Friday, October 2, 2015

What sticks

We hadn't seen each other in 15 years, but we all hugged like the old friends we've always been. M introduced us to her colleague saying, "I wouldn't have graduated high school if not for these two."

Later, after reminiscing about how C and I had rallied M to copy from us and study our notes just so she could pass, M told us how she enrolled in culinary school and graduated with third honors. "Naisip ko talaga, siguro proud kayo sa akin ngayon," she told us wistfully.

More than being proud of my friend, what she said got me thinking about just how much of an impact we can make in someone's life. Not having the right size of paper for a surprise quiz or a long test never became her excuse because I, a walking office supplies store, gave her paper and lent her ballpens too. C photocopied all her notes and turned them into handouts for exams. Together, we came up with codes, gestures, and special ways of sitting in our chairs that would make it easier for M to copy off us. I wonder if our teachers ever knew, and if they did, if they let it slide because they knew we just wanted our friend to graduate with us. And graduate, she did.

We always like to PM each other random things, but when B sent me this screencap of a post by my ex, it really got me thinking. Forget that he's my ex-- what he said about "teaching me to be neat" never happened. I mean, I never actively and consciously taught him anything. This whole business of using a ruler when I highlight passages was just the way I studied then. I never encouraged him to follow suit, or drop subtle hints by giving him a ruler and a highlighter. I just did my own thing. And now, 10 years after we had broken up and now that I'm happily married, I find that my little quirk had stayed with him.

It made me realize that we never really know how we affect people with the things we actively do for them, and the things we do without realizing that they're watching and taking notes. And sometimes, you never even get the opportunity to find out what impact you've made in life. So all you can do is try to be positive, be kind, be good, and hope that somehow you touched someone's life for the better.

The operative word is TRY. The truth is, deep down inside, all the trying can be exhausting. It is so tiring to be good. It's so draining to always be understanding. It's so difficult to keep that positive spirit burning, especially when things don't seem to be working out as they should. It is an immense pressure to be everything for everyone all the time that sometimes you just want to run away from it all. Or break down in a coffee shop. Or throw things. Whichever works at the moment.

How do you get out of that dark place and keep trying? You think of the moments that have stuck with you, the things that others have done for you and have stayed in your heart without them ever knowing. The impromptu slow dance. That hug right when you needed it. The meme that was sent to you at a time you didn't think you could laugh. The people who matter. The dreams you build together. The memories you've yet to share.

And so you take a deep breath, dry your eyes, and walk out of the coffee shop or whatever retreat you've made for yourself, armed with a new resolve to keep trying.

Be kind. Be good. You may fail some days, but just get up and try again tomorrow. You never know whose life you touch by just trying every day to be kind, be good.

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