Lightness of being

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Ma. Lourdes N. Tiquia

WE are entering Holy Week with Palm Sunday heralding such an important time in our Catholic faith. Some would pause and reflect, others would go to their home provinces to catch up with everyone for the rituals of pabasa, senakulo, Visita Iglesia, Salubong and Easter. Still, others will use the holidays for some rest and recreation, pausing only for reflection on Good Friday, remembering the calls of our elders to stop at 3:00 p.m., when Christ died on the Cross for our salvation.

We grew up with these rituals of faith, and every year, our Catholic country comes to a sudden stop because of the Holy Week tradition. It is also the one period during the year when huge numbers of people move all over the country. As such we get to see the countryside and experience firsthand whether our infrastructure system has improved over the years. From ports and ships, to terminals and buses or point-to-point vehicles, to airports and private travel. It is also when express lanes, tollways and restrooms in the gasoline stations are appreciated or derided.

Reflecting during Holy Week is standard for people of various faiths. We reflect about our personal life, our family, community and nation. Where are we? Where do we want to go? What happened to our resolve to pursue something—a cause, a goal, a dream? Why we stumble? Why we fall? And how come we are unable to move on or to see the silver lining to continue with our life’s travel? Why some will it and others just fall by the wayside? A voice inside speaks to us often when we are down. And yet, it is only us who can turn things around. In the end, we march to our own drum. The strength within carries us and often faith is the hand we reach out for. Truly, “when the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”

One favorite book of the season is Milan Kundera’s most famous work, The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The book was published in 1984 and chronicled “the fragile nature of an individual’s fate, theorizing that a single lifetime is insignificant in the scope of Nietzsche’s concept of eternal return. In an infinite universe, everything is guaranteed to recur infinitely.”


Eternal return is a concept that says the “universe and all existence and energy has been recurring, and will continue to recur, in a self-similar form an infinite number of times across infinite time or space. The concept is found in Indian philosophy and in ancient Egypt and was subsequently taken up by the Pythagoreans and Stoics. With the decline of antiquity and spread of Christianity, the concept fell into disuse in the Western world, with the exception of Friedrich Nietzsche, who connected the thought to many of his other concepts, including amor fati.”

Amor fati is a Latin phrase that may be translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It is used to “describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary, in that they are among the facts of one’s life and existence, so they are always necessarily there whether one likes them or not. Moreover, amor fati is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life.”

Acceptance is the key. We accept we are down. We accept we are poor. We accept we are powerless. We accept that others are better off. But that does not deter us from pursuing things. It is not our end station. We aspire for a better life. But not a greedy one. Not to undermine others. Not to put down others. We aspire to be true and honest, not righteous and all-knowing. We aspire for fairness and equity. We aspire to be with the people, in highs and lows and not to be on a pedestal, telling everyone how it should be. We aspire for understanding and the willingness to reach out and work together. Not to continually hurt the nation, not to conspire to remove a duly elected leader because he is not from a certain class or does not behave in accordance with the norms of the oligarchs who have raped this nation.

Praying to the Omnipotent One for guidance and blessings are part and parcel of our DNA. Working hard, perseverance and grit, audacity and boldness make an individual, a family, a community and a nation move.

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”

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