Monday, September 25, 2006

Art of living

PICASSO takes my breath away, but he is nothing compared to my grandfather’s youngest sister.

After a New Year visit with their family, my Tita Niting gave us going-away presents that included ribbons of pastillas in a clear plastic bag, which, after reading its print upside down, I discovered as originally wrapping the two-ply bathroom tissue my tita buys in cost-saving packs from this grocery chain.

Now I will not argue that Picasso was a great artist, but I draw back at using the same adjective for a man who ran through so many women before God took him back.

A constant gardener, my tita is an artist, too. But in her garden, nothing goes to waste: plants are grown, put on the table, shared with family, composted, planted and harvested again.

Her gift of pastillas bore the idea that artistry comes from taking a good look at what we have and reusing them.

So to jumpstart this year’s resolutions, I harvested a sheaf of figures and more from old newspapers.

Not only did I amass a goodly number of smudged fingerprints and ink moons, this list is in praise of my Tita Niting’s virtues and that of other “life artists” elsewhere.

Waste not, want not

Before 2006 closes, securities analysts project that Google Inc.’s share will be $600, up from $20.37 to $435.45 by the end of 2005. That’s because the company will be tying up with television and software products.

This $10 billion worldwide market makes me appreciate the principle behind the search engine’s success: link information and get its meaning. Thus, even a pile of moldy newspapers can yield useful advice for living.

Dwell in the moment

Unforgettable was this paper’s Jan. 5, 2006 page on world news: all three major news articles featured harrowing tragedies. A suicide bomber in Baqouba, Iraq killed 30 people and scattered body parts of another 36 when he detonated a bomb during a Shiite funeral attended by more than 100 mourners. In Indonesia’s Java Island, landslides triggered by monsoon rains killed or left missing more than 270 people, most of them in a single village.

And in a reversal that traumatized the families left behind, 11 of 12 coal miners trapped in Tallmansville, West Virginia were found dead, hours after they were first reported as alive and safe.

Unlike lightning, tragedy can strike more than once. All the more reason then to live in the moment. Unlike the past and the future, the present is truly ours.

Listen more to the young

Four feet tall, eight-year-old Aidan Gold has climbed the Cascades, the Alps and—just last November 2005— the Himalayas.

On the first day of this year, a 16-year-old teenager came home from a three-week Middle East odyssey, taken despite a State Department advisory warning Americans not to visit Iraq.

Farris Hassan, a Miami schoolboy, went solo, inspired by a classroom lecture on immersion journalism. He thought the trip to see and better understand what the Iraqis are living through was worth going “the extra mile or rather, a few thousand miles.”

Certainly, it yielded a more enduring lesson than what Farris skipped, a family trip to Colorado for holiday skiing: “When you go back home you have such a new appreciation for all the blessings you have there, and I’m just going to be, like, ecstatic for life.”

Whether it is leaving tracks beyond comfort zones or looking longer and harder at what they are taught to hate, young people bear listening to.

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