Feb 23, 2011

Daily thoughts -The Brevity of Life

A friend of mine left a message on facebook wall that has bothered me since yesterday. Our Microbiology teacher in college just passed away from Hemorrhagic stroke last February 19, 2011. He was one of the most respected professors from the College of Science at De La Salle University Taft Manila. He was also my thesis advisor for one year. He was a kindhearted man who was a good friend and confidante during my college days. I havent seen him since I went to Medical School but that doesnt change the fact that I have always thought of him fondly. I couldnt believe the sad news. This great man was only 42 years old.

I suddenly had an epiphany on the meaning of life. How precious it is yet how we take it for granted on a daily basis..we act like we are going to be here forever. We harbor grudges, gloat on someone's impending failure and we cant wait for our enemies to languish when they finally get their long overdue karma. We also work for the wrong reasons, the most obvious of all is money. It doesnt matter if we have to work long agonizing hours on a job we hate, as long as the pay is great, its acceptable. We miss a family member's birthday, we put off making that call to say sorry, we think there will be another time to do it. We postpone even our own happiness until we get that big break, that huge paycheck, our degree or when we land the perfect job or travel overseas.

But what if, it was all over? Can we really say we lived a full life?

I have been contemplating on the decisions Ive made in the past few years and the more recent months since I relocated home. Im currently living at our old house, broke and jobless. A year ago I had a job, a comfortable home and some money in the bank. Not much but enough to live off for a few months in case I decided to be lazy. But I left it all behind for an uncertain life in my country. Because, I believed that there are things far more important than money or success. I love my Dad and that was enough for me to  abandon what I worked hard for to achieve in the last 3 years, and just go home and be with him.

Still, I lost my Dad 4 months ago. There is not a day that I dont think of him. I miss him very much. He was a great man not because he was famous nor rich but because he was a very good father. He was selfless, kind and valued his family over anything else. He is one of the kindest people I know when it comes to animals too. He would give our pets the same meal he had if his money wasnt enough to buy cat or dog food.  He never fed our pets garbage or rotten food unlike some people I know who can afford to feed the animals better but wont. For 4  months after his death, regret hovered over my head..that I wasnt able to give him the quality of life he deserved..especially on his final days. I wished I could have done or given more. But angrily I thought, I was not his only child. There were 4 other siblings and yet, I was the only one who bought his medicine and his special food. I honestly felt  bad towards my family for not contributing even food for my Dad and worse for not being there when he passed away.

Today, after assessing my feelings and deciding on what I should do, I feel like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I realized that I shouldnt be angry anymore. It will not bring my dad back. Also, if I have lost whatever money I made for the past few years to make my Dad's life a little comfortable, then maybe I have given him my best. Im proud of my Dad. I believe he lived a full life because he did what made him happy and he was still the kind generous man until he passed away.  I have the highest respect for him because he gave his all.

Also I thought that I did what I could for him while he was alive. As for my shortcomings, its time I forgive myself too.  Life is really too short to carry around these hang ups with me. Time to unclutter, forgive and move on.

And again, I thought of my favorite teacher, Dr Anthony Lee. I remember him as a witty and  intelligent guy. He was always brimming with so much enthusiasm like its his first day in school all the time.  I couldnt forget also that incident where he was discussing something about gonorrhea then he tripped on the plaftorm near the blackboard and he grabbed the table just in time before he dove head first. We were stunned. Then he looked at all of us and quipped "Kaya nyo yon?" (english: can you do that?)  which made us roar in laughter. He was funny but serious when it came to his class. Microbiology was one of the most dreaded and notorious subjects back in College. They flunked not just a handful but enough to make an entire section.

I decided to not join my teammates on a track and field tournament in Bacolod. I stayed in my dorm to study for the final exams in Microbiology. I had to pass it. I almost didnt. I had to beg Dr Lee to recheck my papers because even if you were 0.1- 0.449 short from the passing mark, it is considered a fail. I dont specifically dislike Microbiology, it was just difficult. It was unforgettable because when I got my course card and saw I flunked I flipped out and stormed in the Biology Department making a scene. I couldnt believe myself too but it was one of those things I did in College that Im proud of. Im glad also that Dr Lee was kind enough to let me recheck my exams. And there was indeed one or two answers in an exam where two of the multiple choices were both correct. Needless to say, Microbiology, the hardest subject in Biology, isnt among the subjects I failed in College.

On my final year in College, Dr Lee was my thesis adviser. Ironically, I chose a thesis entitled, Screening of Antimicrobial properties of Crude extracts of  7 selected Chinese Herbs.  He was surprised I chose a thesis on Microbiology when he thought I apparently hated that subject. I just smiled and said, "youre wrong! its my favorite subject."  He shook his head laughing. He guided me until I finally defended my thesis. 

I visited some of my professors 10 years ago at my old school. Unfortunately Dr Lee wasnt around. I never got in touch with him again after college and I kinda feel bad I didnt. Medschool took up much of my time and it was like I lost contact with the outside world.

Dr Anthony Lee was among the few teachers that I truly liked and admired.  Im proud that I have been one of his students. He has taught me more than just the minute germs that we hate. The most important lessson was not taught in class but rather the life he exemplified. He pursued what made him happy. He lived his passion when he chose a noble profession such as teaching and he clearly loved it and spent years perfecting it.

I mourn the loss of a great teacher but I also celebrate him. I want to emulate the kind of life he had. I want to pursue what makes life more meaningful.  And like what I read somewhere said, "you cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its depth."

Its great to know that each day is another chance for a new beginning. A refreshed outlook in life can do a lot but it has to be backed up by the right attitude and a little courage. I have no time to feel sorry for myself. The job hunting continues and the beautiful life goes on. And I forgot to add, my sick cat just recovered so another reason for me to be thankful and to keep em kibbles coming.

Thumper recovering

1 comment:

  1. It's always a shame when someone dies, but more so when it's someone that was respected and well thought of. You're right. We never know when our time will come, so we should keep that in mind, so that when we die, people will remember us fondly.


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