The Colloquial Counting

When I was young, I liked to read and listen to stories. I liked an array of children’s books, including suspense, adventure and horror ones. I loved to listen to true stories, especially all those narrated by my mother; and with much gusto it was crazily fun to see her sharing her anecdotes with matching, amusing gestures. Sometimes, I would cry for her dramatic antics.

Because of those real-life stories and fictions, I learned a lot of things, of which possessed or became a part of me, a glimpse of who I am now. Those stories strengthened my love of literacy and storytelling.

I remembered a snippet of my mom’s story on how I was born. “Ready? 1, 2, 3! Iiiiiiih! Haahh!” my mother wailed while with deep catch of breath, she narrated on how she readied herself when she gave birth to me. After that she would pray to all the holy angels and saints. She said it was a hard pregnancy and delivery. In fact, I almost fell into a pail which was placed under her delivery bed. By the way, I was born at the Philippine General Hospital, located in the heart of Manila.

There was a time that my mom accompanied her old uncle to the shopping centre and they used the escalator. Going up and approaching the last step, she loudly said, “Ready?! 1, 2, 3!” But her uncle didn’t hear and so her uncle’s toes were hurt. There was a little blood that oozed from the wounded toes.

Ready?! … 1, 2, 3!!! That’s a colloquial counting. I would often count that way, too. I heard lots of times that I counted that way before I would do an action. I’ve been used to that, maybe I was influenced by my mom.

And who wouldn’t be familiar with these things…

“Ready?... 1, 2, 3! Pass your paper!” my teachers instructed the class after a quiz, a long test or exams. Most of the time, I was ready. But sometimes, I wasn’t. I had no choice but to obey my teachers or any proctors.

“Ready?... 1, 2, 3! Game!” Oh, how I loved to hear my playmates and I count that way with much excitement. Playing for me was so easy then.

In capturing the smiles during picture taking, I loved to informally count, ““Ready?... 1, 2, 3! Smile!” And I would say, “Cheese!”

In moving out, in lifting up a box or cargo- that’s usually for the big boys or men at work… I would hear them commanding or signalling loudly, “Ready?... 1, 2, 3!”

In practising oratory and dances- oh yes, “Ready?... 1, 2, 3!” would often be shouted. I tried oratorical contests many times and I also joined dances especially the ones telecast in Channels 9 and 11 when I was much younger. My dance teachers routinely counted “1, 2, 3” in preparation for the trip to light fantastic steps.

Have you also experienced these?-

The doctor would put me in a good mood and would say, “This is only quick. Relax… Ready?!...1, 2, 3!”… "Huhuhu", I cried… That was a big needle! I hated injections. The same thing happened to me during dental check-ups. Sorry to my late father. But I really loathed his office, the big Government Service Insurance System in the Philippines where he would bring me to their dental clinic for tooth extractions. Actually, that was a dental benefit among the employees. Before, I didn’t appreciate it.

Yet I counted on top of my voice, “Ready?... 1, 2, 3! Yehey, it’s vacation time!” That was also when I with my family and friends prepared altogether for a road trip.

Funny, my “Ready?... 1, 2, 3!” is a mixture of fear and happy times.

Moreover I reckoned to get one’s attention! Countless times of calling, figuring out, heeding also of a certain call. Valuing, the colloquial counting shows excitement. It builds a momentum. It looks like something is increasing, 1, 2, 3… making greater as in strength, in quality or the degree of concentration. In colloquial counting something is growing upon. Just like when I first started schooling with lots of activities- counting, reading, writing, colouring, singing, dancing, playing and praying.

Likewise, in my spiritual practices I have to prepare, concentrate and refine myself. I need to strive to grow in Jesus and approach Him by way of His graces through the sacraments. It should become more frequent.

On the other hand, what about if I deem the reverse counting- “3, 2, 1?”… This is a countdown. Remember a rocket ship launch? It’s such a thrill yet scary. The NASA team prepares a lot of things for this big event and they have also such thing as “hold” when they pause and check and re-check many technical procedures for several times. Actually, they start the counting from T (Time) 96 or 72 down to zero, ignition, then the amazing lift off!

Experts also count 3, 2, 1 when an explosive will be detonated. The ones in-charge of this ought to be extra careful for its explosion because this might be the cause of sudden and strong violence.

How about the Christmas countdown? For me as a Filipino, Christmas is the merriest and longest season of the year. I like the tradition of the Television Networks’ Christmas countdown. They yearly announce and stimulate TV viewers to do the prepping for gift-giving, parties or family reunions; attending Misa de Gallo and all the Yuletide spiritual observances, along with creative glitters and frills at the streets, malls and plazas.

How about the New Year? The focus is in the countdown that indicates the time remaining for welcoming the New Year. It is always fascinating, right? Especially when there are breathtaking firework displays in the air. It is the most awaited part and then we hear everyone’s shouting the liveliest and the loudest greeting, that is- “Happy New Year!... Ring out the Old, Ring in the New!” In harmony with the whole world, we harness good health, love, peace, joy and prosperity. We give our warm wishes and prayers like landing in a good job, healing of a sick person, marrying one’s beloved, etc. … We count before the last 60 or 10 seconds (depending on the cultural background) of the old year until the beginning of the New Year. In sync with the family and friends, we eat the sumptuous meal on the decorated table and we share our new promises, commonly we say our New Year’s Resolution.

Under the circumstances, am I ready to count 3, 2, 1? … So I can start all over again? And so that I can mark my time to prepare myself leading to an important event in my life? In doing this, I should do a lot of preparations for a target, for my personal goal. I should ignore distractions. I have to focus. I have to commit. Believing so, from there I receive a freshly blessing.

3, 2, 1… Lights off! I start counting the sheep to get a good sleep for now. The sheep in me joins the grand flock, named FEAST. I zero in to LIGHT of JESUS and I “count it all joy”. - James 1:2

By: Lucy Lombos, Nov. 1, 2015 – LOJ’s Organizational Meeting