Iambic Attack

Lately, I almost succumbed to the thought that half of my life has been taken away from me. You know, acquiescing this responsibility as a teacher, editor, etc., made me realize that subjecting the self to stress can be a “useful” weapon in dealing with life. I’m always impelled to work than to sit in one corner doing nothing. Ironic, isn’t it? However, there are times when stress could really enervate the body, not even Stresstabs could bolster it with. I must admit I’m a valetudinarian and unfortunately, it came to a point when stress (or probably the weather) wrenched the hell out of me. One thing I realized, no matter how one works on something s/he loves, if s/he ignores the detrimental consequences of his or her efforts, everything is useless.

In my battle, I considered certain strategies in order to gain triumph over my dilemma. Luckily, I found a way to deal with it. Sure, it may sound bizarre, but for a mushy person like me, it’s a tried and tested form of therapy. You know what it is? Reading poetry. Just reading poetry. Thanks to Dr. Cirilo Bautista’s poem collection, Believe and Betray, my appreciation for poetry has given a new light. At times when I see myself wandering off, performing tasks in an autopilot mode, I almost felt like a human automaton existing in a bustling microcosm of do-this-do-that. Just when I thought that the pressure which envelopes me is no big deal, what do I know, stress has already pursued me, has tied me on my bed for days and all I could think of was how to counteract its harmful effect. And there it was, a book served as my saving grace, particularly the poem titled “Watching the Garden.” Honestly, I’m not good in analyzing verses. I just read them. So one day, as I was about to go to school, I sat on my bed for a while and scanned the pages of the book for some inspiration. These lines struck me and almost drove me to tears. I couldn’t explain why, but as the words painted the images in my mind, I couldn’t help but be mesmerized, as if my world turned into paradise. To think that the poem has a poignant undertone, such as these lines,

and sampaguita, orchid
and bamboo highlight my weakness
when they bloom, as if I had not
fed them enough, as if the earth
were not big enough to hold them.

My heart was beating fast. A lot of things crossed my mind. I realized how much I missed the very simple joys that have been veiled by the demands of my professional life – childhood, laughter, etc. – which I wish could happen again. Most of all, I thought of home, of “watching the garden” that I have never done for a long time. When my world was not busier then, I used to go down by the sea and savor the cool breeze that touched my face, or just indulge into a deep meditation until the sun bid farewell over the horizon.

“Watching the Garden” stirred a feeling of nostalgia, and for a while, I felt relaxed. Meditating the lines from the poem I realized how my life has been transformed by the choices I make. The modern world demands a lot from us. And we tend to let ourselves be absorbed in the busy-ness of life to the extent that we already forget ourselves. Hence, we say how stressful life can be!

I am not
the measure of growth, my will
rots like old promises,
yet I thrive on the thought
that all frailty is breakable,
even that which points to death.

After reading Cirilo Bautista’s poem, I discovered what I have been missing. But I know it isn’t too late; despite the pressure of teaching life, I could always sit and watch the garden, that is, remembering the happy things in life, being with the people who matter most. Definitely, God has never given me these trials without providing me strong shoes.

As I closed the book, I also regained my life. I heaved a deep sigh of relief. Now, I’m ready to go to school.

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