Lightly child, lightly

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.

Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.

Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.

When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.

No rhetoric, no tremolos,

no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.

And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.

Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.

So throw away your baggage and go forward.

There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,

trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.

That’s why you must walk so lightly.

Lightly my darling,

on tiptoes and no luggage,

not even a sponge bag,

completely unencumbered.”

― Aldous Huxley, Island

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Blips in the cosmos

Ever since I was a child, I’ve always enjoyed reading. It was my way of escaping the lonely isolation of my youth. Sure there were perks to being an only child, but the indescribable loneliness can sometimes be consuming. At times I felt as though the emptiness of my environment was merely a reflection of the hollowness inside. At first I read to distract myself from my situation and to appease my mother from worrying about me. As long as I looked like I was enjoying what I was doing, it seemed like everything was A-okay, that I didn’t mind her absence in my life. I couldn’t blame her, she did the best she could to provide a good future for me, and for that I am forever grateful. So fake it until you make it, it went. Fortunately enough, I actually fell in love with reading. Literature provided a comforting sense of security. I read stories I could relate to, I somehow felt like I wasn’t a lone blip in the universe. Reading felt like I was connecting to other souls that empathized with my struggles. There were others just as confused and lost as I was; I wasn’t alone anymore. It’s what inspired me to start writing. Perhaps I too could connect with someone by sharing my experiences, and someway somehow make life a little more bearable similar to how other writers inspired me to keep going. I don’t know what contribution I’ll make someday to humanity, but if my words can somehow be the soothing words of reassurance to temporarily appease others that were like the past me, then I can die a happy woman.

To be honest, I didn’t come to realize this until recently. I thought I was perfectly fine being alone, that I could survive living a life of isolation if need be. However even if I lived as a recluse, my heart would always come back to reading and writing, and literature is all about connection. It’s not a direct connection like doctors have with their patients, but its a connection nonetheless. Most of the time, you don’t really know your audience, or who ever happens to grace their eyes on your words. Themes of hope, friendship, love and the like tie people together despite the diverse backgrounds they come from. There’s a difference of opinions when it comes to how a subject should be handled, such as love and loss. And to quote Flaubert,“You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful.” I’m taking it to heart and writing not to impress anyone or gain attention, but merely in hopes that someone out there also feels the same. I don’t claim to be a good writer by any stretch (god knows there’s a lot I can improve on), but I can only write in my words and my voice, no one else’s. Despite how unique and original we think we are, we’re all just really after the same things in life: to be happy and to be loved. I suppose we all want to form a constellation out of the blips in the big cosmos we live in, to feel like somehow we belong somewhere.

Before I digress and ramble farther away from my original intention, I wanted to share the books that made an impact in my life. The books that shaped my perception about life, love, and loss. It’s these books that helped me through my darkest of times, the books that I turn to time and time again when I feel like I’m losing my way. The were the sort of Lode Star that guided me back where I needed to be. Perhaps I’ll elaborate how each have changed me, but it may be too long for this post, and it’s far too late (2:00 am) my for my mind to function properly to do them justice. Without further ado, I present the works that shaped my life: Don Quixote, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kafka on the Shore, As I Lay Dying, The Geography of Bliss, A Jane Austen Education, A Sense of an Ending, Le Petit Prince, and The Things They Carried. I hope that somehow it makes an impact in your life like it did in mine.

Sporadic

Like a rain shower after a season of drought, I’ve been inspired lately (hence the plethora of posts.) I would even go so far to say that it’s like a tsunami of ideas rushing in. I’ve been listening to NPR again during my commutes, reading The New York Times, and overall just staying informed about the world outside my bubble. I have about 60 drafts on my queue waiting for revision, not to mention the volumes of scribbled ideas in the pages of my journal I have yet to type out.

Since I’m not eloquent, I’m just going to quote Murakami from Kafka on The Shore.

“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.” 

It used to be that darkness would be my source of inspiration. I’m an adult now, not a kid playing dress up pretending to be all grown up. I can’t shut my eyes and pretend issues don’t exist, or that they’ll go away if I close my eyes long enough. I can’t run away or escape and assume that problems will remain where I left them. It’s really time to grow up, be aware, and see what contribution I can make. I need to open my eyes beyond the comforting walls of college and home to see the future that lies ahead of me.

Like many other twenty-somethings, I’m still trying to figure it out. Ha, how typical; I know. This blog is my mostly thoughts poured into words, or things I wish I could have said had I the courage to say them. It’s a chronicle of thoughts to remind myself of where I came from, and who I was at a moment in time.

On another note… I’m honestly quite surprised that I have followers, seriously. I never thought my writing could garner any attention at all. Thank you though, from the bottom of my heart! It’s quite an encouragement!

I hope you all have a lovely day ahead. 🙂

Six Words

I woke up to NPR’s Morning Edition story about the Race Card Project: Six Word Essays.

It got me thinking about my six words. Six words. All of who I am, my race, background, and identity, distilled into six words. I urge you, dear reader, to do the same. Take on the challenge.

I sat on my bed thinking about the past twelve or so years that I’ve lived in America: the experiences, the struggles, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. How do I identify myself? Is there even a choice in the matter? The following is what I have concluded:

I’m not simply where I’m from.

Let me elaborate.

Upon first meeting, people don’t realize that I’m a first generation immigrant. There’s barely a trace of my native tongue in my speech. I would even go so far as to say that I’m a coconut- brown on the outside, white on the inside. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not ashamed of my race. I’m just culturally Westernized. Some people would censure me  for being so proud of being white-washed, and I can’t say I can disagree. I would argue though, that I am not, and should not be limited by the color of my skin or the country of my origin.

It’s been nine years since I’ve been back to The Philippines to visit. My mother and I spent two weeks rekindling the old flame of home. In the span of three short years, everything I remembered from my childhood were paved over. New buildings and structures stood atop the park where my cousins and I used to spent hours at. Manila was plagued with malls and the miasma of pollution. The years changed the people I used to know like the landscape that seemed all too strange. I felt like a foreigner in my own land. It’s not the same, it’s no longer home.

Although I was born and raised in Manila, there’s few links that hold me close to home. Memories of childhood are all I have tying me back. I can’t say that I have a faint feeling of homesickness like I once did. Maybe it’s because I left at an early age and bonds weren’t solidified like it did for my mother.

I am Filipino. There’s nothing else I’d chose to be. I’m grateful to my culture for teaching me the importance of family, values, and tradition. I’m grateful to be an immigrant, albeit there were times it wasn’t easy. Underneath all the westernization, and the veils I put to fit in, I’m still the family girl my mother raised me to be. But that’s not all I am. I do not want to be placed in a box solely on the basis of my race or my background. Does being Filipino confine me to the stereotypical traits placed on us? The formidable years since I moved to America provided the foundation to build my identity upon. My background will always be a part of me, it’s set a stage of who I am. I’ve grown so much as a person, that condensing who I am in one word just doesn’t seem right. The same goes for anyone reading this: does a word seem to fit all you of who you are?

During interviews, there’s a question that’s constantly brought up, “Describe yourself in three words.” Although most interview questions are loaded already, this is the most difficult for me to answer. It begs to ask, who are you? If forces a prioritization of your values, principles, and identity to be put in a hierarchy of importance. Most of the time I use adjectives that describe me as a worthy candidate for a desired position. The three words you chose speak volumes to the employer, but it’s all inference on your character as a person in general.

Who am I? How should I be? These are questions that constantly echo in my mind. I can’t say with complete certainty that I know the answers. I live a life that’s filled with uncertainty, and that’s okay. It would be presumptuous to say that I know anything at all. I’ve changed so much over the course of the years, especially since college, that I’m not sure what my true self is anymore. I can blame my twenty-something inexperienced youth as an excuse, but older people are still figuring it out too. One day I’ll probably return to my native land knowing more than I do now. Maybe I’ll even have a solid answer to the questions looming my mind. I suppose that a reason I loved Don Quixote so much was because he was so sure of himself despite of the critics telling him otherwise. He had a tenacious grip on his identity, which I truly admired. I hope that down the road I’ll come to a moment of lucidity, come to an conclusion, and have the definitive answer I seek. Until then I refer back to Don Quixote’s advice to Sancho, “… you must look at who you are and make an effort to know yourself, which is the most difficult knowledge one can imagine.”

Simplest of Words

Geographer- Verona

You call me all the right words but the right words sound so wrong
You say that I am changing, I guess I will before too long
Will you give me a way out or a past to live down?
Either way it co couldn’t be worse than it is now

I’m watching while a wild doorway circles round and round
Is every single whisper a life that we should know by now or is it just a sound?
Something keeps a river from sinking into the ground
Was I ever any different?
It’s the simplest ones, the simplest ones

White lies in the night
If I could be yours and you could be mine
As long as it rhymes, it’s all that I’ll ever need
I hear white lies in the night
If I could be yours and you could be mine
We keep what we hide and you told such simple lies…

Can’t decipher why I feel such a deep connection to this song. I suppose that’s the beauty of music, it fills the missing gaps when words fail to encompass how we feel. The lyrics, along with the melody, and Micheal Deni’s beautiful voice come together in harmony to produce a sense of heartache and longing.

Have a listen or two…or twenty…

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.