Jem’s specific instruction was that I wear something “simple” and pangbahay because I was going to run errands in Binondo / Quiapo area. One should not look like one can afford and is carrying a big amount of money, and because this task was the main reason I went to Manila, I willingly obliged. Dress casual, dress simple, dress Divi-style. We were getting parts for our vehicles from a business contact and because I didn’t know how long I would spend in the area or where I’d go, I decided that I should dress comfortably. Shorts will do.
I was feeling very casual and carefree running around doing my errands until I was invited randomly by uncle Jack to have lunch with him and his guests, some Japanese businessmen. Ack! There was no getting out of that situation because he was the one that assisted us, and out of courtesy, I had to. Man, I felt so yagit-looking and under-dressed. I sent Jem a text. “You said to dress pang-yagit. Now I’m about to have lunch with Japanese businessmen. In shorts.” Great. It was very random of Tito Jack to invite me over for lunch, and deep down I really regretted that even if it was unplanned, I should have still come prepared.
We all want to be prepared. For whatever. We want to be prepared for emergencies so we stock up on goods, make sure the bank account has enough when we need to dispense money right away. We want to be prepared for the future, so we invest in insurance –medical, life, death, investments. We want to be prepared for a job interview so we look our best, pick that crisp white polo, check our make up, do our research. We like planning. I know I do. When I’m about to travel, I already list down things I should buy for the trip ahead of time, and actually get them days prior. I don’t like buying things at the last minute. I’m saving those last minute errands for the actual last minute errands. When I’m planning a party or an event, I make sure everything I need has been accomplished right on schedule. Truth be told, I’m actually very spontaneous. Friends will attest to that. But half of me is also very calculative, very plan-oriented. This week alone, I’ve been going to the mall and buying some small things here and there because I want to be able to pack all that I need days before my flight. I don’t buy them in one go because that would stress me. Today, it’s organic chicken stock from healthy options. The other day, some wall decorations. A few days before that, curry paste. When I don’t get to plan, I make the mistake of buying things I didn’t even need in the first place. There’s a saying that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail. And that is so very true.
But what happens when all your careful preparation, all your planning, don’t work out? What happens when your preparations are overridden, things do not go as planned, and you’re left unprepared?
Two lessons for me.
Something I relearned this week was that one, being unprepared can be very liberating. Not everything should go as planned, because there wouldn’t be any adventure in that! The beauty is actually in what you do at that moment, because all you have is that moment and the way you handle it right there. It teaches you something about yourself that you probably didn’t know about. When I had to go for lunch dressed as I was (yagit-looking), I just had to laugh it off deep down and convince myself that really, these people will never even see me after this. That was going to be the only interaction with them. As far as first impressions go, they don’t really matter anymore because I’m never going to see them again anyway. I would just laugh off at the story and tell myself, maybe next time, consider pants as pang-bahay attire.
The second lesson would be that our moments of un-preparedness can actually be lessons on preparation. What I mean is, whatever lesson I gain from this experience would prepare me for a similar incident in the future. I’m being prepared now, even when I don’t recognize it yet. Over dinner a while ago, I was telling Sir Ace that I see this particular season (of living independently in Palawan) as preparation stage for me for marriage. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way. There would be times when I’d question if I’m really preparing myself for anything because nothing seems to happen. But when you take a look back and see your life on the outside, you do realize that you are being prepared for something great. I think I’m prepared to be a wife, but there would be doubts on my part because I don’t even know how I am as a girlfriend to anybody. Am I prepared to be someone’s wife, to serve alongside somebody, to go the direction of marriage? I wouldn’t know, right? But if I take a look at my life, see the collective experiences of being independent, managing the home on my own, taking care of people, you realize that you are being prepared, in small and big ways. You also realize that you still have so many things you need to work on, like attitude, being patient, being kind, being others-oriented, not losing temper. All these things are part and parcel of God’s big plan for your life, and whether you see it or not, you really are being prepared, being pruned, being transformed, slowly, powerfully.
I like planning and being prepared. I also like just living in the moment, appreciating the unexpected. One must strike a balance between the two. One thing I know I really should be prepared for is when Jesus comes again. When he comes back, will He catch me “unprepared”, so to speak? Or would I be ready for him? Would I be ready to come home, to tell him, “Lord I’ve been waiting for you all these years.” I want to be in that state!