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Questions

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - April 9, 2021 - 12:00am

Two years ago, most people would be asking questions such as: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “How much growth do you intend to achieve for your company in the next year?” “What are your dream destinations for the next 12 months?” “Are you aspiring for a higher position or higher office in the near future?” That was so 2019 when people could only talk in terms of expansion, growth and personal goals. In short, our 2019 narrative was driven by materialism and self-interests.

Fast-forward to our COVID realities and the questions have radically changed. The most common question I hear is, “Will we ever go back to normal?” or “Will things ever be the same as they used to be?” Businessmen, leaders and achievers ask this same question almost with a sad longing look, as if the old normal was so long ago or has become more like a dream than a past reality.

Recently more people have asked me, “Kuyang, what do you think God is trying to teach us in all of this?” I was shocked because for the longest time I felt that many people were in denial of the possibility that COVID-19 was an act of God very much like the events in Sodom and Gomorrah, the burning of the temple in Jerusalem and many other catastrophic biblical events. In denial because the general argument pre-COVID is that a “Good God” would not resort to “bad things.” Having read a lot of the classic Charlie Brown cartoons, I have learned that there are three things you should not discuss with anybody: Politics, God and the Great Pumpkin. The Great Pumpkin I suppose refers to anything mythical, mystical or speculative.

The one thing I am certain of is that the current population of the Philippines is 110 million and we have approximately only 2.5 million doses of vaccines of various kinds in the country. What are your chances of being vaccinated with the correct vaccine within 90 days? Slim. There is a “lockdown” of sorts but during the daytime somebody locks the lock but keeps the gates open. So do I think we will ever go back to “normal” or will things ever be “the same like they were before?” Heck no! At least not in the older generations’ lifetime. COVID-19 has been busy wiping out the older folks just like the desert wiped out the disobedient older generation during the time of Moses. For those of us who might survive the first, second and third wave and manage to get the vaccine, all the experts have already said that the vaccine only helps prevent COVID-19 from killing you, but we still have a high chance of getting the virus upon contact and suffering mild to moderate symptoms. COVID per se might not kill us seniors but between pneumonia and flu-like episodes, many of us will be collateral damage.

For anyone 60 and above that is the equivalent of a bum deal. It’s like getting an insurance policy, hoping you never need it and that you stay alive to collect on it. Ironically if you get inoculated in 2021, you will once again need to be vaccinated in 2022 and beyond. By the time the dust settles, chances are we’ve burned three years of our lives sitting at home, dodging death at the door, while yearning for the time when things go back to normal.

Here’s the BIG question for YOU: If someone told you that you only have three years to live, how would you live them? Answer that fully aware that you are living in constant quarantine of some form and facing the same actual conditions we face now. By answering the question intentionally and strategically, you will answer the other questions.

The first thing I would do is make a playlist that loops “Live like you were dying” by Tim McGraw, “Fight song” by Rachel Platten and “Goodness of God” by Jenn Johnson/Bethel Music as my top three. I’d forget about diets and good looks, I’d stay up late and rise up early and grateful to God everyday, share all my untold stories with my beloved wife Karen and darling daughter Hannah. I would split my days into specific areas and chores; gardening, animals, home improvement projects, people to call or pray for on the go or while doing stuff. I would do everything to finish the self sustaining farm I dreamed of when I was in 4th year high school (I’m actually doing that now). I will certainly carry on making raised vegetable beds and rebuilding the small green house we started with.

I would ramp up my conversations with God just to be sure I’m not missing or leaving some important but unfinished work he has given me. Maybe I’d train and field an entry of roosters in some derby somewhere just to do it one last time, like I used to when I was in my late teens. I sure would love to actually install a solar power station for my place, an old style windmill with the directional rooster on the crown. If money were no object I’d find a way to build a small Red Barn or a small Victorian cottage that looks similar to a place I once lived in in Westport, Connecticut. It may all seem “materialistic” and centered on “self interests,” but given the parameters of being locked down and constantly at risk of COVID-19, my goal would be to be able to say: “I’m living the Life,” not moping, worrying and wishing for things to go back to normal. They won’t. We lost too many loved ones, too many friends, we are either poorer or lesser on the social and economic scale and the rules and lifestyle back then no longer apply. That’s my answer.

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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