As Basic as Eating

It was just recently when I began to seriously wonder about why Jesus Christ decided to have something as ordinary as eating as the core part of a Sacrament.

Yes, I do know and believe that the Mass is one sacred activity, but if I were someone looking forward to more explosive sounds and blinding lights in our quest for divine salvation and eternal life, I think I would also end up questioning the worth of gathering in one place, listening to readings, and then eating.

Yes, eating. After that and everything else that came before it, we go back to our regular life programs. There’s the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ during the Mass, yeah, but it can be easy to take for granted, especially since there’s none of those flashy and spectacular sensory effects accompanying the Consecration…well, unless you count the sacristan’s bell-ringing as flashy and spectacular, but that would probably be considered negligible by the popular lover of bright sparkles and booming shockwaves.

So yeah, during my continued endeavors at praying the Rosary daily (which is tough, even if I haven’t exactly broken my current streak, mostly because I waste my time on things like hanging around with questionable people and material online for the sake of pride and such), I had those thoughts about the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Not like I felt disappointment, though, as I actually realized more about the true level of difficulty that we need to face to truly get to Heaven when I had those thoughts.

Think about it: Eating is pretty much the most basic form of nourishment, and we people have to eat three balanced meals a day. And then there’s Jesus, instituting the Holy Eucharist as one of the essentials in Catholic life, the core of it all being a mealtime with His Body and Blood as the main course. And sure, Sunday Masses are the required Eucharistic attendance, but don’t you think there’s something to be said about something as basic as eating being that important a task?

And hey, don’t we easily take the basics for granted? I can remember how easy it has been for me to have an eating routine that goes from not eating much to eating too much like a seesaw. I don’t eat much when I want to focus on my studies and my Tobby stuff without a lot of disturbance, and I eat too much when I come to eat after those periods. There’s also my choices of food, which has a load of carbs, oil, and sugar lately, tipping the scales out of balance. And then there’s socialization during mealtimes, which I haven’t been appreciating as much as I should, considering things like my annoyance at my family complaining – even if they’re mostly through jokes – about diet struggles and such.

Now, my dad’s talks about less fortunate people come to mind again, with them eating the scraps they can get, and then there’s me, putting myself in a cycle of fattening up and then lazing around.

Yeah, the Eucharist got me thinking more about properly appreciating the basics, alright. Oh, and in the Eucharist, we eat, and we eat something that doesn’t seem much. It’s easy to question it, to call it a cheap lie, but in that, we can see the everyday challenge that God presents us. It reminds me of John 20:29, which is Jesus’ response to the once doubting Thomas after He appeared to him and the rest of His disciples: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Indeed, it makes me think more about how there really is beauty in the ordinary.

So yeah, God Almighty help us some more. 🙂

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Dining Table Tales

The importance of the dining table, particularly in terms of mealtimes with the family, was something that I easily took for granted at first. It’s something to be expected, I guess, with taking the learning of eating at face value during childhood.

Then, years later, came those commercials by a certain locally notable noodle brand which also advocated mealtimes with the family. Said commericals often presented lonely scenes of kids and their parents underneath dim and shadowy lighting plus stiff and feeble (or worse, shouting and distancing – like, there was one commercial where the kid’s side of the table stretched back farther and farther every time his parents shouted with rage) exchanges of words in the midst of clinking and clanking of utensils on food and on the table. Following those scenes would be some advising text or a celebrity endorser reminding about family mealtimes at the dining table being an important part of family life, and they worked well, indeed, even to the point of convincing my parents, as far as I remember.

And although we’re not that consistent in terms of having at least one mealtime together as a family daily, especially since there are factors like us university students tending to spend more time outside the family lately, I think all of us have a significant amount of understanding regarding the value of eating meals with other people. Mom and Dad often call us to eat together when the opportunity is there, and they would even have one of us kids call the rest of the family (and yes, that also includes the extended family and even – back when we had such – the househelp) if there are members who still need to be called. Along with eating second helpings or being reminded to leave over some for those who haven’t eaten yet, we would do things like talking about our recent activities, teasing and reminding each other about our physical fitness, and reminiscing about our younger years.

The value of all those things become more noticeable to me when I eat alone, especially in open places, the silence feeling like a more deafening thing there.

I can remember how my throat easily went dry from all the rapid-fire respiration whenever I hung out with my friends, who would joke and/or ask about who would the “manlilibre” be for our munchtimes if the host’s parents weren’t the ones preparing the food. I can also remember smiling, laughing, and leaning back more and more whenever I discovered and rediscovered memories like how much of a tough and competitive girl my mother was during her younger years, the funny situations my parents found themselves in when they met certain former classmates again after so many years, and all the attention-grabbing stuff that we kids did back when we were more under the care of adults.

Indeed, I have overlooked something so beautifully ordinary. No wonder Pope Francis encourages having good mealtimes with the family as well.

And yeah, I do know that I’ll have to strike out on my own eventually…so I guess I need to work harder and better in terms of making friends and all that while living life outside the family. Mealtimes with trustworthy people contains more delicious eating, after all.

To be honest, though, the struggle I have with trying to make friends outside my family’s house is pretty much the fear of seeing other people’s dark sides, I think. I don’t think that the problem is how the dining table is also a stress relief venue, though. I’ve learned of heavy tales from my family while at the dinner table, and we’ve dealt with that a lot of times without too much trouble, our voices leveled and our faces focused as we try to understand and respond to the situation to the best of our ability, so why can’t I do that as well with people outside my family?

Hm, perhaps it is because I have a hard time forgiving myself whenever I find that I’m unable to form a proper response in delivery and content to people I’m not used to. Burying myself so much in the shame, I begin wishing that people would just stop talking with me or avoid talking near my earshot.

Perhaps it is also because I don’t want to try understanding the other person, especially when they hold beliefs that I don’t like. I put more effort into avoiding their presence rather than seeing how much I can lead them towards better dialogue, lying to myself about how I know everything about what I can really do.

And perhaps there’s my control freak issues messing with me again, going narrow-minded about the people I want to hang out with. I sit down and wait for them to do this and that, but I don’t bother diving into understanding how they work their lives out, making me sink lower and lower into misconceptions and lack of breath because of my weight which increases because of my gloomy laziness.

In other words: Perhaps it’s pride again.

Hmm…perhaps I should go offer some hot chocolate to a housemate in the boarding house sometime?

Well, anyway, God Almighty keep on helping us all. 🙂

Crossing Out

Among the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the Fourth has captured a significant amount of my interest lately.

In particular, what got me trying to think deeper was my memories of the Stations of the Cross which involved that event: Jesus falling thrice while carrying the cross, Jesus meeting His Blessed Mother, Simon of Cyrene being taken by the executioners to help Jesus in carrying the cross, a woman named Veronica wiping Jesus’ blood-and-sweat-stained face along the way, and Jesus consoling the crying women of Jerusalem. Along with all those, there was that declaration of His in Luke 9:23, which went “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Likening carrying one’s cross to living a good ordinary life while thinking about all that, I also start to think that Jesus really understands how hard that would be for us. We’ll fall repeatedly. We’ll need help from others at times. Our families would have a hard time witnessing us taking in the reality of the struggle that is trying to live a good ordinary life. And even with all that, we’ll still need to prioritize the good of others over our own, all while we’re striving to properly finish the jobs we need to fulfill.

Following the Carrying of the Cross in the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary is Jesus’ Crucifixion, and it should be noted that crucifixion was the most humiliating form of capital punishment in Jesus’ time.

And so, thinking about how a good ordinary life would be that humilating in the eyes of the world, I think I can guess how that would go.

To be honest, I still have moments when I feel alienation while interacting with other people, and even with my own family as well. I tend to feel out of place among the youths I interact with, whether online or offline, because I like to think about properly dealing with things we often grumble about, such as chores, homework, work, societal issues, and all that. I even have a growing disdain for all their loud complaining about those things, even though they do present problems that need to be thought about and dealt with. And speaking of which, there’s the popular confrontational and sniping attitudes which we, whether or not we’re well-intentioned or ill-intentioned, like to take into our moral battles.

Yes, I feel scared about saying that I don’t want to have those attitudes anymore. And I guess that’s also pride trying to get in the way again, trying to get me to turn this into me showing off. Yeah, I value confidence, but I have a feeling that I’m still struggling with keeping my own in the thin line between underconfidence and overconfidence, considering things like some stuff I’ve posted online. There’s also me wanting to call out certain people and paint them as hypocritical and foolish and all, but my growing dislike for things like sarcasm despite having grown some habits with that has been making feel like I’m off-balance whenever I realize that they’re in action.

Yeah, I guess that’s why wanting to become more flashy has become more tempting lately…I struggle with the crazy desire to put down fellow sinners like I’m slamming a giant iron hammer on them, all while being scared to admit that I wish for them to rot in place after putting them down…

Humility and forgiveness…they’re such hard concepts to grasp, no?

But nothing good would come out of staying down after falling. I’ve already experienced true goodness in my life before, too, and that’s already enough reason for me to keep going…to keep struggling.

Yeah, God’s road is a road to humiliation, I know…and it hurts to admit it by trying to practice what I preach.

And now, I guess I should stop with this level of dramatic tone. I get the feeling that I’ll be defeating the purpose of this weekly reflection series if I keep going with this moping…

So yeah, God Almighty keep on helping us all.

The Gold that is Humble Silence

To be honest, I’m not quite a supporter of the dominant – or, at least, very noticeable – vocal attitude that a significant amount of my schoolmates makes our university (in)famous for. My dad tells me that the exploited poor are more easily convinced by that sort of people, though, people who would stand up and shout out with spines straightened and chests puffed out as they say “There is a problem, and you need to stop causing it!” to people who are clearly doing something wrong or “You know you have been hurt and stolen from, so fight back and take back what is rightfully yours!” to people who are clearly being wronged. My late paternal grandpa was that sort of vocal person too, and he once dreamed of getting into the university I’m studying in now, but he never did, though he did maintain that gruff and tough attitude of his. Still, with the help of his dear wife and their hard work which included overseas work in the US, he managed to raise his nine kids well enough to get them graduated from college and striking out well on their own, with almost all of them married and with their own kids, and some of them even living out in the US and in Canada.

Despite all that, I’m not really a fan of that brand of vocal attitude he held on to, even if I do believe that the late 60s to the mid-80s was one of the worst, if not the worst, points of Philippine history.

It’s not that I don’t like following the style of held on to by people like those classmates of mine or my paternal grandpa simply because I just took the gossip about that activist stereotype surrounding my university at face value, though. Deep down, I felt like more of a wreck whenever I tried to be as hard as those people, even though I knew that there was something wrong and someone needed to take responsibility for it.

For example, back when that grandpa of mine was alive, my elementary schooler self told him during a visit that I had issues with bullies at school. In hindsight, I think he understood that I had issues with bullying, but when it came to his advice regarding how to deal with them…well, I cried, Mom had to take me back to the car, and I remember she and Dad telling me some time later that Grandpa was somewhat under the influence at that time.

But what advice did my grandpa give back then?

Well, I don’t remember his exact words, but they were along the lines of “Go fight back and beat them up!” and he delivered them with his rough and hoarse voice, colored with a tone that has also painted my memories of having to listen to my schoolmates and my professors doing name-calling and satirical shots against understandably problematic people who should be doing their jobs right.

Yeah, I guess that’s why I struggle with class discussions. That’s why, instead of posting a rant willy-nilly on the Net or shouting out during class, I would rant about my dismay to my parents and to other people whom I trust very much after classes and in private. I’d send them walls of text, or I’d be spitting with tones just like those schoolmates’, something I also found hard to do because I would feel like I would be a hypocrite whenever I tried to go deeper with thinking about how violent I would be if I did that. But still, I learned that it had to go out, and that there are people who would be patient and forgiving enough to help me get it out better. Better that way than to have my mouth be trigger-happy in more public spaces, after all.

Still, it’s a problem, and I struggle with it, especially since the temptation to be a sarcastic nut is something I now consider more dangerous than I think. I’ve been realizing that it would be doing a certain thing that I and those schoolmates of mine detest so much: dehumanizing other people. In other words: looking at others as if they had no faces of their own, calling others hopeless cases that should rot and die in prison, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

Talk about hypocritical, no?

Though even with my awareness of all that, I feel as if I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place when I have to listen to such prideful offenders and keep quiet in humility. The struggle now reminds me of a certain aunt’s reminders of how the sin called pride is tied to our baseness, and, of course, it isn’t easy to deal with.

And now, I think I’m understanding my struggle there even better.

You see, in a prayer community gathering I recently attended, a guest speaker told us the story of Fr. Steven Scheier, who would have been dead and in Hell if Mama Mary didn’t intercede for him. It was a story the guest speaker presented as a part of an advocating presentation of the Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and although I honestly have doubts about going for those Devotions right now, something about Fr. Steven’s story struck me.

To be more specific, I think I felt particularly struck when it came to the part where Fr. Steven talked about the excuses he once considered delivering but could never deliver in the face of Jesus the Judge. That, and perhaps the fact that he faced Judgment with a capital ‘J,’ almost ended up in Hell, and miraculously lived to tell the tale was something striking in itself. I was quiet on my seat in the prayer community meeting venue, but my eyes felt kinda watery back then, and I felt like a lot of glass barriers were shattered by a spear that was thrust into my heart multiple times as well.

But the one thing that came out of it, one thing I want to share in more detail with you today, is a set of memories of my younger years.

Those memories, well…they were my memories of my crybaby self…memories of me crying loud and hard that you were likely to want me kicked out both figuratively and literally.

I guess we can say that an ordinary day for me back during those years, especially my elementary years, included an offended me crying very hard. I was easy pickings back then, you know? I didn’t like violently reacting, but I didn’t like ignoring the bullies and letting them run over me with their jeers about me being a weird fat boy, about me being a teacher’s pet who tried to force his classmates into speaking English more, and, inevitably, about me being a noisy crybaby. And even though I improved as I grew up, I had to face the struggle with pride I’m still facing, pride that had me thinking as if I’m a scapegoat as I held grudges and self-hatred in my heart for having to witness other people nearby being improper – especially when it involved them targeting my friends – and being unable to do anything right in the face of those things. A bunch of times, I lashed out, resulting in meetings with school authorities, and in hindsight, I was the one who gave the them the biggest part of those troubles, because they had to spend so much time staying with me and trying to convince me to calm down and think straighter, while the kids I was angry at went on with school activities more easily…and they also got more ammunition to shoot at me and my friends for the next bullying session…all because I acted more immature than the bullies.

Perhaps silence is more golden than I thought. Well, to be more specific, humble silence is golden, now that I think about it some more. Being silent because I don’t want to admit that there’s a problem and that I’m always right is a bad thing, and I think that sort of silence was something I indulged in a lot during my younger years, years in which I thought being an edgy and anti-social smartass was the pinnacle of coolness, a foolish belief which was further strengthened by certain anime and video game characters I easily fell for back then.

But being silent in humility…humble silence…I think I know what is now. Humble silence is keeping silent while more militant classmates and professors spit their insults out, not because critically thinking about the issues they discuss is a bad thing, but because it would be a bad idea to join in if all that can be gathered and given out in response during the moment are only barbs that are just as bad or even worse than the barbs that have been spat out already. Humble silence is still doing still worthwhile homework after classes and going back to still worthwhile classes when the time is supposed to be for such, all while being polite and even forgiving despite being in opposition to the displeasing delivery styles of those prideful yet potential-filled classmates and professors. Humble silence is also reporting a clearly directly attacking bully to the proper authorities and with proper processing but without gloating about it to the reported bully afterwards!

And hey, humble silence can even be crying quietly and privately over things that the tear glands can’t handle, all while still going on with life and trying to keep up with God’s assigned schedule for me instead of trying to nose around and hijacking others’ lives like I’m worthy enough to be the driver for them.

I still don’t think that I’d be able to get along with the barbed vocal attitude of a bunch of my schoolmates, but I think I can endure it better now.

Still, God Almighty help us all.

Mama Mary and the Art of the Ordinary

Taking the advice of a priest during a Confession I made recently, I’ve been trying to pray the Rosary by myself with more frequency.

So far, I think I’m being consistent with the act of praying the Rosary itself, but I think I need to put more effort into living the more ordinary aspects of my life well. Such a thing is something I find difficult, particularly as I aspire to be a good artist, a road with a brand of difficulty that has temptations toward pride and lust most frequently pestering me everyday.

See, in trying to be an artist (like, in the more general sense and not just in the visual art sense), I’ve realized that it’s easy to mishandle confidence and have it power the other deadly sins and its subordinates, especially when that confidence is aimed at fulfilling some good intentions. Not that confidence is not needed, though, but it’s easy to be overconfident, especially with a crowd of supporters backing me up and all of us having baseness that we tend to fall for in our desire for more ease in our lives. To be more specific, what God would want us to do can grate hard on our pride, making it look like something as bad as sin, and I’m certain that it’ll be a struggle for me to stay properly confident despite being despised and such. Pride is scary that way, you know?

For getting me to think more about that, I have an aunt of mine to thank very much. How she managed to do so, well, in her talks with me about the dangers of pride, she presented the Blessed Virgin Mary as a good example of humility. Ah, and even the priest who advised me to pray the Rosary also helped there, stating that where Mary is, the Devil isn’t.

Now, thinking about Mama Mary as a good example of humility, what I remember about her is that she was very…well, ordinary. She lived a very ordinary life for a woman who served as the great Mother of God. She and Joseph, her husband, weren’t even that rich too, with the Nativity of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem being a sign of that (Luke 2:7). And judging from Matthew 13:55, which is a part of the depiction of the reactions that Jesus’ fellow Nazareans had at his preaching (“‘Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?…'”), Mama Mary was seen as someone ordinary by her fellow Nazareans as well.

And hey, much like how easily a significant bunch of us pity the woman who easily submits – and especially to a man – these days, I think that Mama Mary would be someone who would be very easy to look down on. The prideful would find her pathetic, for she just followed God’s orders and blended into society without much protest, even when she was troubled by the angel Gabriel’s greeting (Luke 1:26-29), even when she and her husband had confusion over the reply that her young Son gave them when they found Him – and after three days of searching, even! – teaching in that temple (Luke 2:42-50), and even when she was told off by her grown-up Son that it was not His time yet in that particular wedding which had a problem with the wine (John 2:1-4) – even telling the servants afterwards to do as He says! She never reacted violently during her Son’s Passion too, just letting Him meet His fated humiliating death in the hands of us sinners and complying with her Son’s entrustment of her to Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist (John 19:26-27), and she still came along with the Apostles to Jerusalem, praying with them as well (Acts 1:12-14).

Now, for an aspiring artist like me to draw inspiration from Mama Mary and to even try living as humbly as her…I honestly found all that unbelievable yet fascinating.

Like, really, for so long, I’ve been thinking that a good artist has to be flashy, much like the superheroes of novels, comic books, and animations. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that I can’t be as superpowered as them, but I still long to be looked upon like I was as sparkling as them, for being revered is something that those superheroes needed to have as well so that they can be more seen as heroic.

And that’s why being like the idols on the stages of the entertainment industry became quite a wonderful idea to me as well. Thing is, though, as that same aunt of mine reminded me about, fame is quite a fickle thing, and with that in mind, desiring it so much is bad for my soul.

But what does that mean for me as an aspiring artist, then? Does this mean that I shouldn’t be an artist? Are artists just burdens to society?

If you ask me, well…I don’t think being an artist means being a burden. After all I’ve been through in life, I’ve realized that perhaps there are ways to be a truly humble artist, and that I’ve been holding so much pride, so much that I still struggle with finding those ways. Perhaps I should try rapping with toned-down swagger. Perhaps I should focus on singing less angsty songs. And perhaps I shouldn’t aim towards notching up the sexiness in my adorkableness, even!

Along with that, I shouldn’t think about having a good image only. Even if no other human is watching me, I, along with everyone else, am always within the watch of God, after all, so I still need to think, speak, and act properly, even in private. And I need to work hard towards being more proper there, especially since I still have some bigtime fumbles with my spare time. If I improve there, then I’ll be able to handle having fans better, because being famous is like walking on a tightrope, and I need more balance in my life.

Yeah, there’s more to life than just trying to entertain people. I still lack knowledge, so I need to go to school. I have struggles processing others’ opinions, especially when they’re vocally opposing, so I need to keep calm and search for humbler listeners to talk with and learn from. I need to be more mindful of others as well, which means that I also have to smack my pride down and take corrections from people like my parents better. And like it or not, even if I’m the protagonist of my own story, my growth is never something I cause by keeping the spotlight all to myself.

Come to think of it, though, I think I’m centering on myself too much in writings like this lately, with a bunch of previous paragraphs in this entry being a likely example…Hm, I guess I should take some time to get in touch with some good friends and mentors when it comes to such matters, then. Also, I think this is the first time I’m writing Bible citations into something like this, and I don’t think I can say that I know how to do that as well as I should yet, so yes, honest constructive feedback is highly encouraged and will be highly appreciated!

And hey, God Almighty keep on helping us all! And don’t underestimate Mama Mary, people! Like, really, considering how she lived here on earth, I now think she’s a major factor behind Don Bosco being able to say “Do your ordinary duties extraordinarily well.”

Ah, and I guess I should look for a girl who looks up to Mama Mary as well…

Sanctuary in the Boarding House

It can be difficult living in my boarding house room.

See, the lone bed in my single-occupancy boarding house room is one which has wooden fixtures that serve as shelves and study desks. With that in mind, the bedframe proper is situated over them, requiring a fence and a ladder on one side for safety and accessibility.

I find it tough, having to go up a ladder to get to my bed, though I guess having to sleep on the top bunk of a double decker in my family’s house made me more used to it. But what makes my boarding house bed notably difficult consists of things that can be shown by describing the ladder.

First, though, to have a reference, my height is around five-foot-nine. Now, with that in mind, imagine the ladder being taller than me by a few inches. That’s how high the bed is, and adding to the difficulty is the slant of the ladder, which stands close to ninety degrees. The bed length is also left with a few inches of space once my lying body is there, and the gap between my sitting height and the ceiling is also a few inches long.

The bed’s not the only difficult thing about living in my boarding house room, though.

One thing I enjoy about the boarding house I’m currently staying in is the Wi-Fi. The place doesn’t have a television, but even if a television were there, the presence of Wi-Fi would pull me harder than the presence of a TV.

Now, the struggle I have with the Wi-Fi in the boarding house is how the signal weakens once I’m in my room. Perhaps the walls have something to do with that, but hey, even though I’m not sure about why right now, the Wi-Fi signal is still weak when I’m in my room. My phone can only catch a working signal when I’m sitting close to the door, at least, and although my laptop can catch a working signal better there, it tends to be intermittent, giving me tough times with sudden bouts of disconnection and inaccessibility. With all that, I’m better off being in the common room if I need to use the Internet more efficiently.

I think I’ve complained about those things to my parents before, and I think I’ve mentioned the Internet connection problem to the landlord as well, but I don’t really feel like bothering to complain about those things further than all that.

I mean, with the height between my bed and my study desk, I feel like I can differentiate work and rest much more easily now! Bringing my laptop up to the spot where I should just rest feels more awkward with that setup, and I’d be more comfortable sitting on a chair with the laptop in front of me than trying to curl up while using my laptop within few inches of leeway.

Also, with the weaker Wi-Fi signal in my room, I can better concentrate on doing work that doesn’t need much in terms of Internet connection, particularly homework! And if I need a stronger signal, the common room’s there to serve me better and also keep me more in line, keeping me farther away from certain bad habits I want to quit!

So yeah, I guess that’s why I’ve been getting more used to life at the boarding house. That, and I think prayer has been helping me out pretty well, too. The room’s also conducive for such too, especially with the images of Jesus and Mary on the upper level of my two-level shelf/study desk underneath my bed, images which I let my mother place when we first moved my things into the place.

Still, I gotta keep on putting a good amount of effort towards improving myself. I still struggle with things like getting enough sleep and keeping myself from wasting time on foolish attempts at creative works, things made more obvious by the limits of my room when I try to mess around.

Hm, my room’s quite a training ground, then, no?

Well, with that, God Almighty keep on helping us!

Manners are Always Groovy

Recently, a professor asked me to be quiet during class.

To be more specific, her voice back then when she asked me to do so had some spiking intonations. Her arms would’ve caused banging sounds on the table if she were swinging them down there too.

What did I say back then? Well, that’s not really the point. Maybe it was good, maybe it was bad, but still, that’s not really the point.

I mean, come on, what’s the point of what I said back then if I drove it in right while she was delivering some very important notes to the class?

In other words, I ruined her groove. She did get back into her groove, but I can’t deny that I ruined it. Having a ruined groove sucks very much, you know?

Like, really, I should know, considering how I feel when I myself get interrupted while I’m doing stuff I consider important. It’s like being in the middle of an tough and epic battle in a game like, say, Pokemon, and the battle’s so tough and epic that the time it would take for me before I can save my game data will take a considerable while, but then someone snatches my gaming system while telling me to go do stuff like household chores.

Well, stuff like playing video games aren’t really stuff to classify as important in the grander scale of things right now, but hey, that doesn’t really take the importance of manners away, still. Even if I’d act immature by not understanding you, doing something tactless is still immature and will not help as much as we’d like to think. I can resist retaliating with more immaturity, yeah, but I would still feel the struggle because I’m not being understood well.

I mean, even if Prof sounded pissed back then, she still managed to avoid saying stronger words like “Shut up!” Such a thing likely helped in getting me to control myself better afterwards despite me having to deal with wounded pride, you know?

So yeah, manners and politeness…Now that I think about it, I guess I really take them for granted more than I think, especially considering how I interact with my family when they try to teach me such things. I think about myself and what I think is right too much, inflating my pride and all that, and my pride tends to make a lot of others’ actions seem ruder than they actually are. For example, I groan when they try to point out the importance of seemingly trivial things like who goes first when it comes to introducing people and not making mixture mountains out of my food during fine dining.

Sure, those things seem trivial, but my ignorance of them, if not dealt with properly, will hit me hard and harder once I meet more and more people. I may not know a lot of the consequences right now, but considering my level of social inclination and how people like my parents and one of my brothers are more socially inclined than me, I think crushing my pride and having some faith in others really is a better idea in my life.

And hey, that reminds me of how I need to be more critical of not only my words, but also how I deliver my words. At times, I think that using cruder words would deliver my point better, but there’s such a thing as overkill, and such a thing is as bad as not saying anything at all during the right times, considering my conflicting feelings when I have to listen to people with good points yet crude delivery. At times, I feel as if suddenly cutting in feels groovy, but if I don’t get the other person’s groove, then my groove is more likely to be noise than music, with that interruption incident with my professor being a very good example. And at times, being loud with my fun seems like something to be happy about, but not everyone thinks the same way I do, and I gotta acknowledge things like my parents tapping my shoulder and quietly telling me to keep my volume down.

I still have a long way to go, alright, especially considering how I still feel the sting of the pride that shouldn’t be in me even when my parents ask me to use my indoor voice while expressing their understanding of my inclinations toward increasing my volume whenever I become more enthusiastic.

Now, more about that recent time when my professor asked me to be quiet because I interrupted her very hard, I felt nervousness while being quiet after that despite feeling irritation, particularly when she started talking about some serious social issues. I could feel the understandable yet still toxic wrath at the corruption of society, particularly its leaders, and even though I wanted to say that each of us are leaders in a way as well, I knew that I still have a lot to learn, and that speaking my mind out would likely lead to a bigger explosion that would put the progress of my education in danger.

Indeed, for me to learn manners and politeness better, I have to look at others more than I look at myself. Such reminds me of something I learned in poetry classes, and that something is the importance of learning about tradition before criticizing and experimenting.

And speaking of learning about tradition – particularly in terms of theory – in my studies as a Creative Writing student, it’s like learning manners and politeness, alright. My professors have talked about how most students don’t like learning about that, reminding me of how I also need to have some faith in my professors despite their imperfections, for they know better than I do when it comes to becoming the proper writer I should be. And tradition may not be perfect, but they have tried and tested stuff, and with all that, we aim to work towards improving it more and more.

Some people say that most of us peeps these days don’t use common sense, but if you ask me, I think that we use a form of common sense that needs to be shaped better every single day of our lives.

And before I even try to help in shaping that groovy thing called “common sense” better, why should I claim that I know what being groovy is when I don’t know what others consider groovy? Why should I claim that I understand others when I don’t want to interact with others? Why should I claim that I know what better manners are when I don’t know what society considers good manners?

And why even claim that I’m self-made when my existence in this world is something that never would’ve happened if it weren’t because of others as well?

Yes, moments like these remind me of how essential manners and politeness are in our lives…and learning them better also requires interacting with and learning from others, something which we struggle with a lot because of things like pride.

So yes, God Almighty keep on helping us all, for I don’t think we’d ever end up learning if we don’t have things like faith.

A Certain Weekly Return Commute

It was a Thursday, but the day after it was a Muslim holiday, which also meant a long weekend.

Knowing that, I packed up my dirty clothes into the new traveling bag my maternal grandmother bought for me, a bag which, for convenience, I also brought to the sole class (Professional Writing, taught by a favorite storytelling professor of mine) I had on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Leaving the blue-green bag I used for most school days at the boarding house which I’ve been getting more used to, I also put the stuff I would bring with me to my family’s house into the pink bag I used for such return trips, including a book to read for my leisure in the provincial bus ride part of that expected long ride through the large yet tight roads of Metro Manila.

Though really, yet again, my earphones and the iPod Shuffle it was connected to took most of my leisure attention during said provincial bus ride segment during that day. It wasn’t like the airconditioned bus didn’t have its lights on as the night began covering the sky, nor did I find no fun in finding out more about how local pieces of fiction are doing lately, but I guess I was distracting myself a little too much about what I’ll be doing in the future, thinking about possible music cover projects and fanfiction ideas, stuff that felt easier to do with my favorite music filling my ears…but felt harder to do when I thought about how much stuff I had on my plate already.

Anyway, I still had to keep my attention up for the bus conductor, especially when he started asking for drop-off points, distributing tickets, and collecting fares.

And speaking of paying attention to the bus conductor, I paid him more attention than usual, as he was unable to give me a proper amount of change for a long while. Even if he managed to give me my change by the time the bus had gone past the tollgate to the city where my family and I lived, I don’t think I felt impatience at the level of exploding.

Now that sort of thing makes me think of how much all those long commutes through Metro Manila have made me more reflective. I mean, that time with the conductor wasn’t the first time I had to wait for a very long while for my change, and thinking about it some more now, I guess we’re in the same boat, being people with not enough smaller pieces of money for an easier transaction.

Still, I had more active distractions during that long wait, a wait which took around four hours, a length of time which was longer than the usual one-and-a-half to three hours I went through on one-way trips from my family’s house to my university and vice-versa. That sort of thing reminds me of my dad’s talk about how days like paydays and holidays usually had more traffic, so I guess I should have expected the longer wait, especially since a long weekend was coming.

Now, as for other ways in which I managed to get myself distracted, well, there was the TV, which I looked at while having to look over my shoulder because of how my seat had me facing the back, a part of the unusual seating arrangement of the low-floor bus I was riding. It did make ignoring the TV easier when the show started going boring for me, though. For example, there was a revenge drama at one point, but I did spend some time having my eyes on that, probably because a revenge-centered drama was something I found unusual in Philippine television. Said revenge drama I was watching was showing a confrontation between the deceptive and grudge-holding protagonist woman and the corrupt and crazed politician antagonist man the protagonist was driving crazy, and then there were the presences of the protagonist’s allies interfering with her plans, much to her irritation when they came to rescue her from the crazy politician’s attempts at violating her.

If you find yourself confused by the situation in that show because of my explanation there, well, I guess that’s to be expected from plots involving lots of liars, regardless of whether or not you consider those some of those liars as good people. And to be honest, plots like those are stuff that I want to make fun of through story-writing, because well-intentioned or not, lying is a pitfall that we often fall into.

Also, there was the evening news, but I’ve been paying less attention to news lately, especially when I’m not accompanied by other people who can process the stuff better than I can. Oftentimes, all I want to know are the headlines, as I think that I need to be in the loop somewhat, at least, especially at my age. Still, if it’s interesting enough, then I’ll go deeper past the headline of a news piece. That’s pretty much how I deal with news because most news pieces I encounter are stuff I find particularly draining, and/or stuff that are like hammers driving nails in too much. For example, I find people name-calling other people, and although I can understand why such things would happen and why it would even seem like a good thing, I’ve already found myself tired a lot of times by the hypocrisy of division attempts for the sake of unity, especially since I have noticed myself doing such things before…like those embarrassing comments I left on a bunch of political posts I shared on social media before.

Yes, I thank God very much for having my parents around to help me process such things better…

Oh, and on my commutes, I can’t really use gadgets bigger than my phone, so…yeah, I was also distracting myself with my phone during that Thursday evening. In particular, I was distracting myself with a game there, especially since I couldn’t access the Net much. It was a cat-themed high-score puzzle game, and it’s surprisingly entertaining despite my weak inclination towards high-score games…probably because it’s not fast-paced like infinite runners. That, and it has cats. I like cats very much, you know.

And so, with all those distractions, I managed to endure the pain building up in my rear from all those prolonged hours of sitting until the bus arrived at my stop. At least I hadn’t drank too much water before the trip, or else I would’ve ended up having an awkward time with wet pants again like I did once semesters ago. I had also gotten the proper amount of change from the conductor as well. Then, having enough money to spare and interest in buying some pizza from the recently set-up Papa John’s near where I lived…well, I decided to buy a promo set that consisted of three boxes of pizza, an order I made which ended up requiring me to wait for a shorter yet still considerable while again because of long preparation plus high demand.

Still, the pizza didn’t disappoint. I texted my parents about how I was buying pizza and going to arrive at a later time as well. But at the end of the day, something got me worrying very much, and it wasn’t the whole long commute back home. The problem, well…

I think I’ve been eating too much lately (Again, the pizza didn’t disappoint)…and I need a lot more sleep…which I deprived myself of during that night via extracurricular use of the computer (read: writing a month-end blog post I could’ve written the next day, because hey, months have two ends, and if there’s the end of the month, then there’s the start of the month).

Yup, I still have a long way to go, alright.

God Almighty keep on helping us all.

Spiritual Grinding

A dear aunt of mine who lives in Texas once told me that she and her family doesn’t watch news on TV, and that they also don’t have cable TV. A reason she has for that was how emotionally draining the news could be, making it a waste of time, especially with her still having a lot of self issues to deal with. Instead, she and her family get their news from apps and the Internet, something which had me looking at the Internet in a better light. Of course, she and I still know that the Internet isn’t perfect, considering the usual concerned elder’s warning I kept in mind, which she gave along with comparing it to a dangerous marketplace, something which I responded to by expressing how I likened it to a nightclub.

Recently, though, I remembered that as I was looking for help in dealing with the moral and spiritual struggles I had to face at school. That also got me asking my aunt a question:

“If the emotionally draining stuff you have to deal with isn’t like a TV that you can switch off and put away conveniently, then what do you think would be good ways to deal with such problems?”

My aunt then called that a great question, and then she pointed out how much of a control freak I was, considering all the other stuff I told her about as I sought guidance from her. Then, as a start, she asked to me pray the Serenity Prayer frequently:

“O God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, the sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever.”

As for how I responded to all that, well, I easily took it and thanked my aunt for that. If I were my younger self, though, then I would probably end up doing some more angst-surfing the Net alone in my room and skipping classes while thinking that I’m upholding actual justice for me and society.

Me as I am now still has a long way to go, though. That question I asked my aunt was something that also came out of having to deal with emotionally draining and spiritually challenging stuff at school. I’ve had to listen to professors and schoolmates expressing their discontent towards the government and its vocally foolish supporters yet again, and at a higher frequency too, considering recent incidents. And although I would agree that there are things that the government of my country is not doing well at, I didn’t sit well with the idea of doing things like name-calling and dehumanizing government officials, fellow humans with rights whom we claimed to be fighting for. Those who claimed to be fighting for justice that way ended up looking no different from the ones they considered their enemies, and it was something sickening that also made feel regret towards pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in the university I’m in. They try to fight for the rights of many fellow humans by dehumanizing some fellow humans as well, and the thought of that made me let out bitter laughs.

But you know what I just did there? I was pretty much talking just like they did, portraying fellow foolish humans like they’re hopeless cases. Maybe it’s not as bad as they tend to do, but it’s still bad. I distorted their faces further, faces I’m not trying to understand as much as I should because of my pride that wants to lord my high ground over them – even if I do have the moral high ground – via snappy comebacks and such. I can win the earthly battle that way, sure, but I would lose in the spiritual war that way as well.

If we were to talk about my current state of spiritual affairs in role-playing video game terms, I’m not grinding for experience points well. Like, instead of taking my time on defeating mobs with levels nearer to my own current level until I’m strong enough to handle a boss, I run away from them a lot while still aiming to defeat a boss. That’s also something which I remember doing during one Final Fantasy V playthrough I ended up giving up on years ago.

And so, “Do your ordinary duties extraordinarily well” rings true yet again. The popularly despised homework is also becoming more a source of relief for me, and I find it easier to look for the good within others, even within non-believers. Like grinding in role-playing video games, it can seem tedious, sure, but that would be the case if I don’t have a good end in mind and making sure that I don’t lose my handle on the basic controls and moves I tend to take for granted.

Like, really, the importance of the basics hit me hard when I have to go through things like when I have to deeply think about things like how fiction works in our lives so much that it’s a very important part of our lives, how a short story is different from the novel aside from word count, and why we aspiring creative writers have to learn about the theoretical aspects of creative writing.

So yeah, trying to speak with the help of gaming terms again, all the spiritual chaos I have to deal with from other people at school and the rest of society so far are the mobs. They can overwhelm me if I don’t have a good handle on the basic controls and moves. I know they’ll come around to mess with me, but they still tend to appear suddenly. They’re also easier to deal with when I have allies around, especially allies with varying skillsets.

As for the bosses of spiritual chaos? Well, I think they’re the chaos within me. Defeating mobs and gaining enough experience to fight a boss is like how I manage to face and beat my own faults better. Fighting with the help of a party of allies also becomes more important there, too.

Cheat codes? I don’t think that’s possible here, though, even if I try to scream and beg for such. God’s way better than the best programmers here on earth, and with how He works, there certainly are proper ways to overcome the challenges we face in life, and if we’re unable to find them, then we’re just not trying hard enough.

Like, for example, not letting others help me well. It’s something I’ve done before, even to the point of considering them dead weight. I guess I can say that I was doing technique spamming or using the same moveset over and over like it’s the one true solution to all my problems in life. That sort of thing can be seen in how angsty I’ve been in the past, which involved me that being some edgy nut with a habit of frowning and glaring would burn down all the ill will that others have.

There’s also my rigidity in terms of change, particularly sudden ones, combined with giving in a lot to bad impulses. It’s like being underprepared in terms of items and equipment while also insisting on using a set of equipment that’s less likely to help me beat a certain sort of enemy, and/or just attacking and attacking without taking caution and watching out for the enemy changing their tactics and using my recklessness against me. For example, there’s me still insisting on working on this despite depriving myself of sleep like its some overdue paid work I have to finish, which isn’t what this reflection series is supposed to be. I have a hard time accepting that I have to put aside important yet extracurricular activities like this for another time in favor of more basic yet still important things, like making sure I eat enough, exercise enough, study enough, and sleep enough.

So yeah, I guess the Run option and all those escape spells and items are things I won’t be needing to use very much in my life…

Now, time to get back to grinding…though maybe I should take some time to change equipment, stock up on items, and get some rest first. That, and revise my tactics and strategies as well, especially with the help of my partymates.

Also, God Almighty keep on helping us all.

Fighting with the Fast Pace

I think I have quite a complicated relationship with the fast pace.

First off, childhood had me admiring it because of all those fight scenes and other motion picture scenes which involved a lot of spinning and zipping shots, scenes which emphasized the powers within combatants and the stakes their battles had. Some slow motion shots in between had me appreciating them even more, boosting the figurative skyrocket I was on. Countering a bunch of rushing minions with limb movements just as quick or even quicker was also quite a sight, adding up to my admiration for the faster and nimbler heroes even more.

Indeed, seeing such quick heroes made me want to be like them. I even thought it would be so easy, that I could be as quick as them in a bunch of consecutive blinks and random swings.

I guess God decided to teach me about the responsibilities behind the fast pace by letting me get injured because of me breaking a mirror when I tried to imitate people like Jackie Chan when I was a kid. It wasn’t too bad, though, as I only got out with a scar in my armpit, but now that I look back at it, I think it was quite the start of a bunch of lessons from God about the fast pace.

Now, though, I think back on my moments with the more physical fast pace through the years. The notable ones are moments when I found myself having my eyes widening and looking straight forward, while my hands held on to the backrest of my seat as I rode a car being driven at a speed above the speed limit.

Really, those moments now make me think of how fleeting life can be and how we forget to check how we’re moving at times. I’m also thinking that perhaps the ease in which passengers can tell how manageable the speed of the vehicle they’re riding is something that can remind us of how we need other people at times to straighten us out and all that. It’s easy for us to get lost in our own ego, and it’s hard for us to get out of it, you know.

Heh, that also reminds me of a recent experience I had with a tricycle as I went back to my boarding house. At one point, the tricycle I was riding went faster than I was used to, and I was having doubts about whether or not such a speed was within the speed limit in the area. I felt like I could fly out and roll and bounce on the road if I didn’t hold on to something tightly enough, and I wanted to take some time to express my doubts to the driver, but I was more frozen by the fear which caught me as fast as the tricycle was going.

Hm, perhaps things like that are why I’m less interested in action shows now. They also remind me of the responsibility which comes with power, too, and they make me wanna slow down, pause, and/or stop for a while to think about how I’ve been handling myself and how I’ve been utilizing and developing my talents and skills.

Ah, and I remember how I’ve been so much in a rush to gain fame and control and all that. I remember my past attempts at blogging and posting creative works online, stuff which involved a lot of embarrassing stuff like overly direct attempts at poetry and trope-overdosed attempts at fiction, stuff that weren’t revised very much as well. That, and how nosey I was when it came to dealing with other people and their troubles, something which still bothers me today. Like, it reminds me of the people I tend to face in uni, people who are quite emotional about the problems of society, so much that me trying to shut them up would just make me hypocritical…and such moments are moments when I find a force stronger than mine sending me from motion to zero motion.

In other words, those moments are the moments when I crash.

Yeah, such are my struggles with the fast pace. And up until now, I haven’t even mentioned people reminding me a lot about the importance of talking slower, especially in the typical speech routines.

Now, if we’re to talk about the things which first come to my mind when the fast pace is mentioned, there’s that one song by K-Pop boyband Seventeen, which now reminds me of how I also have struggles with the fast pace in terms of developing the romantic part of my life. I do see myself having a family of my own in the future, but I’ve let the fast pace become an obstacle to me there. As much as I think and say that I don’t like being carried away by the thought of being lame as a virgin and such stuff, I’m pretty much being carried away by that sort of flawed thinking, which is probably because of me wanting to skip the tough stuff in finding truly good people to have in my life.

Heh, I guess the tangle that is my ideas regarding my ideal type of girl makes some more sense now, then. And I thank God some more for the rejections and turn-offs I’ve had in the past, too.

Oh, and I guess there’s that piece of childhood left within me, considering how I still like fast-paced rock songs like the ones from the Kagerou Project. Though with how such songs have gotten me through life, I guess their influence is okay as long as they don’t work in a way that will lead me to ruin. Like, I shouldn’t be acting at the level of a stalker looking through binoculars on someone I like every single second of every single day, if you get what I mean.

Yup, I do think the fast pace can be good at times. But hey, I think such a pace fits better in bursts or a few moments with intervals that are quite far from each other. It’s like using nitrous boost in clearer and straighter roads in racing video games, drawing from my experience with such games.

And as an attempt at presenting a more concrete example of using the fast pace well, I think making my mind skip out on processing some others’ rants that I don’t need to take to heart so much is something that I need a lot more than I think. Into one ear and out of the other, as I’ve been told before.

Also, my fast-paced talking moments and the reminders about me that often annoyed me have inspired me to try rapping. Whether others like it or not, I can see potential in it, and I think I feel a calling coming from there too, especially with me wanting to put my fast-paced talking to better use.

Hm, maybe my relationship with the fast pace isn’t as complicated as I thought.

Still, I gotta learn a lot more. Whatever I should be in the future, be it a martial artist or a rapper or some other occupation, I still gotta learn my way towards reaching that, especially with the help of other people…and God, of course.

So yeah, God Almighty help us again. 🙂