In less than a month, my life will be full of transitions. I have resigned from the three companies I work for. And then I’m going to get married towards the end of the month. And as if that is not enough, I’m moving to China with my wife.
A friend of mine asked me why I’m moving to China. And what I feel in the midst of all these changes in my life. Well, the reason I’m moving to China is connected to what I feel about change. So I’m going to answer what I feel about change in this article, and I’m going to answer why I’m moving to China in an article after this.
Change is always tricky. Done well, it could lead you to a life that is more than you ever expected when you started out. Change stretches you, and it sharpens and clarifies your idea of your capacities and incapacities, of what you love and what is important to you. Change allows you to do things you’ve never done before. On the other hand, done badly, change can make you lose focus on what you set out to do. It hardens your heart and can make you bitter.
What does not kill you makes you better. Or bitter.
Change is always a difficult thing for me. My personality is such that when there are things unplanned that comes my way, my instinct is to panic and go to familiar territory. It is so hard for me to change. It is so hard for me to experiment. It takes such a long time for me to put out to deeper water. I am by nature a creature of habit.
But I am also one who when I FINALLY change, I embrace it and do not look back. And I just don’t survive, I thrive in the changes that happen to me. I am also by nature a creature that chases the horizon.
When I left my hometown of Cagayan de Oro City at the age of 15 to study in Manila, I was so scared and excited, but I thrived in Manila, learned to speak as Ateneans do, learned to live as people in Manila do with their traffic and their pace and I never looked back. What helped was that I was with people I trusted, friends from high school. (The same friends who are still with me today and who will be with me as my groomsmen on my wedding day.)
When I entered a house of discernment to think whether Jesuit life was for me at the start of senior year in college, I was so scared and excited, but I thrived in Arvisu House, learned everything I needed to know about myself, about God and about the Society I was entering, woke up really in the morning, sang songs at mass, prayed like I never prayed before. What helped was that I was with a group of men who desired the same things I did. And I never looked back.
When I entered the Society of Jesus in ’99, I was so scared and excited, but I thrived among the Jesuits, helped out missionaries in Zamboanga, worked incognito as a factory worker in Mandaluyong, went on 30 days of silence, became a moderator for college orgs in Ateneo de Manila, taught women who already had 12 children in Payatas how not to get pregnant anymore, became a teacher in Cebu, learned Philosophy and Theology. What helped was that I was with a group of 15 guys–many of them now priests–who loved God like I did. What helped was that I was inside a Society of Jesus that was so human in its compassion, and so divine in its understanding. And I never looked back.
When I left the Jesuits in 2006, I was so scared and excited, but I thrived back in the “world”, changed my resume so it could be understood by corporate animals, designed trainings for call center agents, became a management consultant for big and small companies, studied solar power from scratch and how it could be harnessed for cost control, got the confidence to talk to CEOs of companies without forgetting the humility to deal with factory workers (because I was literally one of them some years back), earned my keep, put food on the table, learned to live and love and live again. What helped was that I worked for and with great people, and I worked with a great company. And I never looked back.
Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ said that there are two ways you can look at the future, just as there are two words we use for it in Filipino: hinaharap or kinabukasan. Hinaharap is about what is in front of us, what we face. Kinabukasan is more deep, more meaningful, because it comes from the same root as being open. Joy that is based on hinaharap or that future obsessively planned by one who is closed, is nothing more than a charade. True and lasting joy can only come from being open to God’s kinabukasan breaking into our present.
So now you know the drill. In the cusp of the uncertainty of this next step in my life. On the doorstep of China. On the threshold of forever. I am scared and excited.
What helps is that I am with someone I love and will love for the rest of my life. And we will thrive. And we will not look back.
[by Eric Santillan]
About Eric Santillan
AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. During weekends, he does counselling for Clinica Salutare, an Integrative Health Clinic. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current, a core group member of Heroic Leadership Philippines, and a retreat giver.