I’ll just write. I just need to write – and the world will be forgotten.

You know how some people reach for a paper bag whenever they are hyperventilating? That’s how I used to be whenever I felt I’d explode from all the pent-up emotions inside me I never let out. Except instead of a paper bag, I reach for a pen and paper. And words seemed to flow effortlessly from heart to pen and pen to paper. There were no distractions then. I could zone out and no one would accuse me of anything. I could stare at the walls, look far away, dream of worlds and create stories, and no one would pop my bubble and tell me I’m being unfaithful.

These days, I can only zone out when I drive. One day, I was lost inside my mind following a thread of a story I was planning on writing when suddenly I got that glare that could pop bubbles like they were, you know, bubbles. Of course I lost the thread I was following. Well, we can kiss that story goodbye. It never meant anything anyway.

I saw this snail once when I was on the beach. The more I tried to get it out of it’s shell, the more it tried to hide inside. Then I let it down and watched it from afar and it went out of its shell and slithered away. And I said to myself, “wow, what an epiphany.”

I grew up being the more fortunate of the pack. As I watched them toil with their families, I knew then what I would value more in life when I had mine.

What can you give the man who doesn’t care much for material things? I’ll tell you what, a thought is more precious than a diamond ring. There was this one girl who said she planned to give him this gift she knew he wanted so much but couldn’t find it. And this man said, you’ve already given me the best gift of all out of all those who gave me one. And then there was this other woman who keeps apologizing she couldn’t give any gift because she didn’t have any money, and this man felt sad because she couldn’t see what was right there in front of her he always unwraps everyday whenever he wakes up.

There was this man who wasn’t very much passionate about certain holidays. He wished there was none at all so people could see this not as a duty but as an opportunity. He still treats each holiday like any other day, and spend each day like a holiday. Others had just one Christmas and Valentines every year. This man misses both just once a year.

A man was once told by his wife, “You never say I love you to me.” The man thought, “You never see how I show it.”

Do you know how much a million dollar is? Not enough to buy the life of one taken by God. But do you know how much that life taken by God is? It costs just one moment, one raindrop, one meeting, one joining of two hearts that came together and brought that life into the world.

For every fleeting moment you spend counting coin, you pay one moment you’ll never have back again. I knew a man who died poor but had his family around him when he died. And I knew a man who’s richer than some kings but died with only his lawyer holding his hand – trying to get his last signature.

I certainly do not know the value of money. I throw it around like it was just some piece of paper. My thoughts however, I guard carefully. As all the things I hold dear in my life. They are after all, more precious than paper.

In a job interview, I was asked once, “suppose we ask you to skip an important day or family activity so you can put in more time for work, would that be okay with you? We pay overtime of course.” I asked the interviewer if he does this too. He said, “yes. in fact it should’ve been my day off today but I had to come in as we are ramping up hiring, you know.” “Wow. You’re very dedicated to your job,” I said and the guy smiled. “I’m just sorry to say I can’t be as dedicated as you.”

A group of men was asked once to list their greatest accomplishment in life. Some said they became CEO of a famous company, others said they won medals and many awards, while a few mentioned they amassed riches or gained fame. When it came time for the last one to share his accomplishment, he stood up shyly and couldn’t speak for a minute. He spoke hesitantly. “I don’t have any such accomplishment in my life as some of these fine, distinguished gentlemen with me have.” “You must have done something, attained something, something you can be proud of.” said the facilitator of the group. “Well I, I’m not sure this counts. But yes, there is one thing I’m proud of in my life.” “Well, spill it man.” “My son,” said he in almost a whisper. “My son is all that I can ever be proud of in my life. I watched him take his first steps, smile his first smile, hear his first laugh, savor his first words…” And as he continued, his words grew firmer and he stood taller, his demeanor becoming brighter as he remembers each memory. “I raised my son. I’m proud of that.” “You mean you raised him to be a fine young man is what you meant, right mister?” “Oh, I don’t know about that. I raised him is all. He’s his own man and not my own making, and that’s what I’m proud about.”

There were two men who were tested by God. He told both he was going to take away one of their loved ones but that he was going to give them a choice whom to keep. The first one chose his wife over his daughter. He said that it was okay to lose his daughter so long as he had his wife. He and his wife can procreate anytime they want so long as they have each other. The other chose his son. He said that even if he chose his wife, they can never give birth again to the same son they would lose. To the man who chose his wife, he made the father of many. To the man who chose his son, he made the father of one. Both men lived long and the one who chose his wife outlived her too. When both men died and went to the afterlife, only one had his wife waiting for him.

There is another ending to this parable.

Two women were tested by God. It was the same test given to the two men before. Husband or child? The first one chose her husband and gave the same reasons the first man above did. With her husband alive, they can make as many kids as they like. The second woman chose her child. And gave the same reason as the second man did. Once they made their choices, God told them the toll he would exact for them to save whoever they chose to save. The first woman wept, and the second one had many grandchildren thereafter.

Still, there is another ending to this parable.

Four couples were brought in before God. The men were separated from their wives and posed the same question. When the men were done with choosing, the women were told the same question and made to choose as well. When all the choices were made and all their lives spent and lived and they all died and met in the afterlife, only one family stayed together.

Once there were four men who led different lives. One was a painter and loved to draw, the other one was an athlete and could run like the wind, the third was a musician and could sing such a lovely note, while the last one was a writer who loved nothing better than to be alone to write his stories. The queen of misfortune spied these four men one day and decided to make each of them either blind, deaf, mute, or crippled. Just to make things more interesting, the queen decided to let the four men choose which handicap they’d like to have. The painter, being a man of beauty did not want to be blind seeing as how he’ll never be able to see the world in color again. So he chose to be crippled, seeing as he can still see the world and paint its beauty in a wheelchair. The athlete naturally, did not want to be a cripple but was okay with being deaf. He can still compete and play his sport in a silent world. The musician did not want to lose his voice nor his hearing. Music is supposed to be sang and heard and he’d rather be blind than go without the two, so blind he chose to be. The writer ended up being mute. Being a man of silence and solitude, he found out he never lost much as the other three did. He was as silent as he was before the day lady misfortune laid her eyes on them.

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