In an attempt to order my entropic domestic world, I decided to sort and rearrange old files—clutter, memorabilia, knickknacks—that I had amassed since moving to Manila some years ago. And in the process I excavated some very interesting stuff
Take for example the World Balance shoe box I had years ago labeled “Memory Box.” It contains personal notes, letters, some photos, greeting cards from friends and family. I went through the contents one by one, and began feeling nostalgic. One note said, “You are loved.” And, yes, I did feel an overwhelming sense of being loved as I read—and sneezed—through that dusty pile of memories.
Also in the “Memory Box” were two love letters. I remember writing them in the summer between freshman and sophomore years. Obviously, these heartfelt missives never got sent. (But as a matter of fact, there were half-a-dozen others that did find their way to the hands of the object of my affection then, mind you.) I smiled at my mush and recalled the good times with that amazing girl. Then I came across a small card she had given me, on which she wrote “GLYSDI” (God loves you, so do I). Boy, did that send 17-year-old me on a thousand-and-one daydreams and what-ifs! Today, on hindsight, I conclude that it was nothing but a friendly, non-romantic gesture. Awww, I know…
I found sheets of photocopied readings for some class in college. I wondered why these had made it to the Box. It didn’t take long before I discovered that on the back of these otherwise disposable textbook photocopies were scribbled intimate journal entries. I don’t remember writing them but the penmanship and language were unmistakably mine. Most were soul-baring prayers that detailed many a heavenward plea or cry for help. Interestingly, some of the thoughts I had penned those years ago still ring true today. In many ways, I still feel the same uncertainties and longings: desiring to be a better man who passionately pursues God, dealing with the intricacies of dying to sin and living for Christ daily, the struggles with identity and purpose. Now that I think of it, have I grown to become a better man than I was several years ago? “I see God’s fingerprints on you, brother,” wrote a friend in one of the cards. Are those fingerprints clearer today than they were then? Or have I managed to efface them with my own selfish marks?
Some things I chose to part with after I had rummaged through my decade-old archives. But there are those that I decided to keep and cherish, for they will grow even more valuable—more instructive and insightful—with time.
Now, I don’t know why I chose to keep this ID card from my high school senior year. Maybe there’s something about that youthful, confident smile that I want to remember and draw strength and perspective from. Or maybe I just want proof that I used to have more hair and less chin. For whatever reason, I say this one’s a keeper.