Two days ago I met Michael, a 20-year old college student. Together with his friend and classmate Earnest, who lives in my own neighborhood, Michael came to see me and ask my help for their writing project. I was eager to talk and help them but our conversation led me to discover the other side of their souls. They are currently majoring criminology. I asked them why they chose criminology. They said they have developed a taste for guns and dreamed that someday they may hold and use one. But when I asked them what their hearts truly want, Earnest said he wants to learn more about information technology, while Michael wants to take fine arts.
I was struck by Michael’s story. He told me he was left with no choice except criminology, forsaking his passion for art. Still, he has been creating artworks in secret, with no people to appreciate him. Yet he continues to pour his heart on his art. He told me that the moment he holds a pencil, his hands seem to flow on paper, creating images that he did not even imagine to draw. Often, he is unbelievably amazed, dumbstruck by his own ability to create. He wants to share it with his friends, but even them find his works incredible. When challenged by his friends to repeat the same artwork, he could not do it anymore. They seem to accept his talent, yet they do not support him by heart. He keeps on seeing beauty in anything unusual, such as mud. But others find him crazy on his misunderstood habit of observing.
I told him that his story is completely natural. Perhaps he is among hundreds and thousands of young people whose hearts dream to express their talents, yet often obscured by the society’s priorities on getting good grades, getting good jobs, flying abroad and earning more. We have heard the prevalence of career mismatch not just in the country but worldwide. For instance, the enrollment rate for nursing in most Philippine colleges and universities skyrocketed beginning in 2002. It became a beacon of hope for economic abundance of most Filipinos who wanted to work in North America. Parents pushed their teens to major in nursing even though most of them yearn to become a chef, a writer, or a journalist, all for the sake of earning more money. Schools made a business out of this trend. This mentality of having more literally extinguished the fire of dreams in the hearts of young people.
Listening to Michael stirred my soul. His soul is calling him to express, to become who he truly is. He told me that every time he begins to draw he always sees beyond. He sees with what he calls “the emotions of eyes”. He draws something from his deepest emotions. Positive or negative, his emotions energize his hand to draw. Afterwards he feels calm and inner peace. I could not agree more. He reminds me of an M. C. Escher lithograph, The Drawing Hands. He is drawing his divinity. He experiences God right then and there.
…may they find their life endeavor a bearer of peace and Love.
I was in Michael’s shoes some years ago. I felt alone in a world where no one recognizes who you are and what you can do, because they do not see your divine vision and do not hear your divine calling. Now I completely understand and am deeply thankful. Those experiences helped me to strive to make a difference. I was able to create and developed a way of seeing – a vision that I now share with the world. I have responded to the call of my soul by writing and teaching Love. Michael opened me to an opportunity to look back, and see him as I see myself. I saw in his eyes his infinite future. I saw the hope now seeded in his heart. Our meeting was a soulful confirmation.
If he would have an opportunity, he would choose to follow what his heart tells him. With that, I challenged him and his friend to see beyond the lure of weaponry. In a flash of insight, I recalled a contemporary artist Alvin Zafra, who was once featured in I-Witness’ Buhay na Obra. I shared to them what struck me to one of Zafra’s odd medium: a live rifle bullet. He rubbed the bullet against the surface of huge sheets of sand paper, sketching the images of slain journalists. He declared that by using one bullet for his artwork, he was able to stop its potential for violence. This story glued more my intention to inspire Michael, as well as his friend, for them to creatively see the possible connection of their current education with their personal calling. More than that, I intended to amplify the call of their souls – that whatever path they take, may they find their life endeavor a bearer of peace and Love.
I used to dream of becoming a doctor. I had four criteria before entering college. I should know more, earn more, respected more and ultimately help more people. Instead, my feet led me to a path of writing and teaching. Interestingly in old Latin, a doctor actually means a teacher. Even amid the noise of my society persuading me to define myself in its ways of success, I know that not only I fulfilled my four criteria, I also heeded the call of my soul. I have followed my bliss, heeding Joseph Campbell’s echo. I have continued to kindle the passion that keeps on lighting and warming my soul. “The fire of your heart is the light of your path,” writes Christian pastor Max Lucado. And I intend to help Michael and his generation to do the same – that they may have the courage to listen to and follow the call of their souls.
You can invite me to do a small talk, lecture or workshop for your organization, to discuss the importance of Love as a divine calling. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org