On Slowing Down

It’s that feeling again. That feeling of moving forward, but not fast enough.

It’s that feeling again. Memories from last year remembered from reading a novel whose lead male character is only one letter short of his name.

It’s that feeling again. The need to slow down. Collect my thoughts. That feeling that the reason I probably want to speed up work so much is to forget the pains of 2016. But the very act of using work to distract me is very much like him. Thus, the need to slow down and face whatever I need to face. I am nothing like him. I will never be like him.

He would make the decision to leave you himself so that he knows for a fact he can never hurt you again. -Colleen Hoover, It Ends with Us: A Novel

It’s that feeling again. The desire to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was trying to save me from pain? He warned me from the start. “Don’t get too close. Masasaktan ka lang.” I did not listen.

It seems I will spend the rest of my life wondering what was actually going on in his head the day I flew back home. Maybe it wasn’t easy for him not to say goodbye? Yeah. I’m crazy enough to even wonder (people think I was crazy enough to even have felt something in the first place).

One day maybe I will realize it doesn’t matter what he was thinking about.

It doesn’t matter anymore.

#keepswimming

Advertisements

Lessons from Pain

I still remember one night when I was a kid when my father went home from work and gave me a printed copy of Bill Gates’ commencement speech in one high school in the US. He talked about some lessons he learned in life and one lesson particularly got stuck in my head: “Life’s unfair, get used to it.”

There’s one particular aspect of my life right now where these words resonate with great power, so strong that I might implode anytime with anger and sadness. You see, it turns out that no matter how good and pure your intentions may be, there are instances when Life will still give you sh*t in return. And because Life is so generous it will even bundle that sh*t with some goddamn, freakin’ pain. The kind of pain that tells you to just stay in bed in the morning or just cry at night. The kind that wants you to go back in time and do things differently. The kind of pain that makes you question if it was right to share your time and energy with such a person.

But at the end of the day, no matter how much you whine, it still boils down to one fact: “Life’s unfair, get used to it.” So you decide to cope with pain, instead of fighting it. You learn to acknowledge it instead of running away. You learn to face it every day, feel every bit of it, instead of denying its existence. You make a deal with pain that it’s welcome to stay for a while as long as it pays its dues by providing lessons. Luckily, pain has been diligent in paying its dues. Here’s what it gave me so far:

  1. Guard your heart. And I don’t mean this in a romantic way, I mean this in every freakin’ way possible. At work, with friends, with family, etc. Protect your heart because if you allow anyone to hurt it, it’s gonna be hell. Stand up for it if you need to. Never sacrifice your dignity for any worldly thing (e.g. reputation, degree, etc.). I saw how it destroyed people and how those people shatter others along the way. So take extra care in guarding your heart. It’s the seat of your values and dignity. Don’t let anyone meddle with it. Ever.
  2. Trust your instincts.  Trust your gut. Sometimes the heart is filled with emotions that it fails to see danger along the way. But your gut can sense this. Unfortunately, gut has such a small voice! So listen carefully and trust it!
  3. Never aim to “fix” other people. It’s not your job. Period. Besides, people are not things that need to be “fixed.” Give advice, support, or whatever, but never with the intent of “fixing” another person.
  4. Serve/help/share with others willingly without expecting anything good in return. Also, be prepared from time to time to even get something negative in return. It happens! When it does, just smile, say a couple of curses or cry if you want, then move forward. They are not worth your time anymore. Let them have the bad karma, not you.
  5. The people you spend time with is vital. Choose very, very, wisely.
  6. It sucks to feel discarded. Work extra harder never to let another person feel this.
  7. Challenges are good “people filters.” Those who are true to you stay. They stick around no matter what. Treasure these people and don’t ever run after those who leave. The fact that they left when things got rough tells something more about them than you.
  8. Life’s unfair only for a short time. Why? Because there’s always karma that balances everything out at the end of the day. So weather the storm for now while keeping close guard of your values and let karma do its thing at the right time. If you look around, you’ll find that you’re still greatly blessed. Smile and be grateful. :)

There you go. The dues that pain paid for staying with me for a few months now. Not bad, yes? I think it’s gonna stay for a little more time, but I have a feeling that it’s starting to grow tired because something else is sucking its energy out: love. Love from people around me and love I have for myself and the person who hurt me. It’s been quite a journey, welcoming pain, but I think it was worth it because its friend–healing– never comes before it.

On Irony & Pain

Pain
by jmanapat

How deep must understanding be?
How long must patience be?
How can a source of joy and encouragement,
Be the same source of pain?

Should I be doing this?
Or have I gone mad?
Because it turns out,
It is my friend
Who’s making me sad.

 

I’ve stared at death in the face six years ago and I thought that was painful. But this one, a thousand times more.

“If friendship is your weakest point, then you are the strongest person in this world.” ~Abraham Lincoln

On Lessons

img_4347

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

This mantra brought me out of near depression as I recited it at least 108 times every single day, using my mala beads as guide.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

Sometimes, the most hurtful words come not from our enemies, but from our friends.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

It’s necessary to leave home in order for us to grow. But there will definitely be no place like home.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

It takes courage to give love. It takes courage to receive love. Sometimes the latter is more difficult.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

There is power in silence.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

If someone tries to change who you are to suit their liking, move away. Fast. Do not ever lose yourself. Not with work. Not with friends. Not with love. Always be yourself.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

Live your life in your own terms. No man or woman should ever make you feel insufficient.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

You are enough. You are not at the mercy of any person. You should never be.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

Make friends because you want to, not because you need to.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

Forgive. But do not ever forget, else you lose all the lessons.

“I live my life with love in my heart for all creation.”

Smile. No matter what.

:)

On Waking Up

My friend and I were talking over lunch about his experiences and realizations from a recent faculty workshop he attended. He described, among other things (and with much delight!), how inspired and excited successful people in the workshop were, how they enjoyed the daily “grind” of work, how good PI’s cared for the growth of each member of their group, how successful people competed in a constructive way, and how they threw themselves “out there” and took risks because they never settled for anything less than what they wanted.

A knot was forming in my throat as I fought back tears (of joy) because all of the things he was saying, I have experienced in some way back home in the Philippines.

I remember so clearly how inspiring majority of my fellow teachers are both inside and outside of the classroom. When demotivation strikes me, I simply remember how passionate my colleagues are and I get back up quickly.

I remember how majority of the senior faculty members in our department care so much for both undergraduate and graduate students to the point that DMMME was regularly sending students abroad (Japan and Taiwan mostly) for short study visits and internships. My adviser would also think about job opportunities for her graduating students (she was the one who offered me a job in DMMME).

I remember how exciting the daily “grind” is in the department (it’s stressful, but exciting!), especially during the semester before I left for the US when I had three simultaneous collaborative projects with different departments and colleges, on top of other faculty duties. It was exhilarating! How I terribly miss that feeling!

I remember how the junior (and some senior) faculty members would have a healthy competition in that we would compare the average performances of our classes at the end of the semester or compare the performance of our students on a specific project. It was healthy because no one was pulling the other down when they succeeded. We would even ask one another what they did to have a great outcome. We help each other grow as faculty members.

I remember how exciting a feeling it was to take risks and throw myself “out there” for the sake of an advocacy I work hard for. It was by taking risks that I got to travel to Europe and the US.

But I left all that for a year and now I find myself struggling to save whatever light and inspiration I have left inside of me because my current circumstances keep sucking it out. I wish I could say that it was only research that is challenging here, but it’s not only that.

I have been in a three-week research hiatus already (going four) because of demotivation. And there were many times in the past month when I would wonder what I had turned into. This is not my best performance at work and it’s not like me to not give my best. That is what’s so bothersome. This is not me!!! But as my friend said today, “Kung ngayon pa lang mag iinarte ka na, wala kang mararating.” I think he was saying it for himself (or not? haha), but the words also hit me. Hard. I can’t be like this. I don’t want to be like this anymore. I need to remember what I came here for and if I am to reach my goal, I have to expect that I’ll be in a far worse situation in the future. As President Truman once said, “Being President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep riding or be swallowed. A President is either on top of events or, if he hesitates, events will soon be on top of him.” I’m not planning to become president, but I do need to persevere to prevent myself from being swallowed by the tiger I’m currently riding.

I came here in the US because I was frustrated by my lack of skills when I was in the Philippines. I felt so limited that I couldn’t share enough to my students and fellow teachers. I must not come home empty-handed. I have an INSANE plan right now; I guess desperation is an effective antidote to hesitation.

We in the Philippines don’t lack inspiration or great minds or perseverance. We lack opportunity. Faculty members are so burned out from juggling teaching, research, extension work, committee work, admin work, etc. making it very easy to lose the opportunity to work for the essential things that matter to us (e.g. thesis, skills development in various aspects, etc.).

Now I need to pull myself together quickly. I only have four months left. It so long a time to stay in my somewhat dreary situation, but so short a time to develop skills and find opportunities. Whatever. As the poem I posted yesterday goes:

Carry on! Carry on!
Fight the good fight and true;
Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer;
There’s big work to do, and that’s why you are here.
Carry on! Carry on!
I can do this!

Carry On!

Carry On!
by Robert Service

It’s easy to fight when everything’s right,
And you’re mad with the thrill and the glory;
It’s easy to cheer when victory’s near,
And wallow in fields that are gory.
It’s a different song when everything’s wrong,
When you’re feeling infernally mortal;
When it’s ten against one, and hope there is none,
Buck up, little soldier, and chortle:

Carry on! Carry on!
There isn’t much punch in your blow.
You’re glaring and staring and hitting out blind;
You’re muddy and bloody, but never you mind.
Carry on! Carry on!
You haven’t the ghost of a show.
It’s looking like death, but while you’ve a breath,
Carry on, my son! Carry on!

And so in the strife of the battle of life
It’s easy to slave, and starve and be brave,
When the dawn of success is beginning.
But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there’s the man of God’s choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven’s own height
Is the man who can fight when he’s losing.

Carry on! Carry on!
Things never were looming so black.
But show that you haven’t a cowardly streak,
And though you’re unlucky you never are weak.
Carry on! Carry on!
Brace up for another attack.
It’s looking like hell, but — you never can tell:
Carry on, old man! Carry on!

There are some who drift out in the deserts of doubt,
And some who in brutishness wallow;
There are others, I know, who in piety go
Because of a Heaven to follow.
But to labor with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there’s the real sunshine of living.

Carry on! Carry on!
Fight the good fight and true;
Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer;
There’s big work to do, and that’s why you are here.
Carry on! Carry on!
Let the world be the better for you;
And at last when you die, let this be your cry:
Carry on, my soul! Carry on!