Friday, April 29, 2016

Bare and Naked.

I was told from a very young age that any piece of writing I produce would always have a piece of me in it. I could try to create 100 completely different fictional characters and at the end of it, every character would still contain a piece of me. Because I can try my best to draw a picture of being in someone else’s shoes, but a the end of it, the only shoes that I would ever have had the chance to walk in is my own. So, I can try to take in someone else’s perspective as the basis of my stories, but in the end that will only be a copy, a reflection. Because the only perspective I will ever get to experience first hand in life is my own. 

I think this applies to not only writers, but artists in general. To create a piece of art that moves, it requires an outpour of heart and soul. Because if what makes your art speaks is the piece of you put in that art, then something needs to be outpoured into your masterpiece for it to actually become one. 

But this outpouring process… man! This isn’t something easy to master. I think “master” is perhaps not the right word to apply in this case. It isn’t something easy to embrace. The thing with outpouring is that, you will have to show who you are in your art. I’m still scared of this a lot of times. It gets me giddy and jittery every time I had to post my poem on my Instagram. Even as I’m writing this blog post, I get nervous still. 

Outpouring is real. And being real can be terrifying. But I have to be real. If I want to write things that really speak to the hearts of many, they need to speak from my heart first. There needs to be honesty, an essence of truth - my truth -  plastered all over my artwork. Which means, I have to show the world a little bit of who I am in every work of art I produce. You have to show the world a little bit of who you are in every work of art you produce. 

A little bit of that person you have grown to love,
a little bit of that shameful past you have been trying to deal with for a while, 
a little bit of your stubbornness, 
a little bit of your fear,
a little bit of your perfectionism, 
a little bit of your insecurity about your weight and appearance, 
a little bit of your hatred towards your arrogant friends, 
a little bit of the dreams you have been wanting to reach since you were a kid, 
a little bit of the things you hate to encounter, 
a little bit of your favorite lyrics,
a little bit of your favorite books, 
and so forth. 

The list is endless. 

To bare this out to the world is no difference than being sort of “naked”. Exposed, out in the open. And for once, to some extend, we reached a point where we are simply vulnerable before the world. Giving the world a chance to enter the parts of our lives we have so dearly kept, only to give them a taste of true art. Crazy, right! What makes our works of art a masterpiece is simply how far we allow our works to get a taste of who we really are. The more of ourselves are poured into it, the stronger it will be when it comes to moving people. 

When I really think about this, I came to this conclusion: That if every piece of art, at the very core, is a display of a part of ourselves, then the better we can showcase what makes us who we are, in a way that is relatable and moving to the world, the stronger our masterpieces will be. 

This outpouring process is a process that we need to embrace as artists of any kind. To be vulnerable and to be okay with everything that makes us who we are, including all the guilt and shame. It doesn’t mean we don’t deal with them, but we simply feel okay to expose them to the world up to a certain extend, just to show that we understand. And that at the end of it, our works of art are mere vessels to give others a voice. To be honest and open about what we feel, what we believe. To be okay with our own skin and to find that being enough simply means accepting the skin you’re in. 

To be real. 

To be bare and naked before the world. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cliches and Growing Up

I have a love-hate relationships with cliches. It’s like things you say that don’t even mean anything anymore. And it’s not because they don’t mean anything, it’s just the fact that it has been used too often. But like I said, love-hate relationship. On the other end of that, is how I still believe that they become cliches in the first place because they are so true to begin with. How else could you overuse something if they have never been used in the first place? 

So, here is a classic of all the classic cliches we have come to know: 

To grow older is inevitable, but to grow up is a choice. 

Highly overused, highly ineffective and to some extend, it has become highly meaningless (especially when said on birthdays!). But, I got the chance to sit down and think about this throughout this week. And I hate to admit, but this is true. I can’t keep myself from growing older in age, but I can make up my mind to grow up. And I don’t know, it just got me thinking even more. If growing up was a choice to begin with, what kind of choices should I make?

This is what I end up with: 

1. Community 

The first decision that grown ups do is to choose the right relationships. They hang out with the right people and they are not afraid to cut off those relationships that are destructive. See, the way I observe it is that the people that I look up to, their communities are so healthy. They get that they need to act as mentors and role models to friends that are way under their age. They get that those who are in fact within the same range of age, are those they should most closely associate themselves with, allowing them to be stretched and shaped together, side-by-side. And the ones that are older, those are their mentors. The people they need to look up to. 

People that grow up know these relationships and they are willing to grow in those relationships. Friendships between junior high kids should be totally different to friendships between college students, and even all the more different to friendships between working people and families. But if we are unwilling to grow up and allow our friendships to elevate, in terms of transparency, support and just being more and more brutally honest about each other (because that’s how the world works!) as you grow older, then what’s the point?

Proverbs 13: 20 (MSG)
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

2. Perspective. 

The second decision: perspective. People that grow up realize that they need to learn to change their perspective. I think it’s a lot like wearing glasses. So many of us thinks that you can’t adjust your glasses. Technically you can’t, because you have to go to an optician to actually change its sizes. But it is still adjustable. The willingness to change the lenses will change what we see. This is what grown ups do! They understand that the way they see things need to be changed as their age grows. 

The more I observe mature people, the more I see that perhaps what makes them mature at the core is because they assess situations from all possible sense that are outside of themselves, and then at the end of it they close in to a focal point of their own judgment upon the situation. And this focal point matters. Because if they close in too soon, they become a selfish person. But if they don’t close in at all, they will become naive. So, people that want to grow up will do their best to find the balance between how far should they rely on their own feelings and opinions and how far should they let others put a case in point. 

Which, I think, takes a lot of intentional discipline to get there, since we are all selfish, to some extend, at our core. 

Proverbs 28: 25-26 (CEV)
Selfish people cause trouble, but you will live a full life if you trust the Lord. Only fools would trust what they alone think, but if you live by wisdom, you will do all right.

3. Effort

Last one: effort. People in general count the cost of their visions and dreams, but grown ups actually make sure that they have put in enough effort to pay the cost. 

What I love about grown ups is they understand totally where their limitations are and yet they don’t stop doing things to pursue what they want to achieve. And this ranges from just a simple career goal, to a world-size dream. People that grow up know that as their age grow up, the effort they need to put in for their life to work must be greater too. Even Spiderman gets this: with great power comes great responsibility. That’s right! Older, stronger, more knowledgable, more freedom to access so many things and opportunities in life. Of course this comes with a great cost. 

Counting the cost is one thing, because even 5 year-olds can count money. Even little kids know they have to work hard to get somewhere, but only a few are actually willing to work hard for it. What I see is that, for example, they know for a long distance friendship to work, they need to make the effort to catch up. They know that when you are putting the effort to be honest, you will not get in trouble. The list goes on. 

Luke 12:48 (MSG)
Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

So, apparently you can be entering your mid 50s and still have the mentality of a 5 year-old. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Kobe, Basketball and Other Legends

“If you love the boring,  agonizing process 
then you know you found something true to you” 
-Kobe Bryant-

April 13th, 2016. What a historical day for basketball! The Golden State Warriors broke Chicago Bulls’ record on getting the most wins in a season (73-9). Stephen Curry, perhaps the best player in the league right now, broke the record of scoring his 400s three-point in a single season. And the biggest one of all, is Kobe Bryant playing his very last game with the Lakers, scoring 60 points and a victory over the Utah Jazz (101 -86). 

Man, KOBE. I have no words. I legitimately cried watching him take his last walk into and out from the court for the last time. The speeches and tributes done by other people for him and his final words before leaving the court got me tearing up. I don’t think he could’ve ended his career any better. I think it was a perfect way to exit the game that he has grown to love so much for good. What can I say? I love basketball, I really do.

The first time I was introduced to basketball was when I was in elementary school. I learned that there was a ball that was made to bounce. That you were meant to run and allow it to bounce with you within your hands, as you draw yourself closer to the ring and take a jump to aim for a point. It was the best game ever since. I can’t quite describe it and I was never really that good at it either. But there’s always this adrenaline rush of fitting into the rhythm of the game and just feeling it. Dribbling the ball and shooting it, especially when the ball splashes into the ring. Oh, the sound it makes! It’s one of the greatest satisfactions in life, I tell you. 

So yeah, Kobe retiring got me feeling sad and a bit emotional. But deeper than that, was a feeling of great admiration and inspiration upon this amazing basketball player. I was praying a lot about dreams during this week and watching someone like Kobe Bryant pouring all that he has for something he is passionate about was overwhelming, in the best way I could describe. 

Shouldn’t we all be doing what Kobe did? Shouldn’t we all be pouring our lives for something greater than ourselves? This is what makes him a legend. He understood what it takes for someone to become one. Which is to push through, stay within the process and not give up. Break one standard after another, creating new barriers to break. Legends weren’t made to dream small and remain stagnant in their life accomplishments. Legends also weren’t made to dream big by becoming a couch potato. But legends were made by constant, continuous, relentless, passionate hard work. 

Legends, they are serious about what they want to pursue. They don’t let this burning desire to be the best die before they actually become one. I was so moved by the heart that Kobe showed for basketball, I came to a point that I was almost embarrassed because I was asking myself: Have I shown enough heart for Jesus, who has not only gave His heart for me, but His entire life for the sake of my eternal well-being? 

Basketball didn’t give anyone anything. I love the game simply because it’s the best game ever (bias, much?). I bet Kobe Bryant loves the game simply because he loves it. I don’t think he can quite describe it in ways that will fully comprehend the love he has for basketball. If we, as flawed human beings, can show such deep passion for something, that is merely made of a ball and two poles with rings and baskets, how much more capable we should be to love something that has given up so much for us. How much more capable we should be to show our love for Jesus.

Legends in God’s Kingdom go all out. Legends like Paul, Peter, David, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Abraham, John, the list goes on. They didn’t hold back. They stayed in the process and remained steadfast for God. What allowed them to do this was their love for Christ. They were passionate about Jesus and the cause of His Kingdom. This is why they ended up being world changers. I don’t know about you, but I want to be legendary. I want to be a legend in God’s Kingdom. 

“So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. 
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, 
you will receive what He has promised.” 
Hebrews 10: 35-36

Friday, April 8, 2016

Logically Illogical.

We overthink. 

As much as this statement probably doesn’t apply to everyone, but I believe it does to most of us. Be it conscious or unconsciously, we push our minds to think of things we are not yet able to figure out. We put pressures upon ourselves to decipher something we can’t even define, yet. 

So, I was sitting down with a scrap paper that’s half full of scribbles wondering what to write about. And this grand, ever overwhelming word: FUTURE. I was almost laughing to myself because I never really pondered on the weight that this word holds. We say it, fret about it, cry about it, get depressed about it and even perhaps commit suicide because of it, all the time. Its usage bears no resemblance to how powerful this word can be when it comes to living a meaningful life while discovering the meaning of life altogether. 

I came to this reflection that we worry too much about the future, don’t we? We think about it too much. I think some days we don’t have any spaces left in our heads to think about anything else but the future. And I’m not even talking about those grand future schemes, of who we will become in 10 or 20 years from now. I’m talking about the simplest thoughts about the future, which can be about tomorrow or the next hour, maybe even the next minute. 

The thing with future is that it’s called the future because it is yet to come. It is not here yet. It is about something after the present. There’s a reason why it is called the future because we’re not quite there yet. The problem with this concept is that there is no way we can know for sure about the future if we’re not there yet. It is humanly impossible for us to be sure about anything when it comes to the future because the very essence of future is uncertainty and unknown. If we know what’s going on, it’s not the future. It is “for the time being” and the “present”. 

See, we are hurting ourselves when we do this. We are placing our minds to figure out things that are not within the reach of our dimensions. The future was never made to be figured out in the present, therefore it is called the future. The present is meant to be figured out now, that’s why we call it the present. How in the world did we even begin to think that we can comprehend and define something that is outside of our time and space? 

It’s like a loophole without an exit route. We think about it, we can’t figure it out, we stressed out, we think about it some more, we still can’t figure it out, we get stressed out even more, and so forth, with its degree of intensity going up at every loop. But we’re not supposed to figure it out, right? So why are we even putting efforts to figure it out in the first place? 

This is one of the things that I don’t understand about human logic. It completely, fully understands what it serves, which is to make sense of things. To serve as a foundation for us humans to operate as sensible and reasonable beings. I believe our logic tells us that the future is not possible to be defined. Predicted, maybe. But not defined and figured out. Predictions are merely guesses about the future that are sometimes true and sometimes false. Still holding uncertainty though, because if it is certain then it is a fact, not a prediction. What we call as fact isn’t based on the future, but of the past and present. So, we can’t figure out the future with facts because we need to figure out things according to its dimension of time and space, right? Context, that’s the fancy word for it. And facts are a thing of the past and present, not of future. 

So, while we know that it is logical to conclude that it is illogical to figure out the future, we still try to figure it out. I guess this makes us illogical, smart people. (Or mere humans facing a hard time to accept that some things are just beyond our control. For example: the future.)

Matthew 6:34 (MSG)

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, 
and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. 
God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up 
when the time comes.