I Cannot Love; I am Busy

Cause all of me loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections…

As cliché as it may sound, that song has been stuck in our genes as millennials: in Uniqlo, in McDonalds’, in my friend’s wedding, in my neighbor’s jukebox, in someone’s television. Residing in Manila is John Legend’s constant lecturing Filipinos the choice to see the perfections in the imperfections of one’s significant other.

Unfortunately, I am not buying that because of one untapped “imperfection”:

“Babe, busy ako eh. May gagawin pa ako mamaya. Pwede next time, ok?”

That is me in the First Spiritual Exercises (FSE), a four-week activity that invites students to pause and reflect on the Word of God. Every week, I and my four colleagues are encouraged to take a fifteen-minute breather on the essence of God’s love–finding a place of silence, listening to our surroundings, and reading the Bible. That quarter of an hour is an opportunity to take a step back from this lonely life called college. Sadly, I have been that miserable to not even zip my mouth and relax.

The past month has been a walk through the fiery furnace, a suicide without an overdose, drugs or a knife. It was a festival: required readings and quizzes in Theology, a quiz bee in German, orals in Philosophy, long tests in three Math courses, and an exam for a consulting firm. Mother nature wanted to join in the fun, so she squeezed my abdomen and casted a spell on the school’s doctor, disclosing that I have gall stones. Fortunately, these stones were hullaballoos; I was only having acid reflux until the eczema in my hands began to peel my skin and annoy me with boils.

From the get-go, I cannot love, nor I feel loved because of one word: BUSY–busy with everything about me. For this reason, my FSE experience is a total bust.

“Or is it so,” I thought. After all the ruckus of my depressing semester, I decided to spend the entire holy week with my family in Batangas a province that is a three-hour ride away from the busiest Manila. While I was in the comfort of my bed, my eyes squinted by, what I thought to be, the flashlight of my five-year-old nephew who is fund of laughing at the expense of my pain and suffering. As soon as I scratched all the sands in my eyes, lo and behold, an unrealized painting has gone in motion outside my window; the waving of coconut trees in the far north, the flapping of the wings of a flock of birds, and the howling of the eastern wind. I stretched out my hand and a red leaf from the wind fell into my palm, making me a part of this masterpiece.

“When was the last time I was a part of something like this?”

FSE Week 1–My family accompanied me to Health First to have my ultrasound, fecalysis, urinalysis, and red blood count. Their birthday gift to me was the “negative” results: “negative” for gall stones, “negative” for kidney stones, “negative” for diarrhea.

FSE Week 2–A high school student from Ateneo invited me to watch a play with him on the batch’s last days before parting ways for college. Being there for the little one entices him to have myself wrapped around his tight embrace.

FSE Week 3–My dance crew from Singapore connected with me through video calls and performed their electrifying freestyles. More than their improvements as dancers, this brought me to tears: “Zac, come back to Singapore lah!”

FSE Week 4–While I laid down on my bed, recovering from my wisdom teeth extraction, my mother religiously checked on my condition, prepared my medications on top of my side table, kissed on the forehead, and said, “I love you, baby ko!”

To my surprise have I been oblivious to such masterpieces, painted within four weeks of my FSE experience. Despite the heavy burdens in my plate, I can love and feel loved. I have become part of something beautiful in other people’s paintings. ~ Zachary Bisenio

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