This morning, I interviewed Filipino-Canadian author, Marie Claire Lim-Moore about her book, Don’t Forget the Soap and Other Reminders from My Fabulous Filipina Mother. We got to compare notes about our childhoods and how we were raised and she mentioned that the hardest lesson that she had to learn from her mom was the idea of gratitude — to be always mindful of and grateful for what we have and what is given to us.
This resonated with me because it’s also a lesson that my mom has always tried to instill in me and my brothers, not just by saying it, but through actions. I wasn’t a rebellious and angsty teenager, but even I would roll my eyes at my mom when she would go on one of her “Pasalamat ka, you have all this. Other kids are not so lucky…” lectures. But as I grew older, I have come to really appreciate and value the lesson. So what Claire said in the interview and in the book about gratitude really struck a chord, especially when I am having a tough day or week or when things just don’t go as I planned them to.
I was reminded of the conversation when later in the day, I had a chat with someone who said that she was a cynic. I laughed and told her she was too young to be a cynic, and “to wait until you reach my age, at least,” I told her. She laughed and said, “Yeah, well something called life got in my way.” Her reply really floored me. I wanted to tell her, you’re living in one of the most advanced cities on earth, you have a good job, you’re young and in the best of health, you’re beautiful, you can afford to buy what you want and eat what and whenever you want… What right do you have to be cynical? It was such ungrateful behavior, I thought. Then again, I realized she’s young. And of course, I don’t know her life. Maybe something happened to her to make her so cynical, I don’t know. I was young too and yes, I can be cynical. But as I grow older, I’ve realized that cynicism just takes too much work and too much heart out of me. It was easier to strive to be happy and be grateful for the little things that come my way each day, than to actually view the world through a world-weary lens.
Anyway, what was the point of all this? Nothing really. It’s just a reflection of what I learned — or re-learned — during my day. Or maybe an after-effect of what happened to many Filipinos during Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan or maybe because it’s December and the mad rush for Christmas is about to begin. Maybe I needed to stop and re-calibrate? Or heck, just call it a grace note for the middle of the week. As good a reason as any, yes? Happy hump day!
PS: For those in Manila, Marie Claire Lim-Moore will have a book signing at Fully Booked at Bonifacio High Street tomorrow. I am just not sure what time. And no, I am not in charge of publicity for the book. There are just too few Filipino authors making waves out in the international sphere that it makes sense to champion each one. And it’s a really good book, too! Those who know me, know that I usually devour fiction and not enough non-fiction, and I usually don’t read inspirational memoirs. In fact, I admitted to Claire that I only read her book because I needed to interview her. I ended up liking it a lot. So go check it out. It’s also available on amazon.com.