Achieving Happiness

April 13, 2010

Learning to be still

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 1:37 pm

An observation.

The toys in the girls section of Toys ‘R’ Us and Toy Kingdom are annoying. They’re mostly pink, they’re too shiny and sparkly, or too soft and huggy, and the over-all impression in cloyingly sweet. Stuffed animals with fur in improbable colors. Make-up kits and dolls that look like babies or like women with no better things to do than spend their days in front of the mirror preening. Pedicure sets and hair grooming collections complete with booklets on how to braid hair. Then there are the homemaker toys — small versions of real appliances like blenders and toasters, washing machines and microwaves. While I have nothing against children being taught housework, I can’t help but wonder about the message behind giving a child a toy vacuum cleaner and an apron. And though it is necessary to instill in children the necessity of keeping neat, I cannot appreciate or agree that this can be done by giving them nail polish, glitter lotion and play-lipstick.

Oh but I love the the boys’ section where the toys are metallic and black, and they look sturdier and more solid than they really are! They are toys that recognize intelligence and skill; they pay their dues to imagination and give it football-fields of space to run wild. There are robots and kits on how to build a robot. There are building blocks and logs and bricks.There are 3D models of the digestive system, the circulatory system, a transparent representation of a baby in utero. There are microscopes and telescopes and make-your-own gyroscopes. There are star maps and miniature representations of the Solar System. A child can learn, his/her curiosity awakened.

But the best toys are always the toys that children create and put together themselves. The truck made from a discarded shoe box, the telephone system made of two sardine cans connected by string, the kite of old newspaper and walis tingting., the slingshot painstakingly carved from a tree branch, the dried leaves that are, through an active imagination, transformed into fish, meat, chicken parts.Sand turns to grains of rice, buttons into money, and pebbles mixed with water becomes sago and gulaman (though of course, they don’t float and sink straight to the bottom).

Note to self: Children are so easy to please, and it’s so easy to make them happy. It doesn’t cost anything to get them to smile. I have to remember this next time I am worried that Miko needs more toys because even now, she fashions playthings from everyday household objects.

I have just realized that I do not know how to relax. Really. It’s hard for me to truly calm down and to keep my thoughts quiet. It’s almost impossible for me to not run around in my own head thinking of this and that, worrying over a thousand and one things in quick succession and it’s exhausting, I tell you – really drop-dead tiring.

I don’t know how this came about, this inability to sit still; and I can’t seem to remember a time when I was still capable of contemplation. Surely I was not always this angry?

(Oh I can contemplate and ruminate and be quiet — but seldom without the aid of a particularly good book and there’s poetry in the prose and the imagery is muted but graceful and I reread sentences and whole paragraphs in wonderment at how so much can be evoked by so few words — and what it all is is sad.

Sad how I cannot fully appreciate small moments, in little increments, sudden bursts of beauty or pockets of delight in the sight of a newly-blooming flower or the sound of a much loved song almost forgotten because of the years that passed between myself and the last time I heard it. Sad that a minute after of looking at a candle’s lightly dancing, dimpling flame, I am bored and restless. Sad that I cannot sustain happiness long before something else a worrying thought, a fear, a sudden remembrance of an unpleasant recent event shoves itself in, displacing glee, killing smiles.)

I was not this unstill, unquiet, uncalmable when I was younger. And right now as I admit all this to myself I realize how old I really am and that with age does not necessarily come peace and acceptance. The older I get and the more I learn about the world and why it is the way it is, I become even more unsettled and more easily upset and the incapacity to appreciate silence, to lose myself in it and to embrace stillness not steeped in either loneliness but merely naked in in the absence of disturbing, jarring, noisy sound, well, this inability to stop and to to be still worsens.

I would like to relearn stillness. To be able to keep still not so much physically but mentally and emotionally and to learn to live in the NOW and not always flinging myself into WHAT COMES NEXT or WHAT COULD BE and be always full of worry and fear and energy frantic. The state I am in most of the time is comparable to a rickety train making it way along wooden tracks and it’s a mostly uncomfortable journey towards somewhere as yet unknown but there’s a small spark of hope that it will not be a hostile destination: maybe there will be flowers, perhaps there will be poetry and the wind will blow gently bringing with it the scent of of a not-so-distant sea.

I will light candles and see the flame for what it is and not what it represents. One thought, one emotion at a time. Wish me luck!



  1. I do agree on your observation about toys. Capitalists do set the “standards” of how genders and sexes must act. Great blog. Thanks.

    Comment by Noel Sales Barcelona — April 15, 2010 @ 4:10 am

  2. magandang palawigin itong tungkol sa mga laruan at paano sila nakakaapekto sa pagkakaiba ng lalaki at babae.

    Comment by hindi ako korean — April 15, 2010 @ 10:01 am

  3. When you learn to be still, and I know you will, would you please write about how you found it?
    I enjoyed reading the clarity evident in your words.
    I googled learning to be still (advanced search – minus lyrics) and found your page.
    Thanks for the well written thoughts.

    Comment by Anonymous — September 19, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

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