“Let me fall, if I must fall
The one I will become will catch me.”

Baal Shem Tov

Transitions are quite shitty, messy affairs. The unknown is really scary. The familiar—even if it is death-dealing, even if we know it no longer fits us, even if we know we can no longer stomach it—is sometimes a less scary option than a future that is potentially better but is still unknown. Anything could happen — and we see the worst before we see the potential for better. For some reason, we hold on to death–depression, fear, victimhood–much better than we hold on to life. We can live life seeing the future as a constant threat.

But what we really seek is who we are. Or at least who we ought to become. We go through many lives in this one life that we have. And we collect friends and relationships along the way. Some weekends ago, I met classmates from highschool over Zoom, and one of them asked me why I left the Jesuits (I left in 2006). It took me a while to answer because it happened so many years ago, and as I was talking about the experience, it was as if somebody else lived that life. For some of the friends I met in the past ten years, they will never know and could never imagine me in a soutane giving a recollection or retreat, preaching a homily, being “BRO” Eric. For some of my friends from way before that who have not seen me in a long time, they could also not imagine me as a dad to two kids (even if they see the pictures on facebook or instagram). But I WAS that, and this IS me. And it is good.

The transition—from wide-eyed boy from a city in Mindanao to the 15 years old in the big city of Manila, to the 18-year-old idealistic young man who thought he could change the world, to the 19-year-old who joined the Jesuits, to the 21-year-old who really thought that THIS IS IT–there is no other life to this Jesuit life, to the 26-year-old who started life anew and from scratch, to the Organisational Engineer, to the guy who went through some death-dealing relationships before learning his lesson, and then to the person who finally came home after being away from God for so long time, to the husband who moved to China with his wife, to living in Singapore, to the person who started a restaurant business from the ground up, to the father of two, back to the OD consultant and counsellor/coach.

The transition was not smooth at all. Every comma in that long sentence meant that every single time a major change happened, I thought I was going to die. And it was really a death in some way. But life as well—becoming MORE ALIVE. Becoming more ME. Because we seek who we are, and we are in a quest to become who we ought to be.

The shitty mess makes something out of us— it shapes us into better versions of ourselves, stronger and more resilient. We realise our fears were largely unfounded, that we exaggerated them. That the unknown is not really scary, we just need to be familiar with it.

Did I ever think I will be who I am now? If you asked me 15-10-5 years ago, I would have said something else. But it is in the constant seeking of who we are, that we become who we ought to be.

And so I have lived countless lives in this one life. It is a sobering and comforting thought that before all these are done, I will have to live even more lives, and get surprised by who I will become 2, 5, 10, 15 years from now.

“Let me fall, if I must fall. Who I will become will catch me.”

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