From: Cle S. Estrera
January 9, 2005
Here is the subject of this message:
If you’re like me which of course you’re not, as the late Dr. Paradela was fond of saying, you must have done many things that you’ve regretted, or you have missed doing lots of things you ended up regretting. You regret for what you did and for what you didn’t. Just the thought of the things you’ve regretted makes you feel like the acid is boring a hole in your stomach.
I used to have many regrets in my life and I sometimes spent my time brooding about them. They gave me shame and embarrassment, creating self-blame and self-pity, making me feel like a stupid fool as though I had the power to prevent certain things from happening and I chose not to use it. If there is one thing about regrets that you may consider as good, it is that they make you eager to tell your tales of woe to whoever listens to you. After the stock market crash few years ago, I’ve heard many tales of woe about their losses from many individuals full of regrets. I must admit that I had shared my own tales too.
The problem with regrets is that you keep your sight backward, for your life is tied to the past, and it’s almost impossible to venture forth while facing backward. You see the mistakes you’ve made in a new light and it hurts, making you regret what you’ve done or haven’t done. It takes honest self-evaluation and self-acceptance, not rationalization, to understand that what has happened is one of the pains of change, and thus a part of growth and development. Therefore, you should not turn away from growth by refusing to tolerate the pain of honest hindsight. Otherwise you get stuck in your review neurosis by constantly reliving past errors in judgment that would only repeatedly hurt you in the present moment. After all, you cannot undo what has been done. Can you?
Regret is an inescapable part of life. For every choice we make, we give up a host of other options, leaving us open to feelings of regret. Obviously, we cannot turn back the clock to make another choice when our first choice has led to something we don’t want. We cannot excuse ourselves for our past actions, but we can assess them more realistically to see our successes rather than our failures, our achievements rather than our limitations. We cannot change the past, but we can begin again. We can refocus our energy from the pain of the past to the rebirth of the present and the promise of the future. We can learn from the past but we should not live there.
Regrets deepen the wounds of our losses, and make us think of the worst that would ruin our ability to make positive decisions. As a result, we avoid making decision for fear of making a bad decision that we would only regret later on. Regrets can drag us down and make us feel more and more ashamed of ourselves, withdrawn, depressed, alienated, or frustrated. The painful memory makes us feel done in. Francis Durivage wrote: “They teach us to remember; why do not they teach us to forget? There is not a man living who has not, some time in his life, admitted that memory was as much of a curse as a blessing.” Indeed the art of forgetting can be essential to the art of living.
Life is dynamic – an incredible flow of energy that has a strong determined current. Like a river, it constantly flows, its currents forming new patterns based on change. You have to learn to travel on the river of life and go wherever its flow takes you. You remain motionless when its water is calm; you race along when its waters rush; you make twists and turns when the water forges its path. When you resist the current, you are likely to drown. Why struggle for your demise? Why not simply surrender to the water and enjoy every splash you make?
But when you live your life of regrets, holding on to the past – grief, losses, or disappointments – you’re not able to flow with the river. Instead, you either watch the river go by or fight wherever the river wants to take you. Your regrets keep you from enjoying your travels down the river. You’ll have a hard time moving on to live in the only place you can – the present. A Chinese adage says: “Flowing water does not decay.” When you go with the flow, you move. When you don’t, you stagnate. Growth ceases in stagnation. When growth stops, death starts.
It reminds me of Dr. Murray Banks, a professor I have read about who has a way of blending psychology and mental health with entertainment. He tells a story of two little boys who were playing in the surf one day. Along came a huge wave that suddenly toppled both of them. One little boy regained his footing and ran back to the beach to his mother, crying and begging to go home, regretting playing in the surf. The other little boy scrambled to his feet, took a deep breath, laughed and raced back into the surf. One learned to see the ocean as an enemy that would do the same thing time and time again with the same result; the other enjoyed the unexpected event and was ready and willing to experience the next one.
Well, my friends, I have enjoyed coordinating our fundraising for our CIM project especially that it is ending up with an unexpected outcome, at least unexpected to me. Having grown accustomed to falling way below the goals being set when it comes to fundraising, I was ready for the worst outcome and thus nothing could have created big enough waves to knock me down. It’s hard to sell intangible items that are way out of the human basic needs; they rarely create a real sense of trust. Without the sense of trust, it’s almost impossible to encourage and promote compassion and generosity. But the outcome of our project has turned out to be a whole lot better than my previous experiences. As I told you before, I would be happy if we could raise just half of our goal, and we have almost two-third of that goal. I’m ready for the next one if there is any.
For what it’s worth, to those of you who have contributed, I believe I owe you not just gratitude but an apology. I’m sorry to have underestimated your generosity and cooperation especially those of you who have contributed more than was requested for. Even if I’ve never taken this fundraising personally, I feel lucky and blessed to have your cooperation. It has kept me from feeling abandoned. It’s great and reassuring to have the feeling of having been able to promote a sense of trust in our organization.
To those of you who missed our fundraising for our Class 1972 CIM project, I’m sorry if I was not clear enough with our organization’s goals with regards to this project. I know that I haven’t done more regular updates and thus I haven’t reminded you more often, considering that in your busy life, your priorities are scheduled, and the least of your priorities like our CIM project if it ever became one of your priorities, is easily put aside, procrastinated and often forgotten. I’ll do a better job next time.
Lastly, I am aware that there are at least few of you in our Class 1972 who, as individual CIM alumni, are generously contributing to CIM in the form of scholarship foundation or other charitable projects, and thus understandably do not feel like contributing anymore to our Class 1972 project. But most of us of the Class 1972 have considered our class organization as an organization of friendship, and so some of us like Abe, Rori, Leni, Pompei and I were hoping that you would extend your generosity to our Class 1972 project in the name of friendly cooperation. You cannot blame us for our innocent but legitimate hope, can you?
You all have a pleasant Sunday afternoon.
Below is a good story sent to me via e-mail by a friend.
If you are like me, there are some things you may feel you do pretty well, and others that you would not admit to having done even at gunpoint! I do play guitar adequately and I can make a memorable enchilada dish. I also enjoy working with people and I seem to have made it a lifelong project to learn how to become a better listener.
I never thought of myself as one who has any great talent, but like each of us, I have certain skills and abilities. Let me tell you a story, however, passed down through jazz circles. It's a story about a man who had real talent.
This particular man played piano in a bar. He was a good piano player. People came out just to hear him and his trio play. But one night, a patron wanted them to sing a particular song. The trio declined. But the customer was persistent. He told the bartender, "I'm tired of listening to the piano. I want that guy to sing!"
The bartender shouted across the room to the piano player, "Hey buddy! If you want to get paid, sing the song. The patrons are asking you to sing!"
So he did. He sang a song. A jazz piano player who had not sung much in public, sang a song that changed his career. For nobody had ever heard Sweet Lorraine sung the way it was sung that night by Nat King Cole!
He had talent he was sitting on! He may have lived the rest of his life playing in a jazz trio in clubs and bars, but because he had to sing, he went on to become one of the best-known entertainers in America.
You, too, have skills and abilities. You may not feel as if your "talent" is particularly great, but it may be better than you think! And with persistence, most skills can be improved. Besides, you may as well have no ability at all if you sit on whatever talent you possess!
Some people ask, "What ability do I have that is useful?"
Others ask, "How will I use the ability that I have?"
Author of "Joy Along The Way"
From:Cle S. Estrera
December 5, 2004
Here is the subject of this message:
These days, when the tradition of giving and exchanging gifts is fast approaching, anxiety is often unavoidable. There are so many things to think of, people to remember, malls to shop around, gifts to look for, list of items to check, and in some of us, there are questions to wonder about: Who do I owe gifts to this year? What kind of gifts should I buy for those who have been nice and good to me and those who had given me gifts last year or some years ago to repay them in some way, and make it even? What if I get more than I gave?
What charity should I give to that is tax-deductible? Should I give or contribute to our Class 1972 CIM project? Why was this project not attached to ASOCIMAI so that the contribution would be tax-deductible? And why do we even have this project for our class organization when we have the whole alumni association that should be promoting something like this? But on second thought and being honest, does it really matter? Would I give or contribute to it, anyway?
Holiday gift-giving in particular, or giving in general, can be fraught with anxiety, doubt, hesitation and rationalization rather than filled with the pure joy, or the pleasure of giving. All too often there is the expressed or unexpressed implication of getting something in return, tangible return like tax-deduction, or non-tangible ones like respect, recognition, attention, or appreciation. Sometimes we give gifts to others to reflect our prosperity, or to certain individuals to reflect our desire for approval or recognition of their likes. Yet when we really think about it, the kinds of giving we are doing are really ways of getting.
Many of us give gifts or money to charitable organizations mainly for the purpose of tax-deduction; to our loved ones to soothe a guilt feeling, to our friends to seek approval or obtain favors; to an organization we belong to gain respect and recognition; and to others to get rid of the unpleasant feeling of having owed something to them, or to make others feel they owe something to us. We give in order to get, and thus giving is more like paying for something.
Giving gifts or contributing to a glorious or noble project should not be a form of investment. Our gifts should be something from the heart and something to the heart. When our gifts come from our heart, we never think, let alone concern about what we are getting in return. If what we give has strings in it instead of ribbons, it isn’t a gift at all but a form of bribe or payment, if not investment. True giving asks no return and no expectation, and comes with no anxiety, no doubt and no hesitation, let alone rationalization; just the pure joy and pleasure of giving, the feeling of adequacy and gratitude that we are able to give or share what little we have.. Gifts are meaningful only when they bring us pleasure and joy in their giving.
To many of us, receiving gifts generates almost the same feelings as giving gifts. Most of the time we value the thing given rather than the feeling embodied in it so that our joy and happiness often depend on the gift’s material value, not on the thought within it. But the gifts from the heart are gifts of the heart. We knew this when we received innocent gifts of love from our young children - their awkward innocent sketches or drawings, bracelets they’ve made, cards they’ve fashioned by themselves, etc. We love the ideas within the gifts and our natural response is appreciation, and we expressed sincere thankfulness. We appreciate the beauty and purity of the feelings and expressions of gratitude. Pleasure bursts forth on us like something has moved or touched deep within us, and watching us glowing with gratitude, our children are having the greatest fun in their life.
But growing up in a culture, society and family where the response of gratefulness and appreciation of the gifts given almost always depends on the material value of the gifts rather than the thought within them, I, for one, had had a hard time changing my attitude on giving and receiving. One of the advices one of my older brothers gave me when I was a kid temporarily out of college and had a job, that had stuck in my mind up to the many years I’ve been in the U.S. is this: “If you don’t feel like giving, don’t give. Otherwise give the best you have.” The trouble with this advice was that all too often it did not make me feel like giving, and thus it made me harbor the feelings of shame and inadequacy.
Every one of us has values and beliefs that our attitudes developed from since childhood that we have continued on to our adulthood, or to the present. They are values and beliefs we were taught, shown and brought up with that we continue to honor and hang on to. Many of them we simply accepted and followed because they’re what others have accepted and followed too, and they become parts of our life and from them, we developed our attitudes that in turn determine the way we behave.
Our behavior is the expression of our own values and character. When we are nice, courteous, respectful and kind to others, it is not because others deserve to be treated that way, but because doing less or being rude and nasty would diminish our own values and character. Abigail van Buren ("Dear Abby") wrote: “The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.” Goethe, an 18th/19th-century German poet, novelist, playwright and philosopher said the same: "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
Every now and then, we should bring our values and beliefs to our attention and subject them to our examination if we care to modify our attitudes. Certainly, there are values and beliefs that are worth preserving, but there are also those that should be pruned away like so many dead limbs so that what are of essence can thrive, grow and survive; those self-defeating ones can be replaced; and new ones can develop and grow to help us change ourselves to a better person, or the kind of person we ought to be. In other words, every now and then we’ve got to look at the kind of person we have become used to be, and see if there is something we can change in order to become the kind of person we are meant to be.
It took me years of mainly pruning old values and beliefs to finally change my attitude on giving and receiving in order to genuinely feel the joy and pleasure of giving and the gratefulness of receiving – feel the gratitude of the thought within the gift. I’ve learned to give my best and to do the best I can for others or for anyone without expecting anything in return. I’ve learned to do them out of love, kindness, concern, or compassion. Giving or doing things this way is spiritually enhancing, enriching and even illuminating. When you give or do something for others without expecting anything in return, negative response or the absence of any response won’t bother you, and any unexpected positive response will reinforce your feeling of gratitude and boost your feeling of confidence. It makes you want to give more every chance you get.
Living in a grossly materialistic society, many of us as parents often tie our feelings of adequacy and gratefulness to the material gifts we can give to our children. We feel good about ourselves if we can give them the more expensive gifts. If we come up short, we lose stature in our own eyes. We feel diminished by what we couldn’t give.
Certainly, many of us give gifts to our children, family and friends in particular all because we love them, and we care. And we give gifts to others out of generosity, kindness, concern and compassion. We find it a pleasure and so much fun to see the look of happiness in our children’s faces as they open their gifts and express their gratitude. Author Donald E. Westlake wrote: “As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”
The quality of our lives is determined by the gifts we give. And we all do have gifts, precious gifts that no one else can give; all-year round gifts that money can’t buy – time, attention, interest, love, respect, encouragement, caring, assistance, kindness, and compassion. None of us is too poor to give this kind of gifts to anyone. It’s the kind of gifts that makes us understand the paradox that the more we give away the more we have. If we are willing to give them, we can change the world.
When we give the gift of attention, we are being repaid with deeper understanding of someone. It will usually bring kindness and concern in return, just as cruelty, rudeness, and neglect on our part are likely to result in the same from others. We will usually elicit that which we’ve so thoughtfully or thoughtlessly given. When we give the gift of love, we feel loved. If we selfishly withhold love, we are bound to alienate the people we love and we’d end up feeling isolated and unloved. Our love and our relationship would wither.
When we are able to help others and share what little we have to ease their burden or hardship, we feel truly blessed. It gives us the feeling of fulfillment at least for some moments. When we give to charity or to a noble cause out of love, kindness, compassion and generosity, we feel truly grateful for the blessings we have. What we give comes back to us, maybe not in money, but certainly in character, self-respect and self-esteem. We receive, in full measure and even more, that which we give. A Hindu proverb says: “They who give have all things; they who withhold have nothing.”
In Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol, Scrooge, the main character, is someone who, if there are enough of them these days, charitable institutions would not survive. Even with all the riches imaginable, Ebenezer Scrooge was miserable, lonely and friendless. But one night, he experiences the phenomenon of rebirth. He saw what he used to be like and why, and this helped him to realize that he now had the opportunity to be very different. He began to realize that a loving, caring, giving person lived within him, just as such person lives within every one of us, and almost immediately he began to feel a positive response from all those around him. And we all know what kind of person Scrooge had become after his rebirth. Also in the story was another main character Bob Cratchit, who was poor in wealth, had a crippled son and other children to feed. Yet he was the happiest and most contented man because his home and his heart were filled with love, peace, faith, compassion and kindness.
Here’s a good story I got from a friend through e-mail that I want to share with you all.
According to legend, a young man while roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey he presented the water to the old man who took a deep drink, smiled warmly and thanked his student lavishly for the sweet water. The young man returned to his village with a happy heart.
Later, the teacher let another student taste the water. He spat it out, saying it was awful. It apparently had become stale because of the old leather container. The student challenged his teacher: “Master, the water was foul. Why did you pretend to like it?”
The teacher replied, “You only tasted the water. I tasted the gift. The water was simply the container for an act of loving-kindness and nothing could be sweeter. Heartfelt gifts deserve the return gift of gratitude.”
It’s natural for every one of us to have the need to feel appreciated, and yet, even though to express appreciation is a very simple act, we hardly do it to others especially to our own children, family and friends. Perhaps we simply assume that by our silence or by some kind of telepathy, others know that we appreciate what they have given, done or are doing for us and are grateful for them, the way we assume our children know we love them even if we never tell them we do, or never say the words. William Arthur Ward (1921-1994), a pastor, teacher, author and editor, wrote: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
An expression of gratitude and appreciation is an act of kindness that can multiply very quickly, and also determine the kind of person we are. Withholding such an act can lead to apathy and spiritual paralysis and poverty. We get stuck with the tendency to notice and respond only to the things that violate our fragile sensitivity and make us upset and angry. Adlai Stevenson II, 20th-century American politician, and a presidential candidate said: "You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad."
Well, it’s been a pleasure writing and offering every one of you my thoughts, philosophies, wisdom, wits and wild ideas over the past 3 1/2 years - offers you can choose to refuse, or choose to read, think, learn something and perhaps enjoy. Indeed I have been surprised of myself to have come this far and lasted this long – writing - for your reading pleasure hopefully. Many times I have asked myself why I keep doing it when I don’t even have no way of knowing whether I’m making any difference. And many times I get the same answer, and it’s all because I care. I want to contribute or give to life, and at this stage of my life, my talents, thoughts, toils and time are all I can afford to give away. So please consider them as my presents for all of you.
Finally, since the rest of the year could become a lot busier for every one of us, and this maybe my last message in our web site for the year, for I don’t intend to send the next issue of Brain Waves till early next year, let me share with you another beautiful story sent to me by my co-worker from an unknown author or source.
Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, and then drive away. But, I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.
So I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute," answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase.
The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, and no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
”Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, and returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
"It's nothing," I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated." "Oh, you're such a good boy," she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"
"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.
"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."
I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued. "The doctor says I don't have very long."
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?" I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.
I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.
"Nothing," I said.
"You have to make a living," she answered.
"There are other passengers," I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said. "Thank you."
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light.
Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.
--- Author Unknown.
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year,
A stocking full of presents
And a fridge full of beer.
Here’s to all good friends, who heard bad things about each other, but refused to believe them.
Pictures below were taken during the blessing of the CIM Amphitheater 3. It's donated by Drs. Lowell and Mermer Taclob. The amphitheater is fully air-conditioned, artistically and beautifully done. The sound is superb for lectures and for karaoke singing. It's digital from DTS. But alumni like me, Maning, Joseph, Hector and Pompei are not allowed to sing unless the Class 1972 will drink beer from cans, not bottles inside the Amphi. Otherwise our voice will shatter the glass bottles. Just kidding! The blessing was held last Dec. 4 at 8:30 A.M. Thanks to the generosity of Lowell and Mermer.
Dr. Evelyn Villamor receiving plaque of appreciation from Drs. Velez and Poblete
Dr. Peck Eng Lim - Most Outstanding Alumni of the Year
Just friends posing for picture
Drs.Velez, Poblete & Bacay giving plaques to the Silver Jubilarians
Drs. Tito Velez, Pena Poblete and Evelyn Villamor cutting the ribbon
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