April 2004 Vol. 4 Issue 4

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Newsletter Contributors:

Clem S. Estrera, Jr.
    Class 1972

Ma. Belen F. Rosales
     Class 1970

Hector Vamenta
    Class 1972

Anny Misa-Hefti

Editor's Column

     "Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained." --Arthur Somers Roche

A thought on ignorance
     Well, we all passed the stage of life when we were young, ignorant or inexperienced, and gullible. But there was something about ignorance that made life more exciting and enjoyable. Imagine if we knew all we were supposed to know in our younger days. Our sense of curiosity would have been lost early on, for there would have been nothing much to arouse it. Life would then lose its thrill, its sense of wonderment and excitement that often come from knowing or discovering something that is enlightening.

     With our ignorance, when we discover something new, or new to us, it gives us a pleasant feeling of satisfaction. It brightens our outlook. It's like we're groping in the dark and we say, "let there be light!" and then all of a sudden there is light. It is as if the night becomes alive with magic carried on the gossamer wings of dreams. We begin to appreciate things we never did before. We may not feel any wiser, but our discovery, small it may be, has a way of carving a tiny place in our mind that is no longer ruled by darkness.

     It's our ignorance, or our willing acceptance of ignorance that helps remind us to enhance our desire for knowledge and spark our enthusiastic mood for discovery. And that's how we used to learn to live and grow once upon a time that many of us should re-learn. After all, what knowledge is there to desire for if we are already knowledgeable, or we think we are and deny our ignorance? But many of us have fallen victims to the notion that pursuing or trying to know and discover things that are unwanted, unpopular, unsophisticated, or that others could not care less, is not worth our precious time. We fear that what we are after could only make others think of us as fools. It is such notion that has made us lose our childhood sense of wonderment.

     Have you ever watched a child picking up a bug and looking at it as if it's the most mysterious thing he had ever seen? He would then examine the bug with unwavering concentration as though he is one of the scientists performing a very delicate procedure of splitting an atom. That's the kind of wonderment that we have lost on our way to maturity and that we should try to recover.

     God had sprinkled the world with many small fragile wonders, and it's all up to us to discover them and find pleasure in our discovery. Ducks sleeping with their heads tucked back under their wings bobbed at the edge of a pond, while unseen frogs croaked from the reeds as if they're singing lullaby to put the ducks to sleep. A bird swoop down and snatched a bug or a fish near the surface of the water and flew away with its dinner. Ants tirelessly working together in harmony gathering food to store for the winter. A humming bird like a tiny helicopter never stops flapping its wings even while feeding, and then takes off like a tiny jet plane. Indeed small wonders they are.

     Of course, we cannot go back to the simple innocence of our childhood, but we can choose to bring out our childlike innocence and curiosity. Curiosity is not just for children or for the young. It is a choice for every one, young and old and toothless. With curiosity, we find more joy more often as we change from casually observing things to actively learning about them and intensifying our spirit of appreciating them. We find meaning and value in the smallest of things. We embrace our blessings instead of simply taking them for granted. We keep the spark that constantly light the life within us.

     But discovering the many little things that God had sprinkled around us doesn't excite us anymore. With our busy life, we are constantly being pushed and pulled, disturbed and distracted, shaken and stirred by events instead of the other way around, and by things we feel we need to do, not we want to do, and thus have no time for the little things. Since bigger things and bigger discoveries are the only ones that perk our curiosity, please and satisfy our fancies now that we are adults, and they are not that easy to pursue or indulge with because they almost always require a lot of money, time and energy, all too often we put our enjoyment on hold. We are like allowing time to steal the years from us while we are waiting for our life to start.

A taxing transition
     During our youthful days, it didn't take much to excite us, to make us laugh, to have fun, or to make us happy. We glided through the days carefree and fearless, swinging and swaying with the rhythm of everyday events. We were in sync with the ebb and flow, for we tuned in to move and shake with the vibrations in life. Life was simple then. Just being able to walk down Colon Street in Cebu and then get to sleep after lunch in an air-conditioned Vision or Majestic movie theater without being attacked by the ever-hungry, blood-sucking bed bugs before watching the movie itself since the movie was continuous, were more than enough to make our day. Nowadays it takes a bull market in Wall Street before we can become excited. Most of our feelings of happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction come in relatively short bursts.

     Suffice it to say that in our transition toward maturity, many of us have replaced life's simplicity with complexity by constantly providing ourselves with too many choices, too many things to do, and too little time, and by insisting on the idea that life has to be complicated since maturity means more responsibilities. Of course as adults, aside from those that come from our choices, more responsibilities are thrown to us by circumstances. But responsibilities don't necessarily mean complexities. Now notice that when we make a choice like doing something or playing sport, almost immediately we begin nibbling away at ourselves with doubts or with anxieties about other things to do. Or, we start thinking about the other things we could have done, or should have done. Before long we are so distracted that it's impossible to enjoy, let alone get excited on what we are doing.

    Just observe yourself watching TV with the remote control in your hand. You often find yourself struggling to jump from one channel to another, and with so many channels to choose from, it's almost impossible to enjoy a show. Yet some of us often wonder why life is all work and no play. It's because the so many options are creating compulsions that make us want to want to have everything. Our schedules are always full and we often find ourselves like a juggler trying to keep a dozen balls in the air. It's like we want to fit more and more items in the confines of a rubber band. There is only so much we can fit until it breaks. And yet, like an ox, we want to soar like a bird.

     Also, notice that when we embark on a trip, we plan and focus only on our destination, what time or what day we'd be arriving or how long the trip would take. Then we become anxious and could not wait to get there. Thus we seldom think, if we ever do, of enjoying the journey. Having our mind set on the destination, we always take the shortest or the fastest possible route. We never consider another route that may offer something different like places to see, stop and enjoy along the way. Yet when we get delayed or get lost along the way, it readily becomes a source of irritation, frustration, fear, worry and anxiety. We routinely allow such event to cheat us out of our chance of enjoyment. If there is one thing we can always count on, it's our temper. It's always there when we need it.

     It was the military that used the acronym KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid, and SNAFU - Situation Normal All Fucked Up! Simplicity is more satisfying and fulfilling than complexity. When you keep it simple, things have a way of running smoothly. When you make it complicated, you run the risk of SNAFU or fucking it up. It's the same principle not just in the military, but in our life as well and so with everything else. That's why technology companies keep innovating their products to make them simple enough that everyone can easily learn to use. At least many of these companies think that they are making their products simple and user-friendly even if many of us fuck it up all the time.

     So all we need to do with our life now is simplify, simplify, simplify, the way we used to in our younger days. We take interest in the form and flow of our lives, look for simple answers and solutions to our day-to-day living problems, and shift our emphasis from quantity to quality in order to have some time to spend with ourselves alone, with our kids, family and friends. Time is precious and we should at least spend some of it with the people and activities we value the most like our alumni reunion. Finally, we should always keep in mind to simply accept whatever choice we make, and fully surrender to the experiences it brings in order to savor what we are doing while we are doing it.

     An unknown author wrote: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away." So think of the jokes, humor and laughter you share with your friends, classmates and fellow alumni that almost literally take your breath away. You often laugh so hard that it brings tears to your eyes and ache to your tummy. Sometimes in laughing so hard, you find yourself choking, coughing and wheezing like an asthmatic, literally taking your breath away. It's this kind of moment that we should not miss because it is one of those moments that really counts in life.