Text and photos by Prime Sarmiento
Yes I did spend a long weekend in Kota Kinabalu, but don’t ask me about climbing Mt. Kinabalu, or taking photos of orangutans in a rainforest reserve or about the happenin’ clubs in this city. Apart from drinking wine and listening to some live music during a Halloween party at a bar near Jalan Gaya, I haven’t done any of the things that you may want to put in your itinerary if ever you visit Sabah’s capital one of these days. I guess I’m a different Gypsy Gal now. As I approach a new period in my life, my travels have likewise evolved. From the usual sight- seeing to focusing on inner journeys. These days I prefer to connect with both old and new teachers instead of taking selfies in front of temples, statues or other landmarks.
And in Kota Kinabalu, I concentrated more on imparting knowledge and learning more from fellow participants in AWE’14. One of the most interesting workshops in AWE 14 was the one facilitated by Sabah-based artist Christianne Goonting I expected that such a workshop will entail a lecture on the art history and artistic style of Sabah. That may sound ho hum to you but not to this former graduate student who once commuted for two hours just to listen to an anthropology professor deliver a paper at the UP Diliman campus (and take note, that lecture was not even an academic requirement).
But Christianne's talk focused more on the art of living, the art of pursuing one’s passion instead of the more academic -and staid – version of art – and Thank Goddess for that! Christianne discussed how she pursued a career in the arts and how she never let her doubts and fears stopped her from being in the arts. But more than being an artist, Christianne is also living the dream of raising her own family in Sabah– and this has brought her enormous happiness.
“We all make our choices. You can follow your dream that will make you happy,” she told us.
I can't help but take notes – this even if in my heart I already knew – and practiced – what Christianne was talking about. I always dreamed of being a journalist and I followed that dream even in the face of small pay checks, cutthroat competition and diminishing job opportunities.
But what impressed me most in that workshop was the participatory installation art – a symbol of how we can nurture our dreams. Christiane presented a wooden bark draped with red cloth at the podium – symbolizing the foundation from which we build our dreams. She then called out other participants who, prior to the workshop, were given some items that they can use for the artwork that will be done during the workshop. Those who got the the crumpled paper and pieces of string created the pot that were stuck to the the wooden foundation, while others got the leaves which were later put in the pot – this “plant” represented the need for dreams to be tilled and nurtured in order to grow. And then the others got the plastic butterflies – indicators of beautiful dreams that bloomed to reality – or as Christianne said, if we can't follow our dreams, then we fail faulte to share our gifts, and something gets lost in the world.
Viewing the finished art work pushed me to reflect. I thought how the whole passion thing has been getting a bad rap lately – there are those who loudest argument against it is that propounded by some researchers who claim that instead of pursuing your passion you should instead go something that brings meaning to your life.
But my experiments with my career and life path showed otherwise. It's my pursuit of my life's passion that made my life rich, interesting, meaningful. For instance, it's my passion for writing and the journalism profession that eventually brought me to – of all places – the island of Borneo. It was while working as a newspaper editor here that I found fulfillment as a teacher! I love mentoring younger journalists and in fact complement not only my first passion – writing – but is also pushing me towards another passion that I'm pursuing now: life coaching (yes, I know, that surprises you too right?).
Which brings me to another dimension of pursuing one's passion and following one's dreams – the need to be flexible. We sometimes think that our dream life or dream career should only follow a particular shape or form. We hold on to that ideal, instead of letting it go. Let it go and allow something more powerful than us to lead us towards the highest good.
For in the end, this is what following one's passion is really about : the pursuit of one's highest good, in order to live your soul's purpose in this lifetime.