Coming from another continent, I have noticed that in this country, there is a norm to fill the calendar, to keep everyone occupied and enriched- in every kind of activities you could imagine. Not that I’m against activities and enrichment programs. On the contrary, we have our own share.
In my heart I am longing for simplicity. Going back to the basic. I remember as a kid in the Philippines climbing on trees, playing in the rain, walking on the beach and collecting shells, making our own toys, and dancing in the moonlight. Now, when I tell the kids to just go outside, sometimes I could read eyes inquiring- “and do what?”
Socialization is not an issue for us, but I also long for certain relationships- for me and my husband, and for the children. I yearn fellowship.
Taking the children to their activities is usually plain sacrifice to me. Not because it requires of my time, but because I often get reminded that we could not assimilate without people first getting over the fact that though we look different, there is always common ground. My children, though born in this country and had never lived outside of it, face the same challenges. Life continues, but that’s all that it is- “getting out there.”
And what about community? I was raised where community matters more than activity. I remember walking to the neighbors’ house just to visit, or to check if the elderly needed any help. I recollect running errands for just about anybody when they are busy preparing for an event or a gathering. Anyone from the Philippines would know the phrase “bayanihan system,” which is described here as a practice of helping each other without expecting anything, especially money, in return. Bayanihan signifies a strong sense of community and aims at seeking the welfare not only of one’s self but that of the larger community.
And yes, everybody knows your name.
I would like to be able to teach my kids that sense of community. Yet, I don’t even see my neighbors. We do what we can. We are involved in a ministry at church, even our daughter. There are so many opportunities out there to be of service to others. All we need to do is step out. But for that sense of community that’s pictured in my mind to be a reality, it would take a lot more.