2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,700 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 45 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Hope At A Time of Digital Reality

Hope. What does it mean for you? In a fast-paced world, there is always a need to keep up. Technology has made life easier and time go faster. Day after day, you check Facebook, email, Huffington, Clash of Clans, Instagram and other sites. You find yourself drifting through the digital world and missing out on life. Is it our way of holding on to hope?

When the things we have in front are far from reality, we try to cope up by escaping it. For those who feel powerless and out of control, they venture into online games. Introverts cope up with their weakness in socialising via various social media sites. While those who do not feel loved or significant find allies by posting photos or statuses that can get them attention. It is such a pity to see these things happening. They forget to realise that they can also do the same thing in life. As we get sucked into the worldwide web, we are slowly changing the real world. We break our relationships by building walls. We start to become mean and narcissistic thinking that the world owes us attention. We spread words that hurt and demean the spirit as a way of feeling better about ourselves. I am certain that most of us would prefer to live online. Although it is a beautiful breakthrough for humanity, we live too much in it that we end up empty beyond it. We put ourselves too much online that we deprive the real world of us. The influx of different ideas and thought from this media has affected us greatly but in a silent way. We become intolerant of imperfection, we criticise mistakes so quickly. We think relationships now can just be solved through chat or video messages. We want crave for connections yet we avoid getting disconnected from our social media. Family time now has transformed into a bunch of people staying in one area all looking down on their own phones. What has become of us?

Internet was created for hopes of making things better but at the rate that we are going, we are slowly dehumanizing ourselves and changing norms. Where likes and follows are all that matters. It seems that we have become more hopeless with ourselves. We put things about ourselves to feel accepted instead to celebrate diversity. We leave barely nothing to the imagination, just to get attention from strangers. We are far friendlier to strangers than to our own family. We try to escape what is and draft a false sense of normalcy. We would rather miss out on live moments just to see what the rest of the world is up to.

Why am I saying this? I too have fallen into this pit. A couple of years ago, you would see me posting about my feelings over Facebook. Venting out to people who have no clue on the situation to get sympathy. It was a passive aggressive way of solving things and it did not make me better. I tried meeting people through random sites but I would never say hello to people around me. I stayed in front of the pc day and night, wasting away hours to see places when I could have worked more to afford a flight to visit them for real. The first guy I liked was through a mobile compatibility game and the entire time he made me think that I really knew him. I felt like I really knew him well that I missed out on my college life. My friends called me “Ms. Monologue” at the university because I preferred talking to him on the phone than hanging out with my friends. I am lucky though that my real friends are still with me after we broke up but I have regretted all the moments I missed just because I disconnected from what was happening at the very instance. I randomly added people when I joined Ms. Cebu thinking that I needed to despite the fact that they only wanted association with a “beauty queen” and not interested in interacting with me. It became a numbers game. In the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, the Nazis assigned numbers to their prisoners. It is happening in this generation, people do not care about who others are and what they are about instead we care that they are among the likers. We do not ask about how they are feeling, how we are feeling always takes precedence. We post photos to get them to like us more. We succumb to this norm where if you do not have numbers, you are insignificant. What happened to us?

Last year, I visited China and when I got there I forgot that they restricted various websites. On the first day, I felt restless. Coming from the Philippines where checking Facebook is the first thing you do when you wake up, I felt like I did not belong to reality, that I did not exist when in reality, I did. I felt helpless and clueless. I then realised how reliant I have become. The world does not end when you do not have these websites. It took me about four days before I got comfortable with the fact that I only existed where I stood. With Instagram not working, I savoured each sight and flavour. Without Google, I figured out how to travel through subways. I talked to others instead of posting those thoughts online. I realised how little I time I spent for those people who never failed me. It felt like dying online and being born again into real life, liberated from the boxed virtual reality. It then hit me, how many of us are really living? We have invented so much distractions to keep us from doing something offline. You see a lot of people in restaurants looking down into their phones. Family time means being in the living room and just chatting online when they can talk face-to-face. How many digital zombies are out there who are putting life on hold for something that wouldn’t exist if electricity stopped? Think about it. Are you one of them?

Tableau : A Tale of Perspectives

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry.

Sycamore Park

“Why are you crying Paul?”, I asked him. It was a warm breezy morning in the park and I did not know what got into him to sob like this. He tried to compose himself. I never saw him like this, was it something I said? Maybe my revelation was too much for him. He was holding my hand firmly as if he had seen a ghost. I braced myself, I knew something was wrong.

“What do I tell Anna? Should I tell her of my past?”, I thought to myself as she gazed at me perplexed by my sudden emotional outburst. I thought I was strong enough by now. As I was momentarily pondering, I felt the gentle summer breeze as it blows through the sycamore leaves, it reminded me of my moments with Clarissa.

“Another couple, I do not want to see such sight. It just reminds me of Greg, the love of my life.”, I said to myself. The doctor told me to focus on a task and I am having a hard time with this couple around. Although Alzheimer’s disease challenge my memory daily, I remember walking with him two decades ago in this park. His face all lit up by the sight of yellow dandelions, it reminded him of his father. Greg always played with him in this park. After Greg’s death, I visited this park daily to reminisce about him. I miss him terribly. The first and last man who managed to tame the shrew in me. He was never the same after I lost our son.

Dandelion

“She will recognise me, the doctor told me she showed some progress.”, Paul muttered as I looked at him baffled. He never told me who she was. I never met her. “Who was she in Paul’s life? Could she be?” I wondered. We never really talked about his past.

“Anna, meet Clarissa.” I told her as we walked hand in hand closer to the bench. I could see Anna was surprised. She asked about her for quite sometime but I never really mustered enough strength to visit her again. Clarissa was the other woman in my life.  They took her to a nursing home after her depression. She could not deal well with dad’s death, the doctor’s prognosis was Alzheimer’s disease. There are times when she thought I was still 10 years old, she would always knit me a sweater and she loved red. She said that dad gave her a red sweater for Christmas and on that same day he proposed to her. It was her happiest moment.

“Clarissa…. Paul mentioned her on several occasions but it is only now that he took me to meet her” wondering to myself, I looked at Paul and smiled. This is a big step for him to introduce me to his mother. I smiled as we walked an inch closer to her.

“Greg!” I told the young man. He seemed familiar, I know I have met him here before. The way he smiled at my greeting, his green eyes and brown curly hair. As I stood up and hugged him, flashes of memories of me and Greg rushed in. Tears start to trickle down my cheeks and on his shoulders.

“I have missed you dearly. How are you? I can see you are still knitting” I tried to say it in a happy way and yet my heart is ripping apart because she had mistaken me for dad. Her condition is getting worse and the doctor said she only have a few months before her memory completely fades. This is why I brought Anna with me. I wanted her to meet my mother.

I could not help but be touched at the sight of Paul and his mother. As he let go of her, I saw him picking something from his pocket. He walked closer to me with a devious smirk and then he knelt. This was not happening. He took my hand and said, “Anna will you marry me?” Shocked and overwhelmed, I nodded.

I wanted the two women of my life to meet each other. I have to face the reality that I will eventually lose my mother to the disease but I brave knowing that Anna will be at my side to make life easier.

Losing Love: Part 1

An awkward middle child born into a simple family in a quaint city. She always felt so small, her existence seemed meaningless and insignificant. She tho grew up thinking that she was either a shadow or invisible. You see her wearing baggy clothes loose clothes because she thought that her arms and legs were ugly and oversized. When she looked in the mirror, she never saw beauty only discontent with the face she was born with. Too scared of people, she could not even bring myself to talk to the waitress asking for my order at fast-food restaurants. Her younger sister spoke on her behalf. Each time someone tries to talk to her, she scampers away in fear. There were rare occasions when she really talked about things and that was when she had the company of her few close friends or when asked by a teacher in class. As a child, she found it better to talk to her dogs about life issues than to her parents or sisters because she knew dogs are loving, loyal and non judgemental.

By the sea
Silence was her escape.

Being a child from a low-income family who went to a private school, she was bullied all throughout her younger years by affluent classmates. After being publicly humiliated during one school activity, she built walls to keep her far from people, to avoid getting affected by words and putting her faith on seemingly trustworthy friends. She never took compliments well. Every time she received one, she would doubt and think they are either liars or just nice. In her head, she had no one. A lone wolf on a prowl for contentment and peace. She grew up thinking that it is weakness to show her feelings and to depend on someone. After seeing her mother getting beaten up regularly by a father who could never control his alcohol intake, the fear of vulnerability crept in her veins like poison that she feared it more than she feared death. She fell into a routine of school, house and church, a way of grasping normalcy. An achiever at surface level yet her teachers knew she had to learn to speak up. You will never see her smile in photos, she started mastering the art of hiding what was inside her. For her less emotions, less connections and less attachments meant safety. She sought refuge in written words and melancholic melodies. Each night she would spend countless of hours writing and listening to songs of disappointments and losses. The darkness inside grew more each day after the death of a loved one. Barely a teenager and yet she has gone through a lot. She would trod on through life like a beat up warrior who is numb and tired.

Letter She Wrote

Rummaging through an old cabinet, filled with my mother’s vintage items. On the left side, a locked drawer. Using her key, I opened it and inside a piece of paper. I curiously unfurled it.

“I do not want to bring shame to the family.”

It was my sister’s suicide letter.

The Soundtracks to My Life

There is always something magical about music. For every influx of emotion we experience there is always a song that best describes how we feel. The melody and words that goes with each one connects to our soul. We might speak different languages but we share similar love for songs. I am a music lover that appreciates a lot of genres but I tend to prefer Indie/Alternative Rock when I am pensive, Electronic when I want to dance and Pop when I am perky. I have not really thought about songs that mattered to me up until this daily prompt came up. In my country, almost everyone sings and even kids know lyrics to songs that existed way before they did. Every morning, you will never miss on a love song. Filipinos love listening, singing and dancing to love songs, admittedly we are a bunch of romantics. When it comes to song I not only listen to the melody, I even put more emphasis on lyrics. Among all the songs I know, here are the top 3 songs that came into my mind (stuck in my mind longest).

1. Lenka – The Show

 The Show is my life story. Eventhough I am 28, I still feel like a little girl (or maybe I just refuse to grow up) and so I find myself going through the maze of life and trying to figure out love. I push myself to be uncomfortable and try to live by the philosopy : Be Brave. There were a lot of times when my bravery was tested. I am quite lucky that I have an allergy to cowardice and giving up. I have been quite persistent with life despite all the challenges that it has thrown at me. Life should not be taken so seriously, it should be enjoyed like a good show.

2. Daft Punk- One More Time

If Peter Quill of Guardians in the Galaxy had Hooked On A Feeling, then One More Time is my never fail go to song that transcends me into elation. Each time I hear this I end up either tapping my foot or bobbing my head. A reminder to never get tired of celebrating life. To dance like nobody is watching and to keep doing it. Let’s celebrate! One more time!

3. Kid Cudi -Pursuit of Happiness

Are you happy at the moment? If not, when would you want to start being happy? No one in the world who would want to be unhappy. The choices are influenced by our perception of what is happiness. A song that speaks of not caring about other’s definition, not living up to someone else’s expectation.

Our world cannot just be rainbow filled, there are moments when we are tested on how happy we are with ourselves. For most it is the biggest and hardest struggle. We try to do things to escape who we are or to deny who we can be. Spending money on things that fade, putting meaningful relationships on hold for something temporary. We fall into a pit of self-destruction thinking that what we feel is the real sense of happiness. Trading a lifetime of pain for a moment’s pleasure.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” and if you think about it the reason why most of us choose to continue living is we have tasted happiness. It is just a matter of holding onto it when times get tough. Do not lose sight of the big picture. Do not die without pursuing your own happiness.

Writing101 : The Free Write

To write whatever comes to mind, no pretentions, no boundaries, no edits. Punctuations, grammar and spelling do not matter at all. To let the words flow from the heart. To speak carelessly and just be here and now. Whatever comes is written. Logic can sometimes be limiting. There are things beyond order, a beautiful chaos yet to unravel. Nothing superfluous. Simplicity at its core. Words are simple just how everything should be. In a world where everyone thinks too much, this is an escape. A rebellion from planning. An embrace to the present abyss of thoughts where nothingness and everything are neighbours. So I just continue travelling with my fingers where letters are sent from the mind to cyberspace, in hopes of finding what was lost and of what is scared. To release the trapped writer in me who is waiting to break free, to experience autonomy. Drifting into several thoughts. From summer to life’s uncertainty, trying to unburdened myself from worry. I have lived too much in the past and been unforgiving to reward myself of a happier future. Chained and bound by skeletons and mistakes. I need to give myself a break and embrace the human in me. To relive those days when I wrote everything in my diary. Paragraphs of happiness and sentences of grief and apathy where I realised how I loved writing. How I discovered that I had power with words and how I will never be invisible because I have found my voice. To be able to transform mere mental imagery into something that can be grasped. Words that bring the life out of me. Meanings that can differ just like the seasons and time. What I have written have remained to be vivid memoirs. It takes you back to who you were and forever immortalises the past self. I dream of one day finding the real voice that has been hidden. Oppressed by judgement and kept from prejudices. The fear of not being understood well should not matter at all. I write nothing less and nothing more. What I type is the first thing on my mind. I do not know how long but I know I will keep writing on. The 20 minutes given is passing with every letter that I press on the keyboard. What will happen after this does not matter. The goal is just to write as freely as a bird. To soar greater heights in finding words for silence. Music in my earphones, ping-pong balls bouncing back and forth and knife chopping through ingredients. The office where chaos is a daily trial. To keep the mind focused on what is and what is not. To rank on things that matter. To make a small change in the world. Even an empty mind has something hidden, nothingness is just a façade of what is unseen. My heart is empty and apathetic from the past disappointments and I try to revive what was lost. The zest in life, I now try to hold. Words bring life and death to the world. A kind greeting brings a smile to a stranger while a terrible remark could kill a person with a dream. One’s freedom is limited and it is always next to someone else’s. We write on. I am halfway to the time needed and now I am noticing an ant walking around my keyboard. How I feel like him sometimes, so small, struggling to find the right place for me. My pen remains untouched and several tasks left undone. There are tons of things to do but I am here writing. I do not know why I do this now. Free the mind. How I tend to drown in other’s voices. I guess I am tired of listening to them. Telling me to do this and that. Following somebody’s wishes for love. Giving up on things that matter for a false sense of safety that turned like debauchery. Who am I know? What will happen when this year ends. No one knows and it should not matter. For as long as you live you just do things. You could be right or wrong. Mistakes are for growth. Whatever that comes should be embraced. The glow from the sun makes me think how it feels like to be immortal. Brightness and warmth that embraces. A life of eternal summer is what we all wish. A wide spectrum of colours, water ripples, fresh breeze and beautiful sights left and right. Happiness is in what you see and what touches you. I am no longer living in the cave. To embrace the world in all it’s complexity is simplicity in itself. Come what may and yet to guard the heart. It is quite confusing. Finding balance is never as easy as the idea of just standing in the middle of a weighing scale. One has to know what is too little and too much. .