damn it, you’ve got to be kind

I nearly cried the first time I saw the video. I heard the song was when I was having a miserable time at work, the beautiful melody caught my ear and I was hooked. There’s a genuine sense of vulnerability that a lot of songs nowadays lack. You can tell that the lyrics meant something to whomever wrote the song. It wasn’t just some mass produced hit meant to sell records. It’s a bit gut wrenching when you think about the meaning behind the video. Seeing the video put things in perspective, and made me realize that every one is fighting a hard battle not just me. We’re all just trying to get by while trying to make a semblance of meaning of all the struggles along the way.

It’s truly making me appreciate my parents. Despite the rough patches we’ve been through, there’s still love underneath it all. My father may not be the first person I think of when I think of my hero, but he does what he can to provide for the family.  The New York Times recently delved into varying definitions of the word hero. I don’t know what your definition may be, it may be completely different from mine,  but I don’t think heroes merely exist in the pages of comic books or in summer blockbusters. I think heroes are people who have the courage and the moral perseverance to do something for the greater good of the people around them. It need not be a herculean task, it can be standing up for someone being talked down upon, or voicing out the wrongs seen.

I’ve had many heroes in my life and I use them as beacons of who I aspire to be. I think that the most admirable thing about my heroes is that despite the strife they face, they’re motivated by love and faith in humanity. I do not want to live a life seeking revenge for all those that wronged me or worse: to be propelled by hatred. It’s easy to be hardened by the trying times. Every morning when I wake up to NPR, I hear of the civil unrest in Syria, or the dire state of the American economy, or some other atrocities here or overseas. It’s really hard not to grow bitter and cold, it’s much easier to be pessimistic and lose faith in people’s capacity for good. However, when I see an everyday act of heroism from coworkers, friends or bystanders I remember that the world isn’t all bad after all. There are still people out there willing to break their passivity to make a stand. It might seem naive, but I’d like to think that its not fame or money that propels them to act, but love. I still believe in the inherent goodness and altruism in people. It’s still a beautiful place despite the seeming bleakness of the times. I’ve quoted it time and time again, but I too need a reminder from one of my heroes:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”- Kurt Vonnegut

It’s 2:45am now and I have to get to lab in a few hours. When inspiration strikes, I just go with it. If you made it this far, I hope all is well and thank you for sparing your time gracing your eyes on my random rambles.

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On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning

by Haruki Murakami

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo’s fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she’s not that good-looking. She doesn’t stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either – must be near thirty, not even close to a “girl,” properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl – one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you’re drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I’ll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can’t recall the shape of hers – or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It’s weird.

“Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl,” I tell someone.

“Yeah?” he says. “Good-looking?”

“Not really.”

“Your favorite type, then?”

“I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember anything about her – the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts.”

“Strange.”

“Yeah. Strange.”

“So anyhow,” he says, already bored, “what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?”

“Nah. Just passed her on the street.”

She’s walking east to west, and I west to east. It’s a really nice April morning.

Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and – what I’d really like to do – explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.

After talking, we’d have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

“Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?”

Ridiculous. I’d sound like an insurance salesman.

“Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?”

No, this is just as ridiculous. I’m not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who’s going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. “Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me.”

No, she wouldn’t believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you’re not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I’d probably go to pieces. I’d never recover from the shock. I’m thirty-two, and that’s what growing older is all about.

We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can’t bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She’s written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she’s ever had.

I take a few more strides and turn: She’s lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started “Once upon a time” and ended “A sad story, don’t you think?”

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.

“This is amazing,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you’re the 100% perfect girl for me.”

“And you,” she said to him, “are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I’d pictured you in every detail. It’s like a dream.”

They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It’s a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one’s dreams to come true so easily?

And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, “Let’s test ourselves – just once. If we really are each other’s 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we’ll marry then and there. What do you think?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is exactly what we should do.”

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.

The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other’s 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season’s terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence’s piggy bank.

They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.

One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.

A sad story, don’t you think?

Yes, that’s it, that is what I should have said to her.

Dear Old Love

So its been a year since you happened. Twelve whole months have passed since I met you, and though we’ve spent a majority of that time apart I would lie if I said I don’t sometimes miss you. Just a year ago, my stomach was aflutter. I couldn’t stop smiling at the thought of you- your warm touch, your comforting embrace, your sweet kisses. I still hear echoes of your voice from our daily calls, resonating in the corners of my mind as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep. You were my first challenge, I met my match. I wanted to stop playing the game, in hopes that maybe something real might emerge. Alas, insecurity and uncertainty kept me going in the same old habits, same tricks and techniques to restore my crumbling ego. Maybe it was the distance that separated us, maybe we were at different stages in our lives, maybe I couldn’t thaw the cold exterior fast enough to show a warm heart. Maybe.

Although the wounds have healed, a scar remains. Instead of being a reminder of past pain, its a sign of inspiration. Regardless of prevalent numbness, remains an intact heart still capable of bearing emotions- compassion and hope, sadness and joy, love and pain. That in itself is worth the disappointments, the turmoil, and the suffering that comes as a part of love. It’s worth living knowing that maybe I’ll feel the same with a better match, my match. Inspiration to live in turn is worth writing for: searching for that person, or maybe persons that will irrevocably change me without notice. Its time for new chapters to be written of the long journey ahead, with pages filled with new characters, new encounters, and new possibilities alongside the promise of tomorrow.

With that being said, I bid adieu dear old love.

A frightening love affair

I’ve been on a film binge this past week watching 8 movies in span of 7 days. Today I watched Sylvia, a film about Sylvia Plath’s relationship with her husband Ted Hughes. They had a turbulent love affair, one that propelled most of the works, one that shaped the Sylvia Plath as we know today. Prior to watching the film, I wasn’t much of a Plath fan. I found her poetry dark and dreary, it had a haunting quality that made me uncomfortable when I first encountered them. However after watching it, I revisited her poems with her background in mind. It lent a different tone to her words and it gave perspective on her poems.

In one scene, Plath’s mother mentioned a frightening kind of love. She said that Sylvia chose Ted because unlike all the men before him, he frightened her. I think she was talking about a kind of love that moves you out of complacency. The kind that scares us to be without that other person. The kind of love that makes you wonder how you ever survived without him/her. I think Sylvia fell madly in love with Ted after reading his poem. They shared a rare understanding of each other as they talked about their works.

I’ve never been in love, heck I’ve never even said “I like you” to anyone. Besides having standards about what I want, I’ve always thought that when the right person walks into my life I would know it. I’m not talking about at first sight, but more on love at first conversation. I admit that I’ve always been frightened of love and the collateral damage it causes. So scared that it’s caused me to run away just as things get serious with all of the flings I’ve had. But now that I’ve grown up quite a bit, I’m holding my ground. I’ve realized that there are worse things than a broken heart.

Love may leave scars, but those scars are indications that you’ve healed from the pain, and that have survived to live and love again. Even the pain it causes results in the creation of beautiful things like art, music, or poetry. I’ve been hurt once, but from that pain I started becoming more of an artist. Ideas flowed more through me than any time period before, I produced more art works than ever before. Words just came like a waterfall gushing to no end, words of pure and raw emotion expressing all my woes.

After that period, I am at a state of equilibrium. I’m at peace with myself, no longer terrified of love and pain. However its a dangerous time, for this sense of contentment flirts with the feeling of complacency. One day I want to be frightened again, but this time not to be frightened by love, but to miss out on it. A fling worthy of aubades and sonnets to be written about it. The kind of fling that inspires change and action. A frightening love affair that moves you to the core leaving you transformed forevermore.

Is Love Enough?

Is love ever enough to keep people together? Is it enough to sustain a relationship tearing at the seams because of the insurmountable differences between two individuals? These are questions posed in the romantic-comedy movie Celeste and Jessie Forever starring the talented Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg. Since Jones co-wrote the screenplay for the movie, the role of Celeste suited Jones perfectly, playing a successful type-A know-it-all coping with the effects of a dismantled marriage. Samburg’s role was also well-tailored for the role, playing a man struggling with the responsibilities and consequences of starting anew.

It’s constantly compared to 500 Days of Summer. Both movies are stories aboutlove without being a love story. In a sense, they’re both loved stories, the after math of love gone awry and the casualties of unrequited love. Although I loved both films, C + J Forever edges out over 500 Days of Summer. Unlike the latter, the former gives a more realistic depiction of the complications of breakups. Regardless of how unscathed two people want to be after breaking up, one side is always going to be more battered and bruised as a result. It’s rarely a completely mutual decision to part ways with a beloved.

The lovelorn’s pain is concealed under a veil of denial that results in a series of poor decisions that leads to regret. After which point the lovelorn addresses the source to the reckless behaviors and tried to finally mend wounds of of a broken heart. However much the lovelorn wants to reconcile with the beloved, it’s not enough to look past the staggering contrast between the two. Sometimes love simply isn’t enough. Two people can love each other with great passion, but circumstances prevents them from being together. When two people are fundamentally different, no amount of compromise can ever compensate for their irreconcilable differences.

In the end as two people walk away into their separate paths, they’ll always share a special history no one can ever take away. Sometimes one party lingers in the remains of a fallen relationship while the other walks away. In the case of C + J, Celeste undertakes a journey towards recovery alone, as it should be. Letting go and cutting loses hurts, but its better than lingering in the remains of the past and holding on to un-reciprocated feelings. After years of being a part of an us or a we, its pertinent to rediscover yourself, and be sufficient enough to make yourself happy regardless of who you’re with.

Over all I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was a poignant look at love and its after effects. The script was well written, it was sharp and smart without being unapproachable and unrelatable. The cast was well suited for their parts, with the ensemble shining even in the short amount of screen time they’re given. I would highly recommend it, and am planning on watching it again in the future.

Things I Will Never Understand

I will never understand why yawning is contagious, or why smiles are infectious.
Why people invented decaf coffee or non-alcoholic wine.
Why some girls wear short shorts with Uggs, high-heels they can barely walk in, or dresses two-sizes too small.
I will never understand why we fool ourselves into committing to a New Year’s Resolution, when we know we have a weak resolve.

I will never understand why we fall into the same habits we know will harm us in the end.
Why we say “never again,” yet do it all over again the weekend after.
Why we pick a different version of the same poison, expecting a novel effect.
Why the warning signs allure us all the more to explore even further.

I’ll never understand why the one we want is rarely the one that wants us back.
Why we keep waiting for the text, the call, or the message, convincing ourselves of their excuses even if we know that it will never come.
Why we keep trying to jam circles into squares, and fooling ourselves that it’s the perfect fit.
Why we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results after multiple failed attempts.

I’ll never understand why we defer the damage expecting a lesser blow.
Why we keep running away from our problems when the demon lies within our own psyche, taunting our futile attempt to escape.
Why we keep picking up the pieces and placing them exactly where they lay, and all the while not learning a lesson from the fall.
I’ll never understand why we only know better after it’s too late, after the last straw is gone, after the damage is done.

Does our constant cycle dull away the pain making it more bearable to survive another day?
Are we hopeful creatures hanging on a frail thread of change?
Are we just foolish and naive? Is that it?
I guess it’ll just be another downpour on an endless sea of unanswered questions.

Perfectly Lonely

Contrary to popular belief, it really is okay to turn down that Facebook event invitation to the “most epic rager of the year,” or to turn down that guy/girl that’s “on your jock,” or to just be alone from time to time. Solitude is nice, just ask Henry David Thoreau. Jane Austen died unmarried, yet its goes without saying that she was a proponent to love and the great things that come with it. According to studies of her life, she’s had suitors and proposals that could have saved her from being that 40-year old virgin, but she remained steadfast in her desire to not settle for someone she didn’t have the capacity to love. So stop wasting your time trying to surround yourself with people that only seem to care about you, stop trying to fill the void of loneliness by hooking up with people that are just plain bad news, just stop focusing on the lack and instead take a good honest look at who and what you’re becoming.

Nowadays, society is so wrapped up in the idea that every happy ending involves a pairing of sorts. That you’re never really happy until you’ve foundThe One- The One to sweep you off your feet, take you away to a far off land where no problem ever exists, where you’ll live happily ever after. There’s all sorts of dating shows that promote promiscuous mating rituals of people in their twenties and thirties. There’s a plethora of books on how to improve yourself so you’re not quite so forever alone. Can you really blame business savvy executives for marketing, selling, and making money out of people’s desperate plea to escape loneliness? It’s embedded in our psyche that you’re supposed to find someone; its in fairy tales, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Ariel and Eric, Jasmine and Aladdin.

Now, I’m not saying that finding your one true love is terrible, in all honesty I think its a great think to find your person. This is just to say that we shouldn’t be so afraid of being alone from time to time. From trends I’m noticing from my friends and from looking back on my actions, we’ve all been so terrified of being alone that it drives us to do things we wouldn’t do otherwise. We do it to appease that little demon inside taunting our failed relationships, and to calm the monsters of doubt that question whether or not we’ll ever find our person. The tendency is to hyper-socialize: go to bars or parties, get past the point of of inhibition, flirt with men/women we wouldn’t otherwise flirt with, and depending on your luck, hook-up. I know that’s what I did. I spent the last two years of my college experience exploring the social scene scoping the men available in my vicinity. From that, I’ve gathered experiences worthy of the term “YOLO.” But from the many encounters I’ve had with guys at bars and parties, there was still something missing, something no handsome man can ever equate to. It was inner peace.

I think what society needs is to be okay with ourselves. I think we need to remember that it’s okay not be in a relationship all the time; that being alone can be quite fun sometimes. Having a man/woman in your life is great, it gives you a reason to wake up in the morning, a reason to smile at a silly text, and a cause for the extra sparkle in your smile. However it’s not going to solve all of life’s problems-in fact they may cause more of it. But self-acceptance, being happy with who you are rather than what you have, may lead us closer to the path towards happiness.

To me, having a boyfriend/girlfriend and being with someone are two different states of being. Having and being are two separate entities. Having someone implies that you have attained a person that adores you enough to do things for you and or with you. Being with someone on the other hand, means that you are with someone that accompanies you through your successes, your struggles, your growth. To have versus to be, that is the question. In my opinion at least, I think the latter is more important than the former. Having a boyfriend/girlfriend elicits the same effect as owning a person, problem is you can never truly own a person. They will never truly be yours, not even momentarily because they’ll always be themselves first and only your boyfriend/girlfriend second. To think that you can ever possess a person by being with them is foolish and naive. Being with someone allows the other person to also live and grow as their journey dictates, after all we’re in our own personal journeys towards our dreams and happiness. Having a person with you in that journey makes the victories and successes all the much sweeter.

Upon this elucidation, I’ve become more at ease with myself. I’ve gotten into a point in my life when I’ve come to terms with being alone. I only exaggerate when I tell my friends that I’ll be “forever alone,” but I don’t really find it as horrible as others make it out to be. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been a bit of a recluse, dodging social interaction with friends I haven’t seen in a while, fabricating intricate stories to mask the fact that I’d rather stay home and read a book, declining invites to events that my former self would never have turned down. I know that I’ll find someone out there who shares a similar taste in books, movies, and music, someone who can wander around museums and marvel at the magnificence of a great piece of art, someone who can listen to me ramble on about passions that drive me to do things out of my comfort zone; in other words, my person. I’m sure he’s out there somewhere, doing things normal people do, wondering the same questions that loiter all our minds from time to time. But until the time comes when I’ve met the person to accompany me in the journey of life, I’ll be perfectly lonely with a good read a strong cup of coffee in my hand.