M E R A K I

to do something with soul, creativity, or love;
when you leave a piece of yourself in your work.

writing-philippines-facebook-2There are over a million words in the English language. Some have been borrowed from another language, adapting the style and the context upon usage in daily conversation and in written prose as it befits them. In several scenarios and over the course of time, these terms acquire visual representations in one’s mind once heard. These mental illustrations may be transient while others could be permanent. Countless of these words signify a myriad of nouns and verbs in which each are derived and sculpted from a potpourri of experiences unique to oneself. Beautiful can conjure the image of a person, a landscape or an object one finds aesthetically pleasing. Intelligent may summon the image of the class valedictorian, the witty professor or Albert Einstein. As Adamsonian and Vincentian students, charity reflexively invokes the university’s patron saint, St. Vincent de Paul, to mind. Known for his altruistic works during his lifetime, St. Vincent de Paul was the embodiment of goodwill and kindness.

That was the mark he left in this world.

That was the mark he left in every organization, institution, and person he had the pleasure of encountering, from St. Louise de Marillac and the Daughters of Charity to the Vincentian priests and brothers and the Adamson University.

While charity is a word that is frequently attached to St. Vincent de Paul’s name, a Greek word, meraki, which means doing something with soul, love, and creativity and leaving a piece of yourself in your work, epitomizes the charitable saint as well. Wherever he went and whatever he did, he performed it with his heart and soul. For in his weathered hands and calming smiles, a part of him was left and devoted to aiding the poor and the unfortunate.

That is another mark he left in this world: his legacy.

Each and every one—young and old, man and woman, wealthy and impoverished—should save in the galleries of their mind.

Oftentimes, people tend to attribute legacies to the prosperous or the prodigies. Leaving a mark is unfathomable to one with no outstanding riches or extraordinary talents. Having such beliefs and underestimating what happens in day to day life lead to untapped potentials, lackluster performances, and monotonous lives. This way of living lacks meraki.

So you are stuck sketching endless blueprints and designs in a class with a terror professor? Love your work. It might just help a secluded village that lacks streetlights at night. So you find yourself behind the counter of a government agency, interacting with impatient customers? Still, love your work. You might just become their relief once their problems are solved, and their gratitude will be irreplaceable. So you get called in from your vacation because your supervisor wants you to cover a groundbreaking story regarding the nation? Go and do it with creativity. Your article will inform the people of what is currently happening in their motherland. So your legs have started to ache terribly because you’ve been driving the jeepney the entire day, wanting to reach the “boundary” and take home a little something for your family? Still, love your work. Students and workers rely on you to bring them to their destination and to return them safely to their families. So you have been teaching theories to your students for the past hour, though you can see that their minds are elsewhere? Be patient, be creative, and love your work. They will need to remember this in their field of work.
That is the mark you can leave in this world only if you realize that you are capable of it.

Legacies need not be grand to be a phenomenon and be critically acclaimed. Sometimes, they are simply adding a little bit of heart and soul to everyday activities. Sometimes, all we need is meraki.

Kristel Mae is a BS Psychology student of Adamson University. This piece won 2nd place in the recently concluded Vincentian On-the-Spot Essay Writing Contest with the theme “#IamVincent. I Come into this World to Leave a Mark.”

POST SCRIPT (ed.)
“I came into this world to leave a mark”
That was the theme of celebration at Adamson University in the Phillipines for the recent feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. It included an essay writing contest and an art contest. Thanks to Pam Mantuhac for sharing all of this with the Vincentian Family.

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