Gemma Luz Corotan

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"Find what you think is mesmerizingly beautiful and do that. That is what you are meant to do."

Dear Jack and Johnny,

I was asked to write an article that will inspire the youth and I seriously wondered whether or not I can get behind all the choices I have made and endorse them wholeheartedly, and if it would even matter at all to young people whose mantra is “Carpe diem.” Seize the day. And why not? When you seem to have your whole life to live, luxury to throw caution to the winds, and live life on the edge.

Last Sunday, I ran with the wind on my back in a MILO 10-K run and finished ahead of 70 percent of the pack, most of them half my age and as I sprinted towards the finish line challenging four big, burly youths in their 20s and finishing one step ahead of them, a force of nature in her mid-40s, I thought to myself, even as I swore and cursed never ever to do this again, I thought, “Was there ever anything as beautiful as this?”

Let me tell you something, my children. You can throw caution to the wind, live life on the edge and you don’t have to be young to do it. Youth is fleeting, this precious commodity that young people seem intent on spending heedlessly and without thought just because it is there. Youth passes but passion does not have an expiration and if you can be passionate about everything you do, then YOU WILL ALWAYS BE YOUNG.

There was one time, Jack, when you asked for my thoughts on what you should take up in college, expressing regret that many of your classmates would have made such great, creative artists. Instead they would choose to take up the usual business courses that either their parents wanted or promised them greater security in the future.

You said in a note of defiance that you are not going to follow their example. That you will follow your heart. Watching your face, I was bursting with pride at the strength and determination that I saw there but at the same time, a little ashamed that part of me also wanted what the other parents wanted. This is not really for you to value financial stability over your passion but to make a SAFE choice because I love you and I want you to be safe. Please do not begrudge what all parents want for their children: safety from a mad, unpredictable and difficult world.

I wish for you to be safe, my children, but because safety can never be guaranteed and happiness is ultimately the only real gauge of a successful life, I wish for you to be happy instead and CHOOSE YOUR PASSION.

A word of caution, do not choose just because you want to be different or want to be defiant. Certain acts of youthful defiance are useful but only if they give meaning and direction to your life. It makes no sense at all to disregard your natural inclinations just to be different and because your parents already took this path. So your parents are doctors and lawyers and businessmen, but if the path that they took also calls on you beyond the call of money, why shouldn’t you take that path as well?

I want you to choose your passion. What I don’t want is for you to choose something only because it will make you more money. If money is the only thing you are after, no profession will satisfy you. And if it does not satisfy you, it will not make you happy. Trust me on this.

Choose instead what you think is REWARDING. Choose what you are CURIOUS about. Choose what you think is IMPORTANT. Choose to do something that CALLS on you so powerfully that you would do it even if you are not paid to. If you choose this way, you will do it well and if you do it well, the rewards automatically follow.

At a certain point in my life, I shifted careers from journalism to real estate and both careers have given me both satisfaction and happiness because I could do them both with passion. To the question then, on whether I would endorse my choices to you, not necessarily, but I would endorse the passion by which I do them.

Last week, I surveyed a house I was remodeling with my partner and he observed how my choice of complementary hues of blue from the first floor to the second floor made it seem as if he was ascending towards heaven. It gave me immense satisfaction that some family would be living in this house that I helped build with my hands and mind and imagination, and that on a bad day, tired from work, they would retire to this piece of heaven on earth and even if only for a moment, be happy.

My children, choose what you enjoy such that everything seems a lark and an exhilarating adventure, and you almost can’t tell whether it is work or play.

It does not matter whether it is Science or Mathematics or business or engineering, farming, fishing or bricklaying. If you are enraptured by it, saturated with it and find it mesmerizingly beautiful, that is what you are meant to be doing. –

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