Monday, February 26, 2007

stop humbling me

the Universe can do it for you.
though i am not sure it wants to.

i have a friend who constantly finds every opportunity to humble me.
if she starts sensing that i am confident with my skills, ambitious, excited about a grand vision for my life or goal-driven ... she immediately shoots it down with a brief lecture on God, that we need his help and that we are dependent on him and that we should not be too arrogant as to think we are independent.

bullshit !!!

i hate it when people, because of their insecurity about my ambition and clarity of ambition and willpower to do my ambition, project their fears unto me in an effort to keep me as low as them.

misery loves company, as the saying goes.

so, for everyone who wants to be a friend of mine,
either you are a positive influence on my life or get the hell out.
and deal with your own emotional baggage first.

harsh, i know.
but i am doing you a favor by making you aware.

wake up.
your unconscious bad habit is dangerous to a world that needs more Dreamers and Changers.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

why do i still have friends?

i am not always a good friend to my friends.
i am sure they deserve more from me.

i know i am difficult.
since i have my moods that prompt me to turn people away.

or, maybe my moods are not the ones at fault.
perhaps in general, i turn people away.
1) do i do that because i am afraid to get hurt?
2) or, do i do it because i am afraid that i will let them down because of my tendency to leave people behind when my higher goals need to be pursued or if i feel the need for space?

i think it is the second reason.

this is surprising.
apparently i am more noble than i give myself credit for.
this entails that i do not wish to see people hurt.

my friend, Azi, wrote me an email after not hearing from me for 3 months.
i apologized and said:
'i was focused on doing my Father's work'... surprisingly borrowing from the Christian story of Jesus being lost and then found at the temple, after taking off without permission.

his parents confronted him and wanted to know why he did not even bother to tell them where he went.

he answered:
'because i was off to do my Father's work'...
meaning God.

i love this story.
it encapsulates the reason why i shut myself off from friends at certain times.

this can be interpreted as a flaw.
but it is a mistake that i am willing to live with and leave unchanged.

i read somewhere that in the end, we journey alone in life.
i agree.
but not with the interpretation you may be thinking about.
in the end, i believe that we all possess a highly unique mission in life that only the individual can discover, live and fulfill.

one that is his responsibility alone.
and one that often needs initial solitude to ascertain and perform.
but once discovered and expressed, ultimately benefits not only his friends but humanity as a whole.

today, Azi left me the best testimonial about me on Friendster.
i underestimated Azi.
she knows me better than most people.
for those not in the know... a testimonial on Friendster (a la My Space) is akin to a toast at a friend's wedding.
a testament and declaration of friendship.
what i found unique about her testimonial was the fact that it did not say anything about me.
not even mentioning my name.
not one word to describe me directly.

instead, she told a story of how Paul Smith, the fashion designer, woke up to his love for fashion.

i don't know what else to tell you.
but she hit it bull's eye.

my love for fashion.
and how my passion found me.

this is the first time someone honored something i am passionate about.
because no one ever took it seriously.

i feel so humbled and grateful that Azi, as a friend, did not give up on me.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

cannot remember the last time i was carefree

i hate forwarded email.

once in a while though, something breaks through the clutter...
and hits home.

i cannot remember the last time i felt carefree.
nor the last time i felt relaxed and safe in life.

many reasons account for this:
a tough childhood.
issues with authority.
bouts with poverty in the past.
a broken heart.

i remember a film criticism class way back in college.
the professor asked:
why do human beings constantly dissect things, just like we do in film?

i answered:
to understand the smaller components that make up the larger whole, in this case a film.

he surprised me with a follow-up question.
and asked?
why do we need to understand the smaller components?

i answered:
to understand how these smaller components affect the whole?

he asked:
and why do we need to do this?

i answered:
so we can learn to control the smaller components,
and in turn control the result.
and this was how humanity survived this long.
by controlling the environment.
by not being a victim to it.
if we were hot, we manipulated the temperature.
if we were cold, we turned on the heater.
by knowing the composition of matter, we possess the capacity to manipulate it to our advantage.
we now control our lives.

his final remark:
very good.

now, i go back to this same logic.

i can safely tell you that i have issues with control.
for someone who started as a very shy kid,
my Alpha Male personality somehow developed.
you notice it in how i talk.
how impatient i am with people.
how i interrupt people in mid sentence if their logic bore me.
how i crush people with lesser intelligence.
how ambitious and urgent i am with my goals, in an effort to be wealthy and successful.
because with immense wealth and influence, i know my cards have the upper advantage.
providing me with more leverage and bargaining power.
and by reaching my peak, i will never depend on anyone again.

the only problem is:
i have lost my warmth.

when you cross over to the darker side,
there comes a point that the training to be cold becomes so practiced that it becomes entrenched.
that it is difficult to even remember how to be warm again.

what is the advantage of being warm anyway?
in corporate America, it is useless.
in the road to power and wealth, it is a burden.

but i do miss it.

with warmth comes a lightness of heart.
a sense of trust.
a sense of safety.
and i can only count 3 moments in my life that i slept peacefully.

so, this forwarded email,
that a good friend of mine sent me:
touched a very raw but hidden nerve.

for this, i am most grateful to Cherrie.
may this help me sleep better soon...

final note:
my friends know not to preach matters of God to me.
as i am spiritual (having created a system of beliefs that is highly individual and customized).
this email though transcends religion.
proving that true faith has nothing to do with a blind belief in doctrine.
i will be completely honest and say that I only like the first half of this email.
and i hate it when religious people claim that God makes us suffer to test us, in an effort to make us whole.
the God i believe in is a nourishing force, not one manipulating us like puppets, testing us and waiting for us to screw up.
to believe in God coming from a place of fear is victimizing.
and the whole point of spirituality is growth and empowerment.
but i opted to respect Cherrie's email (and its potential for wisdom) by posting it whole.
i owe this email that much anyway :)
(read: A Conversation with God by Neale Donald Walsch - it more or less encapsulates what my spirituality is all about = more people will hopefully read it)

see the forwarded email below:

Author Unknown

The best gift anyone can give me this new year is a planner.
I like planners because I am a planner.
I like thinking ahead.
I like being prepared.
I get a high from being on top of things.

But some things are beyond planning.
And life doesn't always turn out as planned.

You don't plan for a broken heart.
You don't plan for a failed business venture.
You don't plan for an adulterous husband.
Or a wife who wants you out of her life.
You don't plan for an autistic child.
You don't plan for spinsterhood.
You don't plan for a lump in your breast.

You plan to be young forever. You plan to climb the corporate ladder.
You plan to be rich and powerful.
You plan to be acclaimed and successful.
You plan to conquer the universe.
You plan to fall in love - and be loved forever.

You don't plan to be sad.
You don't plan to be hurt.
You don't plan to be broke.
You don't plan to be betrayed.
You don't plan to be alone in this world

You plan to be happy. You don't plan to be shattered.
Sometimes if you work hard enough, you can get what you want.
But most times, what you want and what you get are two different things.

We, mortals, plan. But so does God in the heavens.
Sometimes, it is difficult to understand God's plans
especially when His plans are not in consonance with ours.
Often, when God sends us crisis, we turn to Him in anger.
True, we cannot choose the cross that God wishes us to carry,
but we can carry that cross with courage
knowing that God will never abandon us
nor send something we cannot cope with.

Sometimes, God breaks our spirit to save our soul.
Sometimes, He breaks our heart to make us whole.
Sometimes, God sends us pain so we can be stronger.
Sometimes, God sends us failure so we can be humble.
Sometimes God sends us illness so we can take better care of ourselves.
Sometimes, God takes everything away from us
so we can learn the value of everything He gave us.

Make plans but understand that we live by God's grace.

Monday, February 12, 2007

patience takes patience

a friend of mine has a big job exam coming up.
and he needed help with math.

so we stayed 4 hours at a cafe with free wireless internet.

i am proud that my patience has gotten better.
i teach math really well.
but he was still slow in getting it.

there were times when my frustration and temper were showing.
thankfully, i am getting better showing it.
now releasing it without shouting.
just a dose of small sarcasm mixed with humor.

i sort of promised myself that i will not shout at people anymore.
since it angers me if someone shouts at me too.

he got it after four hours.
and this was just one chapter of the math book.

at some point, when i was getting frustrated,
he said to please be patient with him, because math wasn't his strong point.
and to please be patient with him.

what hit me was when he used the word, Please.
a sincere plea from a friend has a way of disarming anger.

it reminded me that i was dealing with a friend.
a very good friend.
may i remember this more often.

besides, he was patient with my weaknesses as well.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Why I Started this Blog? (The Concept of Omens)

The Alchemist (a book) wrote that a man's life is marked by omens.
These are sign posts, clues, coincidences or enlightened situations that point us to the right direction.

I assume they come in many forms.
Yours may be different.
Mine mostly come in three guises:
a TV episode, a film or some form of printed material that I encountered serendipitously.

When I was in college, I fell in love with a classmate quasi-friend, the set-up of which doomed it from the start. For someone as stoic, overly ambitious and cold as I am, the dissolution of that friendship crushed me. And a TV series called Dawson's Creek helped me understand that, like the lead character Dawson, bad things can happen to good people.

And bad things happen to good people because...

Well, eight years had to pass before that question was answered.
An HBO show called Six Feet Under solved it indirectly.

In a commercial promoting the show's reruns on the Bravo Channel, a female character in despair asked:
"Why do people die?"

A consoling male character replied:
"To make life important."

I agree.

I consider falling in love my Achilles heel.
Because love requires being loved for who you are.
I often find myself repeating the same pattern of sanitizing myself, in an effort to appear more stable to my partner.

So in my mid-20's, I botched up a potential relationship again.
In a new country this time.

It is a relationship I continue to regret until now.
Because as I replay it in my head, there was one situation where being Who I Really Am could have saved the relationship.

I buried the hurt so deep that no amount of talking about it, reading about it or forced attempts to cry about it and let it go worked.

The healing had to wait for the film, Garden State, to come out.

Not only did Zach Braff look like my ex, his character, at the same time, captured the essence of who I am perfectly. Introverted, quietly cool, eccentric and an immense depth betrayed by a very boyish appearance.

So when his character finally cried,
I found myself doing the same thing.
And noticed that the hollow part in my chest, where a broken heart was stored, finally fulfilled its real function and felt painful.

Several touching movies followed:
The Fountain, The Queen and more recently, Perfume.

I watched all of them at a certain point in my life when I was struggling with a life Question.
And each film answered it.

I am grateful that whenever I feel lost, Life finds a way to nudge me back.
Asking me to pick myself up and go on.

This blog is about that.
Omens from my life.
Wisdom emerging from stories of everyday life, just like parables.

Many people ask me for advice or seek my comfort.
I neither have the energy to help all of them nor a desire to even do so.

I am not the best teacher.
Life is.