We dawdled over the streets and park of Bacolod on Sundays, a father tagging the fragile hands of a 5-year old boy. Together we wasted time watching fellow dads and kids puttering around in their Sunday shirts of flashy neon colors and Voltes V those yesteryears refreshed in me one of Sting’s songs of nostalgia and gratitude:
“The park is full of Sunday fathers,
and melted ice cream.
We tried to do the best we can
within my given time.”
From the park, we plowed our way to the moviehouse, always opting for a Chinese karate film of either Bruce Lee’s or Filipino-Chinese Tsing Tsong Tsai. I marveled at every flying kick, the speed of every fighting action, the shrill tone of Chinese yell of “yah” as each fighter strutted his own style aped after Menacing Monkey, Cautious Cat, Daredevil Dragon, Snappy Snake, or Tenacious Tiger. Long before I’ve known about Chuang-tzi or Confucius, China was pinned into my consciousness as a country not of social diplomats but of sneaky fighters. It was all fun at the theater – one container of a father-son happy tandem.
No doubt it was my father at the peak of his paternal diplomacy and skills. A child need not visit the birthplace of Kung Fu to make a logical sense of the legacy being passed on from one generation to the next. It’s all about feeling the action, relishing every hint of the tricky art of evasion and mastery over a created nemesis. For a child that was me then, it was about the “wow” experience less adulterated by mental scrutiny of my father’s time and more empowered by innocence over every single moment with him. The dictatorship of analysis is a killer of awe, a depriver of enjoyment. Mystic Antony de Melo put it bluntly: “When you hear the bird sings, will you still look for its credentials?” True, every child has the inclination for being inquisitive. But often, not out of the adultlike desire to connect the dots to a grand theory of something. A child asks more out of awe and less from the desire to dissect an enjoyable experience for the sake of intellectual stimulation.
And so was the time with my father: in every free flow of time with him, I don’t think I logically cared whether he had extra money after the movie or buying a couple of ice cream at the park. I don’t remember asking him whether the ticket price had gone up, or he was required to report on that particular Sunday at the posh hotel he was working for. It was almost all about enjoying the time of 2 birds chirping. So it happened to us on those casual Sundays at the park and the moviehouse – me and my father – wasting time with and for each other. And it was worth a memory to recall to remind me that not all wasted time is useless said Lin Yu T’ang:
“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.“
Photo credit: Digger Digger Dogstar