Tell Simon Go Find Another Company

IMG_1240Ladies, you are advised not to go out swimming–alone. It is better, they say, to sink in the company of one who can swim.

Some situations in life too call for company. Say, on marketing days, Mom needs one to carry the baskets of goods and goodies (in this case a house helper will do), or someone to act the role of boy Friday, to call the police or to call an ambulance when something’s gone wrong, or to remind her, in the midst of the hassles of haggling and buying, that she has forgotten to take her Olmetic, “for the prices of commodities might raise your BP” (in which case a grandson six years old is okay).

It is not good for man to be alone. Didn’t God say it? First, he paraded the animals before Adam’s eyes and told him to give a name to each. They came probably in pairs, and that perhaps must have set Adam into thinking. Then God put him to sleep, and took one of those bony materials, the one that covers Adam’s heart and innards, and made it into a female. A thing of beauty she was, without any comparison in all history. (An Italian painter once gave us a picture of how Eve must have looked liked: He made her Caucasian, adorned with a navel!) She, the mother of all living, must have kept Adam company till his dying day. My Baptist friend thinks the phrase you often hear ministers say during weddings, “for better or for worst, for richer or for poorer, till death do us part,” is as ancient as Eden, though he has no proof for it.

When my wife married me, she also became wedded to everything that is me, not so poor, not so rich, and everything that I own, including my motorcycle. That is companionship. One pleasant Monday morning, we motorcycled through the Transcentral Highway, to enjoy the sights of Mt. Manunggal in central Cebu, and listen to the chirpings of God’s winged creatures. We saw the crash site, now called Magsaysay Park, a mute witness to the passing of good men including the president of this republic, reminding us of the fragility of this thing called life. Strolling in the park, in an effort to reorient one’s self with pieces of history, calls for a companion. History professors had it with their students. Now, if I indulged in a loud monologue as I walked around, someone would question my sanity. But with a wife in tow, they probably would take us for tourists.

Oh, and any trip, to us, whether far or near, in the city of Cebu, which is our home, is a tour of sorts. It is an unwritten policy in our family that I act the role of the driver-guide to accompany wife as she tours the marketplace. “Bring your license,” she would say. She has a good reason: Cebu’s traffic men would flag us in the wee hours of the morning, suspecting that riders in tandem always means a group out to rob a bank. “Bring your wallet,” she would add. Good advice. If she goes beyond the budget, her last recourse is to side up to me and say, winking an eye, “Do you have a hundred?” She probably thinks this is one good reason why God invented husbands. I think companionship has a price tag.

“Bring Simon as a companion when you teach.” Was that not personal evangelism rule number one we heard in our Bible college days? And with good reasons: Two is better in times of persecution (if a rogue beats you, Simon can always call the police), or in times of memory lapses (if you have forgotten what to say, it is assumed that Simon has not). It is also wise. If you have left home without taking food, Simon can dish out words of wisdom, like “If God feeds the birds, He could also feed us; I just don’t know when, or where, or how.” Nice to hear especially in times of ulcers.

And let me mention too: You need two to raise the kids. If you have doubts about this, ask the widows. It is also fun to have two to watch DVDs, or go malling. However, when musing about what to write, whether an essay or a poem, an extra body is already a distraction.

So please pardon me for having this unholy thought: There are times I don’t need a Simon to accompany me to teach. If Simon criticizes your method of teaching, or your teaching outline, or tell you that your voice is too loud, and he does that in front of the people you are teaching, then being alone is bliss. Paul did his teaching in Athens alone, that’s one good New Testament example for you. Without a co-teacher watching, you are not afraid to make mistakes; your group won’t know it. We make mistakes everyday and we grow over them.

But, you would say, to criticize is to exercise our constitutional freedom. Wait a minute. Just because we in our group are free, should we then conclude that we could just say anything about other people, to the point of hurting? We are a volcano of emotions. Emotions that may explode. For which reason, others among us become a Krakatoa, a ball of fire outpouring in its anger, leaving great destruction in its wake ( as a result, an island vanished without a trace). I think it’s time we strive to be otherwise.

In my quest to be otherwise, I remember Felix Bravo. A teacher in the Bible College among the pines whom I truly respect and admire. In our teaching sessions in the homes in Jungle Town, Baguio City, he would often be the silent spectator, never saying a word. A teacher letting his student do the teaching is an awkward arrangement. But in the privacy of his office, or in his old Volkswagen as we traversed the road back to school, he would give me one of his precious smiles and say, “There is one thing I would like to tell you and I hope you will take it as an advice.”

This too is good advice: If critics you already have enough, stop calling on Simon. Tell him to find another company.


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