Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Why Do I Write Again?

I had forgotten why.

I ignored the muse many times this month because I could not find time for writing. It was painful. I let my pen and paper be squeezed at the bottom of my workload, and it took me some pulling out, whittling down and sickness before I got to them again. To my surprise, when I finally got hold of them, I felt like I no longer know how to write.

My writing skills seemed to have deteriorated. Every day I would be in a room full of space, and have a desk waiting. There, I would sit and write. But not write at all. Not a single word appealed to me and whenever any did, it won't be of beauty. It was a huge writer's block. In those barren days, I saw my writing skills molting before me. And it was because I neglected it, left it in a corner, and forgot about it for a long time.

Or perhaps, it wasn't really about my writing skills.

The black ink resembled my mood. Empty papers felt familiar. And the drear blinks of the cursor resounded the rhythm of my week. Man, it was me all along. I wanted words, but they weren't coming because I was pulling them out from a void or an empty cavern. I was the one deteriorating, the one molting, the one who was empty.

Why do I write again? was the question.

I turned to God for answers. Then I talked to people. Then I rested. Then read books. And read books. And read more books. Then finally, I remembered what I have forgotten.

I forgot the joy of expressing myself with art, of creating a world and bringing my readers in it, of listening to people and immortalizing their stories in paper.

I forgot love.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

When the Breeze Blew the Poppies

I had a busy day, running with time in the city.

Something was wrong with our office's management, and all we could do was work, floating along the waves created by their huge hands. My brows furrowed almost every single day without my command. Every night, I yearned for peace. For solitude. For an escape. Until that night came when I had to just sleep all the exhaustion away.

Four hours.

Six hours.

Eight.

I opened my eyes. Such a bright sky. Birds from afar were singing while clouds ambled over me, looking pure and fluffy as usual. I lifted my hand and traced one cloud with my finger. I formed a dolphin. I giggled.

Wait.

I flapped my arms, as if making a snow angel. I realized, I was lying, not in my bed, but in a meadow - cool, sweet-scented meadow. How did I get here?

I sat bolt upright, and looked around me. I was a dot in a huge space of meadow embellished with chamomile. That part from afar had colorful poppies sticking out, though.

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

I was dumbfounded, awestruck for quite a long while. Not blinking. Unflinching at the peace that was welling in me. I just could not believe I was there. I looked up again to see the sky's splendor, and noticed the rays of the sun peeking out of a cloud.

That was holy and grand.

I lingered at this some more, mouth agape and rarely moving.

Then came the breeze.

And woke me up.

Drifted

I've been walking for two hours now.

No, I've been shuffling. The sky is dark. The streets are messy as always. Cars whiz past beside me with their exhaust puffing out black, dirty - disgustingly dirty - smoke. But I do not care.

I look straight ahead, but my mind's falling - a listless body that surrenders to gravity - in his world. I have found it hard to enter his world, his new world.

For 8 years, we had known every inch of each other. We knew each other's thoughts even before we spoke them. We talked through stares and gestures only we could understand. But things changed as soon as our feet landed on the bigger world, the real world. In our school and university, we would always cross paths even when we didn't like it. But when we finally had the choice, when we started moving in a much larger space and be with a multitude of people, we began losing each other. He began working, and I too. From then on, we drifted apart, slowly vanishing behind the walls of his hospital and my office.

You see, I've never really known his world. And I will never. So perhaps, my mind isn't exactly in his world at this moment. It is in the possibilities. And this path has more thorns.

And It hurts more.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Story Isn't Ready Yet


Is your story ready to be written?

I realized, there are stories that aren't ready to be written yet. This means that the blame shouldn't always be placed upon the writer (or better not to blame anything or anyone at all).

Some writers aren't publishing a book yet not because they're sluggish or undisciplined or uninspired. In fact, they might be regularly sitting on clouds, talking face-to-face with the muse about their dreams. Their fingers are itchy, their body bursting with eagerness to spend hungry afternoons and sleepless nights for writing, and their head - their head brims with beautiful words which occasionally spill out but! The words are rather empty. No form. No sense. A beautiful waste. The thing is, these writers could already be carrying a story in their head - a baby in their womb - and it's not coming out yet because it isn't ready yet. Stories undergo gestation too, and it usually is painful.

After Finding You (chance to plug!), I found myself coming in and out of the messiest folder in my laptop which I named Book, and flicking through the less-than-half- to half-full pages of my MS Word files. In it are snippets, drafts and outlines of book ideas which were once exciting and sparkling, but now look corny and banal. You see, I have been spending time squeezing my brain and creative juices out for a second book only to come up with a useless material. Well, not at all useless. These could be pieces of what's coming.

Actually, the idea of Finding You was formed, bit by bit, through my prior book ideas. I entitled one book as Haven in my Pocket. I intended it to be handy and its words, to have an air of peace. It was supposed to be written for busy men and women in the city, but I failed to convince myself that I could pull it off. Another was a novel about a monastery where when one enters, one cannot leave (creepy, isn't it?). Another was about a man who taught a street child how to read and write, and which eventually led to building a foundation for street children (it's my dream!). Well, I guess all books are like Voltes V, having a head, trunk, and limbs controlled by five different humans with different stories.

So yeah, be patient. Let the desire nest in your heart then live more. Practice more. Stew ideas more! In Ecclesiastes, it was said that there is an appointed time for everything - and it includes your book! But you know what? I believe, it's already there. It's just that...the story isn't ready to be written yet.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Are you a bit unhappy?


I wonder why everything feels bleak these past few days.

Looking at 'me' from the top view, life seems to be going nicely. No huge problem, whatsoever. No enemies. I get tired and my tooth aches occasionally, but yeah. Just that. It's a mystery how, for some reason, I catch myself frowning at nothing in particular. My mind cannot help but succumb to plain dullness, and every night, I flinch at a pang of yearning for something I cannot identify yet.

Oh, why? Why am I so unhappy?

After praying, I always go to my books for answers. Just this afternoon, I pulled a couple of them from my shelf - one tells a love story, another's about prayer, and the thick one's about creativity. Funny how I just left them all lying pell mell on my study table afterwards then grabbed the broom instead, and swept the floor. I realized, the presence of books told me that I wasn't ready for them because my mind was still messy.

Sweeping was effective. I decided to resolve by listing things that remind me how to be happy. After I collected our house's trash and dusts, I reckoned that humans tend to forget. All the time.
Some of what I put here are from Jason Silva's Shots of Awe. Maaan, this philosopher guy's amazing! You have to subscribe, so you'll get to pick some of his brain.


1. Be in awe. 

You don't wait for 'awe,' you find it. Where? It's in the tiniest details of things. You have to spot that fine detail that reveals a spectacular complexity that lives and makes things operate - such beauty that creates a world of its own. And once you're submerged in it, revering it...you have found 'awe.' (Bonus: Remember that God made it for someone - you.)

2. Remember gratitude.

Do you know who you are? Or where you are in space and time? You are this dot that form the universe. Without that dot, which is you, the universe would be different. And this universe you're standing on is full of life. It cradles in itself 'life' of different hues, forms, mystery, wonder and intelligence. Whoa! Look around you. See, it's a good life.

3. Do something novel.

Jason Silva said that when you're chasing happiness, you're actually chasing novelty. When you say you want to be happy, you're actually saying you want something new or more. New things make life exciting. It's a new streak, a new color, a new word on your notebook or canvas. New things make a difference, and for us, difference may mean progress or chance or power because it narrows our options. Good news: most of the time, novelty is in your hands.

4. Initiate acts of kindness.


It's innate. You feel good about yourself when you do something good. Why? Because it's who you are. You are created by a good God, so you are good by nature. That's why it's who you peacefully accept you are. Do compliments sound sweeter than criticisms? Praises are better than insults, of course. But setting words-as-a-reward aside, an act of kindness itself refreshes the heart.

Lastly, I think, is to see a picture of you where you look happy. Like really happy. Mine's this. I still remember every bit of this moment's peace and bliss.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Why She Cried When He Died


I opened my eyes to mornings, knowing you'll be around - probably beside me, still sleeping. Or somewhere in the living room or kitchen, starting your day.

It had just been the two of us, with no child to think about - God's mystery - but at least, with a foster daughter whom your sister sometimes brought to our care. Years made me grow so familiar with every inch of you. You and me. Your skin and my skin. Your clothes and my clothes. Your school of fish in the aquarium and the dishes I cooked which you liked - and of course, our house where many family reunions turned into a blast.

But here you are now, lying behind this glass, in a barong you didn't know we bought you. You're seemingly smiling - even seemingly peaceful - but for me, you have just become beyond reach in all sense. Your body which I've known for years is now solely a vessel, an object that remains still, wilting, turning into ashes. This glass seems to draw an end to us - no more hugs, no more kisses, no more scent that only your body owns.

I am asking, how will I face the following days? Of waking up beside an empty space on our bed, of eating with an empty chair, of keeping empty clothes that would no longer need some washing.

Things will change.

Things have to change.

And life will be new not only for me...
but also for you.

*For my aunt who grieves, and for my uncle, her husband, who reads this from heaven.*

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Your Hands Are Smaller

When I was young, my hands were small and I wasn't realizing that.

I would compare my father's hands to mine and think that they were basically the same. I did not know why I couldn't wring the clothes, wash plates, and arrange things as easily as his hands did.

"Papa, why can't I do what your hands can? I have ten fingers, you have ten fingers. I have palms, you have palms. We even have almost the same creases! But why can't things fit in my hands as nicely as into yours?" I asked.

Papa laughed then spread his hand over mine. "Because your hands are smaller, Elaine."

My hands were smaller.

I have grown older now. I have bigger hands. I can wring clothes, wash plates, and arrange things almost as easily as my father's (now) old hands can. But I think, when it comes to other things, I haven't totally outgrown the idea...

My hands are smaller than God's, and I do not realize it.