On Identity

So the other day while I was shopping a woman suddenly approached me and spoke to me pleasantly in a language I don’t understand. I felt bad that I had to embarras her but I said, “I am sorry but I don’t speak that language.”
She seemed surprised and asked me in English,”Aren’t you Filipino?”
“No, I am afraid not.”
And this is not the first time I was mistakenly thought as a Filipino although this was the first time I was approached in their language…a Tagalog, I presume? Other times people usually asked first, “Excuse me, are you Filipino?”
My husband has a similar experience. Only people often thought him as Pakistani or Indian. Haha…very funny…:D. And yes once…oh no…twice actually when he was suddenly approached by a complete stranger speaking in a languange he does not understand because he was thought from a certain nationality.
My friend, a Vietnamese girl asked me once,”So, if we don’t know each other would you know if I am Vietnamese?
She was a bit disappointed when I told her no I would not know. I could easily thought her as Chinese or Thai or even Japanese.
“Not even from my built, my accent, or the way I dress?” She pursued.
Sorry but the answer is still no.
And the same case are exactly the same with my Caucasian friends. Even if they seem to know how to differentiate…let’s say…an American from an Australian or a Swedish…that case would not apply to me. For me they would look the same….white, and tall, with blondish or brownish hair…and bluish eyes.
So yeah…I guess in one way or another we often look similar to other people than not.
If only people focus more on our
similarities than our differences…:).

image

Kindness and Devotion

I just want this to be a reminder for myself:

These days, Clarissa believes, you measure people first by their kindness and their capacity for devotion. You get tired, sometimes, of wit and intellect; everybody’s little displays of genius. (From ‘The Hours’ by Michael Cunningham)

In my line of work I am always surrounded by smart, intelligent people. I guess it’s just part of the job that I am working in. And yes, smart people are often attractive and intellectually stimulating. They are witty, charming, confident, funny, and always seem to know what to say about all kinds of things.
But I guess, yeah, I guess I just forgot that at the end of the day, none of those really matter anymore. At the end of the day, you will realize that no smart conversation can surpass the kindness and devotion from the people who cares about you the most…☺

image

Inside and Outside

Age

(by A.S.J Tessimond)

Do men grow wholly old

Unknowing, tire of living

Grow deaf as pulse grow faint

Dream, and in dreams depart

Or do they wake, feel cold

And hear – a salt sea grieving

In landlocked, long complaint

The all too youthful heart

I am not sure if I can call myself an old person…:-). But I don’t think the adjective ‘young’ is something that can honestly be applied to describe me. Why is it that what we feel inside often do not correspond to the way we look? Why can’t the two of them (the inside and outside of ourselves) be synchronized? The increasing number of our wrinkles or our grey hair do not necessarily makes us feel as old accordingly. Disturbing? Yeah, I think so. But how exactly you tune in your feelings for old age? Is there some kind of a tuning device that you can adjust inside you, the way we adjust the air conditioning or the heater according to the weather? When…let’s say…you reach 65 years old age…can you adjust something inside you and tell yourself…”Feel…65!” How you tell yourself to feel according to your age? How can we measure the way we feel according to the progression of the length that we live in this world?

It’s true that how life treats us will often contribute to our exterior. Our sadness, stress, loss, disappointment, anger, all play important roles into our well being.  I believe that as people get older, the sense of responsibility and maturity will follow. No matter what you do, they show in your eyes. And of course, there’s gravity…;-).

I’m just thinking, will it makes easier for you if the inside and outside of yourself get more compatible? More synchronized? Will it makes you experience less disappointment? Will it makes you be able to look in the mirror and feel less cheated? Do you look in the mirror and feel surprised that you think…Hmm, that’s not how I see myself, that face does not represent me. Do we have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde inside us?

dianearbus teenage couple

Photograph by Diane Arbus

Once In A Lifetime

Some things happen only once, twice in a lifetime. The world is full of signs and wonders that come, and go, and if you are lucky you may be alive to see them. (From “H is For Hawk” by Helen Macdonald)

Yes I know. And I am grateful for that. But maybe, could You also tell me why they happened to me in the first place? Will You finally will reveal the reasons? When? Someday? Or do You think I should stop wondering and just be thankful to get a chance to experience them? I am sorry, I just want to believe that they happened for a reason. An important reason. A meaningful one. I will be waiting for Your answer. I will be patient. But is it okay if I will remind You again about this someday? I know You wouldn’t mind…:-). Well, maybe later I will ask You again. Will keep in touch…:-)

Life’s Mystery and Revelation

“Life is like that. There’s always more, always a reveal.” Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

I can’t believe this is the end of the year again. Well you know what they say…time flies. When we read a book, or watching a movie, we kind of expect that the answers would be revealed at the end of the story. So we read and watch the movie patiently, knowing that there’s a reward for our patience at the end of the book or the movie; a reward in the form of revelations, of answers, understanding, and even closure. And we feel good knowing the answers, even when the revelations are not really what we expect them to be. But knowing is always a big reassurance.

I wish I can say the same about life. I think you will agree with me that life is a real big mystery to us all, with so many twists in its plots, so many surprises along the way, so many cliffhangers, if we may borrow those terms from a story telling devices. But life is a story…THE STORY that we have to play along with scripts that keeps changing, with us often in complete darkness as how it will turn out at the end.

So yes, this is the end of the year again. But does it mean that we are going to be rewarded with more revelations? I really hope so. For you who already get a glimpse of those unveiling of mysteries in your life, I am happy for you. I really do. Congratulations…:-). But for you, who like me, are still in the dark…well what can I say. We’re at the same boat, I guess…:-). It’s true though, and we have to admit, some of the mysteries are answered. If our life is a sitcom – a dark comedy perhaps (I prefer to look at it that way, knowing that God loves to make jokes with our lives), we know that some revelations are already given to us in our previous ‘seasons’…haha. Maybe by now we understand why we don’t end up marrying our first love, or why we fail to apply to our dream job…:-D. Gosh, it felt good…the revelations.

But yes, life is not over. Our story still continues. And so are the mysteries and the plot twists, the cliffhangers, and the surprises. Brace yourself knowing that the scripts will keep changing. There’s always hope I guess, that at the end we will finally understand. At least I really have a big hope for that. And faith too.

Memento (the Movie): Time, Memory, and Survival

So how…how can I heal? How am I supposed to heal if I can’t…feel time? Leonard Shelby from “Memento” (the movie)

Yes, exactly. How do we move on without time on our side? Memento, a movie by Christopher Nolan, with Guy Pierce in its leading role, explores the themes of time, memory, and healing. I watched it and felt grateful to have the time as my ally in this life. I know that for most of us, time often represents something very powerful at work which we can’t control. Often we feel helpless in our struggle with time. We can’t stop it, we can’t make it move slower, we can’t put it on hold, we can’t push the pause button in time, if there’s such a button. But exactly, time doesn’t have a pause button, or a rewind button. It just keeps moving, and moving forward, unstoppable.

With time moving continuously forward, at its full speed, unstoppable, often it makes us feel out of breath as we try to keep up with its unmerciful movement, pushing us to keep running, and running, while at the same time we try to remember so much about our lives and  put our best efforts to enjoy and be present at the present at the same time, without, admittedly, much success.

Time has its penchant for always reminding us that no matter how hard we try to beat it, we just can’t win. Simply by looking in the mirror, we will see how time has passed from the number of wrinkles in our face and the grey hairs in our head. And we often wonder, gosh, I am old! How time flies! What have I achieved? Do I live a meaningful life? Aaaarrghh, how much time do I have left? Oh no. No. No. No.

But unlike Leonard Shelby, the protagonist in the movie Memento, who can’t feel time because of his condition, we are not trapped in our last memory. We can move forward, with the time as our reminder, we can grasp how many moments in our lives that we have left behind. And sometimes, yes, it is reassuring to know that something happened in the past. It feels good to be able to say that yes, it did happen but it was how many years ago? Two…or three years ago now? It is empowering to be able to put a label which says ‘the past’ in so many moments in our lives. Because then we can take a deep breath, and say to ourselves, it’s been that long, and yes, it means that we have to leave it there.

the_persistence_of_memory_-_1931_salvador_dali

The Melting Clocks (or The Persistence of Memory) by Salvador Dali

Moments, Experiences, Meanings

This quote reminds me of how many moments in our lives just slip away unnoticed…because we fail to live in the moment. We worry too much about the future, or let the past imprison us. We may have the experience, but it just passes us by, before we can quite grasp the meaning. Well, we can never turn back the clock, can we? I think the hope lays in our ability to contemplate, to revisit memories, in our reminiscence of all of our past experiences. Maybe then we can understand the meaning of it…and finally we can close the circle…:-).

We had the experience but missed  the meaning,

And approach to the meaning restores the experience

In a different form, beyond any meaning

We can assign to happiness.

From Four Quartets by T.S.Eliot (1888-1965)