June 04, 2009

The Black Swan

I had the chance to listen to one of the top headhunters in the country or probably even in the Asian region—Dr. Jesus Zulueta or GG. He treated us with pizza and soda at the Institute of Solidarity in Asia while getting enriched by his talk on Professional Options. He looks very expensive which according to him is a deliberate act in order to maintain an image essential in the nature of his work. For me, his way of talking and his nonverbal cues are more than requisites of his work. These are harvests of his very meaningful career.

I could not forget his discussion on the Black Swan. It is an unexpected and life-changing event that diverts us from the normal course of our lives. All along, we thought there are only white swans until someone in Australia or Tasmania reported about the existence of a black swan.

Sometimes, we are deeply engrossed in a serene and “normal” life, as everything seems to be on the right track. Until a learned urbanite, for example, makes a difficult decision like quitting from a high-paying job and settle down in the countryside in order to take care of a sick mom whose death wish is companionship with her only begotten son. Or a person was rammed by a car and lost his left leg, which immensely changed the direction of his life.

The Black Swan, I think, makes “unspoken messages” more manifest or obvious. There are turning points we cannot immediately fathom at the moment, until what is deemed abnormal falls into its proper place. Some call it sheer serendipity. But many devout Catholics, Buddhists, and other Christians consider it as part of God’s grand Divine plan. Kuya Kim of ABS-CBN’s Matanglawin, in a talk at FEU, is a classic example of this “grand plan”. Before the death of the legendary Ernie Baron, the late broadcaster told him in an interview that he can already die because his alter ego has been borne.

Using your gut-feel or listening to God through an inner voice, as my friend puts it, is the greatest challenge in discerning a Black Swan. Occasionally, we stubbornly push for what we think is best for us. It takes a Black Swan—sometimes even very painful—to finally realize a deeper meaning of our lives.

This is not to say that an existentialist’s way of life is absolutely irrelevant. When we invest on our future by going to a good school, sustaining harmonious interpersonal relationships with social and professional circles, investing on long-term financial portfolios, we personally chart our roadmap to success. In fact, some mentors always advise that we need to reinvent ourselves every five years because the real point of equilibrium is change. “Kalabaw lang ang tumatanda” is probably a Filipino idiomatic expression that succinctly puts the permanence of change. Sometimes, change is ignited by a Black Swan.

Lately, several positive changes or blessings occurred in my life in the past three weeks. I do not really consider these as Black Swans because they are not really negative or painful. These changes cleared for me the better path I should tread. I hope I can sustain and do my best as planned, not just by my own volition but by the Omnipresent.


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