination she has!

She showed me her birthday cake, tried to poke her chubby finger into it. She loved her gifts, knew exactly what they were. Then she turned quiet, engrossed in playing with her new toys.

Her much older sister Iva, who is 13, sat and talked with me about time and what it meant at her age. When she was in the lower grades, time absolutely crawled. It took so long to have anything happen. Now she was in the upper grades and time still crawled but a little bit faster. Maybe time toddles, walks a little unsteadily, slowly, but interestingly.

 I am amused. Time was magical at Zari’s age. Everything was joyful. We created our own words. Everyone found us so cute.  Then we grew a little up.

Ah, Iva, I wanted to say, just enjoy every day no matter how slowly. One day you will grow old like me. When you get old you realize that time actually flies like jets. When you are 13 it still goes slowly. You are at an awkward stage. The adult in you that has been asleep is just beginning to stir. You are full of curiosity that you must withhold. You compose songs or write poems to express the confusion in you, that’s just beginning to unravel. Sometimes you sit and think and find yourself crying for no reason. Other times you giggle by yourself. That’s what it feels like to start growing up. Look at it this way: until you die, you are in the process of becoming.

When you become a full-fledged teenager, enjoy the parties. I used to dance the boogie in four-inch high heels until past midnight. Then I would wake up at two in the afternoon without aches or pains, feeling wonderful. I would call up my girlfriends and gossip about the party last night and when the sun began to set, the boys would begin to call and I would be on the phone for hours. Those years were fun. I should not have married at 18. I should have allowed myself to have fun until I dropped.

 But then marriage came along as it inevitably comes along. I had children. First we were very happy, then we were not as the children began to grow up and demand more and more of our time and attention. Husband and wife began to focus on the children and less on each other.

Now that I am 74 I watch people in public places. Most of those who have grown-up children don’t seem close to each other, don’t seem happy with each other. They sort of drag along, weighed down by responsibility. The men are worried about their children’s schooling, their household expenses, their car and insurance payments. The women are worried about how to discipline the children. They are going through the work portion of marriage, when they have to earn enough money to provide well for their families.

I remember that portion of my life too, though when I got there I had no more husband. Basically I preferred to work and be independent and make decisions by myself than have to put up with a husband who was so successful he didn’t come home early anymore and had a lot of women on the side. I realized I did not like the lifestyle he gave us even if it came with a lovely house, a big garden and swimming pool. You might go through that, too. You will have to weigh what you like and what you don’t like in your life and you will have to decide how you want to live. That’s the hardest part of life but that’s something we all have to learn to do. We have to learn to decide for ourselves. What will make us happy? It sounds easy but it really is very hard to do.

The best thing we can do is live for the day. Live it when it is magical like Zari does. Live it when it toddles, like you in your early teens. Enjoy it when you’re partying. All this is just preparation. When real life happens, when you have to decide so many times, don’t forget about your happiness. Life is not always happy but you must always think about what will make you happy and always work towards that.

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