|me at 22 years old at puerto galera (photo by Ayala Foundation staff)|
Sometimes I feel like I got pregnant too early.
I am feeling this way lately because a 19 year old friend is pregnant and she is very vulnerable and uncertain of what to do with the baby. For the past 3 weeks I have been trying to talk to her and carry out conversations that would facilitate the expression of her feelings and to facilitate ways for her to study and understand her options. I dream about her baby sometimes. Even if we have an 11 year gap, I am deeply moved by her own questions and fears: to give life? or to abort life?
It's like I have been carrying a baby since I was born and now I have a choice whether to finally give birth to it or postpone it again just like before. I am NOT pregnant with a biological baby but I am just so immensely creatively fertile that I feel like a full moon everyday. But yes of course someday I will be a mother and a grandmother at the right time of my life and of the earth (and well the right man indeed).
While I would of course choose life, I realized the same fear takes place just like if I choose to abort it. Giving life can be a scary thing too. Perhaps sometimes much scarier for you open yourself to the infinite stretch of its becoming. This realization is highlighted much brightly at this point in my life now as I consciously make decisions to live a creative and light - filled life path.
When I was younger, I loved studying about the earth ecosystems and my all time favorite is the rich life that thrive in an estuary. It is the point when a river is about to meet the sea - where sea and river life interact, and when fresh water meets salt water. A beautiful memory I had as a 17 year old was sailing on a banca with my mother from the river to the mouth of the ocean in Dumaguete while the sun was setting all around us. It was unforgettable.
I feel like I am at the estuary now but I am at the point wherein at 28, I am realizing that I'm a mermaid feeling too safe hanging out with the fish, birds, crabs, and the rest of the gang at the river-sea junction. It seems like I have always been afraid of finally merging into the vast ocean.
|sailing on the ocean for a week on the greenpeace rainbow warrior in 2005 for a clean energy campaign|
(photo by Ala Parades)
I am typing this out among a sea of boxes and clothes in my room. Reducing 8 boxes of books to 3 is not a joke. GINHAWA, a non profit that promotes well-being through creativity, indigenous wisdom, and spirituality is moving out of a beautiful house that has accomodated people like me who are in transition and in need of healing spaces. Even if I was not under formal therapy, a space here where my wounds were safe for the past year was very healing for me. Now embracing the path of a wounded healer I was invited to be part of their pool of trasnformative artists specializing in mandalas and expressive visual art forms. These artistic media have helped me in my own journey back to wholeness and now I am ready to share them with others who will need them just like I did.
While packing I saw that I have already written on 35 journals for the past 17 years since I was 11. It's touching to laugh at how capable I was to make take so much nonsense sound so serious! I am overwhelmed and grateful for my dramatic growth as witnessed by my drawings and handwritings. Every time I pack up for a new place, I remember how I have never stayed in a school (except while in university) or a house for more than 2 years. I remember that when I have to move, I have to repaint the wall beside my bed where my writings and drawings lived their short lives. Transitions are always bittersweet.
I have now started to inform my employers, non-profit partners and clients that I am already shifting my career path into doing arts for peacebuilding. I finally had the courage to tell them I am saying goodbye to the cognitive peace work I have been doing for the past 3 years. I have already coordinated stakeholder consultations on the peace process, multi-tasked immensely for a peace campaign, and organized foras and workshops for peacebuilding. It may seem vain but I have sadly been scarred from stress related acne on my cheek so that the voices of the public on their understanding of the conflict in Mindanao can be bridged across the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). I lost my savings and gathered debt for the 3 month delay of my salary from a government funded project so that we can train Catholic leaders to prepare themselves for dialogue with other faiths. I have given up an arts residency application so peace NGOs can do a popularized and meaningful peace campaign instead of just the usual annual peace solidarity celebrations. Even if I still would love to help out in these capacities, I feel that I am slowly exhausting the life out of myself if I do not start pursuing a creative path seriously.
|a labyrinth walk for inner peace installation and closing ritual for grassroots interfaith leaders from conflict affected areas in Mindanao (photo by Pakigdait Inc. staff)|
This decision comes with the excitement and risk of being able to sustain myself financially for funding is not usually available for this kind of work. It means being able to justify that interior processes of peacebuilding is just as valid and effective as tangible mediums. It also challenges me to still discipline myself for a true artist is a master of his/her own craft.
I am now about to give in to deep calling to do peacebuilding through the language of art, ritual, dialogue, and storytelling. I am inspired by the Moral Imagination as peacemaker John Paul Lederach calls the capacity to transcend violence and transform conflict and in using creativity, an important formula for creating positive peace according to Johan Galtung the founder of peace studies.
So now, I have packed up everything except for my vision board and my altar.
My vision board of my upcoming art projects and journeys inspires me about where I am going. My altar reminds me of why I am here and what is constant amidst all the chaos. It is my refuge once stress creeps up to me as I pack. It is like my north star as I learn to value my spiritual path not even just as a gift, it is really more of a treasure in this constantly changing and shifting world.
With my vision board as a map and my altar as my compass, I now see the ocean like a womb of the sacred feminine as my peacemaking path takes on the affective approach. This banca is now setting sail towards the open sea of the unknown.