Imago of Curiosity and Wonder

i need to write i think i’m gonna explode i am not having the best day, people! i wasn’t satisfied with my productivity over the weekend. i told myself i was going to get a lot of important things done, but i ended up doing, perhaps, just one out of the multitude that i had to get done! monday was another suspension of classes due to the transport strike (it’s becoming frequent now, it’s been happening every week! the masses are really angry!) and i was supposed to write and research and send pitches, and i ended up lying down in bed daydreaming and listening to Alan Watt’s audio lectures…

i know leisure time is just as important as work, and i wish that i could balance both. perhaps this is just me being horrible to myself agin because it is the weekend and a time of unwinding, but i wanted to get so many things done. not that i regret listening to Alan Watts because his audio lectures, i find, are very very enlightening. It’s called Out of Your Mind and i’ve started on the first ones, and so far I’m loving him. I might write a separate piece on him over the weekend, because i would hate myself if i didn’t. I have so many things to say about this man!!! but I feel like I need to be more acquainted with his works before i even give justice to him, so i’d have to listen to a couple more podcasts. so that’s what i did yesterday, yeah. not the most productive, but it definitely gave me some time for much needed headspace. i wasn’t able to send my pitches and applications though, which i should’ve done yesterday, but well, i don’t know. i’m such a lazy fucker.

i have class in 30 minutes and should be editing my article for our special issue, but instead i’m here ranting. today was supposed to be a productive day and believe me, i’ve tried, but i think this day isn’t just cooperating. because at 9 am i already met with my group mates to work on the last of our thesis but there was a fire drill and we had to vacate the faculty center and it last for about an hour, and by the time we got back the internet wasn’t working anymore and we couldnt access our google docs. and we transferred to the library and went around many floors to look for a place to work, but everything else was taken and the wifi wasn’t working and by then, my group mates just decided to fuck it, we’ll work on it tonight, because i could tell they were in a pissy mood also, and it’s never nice to work in a pissy mood… so i went to the newsroom and decided to mull things over, but one of my staff writers was sitting across me and i thought, i’d hate myself if i let the chance to talk to him pass by because i’d rather wallow in my solitude. you know how i always complain about this sense of Otherness that i feel pretty much all the time when I’m around everybody? but i realize that this sense of Otherness that i so often feel is all because of me, it’s all my fault, that i’m to blame. so instead of reading my Natsume book i decided to strike a conversation with him instead and i checked up on him and it lasted for i think around 10-15 mins but it didn’t feel dreadful at all. it was actually a good conversation and he was pretty cheery. and just when i was done with that and ready to read in my corner, another  staff writer of mine went up to me to talk to me so of course i had to talk back to her because i cannot ignore her, and of course as her editor, my ears should always be ready for her, but this conversation with her lasted even longer, i think almost 30 minutes, though it didn’t feel dreadful also, but by the time it was over, i was already worrying because i lost reading time and i have class in less than an hour and i was looking forward to clear my head…and i just didn’t want to edit articles anymore and decided to rant because yes, i am a jaded fucker and need an outlet for my anxious encounters with people everyday which normal people don’t even rant about because this is such a huge deal to me, and this can either make or break my psyche and free writing just calms me… but now I’m worrying that I’m not making any sense and my grammar is all wrong but i don’t want to be dreadful to myself!!!

what am i saying even… i have 15 minutes before class. i think we’re getting the results of our exam today. of course i passed, it was easy, but it’s more of me passing or getting perfect, and i don’t think i got perfect at all. sigh sigh.

last night i was able to arrange all my story ideas and pitches in one file and i’m happy that even though I’ve been flayed and stripped this past year, my ideas are still pretty ace and i haven’t lost myself completely. I can still recognize myself. I’m excited to write them and pitch them; not that I’m trying to raise my own bench, but i’m feeling really good about them and am confident enough to pitch them to editors. i just need to polish and expound on them more and make an outline just to gauge its feasibility, though knowing the nature of these stories, i’ve already gauged their feasibility months ago, though i need to develop my angle and focus. i’v gotten a call also from the PR firm that i applied to and I’m starting my internship some time in August after my finals exams. i applied to other companies though and have yet to hear back form them, so i don’t want to be too certain about this one, but i’m still looking forward to it, even though it’s corporate, i think i need to expose myself more to new things. it’s not like i’m selling out or shifting my dreams, more of like expanding my dreams and getting as much experience as i can. life is about experiences after all, and by encasing myself in these walls, i am cutting myself at the knees and curtailing the things i can learn from all these people. so I’m definitely gearing myself up for all the interaction and learning ill be getting from these new people. of course I’m managing my expectations but at the same time, I’m just trying to listen to Imago.

did i mention? Imago is my inner goddess…. well, i was reading this book by Jean Bolen about Goddesses in Everywoman and Gods in Everyman, like how we identify with gods and goddesses inside of us because we find some kind of familiarity in them and these gods and goddesses—these archetypes—serve as our different personas. i decided to make my own goddess and named one of the goddesses living inside me Imago. if i were to have a default persona, it must be Imago. it must be her. I’ve always liked the name; if i could choose my name, I’d name myself just that. And Imago is my goddess of Curiosity and Wonder, and she is my default. and i figured and i fully agree to this, that to be able to live a full life, i have to forever live with curiosity and wonder. to always have that lust for life, of never-ending curiosity, to look at every thing with wonder and awe, regardless if it’s quotidian or the sublime. i have to find—must try very very very hard to find–the sublime in life’s ordinariness, and that’s what i plan to do for the rest of my days, i think. i’ve been trying to listen to Imago these past few days and so far, it’s going alright. i’m still skeptic about this whole thing, but i’m trying to learn and appreciate everything around me. it’s difficult because i’ve looked at life with clouded eyes my whole life, and easing myself into this new lifestyle is definitely challenging me and bringing out the worst—and best—in me. i think it’s very important to look at life with a child’s eyes, with that innocent, impish nature, and I’m trying to reawaken that inner child in me. i’m reexamining everything around me and changing and double checking every perspective and opinion and feelings i have of and for every thing—negative or otherwise. because i realize that i have to look up at everything around me, and by “look up” i mean treat everything with respect and tenderness and awe. i have to let go of this jadedness and otherness, and by training myself to “look up” at my surroundings and the people around me, i am allowing myself to open up and take more of the world in. and perhaps this way i am also getting rid of that sense of Otherness that has been taking refuge inside me since, idk, since i was a child. and so far, it’s great. no, I’m not being foolish or naive. i know the world’s evils and my personal evils, but i don’t want to carry this hatred inside me. and i have to carry this curiosity and wonder inside me at all times. it’s the only way to help myself, it’s the only way to make things easier for me. i notice that exposing myself to the vernacular has been such a great help. i find that i love the common people more than the Somebodies anyway. i don’t think id ever have tenderness for the Somebodies with a capital S. well, perhaps not the same level of tenderness i have for the common people. perhaps it’s my bias, but common people are more interesting and easier to love. i’d rather stay in the periphery than the center, only because i can see so much from the cheap seats that the Somebodies themselves can never ever see. and by cutting myself from that kind of insulation and by staying in the periphery, i am able to see more. and know more. and learn more. I am also trying to be tender with everything around me. yes, including myself! it’s hard, but i’m trying my darnedest. i am trying to love and learn the world the way i am trying to accept myself, and it’s so hard. but i’m not giving up on life, and I’m not giving up on myself any time soon either.

gosh, I’m ramblingggg. i have class now, but it feels so good letting all these things out! i think i needed this. it’s not like people actually read this ha-ha so i don’t have to feel so ashamed! i have to get to class. this has been a really good ramble. farewell!

Dark hours

I was trying to write my mortician feature story late last night, but found myself  blank and unable to write. Prior that, I spent the past three hours editing the articles of my staff writers for the November issue and realized, after breaking my back for hours, just how tough and thankless the job of an editor is. I am not complaining, by the way, it’s just a Truth I need to come to terms with. I think editors and writers in general feel in the beginning that writing is a thankless job. Unless you’re famous, no one comes up to you saying, “Thank you for writing, you changed my life.” It’s the type of work where you need tenure to actually get the respect you deserve—and sometimes, you don’t even get that respect, no matter how long you’ve been in the field. But here’s the principal question: Why do we still write?

I have no straight answer to that question. I’d like to believe that someday I will, but for now, I guess I cannot think of anything rational. It certainly isn’t a lucrative field; if I wanted to be rich, I would’ve chosen a different path, yet why are we still here, writing? I guess it’s because it’s the only way I can keep myself alive and amused, it’s the only way to make this life bearable. Writing from the cheap seats, to reflect the times, to release surges of emotions, to escape, and critique a profoundly sick society. I honestly believe we have too much of men in suits and less of teachers and writers and anthropologists and professors and researchers and historians and artists. And, I think, at the state of our world right now wherein violence and war is the answer to everything, we need these people now more than ever to remind us what it really means to be alive.

My parents, I must admit, always wanted a corporate job for me. And I don’t know how I’m going to tell them, Hey, I want to be a forensic anthropologist and spend the rest of my life in the fields, digging up bones, and confined in research labs, writing dissertations. I want to do research and teach in classrooms, I want to continue writing features and fiction stories on the side, what are you going to do about it? 

And it sucks, because I do not get the support I need from the people who should be my support system, and that’s okay, because we can’t have everything and I won’t demand for their support if they’re not willing to give it wholeheartedly. I know we should never compromise our finances—that is just absurd and irresponsible, but I don’t see the point in life if I am forced to live a life I have no interest in living.

I am actually doing my internship at a property management corporation right now, and this internship has helped me so much in realizing what I do not want to do in the future. Certainly I don’t want to spend the hours of my day trapped in a cubicle inside a cold, characterless, behemoth building. That I know for sure. The people have been great and regardless if it’s corporate, I am learning new things which I believe is always a good thing, either way. But a week ago, I was talking to my boss and my other colleagues and they all said the same thing: “This isn’t what I want to do.”

And I get that we have to sacrifice sometimes. Some people aren’t privileged enough to go about what they want, knowing they have families to feed and bills to pay. And it just makes me so sad that we have to suffer this way, giving up what we want and love to make way for something else, something that we don’t feel so strongly about in the first place. And I hate so much that some people are never able to live their dreams because of the sacrifices they made and they die lonely and unfulfilled because they never got to do what they really wanted to do, and it just makes me so depressed that even though I am saying all these things right now, there is always that possibility in the future that I will be a hypocrite to my own word and work a job I do not love and as much as I try to align my actions to my own principles, I have a fear that I will be betraying my own word. And I wish I never have to reach that point in my life wherein I have to sell out just because I am forced to. I will never forgive myself for that.

Sigh. To be honest, I think this whole mortician feature story is messing with my head. When I interviewed the mortician a Friday ago, we talked about life and death, and how his work has changed his entire life. But listen here. This mortician never wanted to be a mortician in the first place. He was studying engineering in university when he had to stop because of lack of funds. His father, a mortician, taught him the trade and he decided to just take his father’s job on his shoulders. Decades later and here he is now and he tells me he is happy with his job. So, I suppose, it is possible to get into a job we don’t initially love and learn to love it down the road, I guess? The mortician did tell me that although people still have a stigma towards the nature of their job, it’s important to be reminded that we all die in the end. And the phrase, memento mori, popped up in my head. Remember that you must die. 

We all die in the end. I am 20 and already feel really old, as if I’ve been here forever. I was contemplating the other day whether I wanted to die young or old. I realize I don’t want to die young, having achieved nothing, but I am also deathly afraid of getting old, to be honest. Of being wrinkly, and losing my mind to dementia, where it takes away the very essence of what makes me human. But I also know that I have a lot of things to learn, lots of books to read, lots of stories to write and tell, and of course, lots of people to love—and I want all that stretched out in decades. Not everyone has the privilege to reach an old age and share the wisdom they’ve learned throughout the years. I want to see myself at that point; wiser, more confident, more humble, with so much love for the world.

Perhaps I am overthinking things again, but I always tell myself it’s better to overthink than not think at all. I’d like to believe that this whole thing has been heightened by the mortician feature story I’m currently writing, but I cannot help myself. I always get attached to the stories I write and sometimes, these stories are too heavy to tell, but still need telling, to remind us that we are only human. Insignificant compared to the astronomical universe, but relevant to the tiny blips of people we matter to.

Maybe if we looked at life at a different vantage we’d appreciate it more. Eating, drinking, laughing, spending time with loved ones—these are things we so easily take advantage of. And I guess, what I’m trying to say is, I just want to be more appreciative and content with the things I have and do, because I am so tired of feeling like I will never amount to anything.

That there is absolutely no reason to beat myself up for going too slow or not doing the same things my peers are doing, that I am absolutely doing perfectly well at my own pace, that there is no need for me to compare myself to anybody but my yesterday-self, that I only have to worry about my possible future self, that I don’t have to mind other people’s lives and businesses, that I don’t have to be depressed every time I go out of my door, that I don’t have to be afraid all the time, that I will be fine as long as I keep walking, regardless if I do it with a limp or with two steady feet, that being insecure at times is fine, that being flawed is perfect because it always gives me something to strive for, that I don’t have to make life so difficult for me, that it’s fine to appreciate the mere fact of sitting down, breathing and just being alive, that I can take a rest and not feel guilty, that no matter what happens, no matter how conscious and angry I feel with myself, I can always pick up my pen and write, and that if I do find myself stubborn or weak at times to pick up my pen, I can always stow my shoes away, climb to bed, sleep, and wake up the next day to try again.

The Other

I’ve been taking hourly naps everyday since uni break began, but I’ve also been waking up at later hours. It’s funny because I don’t even do much throughout the day, other than my usual workout in the morning, I just bum in front of my computer screen. So I took my hourly nap then woke up to have dinner out with my mom and younger brother. I must admit, the dinner was pretty great. The food was superb, the ambiance was perfect, and the three of us were all in a good mood. My dad left really early this morning for vacation, so my mom was feeling pretty lonely. She was in high spirits during the dinner though, which I think is because of the pizza and the sensational french onion soup.

So she was her usual self: Gushing over the delicious food, serving me and my brother food on our plates, cutting the pizza for me even though I can do it myself, making sure my water glass is never empty, checking out the other tables’ orders and commenting whether it looks delicious or not, telling me to be cautious of the candle near me because I might burn myself, swaying to the music…all of this while eating. I seriously cannot live without my mother’s naggery. Mothers, I have realized, are masters of multitasking.

My younger brother, on the other hand, is in love. Unf. And I can tell because throughout the car ride and dinner, he kept glancing down on his phone to reply to his best friend’s messages. He’s in love with his best friend, which I believe is a very beautiful thing. Who wouldn’t want to fall in love with their best friend? I want the same thing for me. Ha-ha. Frankly, I’ve never met the girl, but from the manner he speaks of her (and the frequency), it’s as if I already have. He is smitten. He also turned 18 two weeks ago.

No amount of observation can make me understand the feeling that he is feeling. Sure I can see the tiny smile curving on his lips when his phone vibrates, the furrow of his brows, the fast reflexes of his fingers to type back a reply, but I do not feel the emotions coursing through him when he reads her message, nor can I feel the emotions he feels every time he lies at night, thinking of her. I can only observe from the surface, which is something that I’ve been doing ever since. I realize, I can never really know a person’s feeling and emotions just by looking at them. Speaking to them about it doesn’t suffice either; our feelings are our own, and no one can take that away from us. I guess that’s the beauty of being an individual: Our feelings are private.

[Un]fortunately for me, I am not in love. Ha! So I was left to enjoy the food completely, my attention undivided. Food is love. I have never known love until I tasted tonight’s french onion soup. Really sensational stuff.

Onto more important things: Our national elections is this Monday. I have avoided Facebook due to the influx of posts about our presidential candidates, the black propagandas, the rants, the armchair activism—it is all too stressful. One thing is for sure: Our elected president is not our savior. Change comes from the individual, and it’s about time people stopped treating our president as if they are the messiah. Only the people are capable of changing the course of our country. So God bless the Philippines, if He hasn’t forsaken us yet.

I also applied for the assistant editorial position of my school paper. It took much coaxing from myself and fellow co-writers, but I gave in. I still haven’t decided if I will run for the executive board, but I dont want to think about that just yet. I still have a few weeks to ponder about it, and right now, well, I don’t want to touch on the subject. Ignorance is bliss lol. Anyway, at least I’ve taken the first step and applied as assistant feature editor. I realize, I cannot be afraid of change. I was rereading Paulo Coelho’s ‘By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept’ wherein he talks about The Other briefly. The Other is the one who taught us what we should be like, but not who we are. The Other, afraid of disappointment, keeps us from taking action.

For the longest time, The Other has ruled my mind and being. It is the voice in my head that holds me back, the ever-so-cautious tone the prevents me from doing anything risky or out of my comfort zone. The Other feeds on my weaknesses, banking on my fears and doubts then spews them all out during moments of self-reflection that often turns to self-deprecation. Maybe I should try that new dance class? Ask the guy I like out? Run for an editorial position? The Other rejects all these thoughts, constantly telling me to forget it. It is afraid of rejection and failure. What if I look stupid dancing? What if he doesn’t like me back? What if I lose in the EB race? I’m not smart enough. I’m better off here, thanks. Thus, The Other is also afraid of change and success. It thus, also, thrives on complacency and mediocrity.

And if there’s anything in this life that gives a sour taste in my mouth, it’s failure and cowardice. Whatever I endeavor in this life, I shall try to make a go for it and give all of me in the process of doing so. I admit, I haven’t banished The Other completely out of my life. It’s always at the back of my mind, waiting to see me fail and get rejected. I think I’m still a long way away from getting rid of The Other permanently, but right now I’ve managed to keep it under control. It isn’t ruling my mind anymore; I’ve sent it out of my head and is in the corner of my room, brooding. And that’s where it shall stay until, of course, I start losing my bearings once again. But right now The Other is out of my system, and I plan to retain it this way for the next couple of weeks. I need to be mentally strong. In fact, my mental game has to be at its strongest, especially since I have big things coming up for me in the next few months and I. Cannot. Afford. To. Fucking. Lose. My. Shit. Goddamn it.

I cannot be a “yes, but” person. Life, I think, is far too short for that. And my 11 year old self would scold me for being a coward instead of a lady with a little spice. So here’s to going out of comfort zones and trying out new things, regardless of the outcome. Here’s to becoming a lady with a little spice. It’s not really the goal that matters the most, I think, but the journey towards that goal and the wisdom we acquire throughout. I just need to keep this positivity at a constant and consistent level so I don’t feel great today, then a total downer the next day. My self-esteem has a tendency to wax and wane depending on my mood and the weather lol.

It’s already 12:57 a.m. I think part of the reason or the only reason why I am waking up at later hours since uni break is because I’ve been sleeping past midnight, because I finally found time to write down my thoughts and emotions during the late hours. But this isn’t really good for me. I need to hit the sack. Goodnight and don’t forget to banish your Other. At least for the meantime. 🙂

worldwide woes

It rained tonight. I took an hour nap and woke up at six thirty in the evening, the sky dark and crying. Made myself dinner: Spinach omelette. Chopped spinach, two egg whites, and one whole egg. Salt and pepper. 5-minute dinner!

It has been really hot and humid the past few weeks; such is life in the tropical Philippines, but this month was just too hot for my liking. I hate summers because it means staying indoors to avoid sunburn and heatstroke, and sweating the moment I get out of the shower. Gross. Which is why I was so happy that it rained tonight; it has stopped, but it still feels a bit chilly and I thought I should make a mug of hot chocolate. The secret to good hot chocolate is adding a bit of corn starch for that extra thickness, two drops of vanilla essence, and a dash of cayenne and salt to balance the bitterness of the chocolate.

cioccolata calda

I grabbed this photo from Mec3’s website since I wasn’t able to take a picture (I finished it all too fast lol!) but this is exactly what the consistency of the cioccolata calda that I made. Rich and thick hot chocolate—almost like you’re drinking pudding! I added extra cayenne because I like its pairing with dark chocolate. It’s a treat.

The past few days have been like no other; stuck at home since it’s my one-month break from uni. I am still contemplating whether I should run for an editorial job in my school paper. It has definitely been bugging me for the longest time. Even my former editor, J, has been encouraging me to run, but I still haven’t made up my mind. I have a lot of fears and doubts about myself, and I really hate it when it’s this part of myself talking. I fear others judging me and my work and I’m badly afraid of failure, but I realize that holding myself back would also mean that I am not ready for success.  It is my overthinking that ruins everything for me. I try not to stand around wringing my hands, but I guess I should just stop overthinking things and take the full plunge, head first. I am a lady with a little spice, after all.

Anyway, I still have yet to clean my room. I’ve been planning to for the past four days, but keep avoiding it mainly because the pile of sundries gathered on my floor and desk has gotten bigger and just like with all problems, I avoid them by running away or turning my head the other way and pretend it doesn’t exist. Very mature! But I realize I must clean up. I’m turning 20 this year (yikes!) and should start acting like the responsible adult that I should be…

On another note, I spent my day reading about articles on sexuality and adolescence because, unfortunately, my dear parents never gave me the birds-and-the-bees Talk. Ah, bless their hearts! I remember accessing books and online articles when I was 12 to satiate my curiosity and, welp, I’m glad I did. I’ve been really frustrated with myself the past few weeks though because I am unable to tell whether certain guy friends of mine are really just friends or have underlying intentions that I am insensitive / blind to. I really cannot tell if someone is just being nice and friendly or flirting with me. I am blind to these things. I’d like to believe it’s the introvert in me; my poor hermit self has no idea lol!  I’ve never wandered into the Love territory (yet), haven’t even dabbled with the whole “dating thing” because uni is on top of my list, so I know nothing of these things, but I find myself having adoration for men who take the time to listen to what I have to say and give me a piece of their time to accompany me to somewhere. I also realized that I feel this way to any guy who does it for me, regardless if I find them physically attractive or not. What’s funnier is that sometimes I feel the same way for multiple guys at the same time?! It really is a confusing ordeal and I wish I never felt these things, but gah, I’d like to believe it’s just the hormones or whatever.

Whatever. It really is just confusing and annoying. Perhaps at the end of day, all we really want is the attention and love of the person/people that means to us the most, but since I don’t have that person, my body’s giving me mixed signals depending on who’s giving me their attention and time. Geez, how taxing is this?! Thank goodness I haven’t fallen in love yet. I think that would send me to a downward spiral, my overthinking on overdrive. Yikes!

Anyways, I still haven’t gone back to the pottery studio to get my glazed works. I hope they look fine! It was my first time ever to glaze and I’m not sure how the color combinations would turn out, but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that they turn out beautifully. Perhaps I’ll pick them up this week or the next.

I, on the other hand, haven’t been loyal to my Operation Vegan & Zero-Waste Lifestyle. I started to eat meat again last week, mainly because I made the mistake of shocking myself by going cold turkey immediately, so I decided to start slow. No worries though, by meat I meant seafood. I still haven’t touched chicken, pork, and beef which I, frankly, don’t miss at all!!! It’s the juicy shrimps and crabs that I cannot resist 😦 Other than that, I’ve been eating clean the whole time. No empty calories, junk food, soda, synthetic sugars, and all that. And I think that’s a good start. I read before that pursuing a healthy lifestyle isn’t as simple as black and white; it’s a long process and, to be honest, habitual and takes a whole lot of patience. Also, you have to respect where your state’s at and work at your own pace. Nevertheless, everything I’ve eaten has been cooked by myself, in my own home. I also avoid eating out nowadays because 1). It’s too expensive; 2). I can work the stove better; and 3). I want to know what’s going in my food. So I guess I’m not completely hopeless.

Oh, I also went to a Hindu temple last week. This is a part of my Operation Enlightenment (HAHAHA) wherein I plan to explore different kinds of religions and cultures and see how amidst all the dividing lines humans have of each other, it doesn’t and shouldn’t go beyond our quest for humanity. It’s a part of my never-ending curiosity and I guess also a mark of my rebellious streak by breaking away from my parents’ fundamental, cultish Christian ways. Anyway, that’s reserved for another post ha-ha. I was accompanied by my Indian friend, P, who was kind enough to book us an appointment with a mehraj (Hindu priest). We commuted on the way there; we rode the UV express from Taft to Pedro Gil, then crammed ourselves in a pedicab to Mahatma Gandhi street in Paco. It was funny because we got lost, but eventually made it there.

We entered the temple gates, found ourselves in a relatively medium-sized courtyard where a security guard sat with his log book. We walked past him to a corner wherein my friend told me to remove my shoes. Bad luck for me, I forgot to bring socks so I spent the entire time walking around the grounds of the temple, barefoot….Imagine the sight of my feet afterwards! Black from all the dirt 😦 Anyway, we removed our shoes in the corner,  went up the second floor and found ourselves outside the entrance of the worship area. Observing my friend, I watched him touch the ground and mutter something before entering. I followed suit, not knowing what that meant. He later told me, amidst chuckles, that I didn’t have to do it (lol). We found ourselves inside the worship area. It’s a huge, spacious carpeted room. There were couches on the sides, but not big enough to take up too much space. There were already a few people inside doing their prayers or puja. There were four statues in the middle of the room, encased in big, glass boxes, which I think are the major gods of their religion (forgive me for I am not well-versed with Hinduism). I only recognized Ganesh, but I saw some people worshipping an idol who is seated atop a bull (was told by my friend that it is Shiva) and they were pouring milk on him. This particular idol wasn’t encased. Anyway, the four glass boxes are each attached with a rope and bell, which the worshippers ring during their prayers.

After observing for a few more minutes, my friend and I went down to look for mehraj. I was already feeling nervous that time because I could feel the elder Hindu women sitting on the couches staring at me and I’ve never felt so judged my entire life. They didn’t look so nice either, because I smiled at them and they didn’t acknowledge me….

Anyway, I don’t think it’s got something to do with my clothing because I didn’t wear anything revealing. I wore a giant navy shirt that went past my thighs and black tights, so yeah. My friend told me it must be because I’m a new face in the temple; funnily enough, he mentioned that one of the reasons why he and his family stopped going to this particular temple was because the people find it as an avenue for gossiping, so there ya have it. Typical church gossip. I am so used to that from my church ugh. 

Anyway, we went down and looked for mehraj. My friend warned me that his English wasn’t that great so he might have trouble understanding me, but he promised that he’ll help me ask mehraj my list of questions. We finally met mehraj from a back room (apparently he was taking a nap!). He is an old man, wearing white robes with a red sash (?) of some sort. He was barefoot and he led us back to the worship area. We sat on the couches and I started with my interview. I will not go into detail, but I just want to say that the experience was nerve-wracking. My friend did warn me that this mehraj was traditional, so I kinda expected the worst. I am appreciative of his time and for answering my qualms, but it was his way of speaking that irked me. I thought it must’ve been the language barrier, but it still gave me a bad impression. I suppose he was trying to make me understand their principles by using analogies. For example, our conversation went something like:

Mehraj: We don’t wear shoes inside the temple. In your religion (Christianity), you do.

me: Yes…

Mehraj: And your shoes are made of leather. Cow skin.

me: Yes… (I kinda already knew where this was going)

Mehraj: And that’s bad. You kill the animal, that’s bad. And you wear the animal skin inside your temple. Is that good or bad?

me: …

Mehraj: Answer me. Good or bad?

me: It’s bad…

And the majority of our conversation went like that. I felt like a child talking to a disciplinarian… nevertheless, I still learned a lot from him and I really believe it was only awkward because of the language barrier. I don’t think he meant to be rude or anything like that. Plus my friend volunteered to answer the questions that I’ve skipped (because I wanted to stop talking to mehraj already that time out of awkwardness) which was really helpful. But yeah, awkward meeting with the mehraj.

My friend invited me to attend their worship service one of these days since he mentioned he and his family have stopped going to this Hindu temple and transferred to a different one, which also has a different practice. It’s called Radha Soami and he told me that this temple doesn’t have any idol worshipping, just following the path of a teacher, which he told me is more practical and applicable, and focuses more on spirituality. I agreed and told him I’ll tell him when I want to go, and then we parted ways.

So yeah it was a pretty interesting, if not a bit awkward trip, to the Hindu temple, but I appreciated it a lot and learned a lot. I also told myself not to beat myself up over the awkward experience; I did have a lot of expectations for that Hindu trip and it ended up as a letdown, but only because I was banking on my expectations, which was wrong of me. I realize I can’t have all that in one trip, so I hope to come back in the near future and possibly learn and meet more Hindus.

Moving on to something more important than my Operation Enlightenment: Our national elections is 11 days away and I must admit, I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. So among our Presidential choices we have the plunderer, the inutile, the inexperienced American banking on her father’s celebrity status, and the worst: the left-leaning, radical, barbaric, womanizing, Trump-like animal who doesn’t give a damn about human rights and is proud of his extrajudicial killings. And guess what, he is leading in the polls!

Oh, and of course, our country’s only hope who, unfortunately, has stage 3 lung cancer and doing really badly in the polls (3% out of 100, but I’m part of the three percenters). That’s Philippines for you. The land of the anti-intellectuals. Sigh sigh. I can foresee a second revolution, but unlike the first EDSA Revolution (which was considered a peaceful, non-violent revolution against the Martial Law) I think a second revolution would be bloody. Well God help us all, if he hasn’t forsaken us yet.

As a youth activist and student journalist, I am still in the process of discovering my identity and purpose. I thought that if I immersed myself in all these new and challenging experiences, a light bulb would just suddenly light up in my head, thus reaching ~*~Enlightenment~*~ But I realize it’s much harder than that; I’ve never been so confused and opposed with my purpose in my entire life, but I keep telling myself that this shouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Malcolm Gladwell mentioned in one of his books that we must constantly update our stances and positions on as many things as possible. It’s our responsibility as a human being, and if we don’t constantly contradict ourselves on a regular basis, then we’re not really thinking. So I’d like to belieeeeve that all this confusion and contradiction within myself is just the product of my overthinking. But even so, when I go to sleep every night, I remind myself that I am the only one in control of my life. And that amidst all this confusion, the life I really want to live is a life beyond myself, a life for others, a life centered on truth and justice. Meep.

Anyway, enough of my worldwide woes. I need to clean my room.

Like a bowl of chopsuey

Sometimes I do not know if I am living for my eulogy or my resumé. I’d like to think that I’m neither because I’d like to make myself believe that I am embracing every single day of my life with no regrets— which I admit is a nasty lie because I spend every waking moment in binary: Paranoia and anxiety. In an ideal world perhaps I’d be a lady with a little more spice, able to talk to the man she is fond of with an untied tongue; able to sit over fine wine and have the gall to laugh at life’s absurdity; able to ward off all unnecessary feelings and just enjoy life as is. But this is reality and my fight or flight response is always kicked into high gear; I’m constantly looking over my shoulder every now and then because I’ve learned that things are never as good as they seem.

I came upon a phrase that struck me the strongest. Memento mori, a Latin phrase that translates to “remember that you must die.” It was something that got my mind spinning, got me thinking about my current life and future endeavors, and then realize how hard everything really is. Hard, perhaps, because I am not trying enough. Unlike most of my peers, my future is still hazy to me, just as hazy as the day I asked my highschooler self what my plans were and I was left silenced because I didn’t know what I wanted.

A month ago, I found myself being jostled by a group of activists in the middle of Mendiola Peace Arch, activists clamoring for fair wages and against bureaucratic capitalism. Teachers, students, blue-collar works, farmers, and indigenous peoples were all around me, pumping their placards in the air. Wide-eyed and eager to learn more, the protest rally left me in a state of confusion, anger, and hopelessness. I realized that it was I who put myself in that situation, to go out of my way and join these rallies because I wanted to feel something that I’ve never felt before. In that moment, I’ve felt the strongest emotions that I’ve ever felt in my entire life. This whole experience with activism has sparked something in me that’s never been touched and I’d like to believe that this means something really important.

Also a month ago, I stopped eating pork, beef, and chicken after hours of Reddit-browsing and reading up on cowspiracy, climate change, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I think with the rate that the population of the human race is going right now, it is impossible to even foresee a universal ethical way of farming. I tried to be vegetarian (in the hopes of becoming full-vegan) before but ended up failing because the motivating factor in my head was that it would make me lose weight and I can finally be beautiful, but after doing some reading, I realized that if I can’t be vegetarian for vain purposes, perhaps I can be one for the sake of a better world. And I’m not even being ambitious or idealistic right now, but all these studies on climate change and the destruction of our world because of the very humans created to live in it really scares me. I know I’m just one person, but I’d like to believe that there is a reaction for every action and I guess I can only hope in hopelessness that all reaction is good reaction.

Three weeks ago, I had a presentation in class about the issues that our indigenous peoples in the Philippines face with their education. It was for my anthropology major and can I just say that if it weren’t for this class, my future would be hazier than usual? I took this class and ended up with a clearer vision of what I want to dedicate my whole life to. Our indigenous peoples have been pushed to the brinks of society for the longest time and are so often oppressed by the very system that should be helping them. The government says it provides them education, only to give them an education with Western frameworks. How does this pan out? Our indigenous peoples are left disconnected, alienated, and discriminated. I’d like to believe this is a more implicit type of oppression because on the surface-level, everyone would say the government is doing something for them. This class, I admit, made me want to pursue anthropology even more. A young discipline in the academic field and even younger in the Philippines, I’d like to believe that there is a demand for anthropologists, especially with the state of our country right now wherein our enemies are our own brothers. Perhaps, then, not a demand for anthropologists per se, but a demand for compassion, multicultural understanding, kindness, and humanity.

Five days ago, my editor in chief (I am a journalist for the school paper) posted on our page calling for assistant-editor sign ups for the next term. I bookmarked the post, urging myself to try out because I’ve never, but knowing myself, I’d probably back out before anything can even begin because I am such a fucking self-deprecating coward suffering from impostor syndrome or just really, really bad self esteem. Today I think I’m a decent writer and most days I’m just utter crap.

Today, however, I was in pottery class and I was trying my best to smoothen my bisque-d works, pre-glazing, with a piece of overused sandpaper. Pottery has always been familiar to me ever since my dad exposed me to it when I was 11, about nine years ago. I dropped it when I entered high school and eventually stopped and forgot about it, until recently. I took it up again, this lost passion of mine, and started to train my hands again to the once-familiar sensations of pottery. Frustrating at first, but I have fallen in love again.

On my way home, my dad and I stopped by a bike store to look for a city bike for myself because I’ve been thinking of trying out biking. We looked around for a bit before proceeding off, shrugging and telling myself that I can get back to it some other day.

Tonight I am writing and I can say for myself that writing will always be my favorite thing, if not my only favorite thing in this world. But I realize that I cannot write if I do not put myself out there and live. I cannot live inside my head forever, I think, and the only way I can make sense with writing is if I keep challenging myself and telling myself to go out there, be more human. So often I am entrapped by the screen of my phone or even the pages of a book, but what I really should be doing is be out there. See things and for heaven’s sake, do things. Find the strange in the familiar, see the general in the particular, experience things I’ve never done, think thoughts that make me uncomfortable, re-examine everything that I already know. Learning is the only thing to keep me youthful and I must keep my unabating curiosity for life for—well—the rest of my life, I hope.

On Monday, I will be going to a Hindu temple to be accompanied by my Indian friend, in the hopes to learn more about different religions and cultures. This, I think, would be a good first step for me. I must admit, I am a bit nervous, but this is what I want. I keep telling myself that if it makes me nervous or uncomfortable, then it should be a good thing. I’m excited to learn about Hinduism on a deeper level and hopefully my Monday trip doesn’t disappoint. Perhaps in the future, after this, I can explore other religions and practices to be able to understand human beings, that the lines that divide us don’t really go beyond our humanity. I’d like to believe that in the end of all this, our humanity will always be a matter of the soul and heart, regardless of different lifeways.

Again, my future is hazy. At this moment, I feel like a bowl of chopsuey. Perhaps that is why it is the name of my blog after all, but I really do feel like chopsuey right now. A bowl of random veggies thrown together, one vegetable for each of my feelings and woes. I want to do so many things and sometimes I ask myself, why do I only have to choose one? And I realize, why are we conditioned to only pick one when we are in control and can choose as many as we want? Why is it that in this life, you just have to pick one course and then follow that till you die? From womb to tomb? Life is too short for that, I think. And perhaps we shouldn’t be afraid to do what we love the most and also pursue other things that we want to try, because really, we have to remember that we must die. And we will, and that keeps me going every single day.

I do not know if I am living for my eulogy or my resumé, but I will admit to myself now and say that I don’t want to be living for either. That if I had the chance (and I do) then I should live my life for the sole purpose of reaching my full potential as a human being, not for praises on my deathday or a five-page resume of all my achievements. I think that the worth and purpose of life cannot be measured by paper or words of other humans anyway.

I always have optimism in my heart, but the cynicism in my head always trumps over. With all these binary oppositions and contradictions, insecurities and self-deprecation, most of the time it makes me forget who I really am and who is really in control: Me. And if it were so easy to let go of all the toxicity, then I would’ve done so a long time ago.

But there are days when I just feel sorry for myself and tell myself that I will never amount to anything, just like tonight when I can feel my depression swell in me again, like a surge that passes in and out, for no other reason that it just happens to be a late night and I’m left with deep thoughts. But I’d like to think that in these dark hours, I can still have hope and the least I can do is go back to my point of innocence and ask myself, What would 11 year old me do? And of course, little me would say that I should be “a lady with a little spice” to which I take as tenacity for me to go out there and shake the world by the lapels.

light-bulb moment (long post-ish)

i’m supposed to be doing my existentialism paper, but here i am stuck with my thoughts again. on quiet days like this, it’s usually only Sartre who can get my mind running, but i guess today is different. perhaps i’m not feeling Sartre today. i had a light-bulb moment a few minutes ago and that moment prompted me to wallow in my rumination until i finally arrived into a handful of realizations. this year, i must admit, has been a tough one for me, but looking back at it now, i can say i’m very proud of myself and the way i handled things. i guess in terms of maturity, i think i’ve improved and that’s saying something…. ha-ha. let me share with you some things that i’ve learned in this life within the past few months.

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