as i see it

MUSINGS UNDER THE GLORIOUS SUN, THE SOLACE OF THE MOON, AND WELL, WHATEVER IS IN BETWEEN

My Brief Encounter with Sexists

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To the men seated across from me at the wonderful Thai restaurant a couple weeks ago. I cannot get both of you off my mind. You have left an impression, unlike many others, that I just cannot resist.

When one of you said you thought that “curry” is only from India and asked the server why they have it, I thought you were just kidding. But seeing how serious you were about the inquiry, I knew you weren’t joking. Fine, perhaps you have not tried Thai food yet, and never realized there are different versions of curry from other cultures.

A few minutes into your conversation, and my enjoyment of my warm lunch, you talked about weight and BMI (body mass index). Asking each other of how much you each think the other has. Hearing your conversation, much like to your knowledge of curry, I made an excuse and just assumed you both were just health buffs.

Then you started asking each other how the women in your office are rated regarding their BMI and used some derogatory and sexist words to describe them, only then did I realize that my initial impression was on point. Right then and there, I’d wanted to confront you, but seeing how much of a disturbance I would’ve caused at other people’s expense, I had to contain myself and sit still (as society would like to put it).

I do not know either of you, and I’m not sure I would like to be acquainted either. But if the Universe, as playful as it is, sets us to meet again (I know the odds of you reading this is unlikely, but I know there are many people like you out there.), I’ll be ready with my retort:

Why? Why do you say and think the way you do about women? I hope that you will not have to hear anyone, no matter who they are, disrespect, degrade, and/or objectify your grandmother, your mother, your sister, your partner, your cousin, your niece, or anyone you value dearly, just because they are, in their eyes just “women.”

That when you do build your family, you’ll realize that men (people) like you, who feel a sense of entitlement and privilege over others, make this world a difficult and an uncomfortable place to live in for us women, and for those whom you also step on just so you could get ahead or assert your definition of your manhood.

I do not expect my imagined meeting with them most productive, nor sparking an overnight, 360-degree change in their outlook, but having a conversation with them, asking why they think they have the right and power over another, is (though rough) a very good beginning. As is with any movement, it’s not enough that we throw insults or shut one down when they speak.

Let’s listen to each other, though difficult and heart-wrenching and maddening. Let’s, for the sake of co-existence, learn to communicate. Only when we are ready, can we really make things work. While it is easier to be angry and point fingers, let’s take the high road by having the most difficult conversations in our lives.

So, to those men in the briefest encounter I’ve ever had, I might have already forgotten your faces, but I will never forget the likes of you and the ideologies you represent. And if one day, I’ll see one of your kind, then certainly I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready to continue the conversation that never was, and hope to start from there.

Less of the “I, me and mine”, More of the “they, them, and their”

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Nowadays, we are so enclosed in our little worlds created by the ‘holy’ trinity of “I, me, and mine” (worsened by its acolytes of gadgets) that we refuse to listen, unintentionally debilitating our comprehension.

Take for example when out for dinner. Do you find yourself constantly repeating what you said at least 2-3 times just because the person whom you are supposed to be having a conversation and dinner with is glued to his phone? You know the other person hears it, but the comprehension comes a little too late, as he’s preoccupied with whatever is on his phone. It’s not just about manners, but also about being selfless and being in the moment.

Another is when you are attending events. You are so busy with the selfies or the social media postings/check-ins saying that you’re there and clearly enjoying the view, that you just forget to absorb it and just be there. Yes, you took photos of where you are, but do you, for a second, remember the feeling you had being there with your friends, the other attendees, the entire event without being reminded by the photo?

How many of us are guilty of these? I know I am at times. There’s no denying really. But just because we know almost everyone is guilty of it (It’s a fact that phones or its future counterparts, whatever it may be, are going to stay–innovation is a key human drive!) doesn’t mean we can’t change the way we handle it.

How about if we minimize the self-centeredness and start participating and listening for a change, letting others take the lead as they share their stories and invite us to their own.

I implore you; next time you’re out, try listening and minimizing the trinity of the “I, me, and mine” for a bit. It’ll not only make a difference to you but also to the people you’re with. Start by asking, “what’s your story?” Baby steps, dear reader. Baby steps.

There’s always a story behind everything and every thing. A force as powerful and as persistent as change, it’s always waiting to be asked and begging to be told.

Why We Read and Write

Why do you write? It is the age-old question; one that offers a multitude of answers both in depth and quantity. But, really, why do you write? Why do I write? In the very first post I published here, I said that the reason I started a blog was because of that voice inside my head that kept on saying that “I must write.”

Lately, though I haven’t been religiously posting publicly, I’ve been letting the thought brew. We all know why we read: to gain knowledge/insights, to escape from stress and our real-world problems, and to entertain ourselves with other people’s stories are just some of the many reasons why.

But why do we write? Is it because we expect others to read it? Or is it because we simply want to vent? While there are inexhaustible reasons and motives, there is one unifying commonality, if not a key reason why:

If according to CS Lewis “we read to know that we are not alone,” then surely we write to share our voice, but sharing the voice does not end there. In fact, that voice then is either passed on or provokes another voice to speak up.

In depth, the author’s voice binds the reader, the piece, and the author herself in a triad-like structure of a relationship. To be more specific, while the author can be considered the “biological parent”, the reader then is the co-parent or adoptive one, both nurturing the “written piece.” The nurturing begins when the author creates her work and it continues each time a reader picks up that work and interprets/reads it. Sometimes, the reader and author agree, and at times, they disagree. When the disagreement arises, then a new interpreted or deconstructed piece is born. So yes, think of it as a recurring cycle, giving birth to varied understandings and interpretations.

So, now, I may have digressed partially, if not entirely, and this short blurb is my “baby.” It is now up to you, dear reader, to agree or disagree.

We Are All Flappy Birds

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Ever heard of the game Flappy Bird? If you haven’t, then you my friend have been hiding under a rock lately. Kidding aside, in my hours spent playing in the last 3 days, oddly enough, this game has taught me an important lesson about life.

Of course, no one is expected to be reflective when playing, but it so happens that the mechanics of the game is what we’d encounter in real life. You tap the bird to make its wings “flap,” so you avoid hitting the tube-like tunnels, getting across as many as you can and achieving the highly coveted top score, defined either by comparing yours w/ your friend’s or your previous scores.

In parallel and generally speaking, the same mechanics  apply in real life: we flap our way to survive challenges and move towards whatever aspirations we have. The key is to keep on flapping, so we move forward with our dreams, to reach our short and long-term goals. And when we do hit a blockage, personified by that luminous green tube-like tunnel, we start at the beginning and work our way to our goals (once again for the nth time).

And another takeaway? Well, for one, this game has taught me about patience and perseverance: no matter how many times I keep on hitting the tube, be it the first, the second, or so, I will always keep on trying. And each time I try, I know there’s a higher chance of me succeeding and getting a better score (insert Eye of the Tiger as my soundtrack please!).

But seriously, give it a thought if you must. The next time you play Flappy Birds imagine yourself as the tiny bird, endlessly flapping to overcome each tube. Perhaps it’ll give you a different perspective. Flap on, little Bird, flap on!

 

Got Something to Say? Think Again.

In the US, or perhaps in American Culture, we were conditioned to be expressive no matter how extreme the message or thought may be. Many of us have always known the phrase “freedom of expression” and have used that as our justification to say what we want, when we want to. But nowadays, it’s not a matter of saying what you can or what you want, but it is a question of how you say it, of how we as human beings, communicate–whether the content is thoughtful or the delivery is gentle is something that we must be conscious of.

Because so much of our everyday speech is predicated on our emotions, it’s so easy to open one’s mouth and for words to flow seamlessly when we’re happy or ecstatic, and the same goes when we are angry or frustrated. And when an emotionally-charged situation arises, and we are in the pits of anger, it becomes difficult to police our choice of words and temper the manner of our delivery. What comes after is what we all know as arguments, escalating into forms of emotional torment and an occasional rift in a relationship. Let’s face it: in the heat of the moment, we say things that we wish we never said, thus, the regrets we have as we get older.

Being the speaker is one thing, and being on the receiving end is another. We all know the feeling of getting hurt, so why perpetuate the very feelings that we don’t want? Why pass it on to someone when we know full well how badly it feels?

Now, now, I know some people who’d say, “well, if I do not express myself that way I want it to be, then I am not being true to myself and my feelings!” or “why do I have to practice self-restraint when I am only on the defense?” Okay, I get it. Sure, you’ve expressed yourself, but in all honesty, did you feel good after? Did it really make things better in the long run, the way you acted or reacted?

In my experience, oftentimes when I succumbed to that urge, I’ve found myself regretting the things that I’ve said, and the repercussions, thereafter, are always hard to deal with, not to mention the feelings that were hurt, the relationships that were cracked, and the identities (and dignities) that were trampled on. Bottom-line: I felt like a jerk after.

So, the next time you, dear reader, speak, whether you are the sender or receiver–in-person, via text, email, blogging, or any forms of social media–be wary of what and how you deliver your message. Better yet, breathe deeply and move away from the source of your anger and frustration. Don’t just think twice, think three or four times more. Take it easy. Give your words some thought. Once you are sure you’ve steered away from your anger, then give it a try. Trust that it is always so much better that you did.

With that, I leave you with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Art of Communicating as an afterthought: When we say something that nourishes us and uplifts the people around us, we are feeding love and compassion. When we speak and act in a way that causes tension and anger, we are nourishing violence and suffering.

 

Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

I know I’ve been MIA in the last months, and I apologize for that. It’s just that life has gotten the best of me recently. I know it is a lame excuse to not be writing at all. But here I am now, trying to make it up to you. 

I have been reflecting on my life’s events recently, as I always do, and in the tradition of establishing a theme each year, I’ve dubbed mine as a year of getting lost.

We all make mistakes, and in the process, lose sight of where we are, not knowing where we want to be. But you know what? It’s okay. It is okay to lose your way, to not know where to go, to just be as clueless, and to not have the answer to each burning question you have. 

If the year that is to come in a few hours brings you uncertainty, it is okay. Nobody has a clue of what’s to happen anyways. And if you find yourself wondering where you’ll be, there’s no need to worry. Know that each step or turn you make,no matter how confusing it gets, always leads you somewhere. Fear not when the turns you take lead you to a place you’re not familiar with.  

You see, what’s good about getting lost is that, despite the tumultuous and scary journey, you always find yourself. 

Cheers to you and the year that’s anew!

Sending my love from afar,

Yours Truly

 

Reader’s Withdrawal Syndrome

In the past few months and since my last post, I was so focused in enriching my professional prospects that I’ve forgone the opportunity to read (and write) during my personal time. It was not until recently that I realized that I haven’t read to my heart’s and mind’s content, that I was proactively causing my intellectual and spiritual imbalance. Certainly, it was close to wreaking havoc in my otherwise calm and balanced life.

So, it got me thinking. Could it be that I experienced a form of a reader’s withdrawal syndrome? Is there even such a thing? If so, what are those symptoms? Thus, my attempt in enlightening you, dear reader, of what it was like and in warning you of the dangers of not reading for a month or so. Of course, these can all be avoided with a dose of your choice of literature from your nearest library, bookstore, or online store (whichever you prefer!).

Late-night Munchies. A symptom that attacks at night. Regardless of how tired or drained you are from your day’s work, your mind just won’t let you sleep. It keeps on reminding you of works you have thoroughly enjoyed: of Haruki Murakami’s haunting yet beautiful words from Sputnik Sweetheart or Nabokov’s playful writing in Lolita or Toni Morrison’s depiction of Sula. It’ll force you to run to your bookshelf or even pull-out your kindle application from your phone. But you, knowing that there is a long day ahead, refuse to yield to the power of the late-night munchies. You struggle to move on to sleep. And so you will, until you give in.

Character Hallucinations. These come and go as they please. Sometimes, you think you see a cockroach-like figure (reminiscent of Kafka’s creation in Metamorphosis), or a little girl sweeping the street a-la Cosette or a lady with a baby like Hester Prynne with an “A” on her dress, or in some instances, at night, you see the Prince of Dreams from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman Series. And you just can’t ignore them. They just appear everywhere you go.

Blank Stare, Zombie Mode. If you are a fan of Zombie flicks, then you certainly know what this means. Everything seems to be slow and lifeless around you. You become a Zombie, whose lifeline has been cut-off, and now you are out to chew out anyone within reach. With whatever energy you have left, you will eat them with gusto. Also, paired with this is the ‘blank stare.’ In this minor symptom, you simply give everyone a blank look. It’s not that you cannot understand what they’re saying or that they’re not making any sense, but it happens because your soul, your humanity, is losing its presence (thus, in Zombie-like mode). Because as a reader, your intellectual and spiritual energy together with your imagination are tied with those pages, bringing vivid hues to life, hence, the spark and sparkle in your eyes.

Minor Slurring, Lack of Words. Common in daily interactions, you start using the same words over and over and over again. Though your ability to interchange words still remain, your databank runs low on alternatives, resulting in you being repetitive and becoming, wait for it, mundane. At times, when you do find the words flowing out of your mouth seamlessly, you then start to slur a word or two, then some more. Think of a word processor with many red and green underlines for all the words and sentences. Yes. That.

While it is not my goal to list all possible syndromes, at least you are warned of the dangers of not reading. As to the moral of this blurb, it is simple, if not straightforward: to maintain an intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally balanced life, regardless of what you do and how busy you are, read. 

Night Sky

Night sky, night sky
a deep, dark sea
in tides of light
a distant shore of constellations
streams of comets
I suddenly feel free

Reader’s High

For every reader, there is always that insatiable hunger, that unquenchable thirst that nags you often to grab a work of literature and be lost in those pages, no matter the length; there is a beckoning that cannot be ignored, that demands to be heard, every time there’s a novel nearby. It’s that inaudible whisper that calls for your name, for your attention, for your hands to caress the pages, for your eyes to see beyond the depths of words, and for your imagination to relive each scene vividly painted by letters whose meanings are always evolving depending on the mood and the time of the day or period you are in. Oh, to read! To read is a sensuous way of living!

Surpassing Superficiality

The true worth of a person is not based on the contours of his face, the weight of his body, and the color of his skin but on the doings of his soul; his ultimate value is measured through his words and actions. Consequently, in judging others superficially, you are, thereby, revealing more about yourself than the subject of your prejudiced attention. Who then is the fool in the crowd?

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