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Reflection

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It’s Friday already – the first one of Lent.  For us, that means clam chowder and tuna fish sandwiches rule the menu today.  Oh, we could easily grill up some choice steaks, get some chicken to go, or even “nuke” some hotdogs in the microwave if we wanted.  They’re all there in the refrigerator or freezer.  It’s all about choice, though, and we’ve made ours.  After all, Friday and fish both begin with the letter “F” and that’s a good omen.

lentLent is the pre-Easter work-up for those of us who believe.  Among other changes to daily routine, Lent brings opportunities to fast (another “F” word), to give alms (more so than normal), to do good things in place of favorite things, and to reflect on life as we’ve lived it with a desire to improve our methods of living.  Nothing really mandatory here – as I said, it’s all about choice.

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I must admit right up front that, for me, that choice thing – and the options that are available to me – make this time of the season very difficult.  Let’s face it.  I live in paradise, surrounded by family, friends and others with whom I share and receive love.  I’m not one who needs much to get along in life, so there’s not that much to do without or to “give up for Lent.”  Trying to help others is more routine than not; so is trying to do good works.  But, am I living a good life?   To me, that’s someone else’s call.

IT’S ABOUT FISH? 

No, not really.  Or is it?  Here in paradise, fish could be considered a staple for nourishment and enjoyment.  The varieties are near endless, only to be outdone by availability.  Too, the local culture has numerous ways to make even the blandest, most common denizen of the deep a tasty treat that’s irresistible.  So, when it comes to fish, this “mackerel snapper” could just eat it up without a second thought.

Back in the States where my children live, there is a selection available but not like here.  There, factors like freshness and availability play a much greater role in answering “What’s for dinner?”  The joy of a good meal involving fish is dampened by things like, “Is it ‘in season’?” or “Is it fresh?” or even “How do I cook that?”  fishEven in restaurants, being in season and available, and how it’s cooked can throw cold water on an otherwise enjoyable mood.

Guess I don’t need to mention where in the States is “back there.”  In reality, it could be anywhere back there.  Of course, if you’re willing to pay top dollar for a nickel’s worth of your fave at a place that will prepare it anyway you want it, then you can make out okay if you’re near the coast.  Landlocked?  The price of enjoyment skyrockets.  But, for us penny-pinching commoners, it’s usually a choice of the local freshwater fillet, either battered and deep-fried or “almond crusted, lovingly prepared with the chef’s own secret combination of herbs and spices.”

So, being in paradise, where the Stateside delicacies are everyday fare, there’s not much room for meaningful change in cuisine when it comes to fish.

IT’S ABOUT THE BENJAMINS? 

Lord, I hope not.  I can’t really hold on to the ones I have.  There’s always a relative or a friend or an acquaintance or a family down the street or someone who’s in need of a “little help.”  “Loans” are part of the game when you’re a foreigner living in a big house in a bucolic province.  And loan forgiveness – partial or in full – is just another game move.  Then, there’s always another reason for opening up that empty purse.

Deaths in the family or neighborhood or barangay; births and birthdays; benjaminesschool first days and graduations; going off to college; wanting to come home from college; weddings; anniversaries of weddings; anniversaries of deaths; anniversaries of anything worth celebrating; first tooth; first step; first pair of long pants; needing help with the agent’s fees for getting that OFW position in the Middle East; needing help in paying off the balance of agent’s fees owed when that OFW position doesn’t work out; illnesses of all kinds affecting all ages at all times; you get the picture. I haven’t even scratched the surface.

But don’t get the wrong impression.  This doesn’t bother me in the least – it’s all part of paradise’s entrance fee and annual registration.  If there was an issue, it would be focused on how to lessen the number that, during temporary deficit balances, have to be turned away.  No, I’m not foolish with money.  I’m more frugal than free.  I have to watch the pennies so that I’ll still have dollars available when needed.

Could I use more?  Who couldn’t?  Yes, if possible, I could find good homes for stray currency.  Until its available, though, there’s not much room for meaningful change here.

IT’S ABOUT REFLECTION

Reflection.  Bingo!  There’s always room for meaningful change in the ways we live our lives, and reflection is one way to find those changes and implement them to effect positive results.  No, I’m not talking about lighting up a couple of sticks of incense, sitting in a yoga-like position, and letting out a deep, long, “Uuuummmmmmmmmmm” while trying to think good thoughts.  To me, reflection is more like having a good, frank and honest conversation with yourself, discussing everything that comes up, and making suggestions on how to make the effects of those “somethings” positive and meaningful.

Problems won’t have immediate resolution; troubles won’t instantly disappear; roses will still have their thorns – reflection isn’t really about the what as much as it is about the how.  And, of course,
the results you come up with – those great or near-great plans – will need to be tested by that old standby, “trial and error.”  How the plans work or don’t work is fodder for the next bit of reflection.

There’s no set time or schedule for reflection.  A clock doesn’t have to be obeyed when it comes to serious introspection.  It can take a couple of minutes or a couple of hours.  Nor, does location much matter.  It can be performed in private, in public, in the dark or in the light; here, there, anywhere you choose or anywhere it just happens.  The only real guidance for reflection is that, when it does happen, make sure it’s worth happening.  Don’t kid yourself or don’t fancy yourself with a reverent show for others’ sake.  They’ll sense that they are an audience quicker than you can say, “Uuuummmmmmmmm.”

Well, that’s enough reflection for now.  I’ll have to go out and try a few new things and see it they’re better than the old things meant to be replaced.  Lent is 40 days long.  My last reflection for this session:  Is that really long enough?

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PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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Dirk
Dirk
7 years ago

Paul,

Good perspective on the season and money. I am going to do some reflection of my last week. I happened to find my self in Dayton at the oakwood club and I must attest best fried calamari I have ever had. It was perfect!!! My point, I was able to find something fresh and tasty in your Ohio home, last time I got fish in Ohio I swear it came from a box 🙂

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Dirk

Hi Dirk – Yes, “boxed fish” is pretty much what you get at most places. Now, the Oakwood Club is a step up from your casual seafood fare! My son and his wife enjoy going there every now and then. Me? I’ve never been and currently have no plans to go. 😉 When I’m in the mood for good, fresh seafood in Dayton, I contact Foremost Seafood Ltd and get fresh, high quality seafood that arrives daily. Selection, though, is still a problem. As far as restaurants, the Bonefish Grill has what I believe to be the best selection and… Read more »

Dirk
Dirk
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

I will have to try the Bonefish next time I am in town. I did feel the Oakwood Club crowd was too stuffy for me lol

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Dirk

South Dayton, next to the Dayton Mall! 😉

John Reyes
7 years ago

Paul, I find that the best time for reflection is in the morning when freshly awaken from a good night’s sleep. When I wake up, I don’t get up right away. I stay in bed anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour reflecting on the past while I strategize for the future. Looking back, I can say that some of the best strategies I’ve made in life were plotted while lying in bed. As for fish, the best-tasting fish I’ve ever eaten was fish cooked wrapped in a tin foil and seasoned with herbs and spices and garnished with… Read more »

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John – My reflection times vary, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried first thing after awaking. Outside of a possible dream, there’s not much from the day to reflect on, 😆

I do stop during the day, sometimes, and reflect on how things are going and how I’m handling them. A change in perspective half-way through the day can make a gloomy Monday morning seem like a sunny Friday afternoon!

Best tasting fish – the last one and the next one! 😆

gerald glatt
7 years ago

Don’t mind the seafood, more of a treat than a sacrifice. But going without liver for forty days, then doing it for the rest of the year, not hard at all. The giving and helping is great too, but it’s all about the liver for me.

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  gerald glatt

Hi Gerald – For me, liver is a lifetime sacrifice! 😆 Don’t want it, don’t need it, don’t even want to be near it!

When you get right down to it, “IT” is all about being a human being and treating everyone else as a human being. 😉

Russell Clement
Russell Clement
7 years ago

Hi Paul ,, Great article ,, I even did some “reflecting” as I read it ,,, :-). I enjoy it , but I don’t dwell , the future is far more exciting than the past ,, 🙂

Paul
7 years ago

Hi Russell – Remember that we make our future. The reflection (and some dwelling) on the past helps us navigate the present so that we don’t relive mistakes in the future we make. 😉

Jay
Jay
7 years ago

Hi Paul, Nice article! I don’t find fish much of a sacrifice either Dad has been a recreational fisherman all his life. When I was young it was freshwater bass crappie and stripers that Mom would fry for us. My wife’s father fished for a living feeding his family. Now Dad catches saltwater fish like flounder, drum and snapper and he gives them to my wife to cook for our family here in Raleigh. She of course has to buy milkfish and dried fish at the Filipino grocery here at a premium price sometimes to get a taste of home.… Read more »

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Hi Jay – Well, I know that eating fish is not that big of a sacrifice for most of us. For our family, though, who is pretty big on chicken and pork, the sacrifice is in giving up the meat. (That, and trying not to think that we are rewarding our “good behavior” with the treat of fish! 😆 ) We are eating more vegetables as well. For me, forcing some okra into my mouth is akin to martyrdom! 😆 As to the money – loans always seem to end up as gifts, one way or another. Loaning money to… Read more »

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Not only that you can manage, Paul, but the way I see it, when you make a small loan to a relative to help pay for seed and fertilizer without expecting to be repaid monetarily and your money is plowed back into the soil, it becomes, in a sense, a reaffirmation of your solid stance and acceptance in the community you have come to know as paradise. 🙂

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John – I’m buying it all, seed by seed! 😆

John Reyes
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Hahaha, I know you would buy it all, Paul. Btw, a question I have been meaning to ask, did teaching in the local high school ever cross your mind? Perhaps you can get your teaching degree by correspondence and teach English at Pasuquin High School that is, if it can be worked around your “real” job, and, if you are willing to forgo the reverse snowbirding back to the States for a chance to replay the role of a Thomasite teacher. LOL

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Sounds just too much like real work, John. That’s something I’ve not only given up for Lent, but have given it up for good. 😆

I don’t think I’d have the patience to be a teacher. I could only teach the average student – the brainy ones would get too far ahead of me and the not-so-brainy ones would drag behind me. My herding instincts would kick in and before you know it, I’m no longer teaching but shepherding. Then, no one learns. 😉

Jay
Jay
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Hi Paul, I had a good experience with supplying money for an agricultual business in the Philippines. My wife said that one of her brothers had a breeder pig that had 10 piglets that he could not afford to feed to raise. He said he could sell 5 to feed the other 5 but that would make the growth of his business slow. I asked my wife if her brother knew how to run a piggery. She said he did so I sent 12,000 pesos as a gift to feed the piglets. He has not asked for money again and… Read more »

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Paul

Hi Jay – Even with a gift, one has to be careful. Many times, there’s pride at stake. That’s part of what makes it more fun in the Philippines – learning how to give someone money without it being a loan or a gift! 😆

PapaDuck
PapaDuck
7 years ago

Paul,
I like to reflect on the upcoming day while I do my morning walk. Seems to make the walk go faster lol. We eat more fish and chicken than anything else. Try to limit beef and pork intake. I eat more fruits and vegatables then I have eaten anytime in my life. I really enjoy eating them, since Anne really knows how to season and cook them. That diet is a good reflection of my health.

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  PapaDuck

Hi PD – It sounds as though you “have it all together”! Yes, the morning walk is a great time to reflect and plan. As to eating, I’m still an omnivore – ready at any minute to partake in whatever is there to be had! I have more pork than I should, hardly ever taste beef, and have depleted more hen houses than I care to mention. 😆

Still, for health reasons, it’s still all about moderation. 😉

Cordillera Cowboy
7 years ago

I don’t really spend a lot of time reflecting. I suppose I prefer to look forward. I grew up around mostly fundamentalist Protestants. Didn’t even know what Lent was til I was stationed in Germany and was told what Fasching was all about. Even then, I didn’t know anyone who observed it til I married Marlyn. I think she was just as puzzled to meet someone who didn’t observe it. I can sort of take fish or leave it. If it’s the only thing available, I won’t starve. But if there’s something else, I’ll generally pass. Not sure if my… Read more »

Paul
7 years ago

Hi Pete – Oh, you’re not rambling! (Take it from a well-practiced rambler, your comment made perfect sense without dulling the senses! 😆 ) Lenten practices are (and should be) mostly voluntary. “Free will” is the basis on which all of our choices are founded, be they questions of right or wrong, left or right, or whatever you have. As youngsters, our practicing was more parentally mandated as we were being taught. As oldsters, it’s almost all pure choice, though influenced by the lessons of early years. As to fish – well, there are plenty of non-meat substitutes like vegetables,… Read more »

John Reyes
7 years ago

Pete, upon reading the first two sentences of your comment above, I couldn’t help but recall a popular Filipino expression attributed to Jose Rizal himself: “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makaraarating sa pupuntahan”. Sorry to have to refer you to Marlyn for translation. LOL

Btw, are you in Fort Eustis, VA?

Cordillera Cowboy
7 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Yes John, it does seem to contradict my chosen second profession of historian. I’m sure you’re also familiar with the expression “Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” I suppose that in my personal life, I’m not so introspective.

I’m at Fort Lee. BRAC has moved the Transportation School from Fort Eustis to there.

Take care,
Pete

Mike
Mike
7 years ago

My wife and I live in Moalboal. Last week while having lunch I saw tuna attacking bait fish in the harbor, and the banka fisherman quickly came rushing in to catch the tuna. We decided that would be good day to buy tuna in the local wet market. That night I dusted fresh tuna steaks with some cajun seasoning, then two minutes each side in hot skillet with olive oil and butter. Wonderful meal with a nice merlot. My reflection seem to take place when I take the 20 minute walk into town. It never fails that that I get… Read more »

Paul
7 years ago
Reply to  Mike

Hi Mike – Amen to that! 😉

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