We Did Our Best While We Were At It

Just like that. A light bulb moment.  

I watched a short interview of Bjorn, Agnetha, and Benny on youtube, three of a four-member Swedish pop group called ABBA. They were really big in the seventies and eighties and have earned awards, die-hard fans, and tributes from artists especially in the West. To most of us, they are a legend.

I grew up listening to ABBA’s music among others. I remember back in grade school, Chiquitita, one of their popular songs was my winning piece in a singing contest. I didn’t follow much of their story but knew they broke up in the early eighties after 10 good, solid, successful years in the music industry. As lights went off, the members thought, “That’s it”, and resigned to the idea of being forgotten after a couple more years.

Fast forward years later, and here we are still remembering them. Hearing their songs on the radio would make any fan say, “Oh I love this song, I wonder what’s up with the ABBA these days”. That same thought led me to a few articles and videos which satisfied my curiosity. Turns out, all four are still pursuing music on different levels, and are still humbled by the love and respect they’re continuously getting from fans all over the world. But there’s no denying that all of them have moved on.

I wish we could say the same thing. “We did our best while we were at it”.

Too often though we are too caught up with the next big thing.

You’ve heard it often.

Children can’t wait until they become teenagers.

Teenagers can’t wait ‘till they become young adults.

Young adults can’t wait ‘till they have families and build successful careers.

Adults can’t wait until they retire.

To me, it seems like we’re always trying to escape. Never content of where we are, never appreciative of the phase nor the season we’re in. If we could only be fully present and just give our best.

Mind you, it doesn’t stop there. This “wanting to be” drives our “wanting to have” too.

The bigger house, shinier car, more expensive clothes, sophisticated gadgets, fancier vacations, you name it. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with wanting more. It’s the motive behind it. As we become aware of what’s happening in the world, I hope we’re beginning to realize that getting more or getting somewhere doesn’t necessarily make you happier.

What’s Missing



To bloom where you’re planted.

To give every ounce of energy and wits to whatever work you have in your hands at this very moment.

Doing that would spare us regret. Not needing to look back as we wonder what could have been or should have been.

You will no longer wish to have done better because you already did.

You will no longer have the desire to go back and enjoy something one last time, because you lived that moment with contagious vigor and passion.

Your heart will no longer ache for something more dashing or luxurious because you’re making the most of what you have, it serves its purpose, and you revel in it to your heart’s content.

“I did my best today. I have loved and lived like it’s the last time. I made Somebody up there proud”.  

If you can say that tonight as you go to bed, I think there’s no other time nor place you wish you’d rather be. Why? Because right there, at that moment, is where and when you’d be the happiest. You did your best while you were at it. And if the sun graces you with another day, you know you can get up and move forward, not occupied nor attached to anything of the past or the future, rather, you’ll find yourself basking joyfully in the glory of the present.


So today, I decided to clean up. Owning a few things since going solo, I wanted to retain even less.  That means, just enough of everything.

A friend of mine traveled to Sweden months ago and fell in love with the term “lagom” which means “just the right amount”.  She was saying the Swedish don’t brag about the things they own nor overindulge in something like food, cars or houses.  They like to live as regular, ordinary people,  and give preference to giving back, contributing, and helping.  They don’t care about status or how much they earn. All of that and yet Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world.

Thinking about it makes me fall in love with Sweden too! “What I wouldn’t give to be there”- Me, daydreaming.  But Sweden or not Sweden, we can actually embrace “lagom” as a lifestyle, isn’t it? In some parts of the world, they call it, minimalism, simplicity, or essentialism (there might be other terms that you know, drop a comment here).

I grew up in a culture pretty much influenced by the Spaniards. With our concept of “fiestas” and “piazza” (in my hometown, we call it plaza), our culture has taken it further to mean:

– huge houses, 

– large “haciendas”, 

– more food on the table (than what’s necessary), 

– (boisterous) laughter, 

– plenty of stories, and 

– overflowing drinks.

While fiestas and plazas are essentially part of the Spanish culture, I believe these concepts stemmed from their inherent quality of being warm, affectionate and family-oriented. Our culture, however, took it to a different level- more like Spanish-with-a-twist.

I’m not against people who own huge properties or love to have fun with beers, food and loud music. I’m just a bit disheartened to see:

– folks with large but empty houses

– yuppies with an expensive lifestyle, and mounting debts

– people who hoard

– people having too much of something (too much alcohol, food, shoes, Netflix, etc)

– people who overwork (yes, included)

– people who overcommit (yes, this too)

– people who are having too much rest (you’ve got to get on your feet too, you know, like literally).

Overindulgence is a bad thing.  You’ve got to save something for tomorrow or share some to someone in need.  We’re not here just for ourselves.  I hope we realize that and become more mindful of the rest of the world and its needs.

Wherever we are or what our status be in society, each of us has the capacity to give.  It may not always be in the form of material things. It could be our time, our skills, wisdom, strength, or we could just lend a hand, or lend an ear.  

If there’s one thing that this weekend clean up reminded me, it’s this:

I can live with just enough, and that’s not depriving myself of anything good in the world. That actually means, giving myself space, room to breathe, more room for what’s important, and to me, that translates to not only freedom but power!  It’s kind of saying, “I can have that, but I won’t”.  

– sundaewrites

Now imagine repeating that when you’re faced with a decision:

“I can buy that luxury car, but I won’t”.

“I can book myself in a 5-star hotel, but I won’t”.

“I can consume the entire chocolate ice cream cake, but I won’t”.

“I can party all night, but I won’t”.

“I can work till daybreak, but I won’t”.

Does it make sense?  Well, I’ll leave you with this word to think about.