Friday, January 18, 2008

Fishballs For The Adamsonian Soul

Raul Agner (11/2/2006)

"The Best Things In Life Are Free" is the title of a 1956 musical film and a 1992 Janet Jackson-Luther Vandross hit song.
But most especially, it's an enduring catchword, a wise reminder that even without shelling out cash, many good things come our way or that money can't buy many of life's essentials.
Free Things Around
That slogan rings true in Adamson University, a veritable grab bag of "freebies" that appear to have been dropped from above though no one asked for them. By some measure they may not be the best but they are free nonetheless for everyone to savor. Not that the university enjoys a special treatment from heaven's dispensers of graces, because many of these can also be found in other places. It's only a matter discovering and realizing that they've been there all these years and appreciating their real value.
Such as the trees inside the campus that play their roles quietly: as giver of cool shade, as recycler of San Marcelino's toxic emissions into breathable oxygen or as pliant sculptural forms adding pleasant aesthetics to the campus landscape (that’s multi-tasking long before humans adopted it in the workplace!). Often, they would send a short message, in the shedding of a leaf, that life is a cycle of endings and beginnings, of change and renewal.
Imposing and postcard-perfect, the SV building is another free thing we enjoy. One can simply feel good in its hallowed halls or one's sagging spirits can find solace in the beauty and strength of its neoclassical architecture that at the same time evokes endurance and tenacity. Its rich history gives the Adamsonian a sense of pride and lets him bask in an inherited glory. It would be nice to wrap the building like a gift, because it is, (the way the installation artist-couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude did with the Reichstag in Berlin and other structures), if only to dramatize its significance.
Other good things are found in the campus. Tinted glass doors can double as instant mirrors for walk-by grooming. Those craving for mental nourishment have the numerous journals and magazines in the library to pig out on. The throbbing dynamism of student activities fires up anyone's passion for life. In corridors and walkways, the congenial smile people flash makes your day a tad bearable. The big-crowd anonymity gives one a kind of psychological security cloak; and in the ethereal serenity of the chapel, one can feel the reassuring presence of the Maker …and Freegiver.

Person- Gifts
But more important are people who make a difference in your quotidian living. And they are for free at all times. There’s the kind classmate who helps out with your problems. There's the restroom cleaner that makes our answering to nature's calls a pleasant trip to an almost clinically sterile spot. Not to mention the roving security person who gets out of his way to maintain order or help people locate a classroom or office. Of course no one can ignore the traffic aide who risks health, life and limb so Adamsonians can reach the other side of the street intact.
This inventory and hundreds of other examples, enough to fill a book, point out only one fact: in our university, free gifts - big or small things and nice people - abound. No need to be extraordinarily perspicacious to sense their presence; only those in hopelessly irreversible “eyes-wide-shut” mode won't notice. A line in a song says, “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone." Knowing and valuing the free things and people around us lessens the chance of losing them.
In reality, when we come to think of it, each one of us is a gift. Every person can give or share himself or his gifts with others, a "person-gift." A community made up of mutually and freely giving “person-gifts" is an ideal groundwork for a socially oriented institution like Adamson.
In whatever form and quantity the free gift comes, it nourishes our souls to some degree, the way fishballs, a snack staple for many Adamsonians, succeeds in sustaining an empty stomach up until the next full meal, or even if none, comes.

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