I once heard a single friend of mine say, with tears in her eyes, that perhaps the reason why she is single is for her to be a “lover of the world”, that not having a family, a husband and children of her own, she could be family, a lover and a mother of the world. It was obvious that this realization of her purpose has sustained her in all her pursuits as an educator and motivational speaker. When I first heard this from her, to me it seemed a halo suddenly appeared above her head and wings sprouted at her sides, and I was almost compelled to kneel before her and sing hallelujah. At that time, I am still so far away from sharing the same point-of-view. Having spent some of my working years working full-time at an accounting practice while teaching part-time at a business school, I told myself “Lover of mankind, my foot!” I cannot be a mother to naughty, exclusive-college girls who only think about what color of lipstick to buy next nor can I love those ambitious corporate men and women who have nothing but arrogance as their credential. But how does one get to that point when one’s purpose and meaning in life becomes suddenly clear? It is a journey not just for single people but for everyone to take, a journey that is never simple, quick and easy.
Freedom and opportunity – those are the two top answers I would get whenever I ask any single person about what they like about being single. For a single person, it seems there are no boundaries. Accompanying such responses, however, and whispered almost conspiratorially, these same single people would say “but we are alone”, giving it an aura of a well-kept secret that only single people like me would understand because if the other half of the world knew, we would get the usual, condescending or “ha-ha i told you so” attitude. Once the day’s activities are all over or when our ever-present friends and relatives leave us so they can attend to their own respective lives, we, single folks, have to face an empty house or an empty room at the end of every day. Yes, we are free, we have lots of opportunities but still we are alone and “alone-ness” is such a big, dreaded word hanging above our heads. Some of us spend an entire lifetime “dealing” with this monster either by constantly dwelling on it or practically ignoring it as if it is not there.
I agree that the most valuable privilege of my singlehood (and of course with the benefits of a good education and employment, thank you to my parents, educators and employers) is the freedom to pursue any thing. I can choose to pursue a career or not, one day fly off to a faraway place with friends and another day spend time with family at home, pursue an interest or a hobby just by deciding that I want to do it. This freedom has allowed me to meet varied and interesting people, travel, pursue things that I love to do and through it all, to enjoy new experiences which I believe I would not have experienced or even dared to if I were not a single woman. With that kind of freedom, however, I found out that one can also easily lose focus on the things that are important. I had failed to stop, ask myself why I am doing something or examine myself for what I truly wanted. In the end, I realized that underneath all these pursuing and exercise of freedom are passions raring to get thrown into something, any cause that is worth it. What we mistake for as a need to cover up our “alone-ness” is really a need to give off this passion to another and share one’s gifts.
If I had a family of my own, I believe the choice would be very simple and that is to throw all my passion, naturally and expectedly, into taking care of a family. For a single person, it is not that simple. We have as much passion and sense of commitment as married people do. The only difference is that we have no “logical” and ready recipients to pour those into. Choosing where to channel those energies is where the dilemma and the pains lie because it would involve self-examination, a journey to one’s inner self that scares us.
My friend’s words remained there in my head to be dwelt on over the years. One author says that the way to integration or to “holiness” (if one may call it that), is “to live an exquisite balance between complete love and complete freedom -- between total responsibility for our lives, our world and our people, and total abandon and liberation in the Spirit of the Lord who leads and directs.” I realized how my friend was extremely blessed for finding her life’s purpose, her center, which a lot of us goes round and round trying to find in so many places but not really finding at all. Once we’ve found that center, only then can we truly and completely enjoy the “perks” of singlehood.
by: Luz Bernardo
Luz Bernardo is an associate of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality, Phils. She has been a CIS volunteer since 2008 after she retired from her career of almost 20 years in public accounting and business consultancy.
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