Picking-Up the Broken Pieces
The Filipino game Hampas Palayok was derived from the Spanish game of Pinata. This was a popular game in children’s parties when I was growing-up. The mechanics of the game are simple. A traditional earthen pot called a palayok is filled with candies and other goodies and suspended in the air. A designated player is blindfolded and then spun around to disorient her. She is given a bat and is tasked to hit the pot as hard as she can in order to break it. While she is trying to locate the pot, the audience helps her out by telling her to go left or right until she is in a position to hit it. Once she is in the optimal place, she swings the bat as hard as she can to break the pot. Once the pot breaks, all the goodies fall, and everyone tries to get as much candy as they can.
When I first played this game as a child, the pot was broken and everyone scrambled to grab the candies. I, however, concentrated on picking-up the broken pieces of the pot, not understanding the mechanics of the game. When the adults saw what I was doing, they burst into hysterical laughter since I missed the whole point of the game. What kind of silliness is it to pick-up the pot pieces and not the candy? No wonder I had no competition from the other kids! To this day, my siblings make fun of me for acting in such a strange way.
Somehow this story comes to mind when I think about our current situation in this pandemic. There are many people who are still insistent on just waiting for the pandemic to pass so that they can return to their “normal” lives. The truth is there is no going back. Our world has changed irrevocably. Trying to go back to “normal” is like picking-up the pieces of the broken pot, hoping it could be put back together again. Meanwhile, we miss out on the true goodies, the blessings that are unleashed in times of crisis.
These blessings could include a heightened sense of awareness of the value of many things that we have taken for granted, such as family, friends, dining out, kissing each other hello, hugging, and the like. It could be a renewed spirituality, a more intimate relationship with God because we tend to search for God, the true Rock, when the “rocks” upon which we built our faith fail us, such as democracy, money, power, science, technology, corporations, the economy, our jobs. It could be the transformative virtues that emerge in our character from the difficulties that we’ve had to battle with. We find strength that we didn’t know we had. We find an altruism that was previously dormant. We learn simplicity and find joy in the simple things. Whatever it maybe, let us not focus on picking-up the pieces of what is irretrievably broken. Instead, let us focus on the goodness that has come out of this pandemic. Let us not miss the blessings.