CAREER ADVISE FOR NEW GRADS – an easter prayer

CAREER ADVISE FOR NEW GRADS – phil daily inquirer
An Easter Prayer
eastwind journals 179
By Bernie Lopez,
An Easter Prayer
with IEDs becoming more sophisticated
do we perhaps discern a message from the Lord
Who permits our enemies to overwhelm us
as in the days of exile in Babylon?
He has not abandoned us
rather, we have abandoned Him
Lord, give us the grace
to return to your fold
Lord, restore our fortunes as in the days of midian
for we are all in the pre-departure area, ALL
women and children, beggars and tycoons
refugees and hosts, muslims and christians
make us discern that pain can come from You
and we offer them back to You as prayer
to atone for our sins
we surrender our will to Your divine will
O Risen Christ who died for our sins



Career Advise to New Grads
I was then a young computer programmer and disgruntled with New York City as a “spiritual desert.” So I flew to Europe on an adventure of a lifetime—which I dubbed “eastwind”—drifting through 18 countries and hitchhiking 18,000 kilometers for three long years. I reached the fringes of the Sahara in North Africa, and the icy villages of Sweden. I hiked 80 km for seven days from Lisbon to Fatima as a pilgrim, asking Our Lady to please help me look for myself as I was terribly lost. She granted my prayer. I did “find” myself, but only decades later, abandoning a computer career and shifting to journalism. I also wrote sci-fi Hollywood screenplays, but I could not find a Spielberg or Lucas to review them.


After 20 years, I wrote a book on my travels called “Wings and Wanderlust—The Art of Discovering Your Inner Self.” I wrote from memory, no notes, just pure stream of consciousness a la Dostoyevsky. I wrote the 243-page book in a span of two weeks, hardly sleeping, fearing I would lose momentum. I found myself mixing verses about life with adventure anecdotes. It was not just a travelogue. It began to dawn on me that it was also a philosophy paper on the meaning of life. I asked a classmate at the Ateneo, who had a doctorate in Eastern philosophy, to offer it to his class as complementary reading.
For Ateneo students, the book is available at the Loyola Bookstore at a discounted student price of P350. You can also send the book to friends anywhere in the Philippines via JRS for an additional P70.00 (or a total of P420), an affordable gift at the click of a mouse. Simply place an order at You will get instructions how to pay. For non-Ateneans, the cost via courier is P470.



The comments of his students (which I put on the book’s back cover) awed me. Said one student: “The book serves as an inspiration for people who have lost their way (or, like new graduates, have not found it yet), and are trying to find meaning in their lives.” Another said: “At first, I thought I was doing the author a favor through my review, but found out later he was doing me a favor.” Yet another said: “As I read, I realized that I can renew myself and reinvent myself, that I am full of possibilities.”


I realized then that my book was a kind of career guide for new grads looking for themselves and for a career, as I did decades ago. One verse goes: “The more I did not plan, the better the experience. The more I tried to get lost, the more I discovered. The more I did not care what happened, things happened.”


In Barcelona, I threw away the tourist map and just drifted through the streets. I later discovered that I saw all the beautiful things by sheer serendipity—Barceloneta, Ramblas, Castell Montjuïc, Sagrada Familia. It was a mind-boggling discovery. Then did I learn that not planning is a form of planning, that chaos is a form of harmony and harmony a form of chaos, that I could see in the darkness if I did not use my eyes, that I could see the light only after I saw the darkness.


My advice to new grads is to DELAY any decisions because these are most probably theoretical. I had an uncle who took dentistry, then nursing, then criminology, then ended up in the US Navy, and worked as a post office clerk when he retired. You have a dream and a vision, but that may not be reality when you get there. You may want to be a doctor to help people and find out later that you can’t stand hospitals. Your idealism is theoretical. You must base your career decisions on experiential wisdom, not the theoretical wisdom you learned in school (with exceptions like on-the-job training and immersions).


The best way to get experiential wisdom is to travel, meet people, immerse yourself in other cultures, or work as a janitor (as I did in Amsterdam) or a construction worker. Then will you realize what you are and who you are and what you want to be. So if your dad says you “should” go to Harvard, don’t refuse. Simply say, “Later, dad. Let me first discover myself, see the world, gain experience not in work, not in another school, but in life.” It is the best graduation gift he can give you, believe me. Wander in Costa del Sol in Spain for three months, the Big Apple for two weeks, the Canary Islands for two months, etc. Travel, not to see places, but to meet people. After six months on the road, I had about 400 addresses of people from all over Europe wanting me to visit them. I met them in hostels, camping grounds, strange places. My itinerary changed from visiting places to visiting people.


If you tell a child not to touch a candle flame, he/she has theoretical wisdom. If he/she does anyway, and feels the heat, he/she has experiential wisdom that will never be forgotten. That is the meaning of learning. Our schools are full of theories and illusions. You must take flight and see the world before it is too late and you are too old. If you have no money, work to get your wings.
Click photo to blow-up.


One verse in my book goes: “If you look for yourself, you see total darkness. If look for the other, you see blinding light. Love is the essence of all being. Discover yourself by discovering the other. You are a mirror of the other, and the other a mirror of you.”


Realize that if you look inward, you cannot see yourself. If you look outward, you see yourself and the entire universe. Move from selfish to selfless. Gain experiential wisdom. Be brave. Take risks. No guts, no glory.
Feedback from a reader of the book –
Hi Mr Lopez,
I didn’t want your book to end. For 3 days, I was transported to your world of 4 decades ago – I ‘watched’ as you hitchhiked from city to city, slept in unlikely places (and slept with… – just kidding), met loads of wonderful people but more so – discovered the magic in them, and so much more. What an adventure! What a life.
I didn’t seek to be changed by your book. It was just curiosity at first.  But there were so many lessons there that spoke to me and made me realize an alternative life is possible – simplicity, non-planning, serendipity, the small magical things, and yes, chasing one’s dreams no matter what age – why not? Not easy, but yes, why not. As Yoda said, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’ 🙂
Thank you for sharing your experiences in a book. I wish much more people could read it. I wish it could be in mainstream, not so much for the success but for the reach. I am guessing there are so many others out there searching for themselves. And wanting to fly.Till then.Best regards,
To order the book, send email to For Philippine residents, the price is P470 (for Ateneans P420), free courier service to your home or office, sent within 2 to 3 days upon payment. An affordable elegant gift to friends anywhere in the Philippines at the click of a mouse. For Ateneo students, buy at the Loyola Bookstore at the college campus at a discounted price.
Original Inquirer article without photos –
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