When I was five

TODAY I FOUND this question in my email: When you were five, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did it happen?

My childhood memories aren't as poignant as, say, my brother's, who still probably remembers our grandmother's old house in Banga. But this I recall: that I was in preschool in 1992, seated beside classmates with runny noses (which I despised looking at), starting to learn my alphabet, and enjoying the drills on my DISTAR reading materials.

I remember a conversation I once had with my classmate John Michael Daraug during recess. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. "A hold-upper," he said.

Intrigued, I asked him why.

"I want to have lots of money." I told him that was going to be a dangerous job; the police would be after him. But his explanation seemed logical at the time.

"What do you want to become, Lance?"

"An astronaut," I said proudly.

How I badly wanted to be an astronaut! My favorite book then was the seventh volume of Childcraft entitled The Universe, which I had read every day when I stayed in my grandparents' house in Polomolok.

Myself and Manong Ralph

The night sky fascinated me. My aunts would tell me to point to the moon and ask for bread, a drill I found pointless, but they seemed ecstatic when I did it; so like any obedient child, I did. Many times I looked at the moon quietly and made out outlines of a rabbit or a woman. I liked Saturn which I considered the most beautiful of all the planets because of its rings. I enjoyed reading about Jupiter, and I wondered why the Earth wasn't any bigger. I didn't care much for Uranus or Neptune, and I thought Pluto was too small and distant.

The idea of floating on air excited me, too. I learned about Neil Armstrong, and I wished I could be like him: inside a spacecraft, donning a super-cool suit, flying.

After some time, I got over my fascination for astronomy. Children's preferences, like childhood itself, are transient.

Let's fast-forward to 2012. I've realized that my grasp of physics isn't enough to land me in NASA. Neil Armstrong died last month. I'm now studying to be a doctor.

But some things never change, I suppose, like the wonder of looking at the stars at night, remembering that their twinkling may well be a thousand years old . . . and the humbling thought that I am but a speck of dust in the greater scheme of things, yet the God who created all of these is mindful of and knows me (Psalm 8:4).

3 thoughts on “When I was five”

  1. You and my brother have the same childhood dream! He would have us read him a Reader's Digest article on Armstrong and the moon landing every single day. That came after wanting to be a carpenter. Then he grew up and made tons of money. Sometimes when he's having a spoiled fit, I wish he became a carpenter instead. hahaha :)

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