I’m Moving In with the Girls and I’m Freaking Out

The traffic in Metro Manila has gone terribly bad these past few months. I know I don’t need scientific calculations or evidence to back that up since everyone has experienced the traffic’s ill-effects in one way or the other. In the morning, I need to get up at 5 am sharp to avoid getting late. When I beg my alarm clock for 5 more minutes, I would already be playing tango with the traffic. In the afternoon after office hours, I would spend a whopping three hours of travel from the office to our home in Bulacan. Did I mention I just work in Quezon City near Eton Centris? I couldn’t imagine the hell some people who work in Pasig or Makati area go through every single day of their working life. How I envy the other country’s public transport!

This now leaves me and my office mates in considering, actually, we are already pushing through of renting a condo unit near the office. Officemate A just won’t get healed from her persisting cough and so she needs a lot of rest while Officemate B also spends quite long hours in commute. I don’t know if they initially wanted me to join them since it was only by chance that I got to accompany them in surveying the condo unit. I also don’t know if living near the office is something I want. Nonetheless, I said yes to them and I am now freaking out.

I said yes without battling an eyelash though I made them see my apprehensions. (Ang gulo ko ba? Haha!) First, I don’t know if we could work out as housemates since we have different and dynamic personalities. Though I have told them directly that I can be extremely introvert at times, I still have lots of cards on my sleeves that they will only get to see once we live on the same roof. (This now sounds like I turn into a monster at night. Well, I can’t explain it further but I know some will get it.) I need quiet times a lot, I wanted to tell them. Also, please don’t laugh at me when I talk by myself at times.

Second, I remember the first time I lived outside of my home maybe five years ago. It was in Makati where I lived with my college friend and her sisters which is the best part. The hard part was the anxiety I experienced and the urge for me to go home every day. I remember I would always render over time at work just to stop myself from going home in Bulacan and I would also go in the comfort room to cry my heart out. I have many more reasons to freak out but maybe to sum them up, I’m just scared if I will survive emotionally and gastronomically.

I wanted to prolong the process of thinking over the choice I made through a list of pros and cons. But I know, it will also prolong the worry and the agony of thinking things over and over. To cut the process short, I just tell myself this: YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE FOR THIS.

Living out of my home and my comfort zone can make me experience a different kind of learning. It can make me see some portions of myself that I have never seen before. It can make me arrive at ideas I have never thought of.

I can try this today and if I don’t like it, I can always go home.

 

Disgusting but Saved

She just won’t tell me the real reason!’ a friend exclaimed when I told her to ask her classmate on what’s wrong with them. Her classmate stopped talking to her and became somewhat cold for no apparent reason at all. And my friend was like, ‘did I do or say something offensive and degrading?’ or ‘Is it because I don’t send SMS with smiley?’ or ‘Was it because I was tired and forgot to bid her good night?’ My friend was clueless. Poor friend, I bet she’s never going to know.

My friend’s friend? We know her right? It might have been you and me in the past or someone we know. The friend whom you have offended once and made your one mistake let him/her forget everything you did for the friendship. Much worse is that when the friend doesn’t have the grown-up courage to tell you why.

This reminds me of a reflection of a friend priest when I was in high school. “When people are asked to describe a doughnut,” he said, “most will say that it’s rounded bread with a hole in it.” See. People always notice what’s missing and what’s wrong. Present them with a white dress and for sure, people will see the speck of stain it has.

Sad to say but it is true. We can be so critical on others but favorable on ourselves. We can see the single mistake our friends did and go blind to the many small things they did for us with love. We judge others through their actions and judge ourselves through our intentions. It’s just unfair.

Sometimes, I even notice that those who are so critical of others are those who hear the mass often. Yes, ask a church goer on what you have done wrong and s/he can give you an entire homily’s worth of a list. You shouldn’t have done this, you should say this, you should ask me and so on.

There are also self-righteous people who fight for a cause on Facebook but fail to extend a helping hand in real life. They share photos of the Syrian refugees and solicit prayer for them but don’t care if their seatmate on a public vehicle doesn’t get the fair share of the seat.

And then there’s you who’s reading this and who’s probably asking, ‘Are you my elementary tutor Mrs. Perfecta, because you sound so perfect to have noticed everything?’

I am not perfect too, never have been and never will be. I made a share of my mistakes – judging people in my mind, or cursing them at times; ignoring those who need help because I’m running late; avoiding that extra mile of care to a stranger; being too much nosy or critical too and many more.

Just today I was not careful enough to handle a conversation when it went out of hand and the bad qualities of a person came up. After the conversation, I had to ask myself, Why did you bring that up? To discredit the person or to air your true sentiments? I have to be honest to myself. My answer can be summed up to the prayer I said on my way home. The jeepney I was riding was ridiculously fast and it was raining hard, the streets are not just wet but it’s flooding.

Lord,” I began “please let me be safe tonight. Don’t let me die because I don’t know if I’ll end up in heaven if I die today.”  I was ashamed. It was disgusting.

Thank God I arrived home safe. Then it dawned on me, no matter how I fall short of my efforts to love God and be His instrument of love and mercy, He will still love me and cover me with His arms.

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And I bet He has the same love for everyone – saints and sinners alike. He endured the scourges while chained in a pillar for the critical persons, He carried the cross for those who won’t care at times, He died on the cross for you and me.

Why, you might ask. It’s because of this – we are loved, we are forgiven, we are saved.

He doesn’t ask for payment for His sufferings, He doesn’t use the past as leverage so we will do what He wanted us to do. He only ask us too extend the same love and mercy to others- to the person beside you, to the person you meet. 🙂

See the blessing and be a blessing today!

It’s Okay Not to be Okay

I know I was one of the last persons to catch Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out, the story of Riley, an 11 year old jolly, hockey-loving girl and the five emotions that reside in her mind – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.

Joy, the first one to appear in Riley’s mind when she was held by her parents when she was a baby, is an energetic, glowing, fun-loving emotion who usually play as leader in the control room.

Sadness, the blue, eyeglass-wearing depressive emotion, came in second when an infant Riley became uncertain of what to feel.

Then there’s Fear a violet fella who looks out for disasters and keep Riley from bumping into them, the green girl Disgust who prevents Riley from getting poisoned physically (from Broccoli) and socially (from new classmates in her new hometown), and the red and flat headed Anger who tries to keep things fair for Riley like during the time when her father threatens to not give her dessert.

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One thing I like about Inside Out is how the movie which is supposed to be for kids debunk the myths that most of the adults grow up believing into.

We were taught that happiness is positive and sadness is negative. We grew up believing that those who cry are the weakest and if one should cry, it has to be somewhere that can’t be seen. No one wants to be a loser, for heaven’s sake. We do not celebrate sadness; much worse, we sometimes do not acknowledge sadness even if its pangs are hanging on our skin. We believe that happiness is superior and sadness is inferior. But the movie dismisses these beliefs.

For 11 years, Joy tried to be in control of everything that happens in Riley’s life. The goal is to make her happy all the time. So when Riley got disgusted and sad on their new home in San Francisco, Joy tried to lighten up the mood by making Riley envision how her room would look like once the furniture comes in.

However, due to an incident where Joy is preventing Sadness to touch a memory, both of them were transported out of the control room and into the aisle of long-term memory. This now left Riley to feel nothing but disgust to her new life, fear if she’ll ever fit in and anger to her parents for disrupting their good life in Minnesota.

In the thousands of aisles in the long-term memory section, Joy and Sadness keeps on trying to return to the control room to prevent Riley from running away from home. They even bumped into Bing Bong, a part elephant, part cat and a cotton candy who is Riley’s imaginary friend.

In their attempt to return to the control room, Joy and Bing Bong fell on the cliff of forgotten memories. This is where joy realized that Sadness is an integral part of Riley’s well-being. She held a memory of Riley where she’s being carried and cheered by her hockey mates. All of them were smiling and happy. But when Joy winds back the memory, Joy saw Riley being sad because their team lost in a game when she failed to hit the winning shot. Joy saw that Riley’s parents comforted her and made way to cheer her up through her hockey mates. Then it dawned on Joy, “Mom and Dad came to help because of sadness.”

With Joy’s realization, we are also taught that it’s fine and normal to be sad. We actually need sadness to appreciate and know joy once more. And usually, it is out of the sad moments where happy moments come from. Sadness therefore isn’t inferior, it is what makes us stop for a while, reflect on what happened and resolve to make things better than it was.

As Sadness puts it, ‘Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.’ And she was even backed up by a study made by Joseph Forgas, a psychology professor at the University of New South Wales. His study revealed that being sad makes people less gullible, improves ability to judge others and boost memory. Of course, this is now being technical to drive home my point!

There is nothing wrong with chasing happiness, but maybe we shouldn’t be too obsessed with the chase that we prevent ourselves from melancholic moments and we already pretend to be someone we are not or conceal our true self from family and friends.

Cut lose the chase and experience life as it is, with all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows… because no matter what happens, life is still beautiful.

The Best Piece of Advice

So you find yourself in a subway,

With your world in a bag by your side

And all at once, it seem like a good way

You realize it’s the end of the line

for what it’s worth?

 

Here comes the train upon the track

There goes the pain, it cuts to black

Are you ready for the last act?

to take a step, you can’t back..

I would usually find myself listening to this song while looking back at how I let go, or I think it’s better to say, break free from one of the best and longest relationships I had in my life. I was playing the song when I was deciding and I would play the song again and again reminiscing. Isn’t it amazing when a song clearly depicts the moments in our lives – from the most joyful to the most gruesome ones?

I was already running out of tears when I learned the song and so listening to Keira Knightly doesn’t send me to tears anymore. Perhaps, I listen to it from time to time to convince myself that it’s okay to pack up your world in a bag, ride that train and never return. I listen to it to avoid asking myself, ‘Did I make the wrong decision?’ Because, boy, there are times when the monster under my bed keeps on trying to snatch my feet at night to tell me I was wrong to leave.

The monster would whisper in my ears, ‘You gave up on it. You gave up on that one person who never gave you up.’ I would then be wide awake even my body longs to sleep and think to myself, ‘did I really make the wrong decision?’

I never wanted to leave, I said to myself while looking at the night sky that barely had stars on it. And the many reasons to back that up flashed into the sky for me to see – the exchange of letters with corrugated hearts, finishing each other’s thoughts or sentences, going to places together, watching movies together, gorging on our favorite dishes together, laughing together, telling endless stories together. All those ten year-worth of memories flashed.

‘See,’ the monster would tease, ‘you made it all wrong. You have to pack up again and go back.’

‘C’mon, you can do it,’ it added.

The monster was right. I can return again. With one more letter or conversation, I will have a ticket back to where I have been. But what about my heart and the courage I mustered for years to leave?

My heart who was mum with my entire conversation with the monster finally came to speak. ‘We both know that we never want to be there anymore,’ it said.

The heart then lamented on every pain it endured. ‘Remember when we were left out in the dark to bear the cold? You were regarded the ‘best’ but you never really were. It left you and it went with the many people it regarded as really its best. Remember when it said it won’t leave you? Well it did, not just once. Remember when in every conversation you were always wrong and in every meeting you were always waiting? Remember when — ’

Enough, I said cutting the heart short. I don’t want to hear those anymore. ‘Remember, I refused to be a victim of all this so I can move on with a light heart?’

‘I’m sorry,’ the heart said. ‘It’s just that I am happy where I am now. Though we have packed few pieces of bread for our trip that seems not enough, I am glad we have taken this journey… to know what else lies ahead.’

Then poof! The monster and the heart would leave me alone to ponder on my own question. Did I make the wrong decision?

This is when I am reminded of a (borrowed) photo that stayed in my phone for quite a long time.

(Please stare for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 seconds)

fearless-kid-taking-a-crocodile-picture-kodak-moment-jpg

Is it wrong to take a photo of the crocodile? No.

But is it wise to take a photo this close? I guess not.

There are things that are not wrong but may not be wise to do in a moment. Leaving may not be wrong. Staying may not be wrong either. But if you deem that leaving is the wise thing to do, then maybe you did the right thing for you.

That was me talking again to myself. I do this, talking to myself, a lot of times because I believe that the answers we search for can usually be found in ourselves. We just have to dig deeper.

And so I conclude that the best piece of advice… is at the end of my own hand and at the depths of my heart.