During the early and mid-90s, mobile phones were massive, expensive, and only adults owned these. Pagers were the main thing back then. My high school years were spent in the 90s. This meant we were the last generation of high school students who did not rely on mobile phones. We hung out, played patintero in the night with the moonlight shining on us. We wore Bench, Crispa, and Penshope on non-school days. Field trip meant visiting Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Shangri-la. We read Sweet Valley High books and were Alaska, Ginebra, and Purefoods fans. But more than anything, I learned 3 major life lessons in my first year as a high school student. These lessons were embedded in me that I still value up to this day.
Life Lessons Learned
I spent nine years in catholic schools. Once upon a time I even desired to be a nun.
I admired the sisters that managed the schools and respected the priests. Even though my family did not go to church every Sunday, catechism and doctrine remained in my heart. In high school, our religious subject was called Christian Living. My teacher for that subject was Sir Mariel, who we fondly call “Daddy Maiel.”
The Boat and the Oar
Daddy Maiel was a seminarian. He went to the seminary and if my memory serves me right, he was teaching in a Catholic school at that time because he was praying to where God wants to lead him. Having a seminarist teacher was a blessing. The lessons were taught in such a way that tweens and teens liked me understood the concept.
One of the lessons he taught was about the story of the boat and an oar.
He said that living is like riding a boat with an oar in your hand. To move forward, you need to row on both sides of the boat. Otherwise, you will just be circling around. Row on your left, and then row on your right.
The rowing symbolizes prayer and action.
If we keep on praying (rowing on one side), we don’t go forward. We just keep circling around.
The same goes if you just keep on doing things on your own without praying to God. You won’t move forward.
What’s our takeaway?
You cannot do it alone. You need God in your life and in everything that you do. But you also need to do your part and be the miracle in your story.
The Blank Paper with a Dot
Have you ever looked at a blank paper and noticed a tiny blot on it? Perhaps a drop of coffee, ink from your pen, or just a flaw of the paper when it was manufactured?
More often than not, we are accustomed to seeing what is wrong with the picture. Remember when we were kids and we had to identify what is different between two pictures? We were very good at that.
Unfortunately, we bring this practice to our everyday lives.
When someone has wronged us, we only see the bad things he did. We forget to acknowledge the goodness in the person. People are not black and white. There are no straight bad or good people. We all have good and bad sides in our personalities. We make bad choices that lead to sins, and in some cases, we cause pain to others.
I still fall into this trap of looking at the bad things people do to me or the people I love. But as much as I can I try to remember what Daddy Maiel taught us:
“Hate the deed, but not the person.”
Whenever I feel anger or resentment towards another person who has wronged me I do what I can to remind myself of these words. Condemn the sin of the person but not him/her. We draw a line between the act of the person, and the person himself. We forgive the person but do not forget the lessons.
History That Made History
As a student, grades were important to me. Getting good grades and being in the Top Ten in the class was my way to make my parents proud. And to thank them for raising us and sending us to very good schools. My parents taught me that though they may not have the riches of the world, they can leave us our education as their legacy.
When I got a line of 7 in history in my first year of highschool, I felt my world crumble. I never had a line of 7 on my report cards before. This was the first and only.
My eyes cringed at the thought that my teacher gave me 78/79 on this subject. It was not even Math!
At that time I had two choices: feel angry at my teacher or take it as a challenge.
I did the latter.
Araling Panlipunan was not a favorite subject of mine when I entered highschool. Getting a line of 7 on my report card felt like I was a failure. I had to make a change. And I did. I took more time to learn the subject and participated more in the class. Though I did not know everything in this subject, I worked hard to learn it. My AP teacher became one of my favorite teachers.
By the time I was in my second year, History became my favorite subject. I eventually expanded my interests on Asian, European, and Egyptian histories. I am not an expert, but history piques me.
The lesson here is:
“It is okay to fail. Get back up and try. The things that you hate may eventually be the ones you will love.”
Lessons from a Mother to Her Children
One of my favorite Maya Angelou quote is: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Our teachers have taught us valuable lessons that we are able to apply in our jobs and daily lives. Forever etched in us are their warmth, their leadership, and trust.
The life lessons I learned during highschool are here in my heart to remember, to apply, and to teach to my children. Now that we are homeschooling, we value character-building in our kids. Because we believe that how we are making them feel right now as children will create a big impact on how they see themselves, how they will carve their future, and how they will treat others.
As adults, we have the responsibility to teach the new generation how our elders did (if we can do it better, go!) when we were younger.
If we want a better world for them, let’s teach them to be better people.