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Subtle Simplicity Stifles Sadness

A friend of mine asked me once, James, what is the antidote for depression? I replied rhetorically, antidepressants? This Friend smiled and said, that’s expensive. Then he elaborated, well to put it simply, I should like to have asked what is happiness? Or to go more profound Philosophically, what is the meaning of life?

That lingered on in my mind for quite some time. A time for deep reflection. Then, Eureka! Maybe, my mother had known what happiness truly is. Why? Well, she was generally happy throughout her lifetime. She made everyone joyful around her. Basically, she cheered up my father and made him merry. So, understandably, when she passed away, a void was felt in the family specially my late father.

As I examined her life, she was simply elegant. I recall vividly she would prepare the entire house and tell me, your sisters are coming, the duquesa, the contessa, and the princesa. I was not able to ask her who is whom or whoever among my sisters owned each specific title. But, I surmised early on that you treat people in a special way even if the funds are low i.e. not everything is all about the money.

After everything is ready she would exclaimed, Oh, elegante! Manners to some people are like a highfalutin social ideal. However, to my mother it just means treating people the same as how you would like to be treated. Making a weary traveller feel comfortable. A drink or snack would be splendid no matter how inexpensive. You need not be a good Samaritan per se but just be the person God created you to be. A good person. Because the one who made you is good. God is Good. Always remember that please.

Her daily routine was pretty much as busy as it could get. Can you imagine she, actually, woke up as early as five in the morning to do her gardening. The result was spectacular-- she created to quote my high school classmate then a “paradise.”

Can you keep a secret? Happiness is achievable. Nowadays, people put too much premium in material things. Seemingly, costly things are supposed to make you jubilant. But, we philosophers beg to disagree. It is just a matter of perspective.

Health is wealth. And if you have the best of health then you are worth more than gold. Friends are the true gauge of one’s character. Genuine character for that matter. You do not need a lot of friends. You just need one true friend. And how do you make friends? You just have to be a true friend to begin with. Clear?

Then you would be amazed when that day comes when it is harvest time. From the Holy Bible, the precious words reverberate and echo: you reap what you sow. True enough, as I have been practicing what I have been preaching. I passed. Recently, during the last Christmas holidays our Ateneo High School Batch had a reunion. My family was astonished. The venue was spilling over with attendees as the night got older. It was even standing room only when the night became a senior citizen.

My brother exclaimed that in their batch the most that would attend would be 10. The sum of the esteemed guests was more or less a hundred. Why is that? Well, our place is a refuge to all. Everyone is welcome. There was even one guest who went with his wife and happened to be the sister of my sister-in-law’s friend. You’ll be safe here. Otherwise, he would not have attended.

Anyway, going back to where we left off, the secret of my late mother was she would hop on a trimobile and went downtown. I just remember that she drowned the sadness away. She would just tell me that window-shopping is probably the best leisurely activity in the world. Because it does not cost an arm and a leg. It is free. Ah, yes indeed. I often wondered what she did downtown.

My only younger brother inherited this trait. His wife told me that he would always be at the electronics section of the mall. He would buy anything about computer accessories. Well, not exactly window-shopping. But, fair enough because he is NOT the Imelda Marcos of computer accessories i.e. he did not buy the whole store.

There was this iconic film that had a scene where the pilot of a jet plane played the song Downtown by Petula Clark. He was on a mission and ready to destroy the enemies. Oddly peculiar, his passion was a bit sadistic to be blunt. At least he was having fun while doing his job. Professionalism personified.

When you’re alone, and life is making you lonely. You can always go downtown. When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry. Seems to help, I know-- downtown. Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city. Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty. How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares. So go downtown, things will be great when you’re-- downtown, no finer place for sure-- downtown. Everything’s waiting for you. Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you. There are movie shows-- downtown.

Maybe you know some little places to go to. Where they never close-- downtown. Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova. You’ll be dancing with her too before the night is over. Happy again. The lights are much brighter there. You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares. So go downtown, where all the lights are bright.

Downtown, waiting for you tonight. Downtown, you’re gonna be alright now. And you may find somebody kind to help and understand you. Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand to guide them along. So maybe I’ll see you there. We can forget all our troubles, forget all our cares. So go downtown, things will be great when you’re-- downtown. Don’t wait a minute more. Everything’s waiting for you-- downtown.

Furthermore, one day my mother came home with 3 ducklings when she went downtown. We were children then. We had great joy watching then swim in the pond. When they were fully-grown they kept eating the plants. The gardener was not happy. That is a politically correct(euphemism) way to put it. He was actually furious. So, during one Penyafrancia Fiesta, the gardener cooked our three ducks. They were served on a platter on the table. My hermanito Noelito and I were not happy. We could not eat our beloved pets; Huey, Dewey, and Louie (not their real names). In the final analysis, don’t give edible pets names? No, the lesson is the simple joys in life are free. The Perfect inexpensive antidote for sadness. Amen.


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