Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland
The first word that came into my head when I thought about how 2009 was to me is “harvest”. Yes, maybe the most famous word for people who are into farming, virtual or otherwise. This year has been a time of harvest. Or the start of harvest season. But why “harvest”, you might ask. First I have to tell you about the time of planting…
2007 was a time of renewal. That was the year I came to the Netherlands — completely new surroundings, new people, new events, new focus, three more seasons than the usual 365-day summer, a totally new life I was not able to foretell. It was a year of new discoveries, enlightenment and new beginnings. I just grasped whatever I could get my hands on. Suddenly, I experienced a burst of knowledge that was different from what I encountered everyday as a news reporter. My life was far from the television journalist I used to be. But it was not bad at all. I realized how it was to be not in the forefront of history but in the forefront of MY history. I was a part of a different life. It felt good. I was de-stressed. That was one of my best years. That was the time of planting.
Before I go on with my story, I have to admit that I do not know anything about planting. I also do not own a FarmVille or a FarmTown. My first and only successul attempt in planting could be the “mongo seed experiment” that all schoolchildren in the Philippines experience. One germinates the mongo seed by (1) preparing a good soil, (2) damping the soil, (3) spreading the seeds evenly, and (4) watering the plant. The amount of sunshine to which the mongo seeds should be exposed to, depends on the experiment.
So if I were a mongo seed and 2007 was the time of planting (my years in the Philippines was preparation time), 2008 was the time of water and light exposure. It was the time when I moved forward into learning my Dutch (through self-study and one month in the TU Delft), got married for the second time to the same man, had my hands full with volunteer work and integration. If I met new people in 2007, I met more new people in 2008, traveled more than in 2007, learned how to bike and got a language certification from the TU Delft which prepared me for a more fruitful year ahead.
That is this year. My biggest joys in 2009 include finding a regular paid job and receiving my Nederlands als Tweede Taal (Dutch as a 2nd Language) diploma — the highest language certification that a foreigner learning Dutch can achieve. On the sidelines, I also got my volunteer certification and first swimming diploma. This year also meant more recreation, more traveling, more successes, more stability in the face of the economic crisis.
Although 2009 may have spelled more woes to many people — with the economic crisis, Ondoy’s coming (our family was unharmed and that is also something to be grateful for) and MJ’s death — it personally brought in more progress and accomplishments that will provide for a better year or better years ahead. It also meant caring less for harvest because when Ondoy struck, we were able to share our produce and our lives to people who were in need.
Indeed, harvest season has begun. During this time, one must still work hard and anticipate good or bad weather, for there must be labor before the reward. But it also means looking forward to new projects, new endeavors and new achievements.
Sharing my 2009 story, I look forward to a more colorful and more dynamic 2010. I expect myself to work harder and play harder. Enjoy the company of family and friends when the opportunity arises. But till the soil and patiently wait when needed. For it is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the spring, who reaps a harvest in the autumn.
Like in the years that came before, I will be grateful for each day, for the blessings that keep coming and the opportunities to share them, for the challenges that motivates me and for the frustrations that teach me patience.
Because it is the thankful receiver who bears a plentiful harvest. It is the giver who gets more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.
To all of us, may 2010 be a better one. I can go overboard and wish us no more global warming and no more wars and no more hunger and death and calamities. But that’s not real life. So I will wish us all to be able to deal with everyday with a grateful heart.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone and don’t drink too much!