Midway between packing my two large bags with clothes as I prepared to move out of my old condo, I suddenly had to pause as a phrase kept repeating itself in my head: the stripping away of the inessential.
I knew it was something from childhood because it made me remember those Sundays when we would be spending our mornings in Bible school with our teacher, Ate Mona. I ended up Googling the words, and realized that the idea was from 1 Corinthians 13.
The line went: "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears."
I suppose the sudden memory was a reminder of this part of my life I'm going through now. As I scanned my things--deciding in my head what to leave and to bring to my new place--I felt strangely fine knowing that I can actually do without a lot of things in my life.
What's funny is that I've spent so much time accumulating all these things, only to realize yet again what little value they hold the moment they became burdensome or obsolete. This is one of those times when I sigh and say objects are only objects--their value is not inherent. Clothes, bags, jewelry, furniture--all replaceable. A lot of things are absurdly superfluous and disposable.
It makes me think: what does matter anyway? What does hold value in life, at the end of the day?
I know that this could be such a first-world problem--to seek meaning in a world devoid of such--when the others just roll with the punches in their attempt to survive. I understand this very well, and I am grateful that I'm privileged enough to be in a position wherein I can contemplate the meaning of my existence--how my life fits in the grand scheme of things.
Still, it IS a source of wonder: when life forces me or you or us to make a choice on what to keep or do without, what do we fight with all our lives to have? And why?
I try to guide myself with a quote from The Little Prince which I love: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye."
Perhaps that is too vague an advice to give and adhere to, given that our feelings can be easily manipulated and our emotions can cloud our logic.
However, as a friend said though, it isn't really perfection that we're aiming for, but to touch someone's life positively, and expand your compassion to a wider circle.
This is one thing I think we should all do: to love deeply.
But that is just me. I don't have sweeping answers to all the problems of the world. I can neither offer a general solution to what ails humanity. After all, we're mere travelers trying to create meaning in our lives, searching for ourselves.
I can only hope though that, as the year draws to an end, you also, little by little, will be able to strip away the inessential, and find time for the things that you think matter most.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.