He motioned for me to sit beside him and then asked, "Kumusta ka na?"
"I'm fine," I replied, which really meant "ask me more" and was an invitation to probe deeper.
We've had similar conversations before, although we didn't see each other often. He knew what to do.
"Are you happy?" came the dreaded question. I paused before giving my standard reply for the past year:
"Happy is such a big word. I'm OK lang."
"So you're not happy then."
"I'm not happy yet. There's so much pressure at work. And I'm still in transition, from missionary life to corporate life."
"Ang hirap mo namang pasayahin (It's so hard to make you happy). My question is not about work. It's about your life."
"Well, there was something I asked God but He didn't give it. That's why I'm not happy."
Tito MoW replied, "There you go again, defining your happiness by one thing. You are limiting God."
One elusive thing, I said to myself. It's one elusive thing after another. I focus on what I don't get. I gloss over what I already have.
There was no point in arguing with him. I concededly said, "I don't know how to be happy."
There it is. This is not news to anyone. It's been blogged about here for many years.
"Happiness is a decision. You have to want to be happy; to choose it," he said.
"But how does one want to be happy?" I asked him. I really wanted to know. I thought I knew many things, but I didn't know that.
"I'll tell you why you'd want to be happy. It feels good to be happy!" he told me with a serious face. He looked like he had decided on the matter and was practicing what he preached.
I didn't know what to say. Who could argue with that? And why did I always want to argue, even with a man who was helping me to find happiness?
I tried to search my memory for the last time I really felt good and was happy. It was always during retreats or parties. Big events. It was hard for me to be happy everyday. I reckoned it was hard for everyone.
It was time for us to leave and so he told me in parting, "I'll ask you again."
I said, "I hope my answer will be better next time."
"No, you can always say, 'I still choose to be unhappy.' It's your choice."
I wondered when I would see him again. I could cram my answer then.
Or I could choose to be happy now.
Where do I begin?