Since coming back here during the Spring time, I can’t help but say to myself, “Man, Vancouver is gorgeous!” The flowers in their full glory, the skies in Hail Mary blue, and the sun’s warmth on everything else, I’m a fool for not being able to embrace this city with arms wide open.
But when it comes to love and affection, I guess we all end up being foolish. We set our eyes and hearts on what we once had or cannot have; while that which we have, we find it hard to appreciate. Ah, the ever elusive “grass on the other side!”
Just as I am trying to untangle the mumble jumble of ideas in my head, my earlier sentence was greeted by the thought: “isn’t it true that the grass is greener where you water it?”
To my dearest Vancouver, I’m going to water you from now on. On your plot of land, I offer you “my works, joys, and sufferings of this day!” (Catholic School reference, yo! :D) But in all seriousness, I offer you whatever little possession I have, in the hopes that if it joins something bigger than itself, it becomes part of something meaningful, something good, and something beautiful for others.
This is it, pancit! Time for a newer and a happier adventure! :)
When Multiply, Facebook’s godfather and Friendster’s successor, came out; the best thing it gave me was the ability to communicate virtually what I could not in real life.
I started blogging as a form of emotional release - to make sense of what was happening to me and to arrive at a conclusion based on the words that gushed out of my mind and into the monitor. To my surprise, I was not just able to express how I felt but I also had the chance to have feelings “heard’ by friends who were kind enough to indulge me in my self-serving need to share what was going on in my internal universe.
I can’t pin down in words how comforting and how humbling it felt for someone to tell you that something in what you wrote resonated with them. It’s tremendous honor that you made someone feel something through your story and that by being brave enough to share it, you have made their day a little less sadder.Six years after I wrote my first blog, I still hold their comments with gratitude and fondness, in that place where my secret dream to keep on writing was born.
But back then and ever since I was old enough to be asked what do I wanted to do in life, my answer has always been to be able to work with children, to be able to take part in their growth, healing, and even in the pursuing of their dreams. But when writing came, it posed a grave confusion within me because until then, I’ve never seen myself doing any other thing except being with kids! If I could be Barney, Patch Adams, and Peter Pan rolled into one, I would in a heartbeat! My salary came in the form of their hefty laughter and the more they laughed with me, the richer I felt!
Today I’m faced with a dilemma if I should continue to play an active role in children’s lives as I’ve always longed to do or to accept the opportunity to study writing and language with rigor reserved for those who carry a “monastic obsession” and great love for this craft.
My secret dream is to write stories for and about children. I know that making this dream come true entails a lifetime’s worth of hard work and sacrifice, especially with my lack of skill and in the absence of inherent talent. But what I do not know is if I’m willing to invest my life and love in something as ambitious as being a children’s writer when I know for a fact that I could just keep on doing what I do and keep on building myself in this field so that I can give more to those around me, so I can give more to kids who deserve nothing but the best in the world. :)
There are times when I tell myself I wish I had an ability to stop myself from dreaming dreams that are just too selfish, those dreams that do not have any benefit to others except myself. But because as G,K. Chesterton says that I am what is what’s wrong in this world, it follows that my selfish tendencies will always be there. They say that what’s important is what I act on and I could only pray that I choose that which is more loving, that which is kinder, that which is most giving even when it’s difficult.
Because perhaps the greater tragedy for me at this point is not that I have not dared to dream, but that I did not dream for others when I was given the opportunity to include them in mine.
Life, please help me find a way.
A few weeks ago, a schoolmate who was about to graduate from college asked, “Ate, is the world really cruel?”
I no longer remember what I answered. Perhaps my subconscious knew I couldn’t carry with me the fact that I wasn’t able to answer in a way that was helpful to the one who asked. But that question has stayed with me ever since, most especially in times I wanted to believe otherwise.
I was in the car with my dad last night. We were waiting for my mom to come out of her office while we were having our usual dad and daughter conversation. In between our words and our silence, I made a mental note that maybe, when you know that somebody loves you no matter what, the world’s cruelty can’t push you over the edge.
Truth be told, I’m not really sure about that. Our feelings change no faster than our thoughts change our mind. Sometimes pain can make us forget the good. Laughter, even at its best effort, cannot match our sadness.
Should I try to look outside, to look beyond and around myself - a suggested technique to overcome our own issues - I find that the odds are not necessarily in its favor either. Wives cheating on husbands. Children dying in their parents’ arms. Swindlers running away with hard-earned money of ordinary folks. Politicians killing people for power, using power to kill people. It makes me think that they call it Breaking News because it does just that - break you.
But I have to keep trying, I tell myself. Just as a memorable line that hits us hard and hits home makes reading a 500-page novel worth it, perhaps one moment of transcendence, clarity, or quiet joy in our beautiful but trying lives is enough to make living and dying bearable to make us stay, to make us fight even when we don’t understand, or even we’re not understood.
Is the world really cruel? I would like to believe it is only as we make it to be. As long as we decide to be part of it, things can still look up. Things can stil be better.
After all, I still believe in the power of one person. I still believe that a hug or a kind word can save a life. I still believe the idealist in me; I still believe in the impossible.
Cue The Journey music, please. :)
Just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”— Toni Morrison
One of my favorite mantras circulating online is the one penned by Oscar Wilde. He said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
To me, this a reminder that while we may get worked up by the circumstances “down here,” may we never forget the possibilites out there, even if they are most familiar to us as that which are impossible. After all, science confirms that since our bodies are made up of elements born out of the Big Bang explosion roughly 13.77 billion years ago, we could actually claim that we are made of stardust. This means that if we were to draw a connection between Oscar Wilde’s words and the Big Bang Theory, it would imply that looking at the stars would mean looking at what we’re made of. Ergo, it would also be safe to say that we too were made to shine like they do.
But being in the gutter, it’s hard to remember what we’re made of, let alone look at what’s above us. A few days ago, I was just watching a really good Indian movie where the main character was described by his mom as someone who couldn’t see anything else but his failure. Having had my new batch of “failures” as a young immigrant struggling to overcome homesickness and find jobs (dishwasher, anyone? :D), his character resonates with me on most days. It takes a lot of self-willed pep talk to move out of that funk and get one’s spirit up and running again; but I can’t give up just yet.
Because more than owing it to myself to at least garner the privilege of saying “I have fought the good fight of faith,” I couldn’t help but feel indebted to this Universe for taking a chance on me when it decided to burst and breathe life into this planet and for making me one of its own. In one of the pep talks staged in my head, an afro-haired girl from Soul Train snaps her fingers and says, “Surely heaven’s got a plan for you, sister!”
Come to think of it, It’s not everyday you find out that you can actually go ahead and tell yourself, “Hey buddy, you’re made of stars.”
That’s pretty neat. :)
Should I have a daughter, I’d name her “Sky.” That way, when people look at her, they’d be reminded to look up or take flight. Should I have a daughter, I’d also hope she grows up to have a good heart - a heart that enables her to, in the words of an anonymous wordsmith, “breathe it all in and love it all out.”
Should I have a daughter today, I’d tell her how much of a good day it was. I’d tell her that it was a good day because just this afternoon, both a little boy and an old man talked to me and laughed with me. I’d tell her it was also a good day because I was, for a brief moment, able step out from my fears and shake hands with folks I can think and feel deeply for. That’s one good piece of advice I heard today as well. “Think more deeply. Feel more deeply,” said Elie Wiesel.
Should I have a daughter in the future, I hope she gets to prepare dinner for people who she can truly call her friends. And when the dinner is over and they’re all about to leave her place, I hope she gets to see them one by one on the drive way, rolling down their car windows to wave goodbye. All with wide smiles and although with bodies already signaling for a good night’s rest, her friends will be the friends who’d almost always be unready to part ways, unwilling to call it a night.
Should I have a daughter at all, she’d be mandated to memorize The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” and “Dear Prudence.” That way, she would know that sad songs do exist and that it’s her job to “make it better.” And should there be days that her efforts towards making it better fall short, she’d still come out the next day for she knows she has a part to play - a part that is beautiful and a part that is true.
And in the end, whatever song she chooses to sing in life, I hope she sings it not just for the ones she inherently loves or the ones she cares most about. I hope she sings it for those can’t, for those who are reluctant, and for those who might just be afraid. That way, she learns the language of kindness and bravery too. :)
Sorrow comes in great waves…but rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us. And we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.
My dad-in-law once gave out a talk in which he urged us to choose the better ending to our story. Many times, I find myself having to choose between choosing between “better for others” or “better for me.” And I pray that someday, I’ve learned to live where there is no distinction between the two.
John Piper says that God is most glorified when we are satisfied in Him and to me this means that being absolutely sure in my heart that God is enough for me. It’s been hard for me to write about God and how I think and feel towards him today than I did when I was younger. Today, I live in a place where spiritual beliefs are best kept to one’s self in order to avoid intolerance and I hope to respect where they are coming from.
My views about Him could be wrong or their views about it could be similar with ours, only guised in a different name. I just wish though that someone or something could help me, not to impose, not to indoctrinate, but merely to understand and try to figure out things together. That would be lovely :)
When I look back at what I’ve been scribbling on this tiny space, I snicker and say, “Yo lady, why so serious? Excessive sentimental baggage, you gots in there!”
Being apart from the people you have known all your life sure is sad, but being with a person that life has generously blessed you with can be a happy time too! Doing things together, surviving together, farting together. “Together” is a happy word, afterall.
And so after watching Les Mis, I asked my brain to be with me on a challenge:
You cannot allow yourself to be sad if your circumstance has no semblance of that of Jean Valjean’s (24601, represent.) *cue music: “Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men?”* Or of Fantine, when she belted out, “Life has killed the dream I dreamed.”
Two years ago, I originally intended to write here to help me remember and set my eyes on whatever is true, lovely, noble, and good. Sometimes it can be difficult, but I owe it to the universe (cradle of life, holder of stars) to promise that I will never stop trying.
I promise to never stop stretching in the direction of whatever is kind and gentle and compassionate because I heard someone say that if that isn’t what we’re bound to do, then what the heck is it supposed to be? I promise to be happy, to be thankful, to keep the demons at bay, and the gratitude hormones at large.
There are so many things I wish to keep in my heart - all of them, subtle snapshots of how life can be beautiful because of how a mom loved her daughter, how a mayor took care of his town, how a dad raised his little tyke on his shoulders, how a little girl showed the world how important an education is, how a man dreamed for his family, or how grandparents could be the best people in the world.
I hope to never forget these things. Someone once told me they’re the most important, I think so too. :)