What to remember at the end of the year

Robert Labayen

Posted at Dec 31 2019 07:38 AM

Illustrated by Robert Labayen

The Bishop said in his sermon, “those who have an unhealthy liver tend to forget that they still have healthy eyes, ears, lungs, legs, heart, brain, and many other body parts.”

Many may agree that one bad thing can make us oblivious to the many other things we have been blessed with.

Recently, viral videos showed some people practically floored when they were able to see nature’s true colors for the very first time in their life. They have been acutely color blind since birth. They could only see shades of gray. With the help of eyeglasses from Valspar Paint and EnChroma, they were finally able to see the world the way we see it. They sobbed, they shook their head in disbelief, they jumped out in joy, they were stunned.

All of us who are not color blind may not have stopped, even for a while, to appreciate how wonderful normal eyes are.

A few years ago, an anecdote on Facebook tried to illustrate how we take great things for granted. This would be my best recollection of that story:

“Passengers on a train were annoyed by a teenager who never stopped describing everything he saw. ‘Look, the clouds are following us,’ he yelled. ‘The trees are going backward,’ he exclaimed. Recognizing how irritated the other passengers have become, the teener’s father had to explain, ‘my son has been blind since birth. We have just come from the good surgeon today.’”

This is an article that I decided to write toward the end of the year when we count our blessings. Many of you may be grateful. Others may be disappointed that prayers have not been answered. This morning at the mall, the voice in my head said, ”You think God is deaf? You think He is indifferent to your concerns? Is it his intention to ridicule you?” Then the voice continued, “Many people have been astonished by miracles they didn’t foresee!”

When things are not great, I remind myself of what the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron wrote in the book "When Things Fall Apart". She said that that life is in constant flux. Things fall apart and they fall into place again.

Over 10 years ago, my son lost his girlfriend in a fire. He was devastated for a long time. But God always sends someone to soothe our pain. Today, he is very happy in his life with a great wife, a pretty daughter and a promising career.

Another son was close to feeling left behind. He spent eight years in a four-year college course. Jobs were elusive and he was always in a bad mood. Today, he is almost sleepless because of writing jobs left and right straight from the most respected people in his industry.

After having lived 59 years, I know that many great things today were unforeseen or even unimagined. Superstars were anonymous people, CEOs were dropouts, millionaires were paupers and spiritual leaders were sinners. I have an officemate who was forever at odds with her mother. Today, they are the best of friends! Things can always get better.

Two nights before Christmas 2018, I was talking to another son. He’s been going through the biggest regret in his life. He’d been trying his best to stay positive while focusing on his new job and praying for the other people involved in his sad experience. He learned lessons. Valuable lessons that can make him a better person.

Life can always get better.



Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.