CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 19, 2016 - 9:00am

When our “stars” no longer twinkle, it is a reminder for us to number our days.

Upon logging into Facebook I was struck by the sad news that a second “Star” of my generation has stopped twinkling. Glenn Frey who was both guitarist and vocalist for “The Eagles” had died due to medical complications. With David Bowie bowing out earlier in the month, that’s two icons or legends gone from our generation. What makes it closer to home is that also makes us part of a slowly thinning crowd of people who must now come to terms with our absolutely certain mortality.

When the year started, I gathered up gifts that had trickled into the Philippine STAR office and I could not help notice that there seemed to be a “theme” among corporate gift givers. Majority of them were giving out “survival” related gifts from wind-up/self powered torches, whistles, grab bags, waterproof bags, first aid kits and the likes. Even family members had given me fluorescent orange emergency bags while someone has been trying to convince me to buy a three layered waterproof heavy duty organizer that would be great for tools or medicines in the next “Yolanda-sized” typhoon.

To round things off, the same theme seems to be connected to the teaching or preaching of pastors and leadership mentors who have been driving home the point that 2016 is the year when we all need to focus or concentrate more on relationships than investment, on being encouragers, and being enablers for people who can’t or don’t have the means to get things done or achieve wants and needs on their own.

To be honest, I tend to keep an eye out and watch for the signs of the times on two levels. On one level we have the everyday garden variety of economics, politics and trends. But on the more important level there are signs or warnings that require greater sensitivity to the point of risking sounding stupid or mystical. This is where “coincidence” to some is actually a warning for others. It is where prophecy is not a mere guess but actual guidance or warning from God. This however takes effort and not mere desire or curiosity.

So where exactly am I going with this? It has often been suggested by some, that the best way to appreciate life and to get a proper perspective of things, is for us to read the Obituary pages everyday. This was of course during a time when people thought nothing about writing down the dead person’s age and cause of death.  What hits home is often the death of someone our own age and who died from a disease or a cause that we have imagined or worried will kill us.

Recently, a much younger colleague suffered his second stroke and thank God survived. As we stormed the heavens for his immediate rehab and recovery, his unfortunate circumstance served as a stark reminder that we could have “drawn” his number or his card and be the one in the ICU.

A speaker recently commented that when he turned 40 it did not have any impact because he said that given how many people live up to 80, it meant that he had 40 more years to look forward to. But when he turned 50, it was like a stone rumbled down the hill with his name on it. This week, six teenagers died in a car crash in Tagaytay City, this week two guys below 55 kicked the bucket along with many so-called “So Young.”

I stopped to wonder if they ever had a chance to prepare, to fix relationships, to make a mark. The teenagers clearly did not expect to die in a fiery furnace, the lawyer did not know of his heart condition.  In a way, we cannot in fairness demand “closure” from people who never even saw it coming. Often I tell people that an unexpected medical crisis or a prolonged condition can actually be a “blessing” because it gives us the chance to make-up, correct or reconsider our lives and our ways. It is almost a second chance or a pre-departure option to get things in order.

Have you received a “medical notice” as in gotten ill enough to realize the value of life? Have you been presented a relational second chance to fix things regardless of who is right or wrong? Has age or circumstance  given you reminders of your “Incomplete” or Unfinished assignments or aborted missions in life? There are many people who are 6 feet under the ground or fully cremated who never got the chance, was never served notice. If you did, it can only mean that God loves you and whatever it is you have to accomplish or fix is of significance to God and to the people concerned.

The question is, are you going to keep humming the song “Desperado,” or maybe you should read it instead:

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

You been out ridin’ fences for so long now

Oh, you’re a hard one

I know that you got your reasons

These things that are pleasin’ you

Can hurt you somehow

Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy

She’ll beat you if she’s able

You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet

Now it seems to me, some fine things

Have been laid upon your table

But you only want the ones that you can’t get

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin’ no younger

Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home

And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some

people talkin’

Your prison is walking through this world all alone

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?

The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine

It’s hard to tell the night time from the day

You’re losin’ all your highs and lows

Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

Come down from your fences, open the gate

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you

You better let somebody love you (let somebody love you)

You better let somebody love you before it’s too late

(The Eagles)

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Email: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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