Stop. Look. Listen. Feel. Be grateful. Move on. 

   

Sunset at Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines 


One of my favorite poems that I can recite by heart is Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I kept reciting this poem to my baby when I was still pregnant, and even after my son was born. HBO’s Classical Baby The Poetry Show includes a reading of this poem by Susan Sarandon, and it is now my 5-year old son’s favorite part of the video.

A thought came to mind today as I watched my son give me the sweetest smile when the video clip began. A few months after our son was diagnosed with Autism, my husband wished Eli would not grow so quickly. Today, only for a moment I wished Eli would never grow up, so people can excuse his strange stimming habits, his speech delay and other autistic traits. Every now and then  I worry about whether or not he will be able to live independently, when my husband and I won’t be around to look after him anymore.

Frost’s poem talks about how we, once in a while, encounter something that make us wish could last at least a lifetime, but we all have other things to do — duties, responsibilities, roles to play in other people’s lives — so we have to move on, continue living our lives.

The speaker in this poem though was truly in the moment. He   noticed his surroundings: the snow-covered woods, the frozen lake; he heard the sound of the harness bells and the wind. He also used his imagination (“My little horse must think it queer…”), and was quite aware not only of the lack of danger (…He will not see me stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow), but also of his responsibilities and of the life he had to live,   (But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep.) 

Oftentimes I look at my son and wonder what life will be like for him. Will he ever be able to speak like a neurotypical person? Will he be able to read by himself the books that he loves for me to read to him? Will he be able to write down his own name?  But then I stop myself from doing this, and instead do things with him. Not much use wondering about the future when so much of it depends on the present.

What I liked most about Frost’s poem is the idea that though we can (and we should) live our lives — face our responsibilities, fulfill our duties, find our way in the darkness — we can stop once in a while and just enjoy what we have in our lives: food on our table, clothes to keep us warm (or cool), roof over our heads,  air we breathe, water we drink, family, friendship. And love. And faith that everything will be all right in the end.

Thank you. Salamat. 谢谢。

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The Egret on Campus

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Egret on holiday

Our campus has a sanctuary for egrets. In the summer, one can see the beautiful white egrets perched on the trees by the lake –beautifully white on a green background.

The campus has provided the egrets with a safe haven where they can freely get food and not fear being hunted. True, a lot of of people — students and tourists alike — take pictures of them, but there is no threat.

As winter is approaching, most egrets migrate to the south where it is warmer, like my country.

Walking to work the other day, I saw this lone egret on the wooden bridge. I looked around for other egrets, and there were none. I strained my ear for the kraaa-aaa sound, but there was none.

I’m always guilty of overthinking things and over-empathizing. I imagined what it is like for the egret if it has really been left behind by the other egrets.

Let’s call the egret Trista. Is Trista happy that she can have all the food she wants as she has the lake all to her self, after all it really is not winter yet? If she has parents and siblings, is she happy that she can finally do what she wants to do without them watching every move she makes and criticizing her for not doing things well?

Did she choose to stay, or had she no choice but to stay?

Perhaps when evening comes and it is time to sleep, Trista will begin to feel the pang of loneliness. As it gets darker and she sails through the sky alone, and she looks down and sees human families relaxing at the well-lit park and lovers sitting close to each other on the wooden bridge on the lake, maybe she will feel so alone. And lonely.

When she goes back to her home where her mother’s constant nagging used to annoy her, and her siblings never-ending chatter used to drive her crazy, does she wish they had not left, or that she had left with them?

I watched its movements and thought it was really enjoying its time. Or maybe it's just my imagination.

I watched its movements and thought it was really enjoying its time. Or maybe it’s just my imagination.