Have a good life

I’m back from a much needed break. I went to Singapore and spent time with friends, visited Gardens by the Bay and took photos of the flowers in the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.

I had promised myself and my husband that after this trip, I would focus on working on a project that needs my undivided attention for it to be completed this year. This means I have to forgo my hobby of writing for now, and that means no WordPress.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoy viewing these photos I took in Singapore. Until we meet again. ūüôā

 

Goodbyes

GOODBYES1

Some goodbyes are sweet —¬†
You smile and hug and kiss 
And say the word, believing
That you’ll be better people¬†
When you see each other again. 

Some goodbyes are bitter —
You turn your back 
Perhaps with tears 
Or with a frown, hoping 
You’ll never have to see each other again.¬†

Some goodbyes are not meant to be —
You think it is over 
That the last chapter has been written
And another one cannot be added. 
But then a sequel is started. 

‚Ä®Some goodbyes are inevitable —¬†
You hate to part 
You know you shouldn’t¬†
But you’re not characters in a book¬†
Or lovers in a rom-com….

These goodbyes leave you feeling cold and empty 
Like a house stripped 
Of every furniture, curtain and picture,
Of every sign of being lived in, 
And all that’s left is a hollow sound¬†

And the echo of one’s sigh¬†
And the memories of a voice…

Such is the goodbye that, in my ear,
You gently whispered
As you kissed away 
A tear on my cheek 
And softly,
Quietly

Left me
For good. 

*****

“Love is so short, forgetting is so long..” is a line from one of my favorite¬†Neruda poems, “Tonight I can Write.” I think it’s a beautifully sad poem that captures not only the¬†pain one feels at the thought that love has gone, but also the courage to imagine that the person one has loved so passionately will eventually move on.

Tonight I can Write by Pablo Neruda:

Click here for the English and Spanish versions.
Click here to listen to Andy Garcia’s reading of the poem.

 

On Compassion, Forgiveness and the Brain

daenerys drogon

Photo source

Have you ever been extremely angry with somebody that you imagined you were Daenerys riding Drogon which was breathing fire on to your enemies?

(Fortunately for me, I have not been that angry with any one¬†person in a long time, but only with a group of people terrorizing my beautiful island of Mindanao, oh yeah. I was so angry that in my imagination, I didn’t even have to be Daenerys. I was¬†happy just to be Drogon!)

Don’t you find it exhausting when you dislike this person so much, but this person just can’t disappear from your life? You hear people talking about him/her, and it’s worse when he/she is doing so well while you aren’t?

For us, humans, anger towards somebody is most often accompanied by its best friend, jealousy. Those two are perhaps the ugliest, meanest pair ever. They will keep you awake at night, make you lose your appetite, then your energy.

If you’re smart or meet the right people who can help you get rid of that ugly pair, then lucky you. If not, that pair will ruin your life.

A few months ago, I started reading Oliver Sacks’ An Anthropologist on Mars.¬†For some reason I could not finish reading it, but a couple of weeks ago I picked it up again and read the chapter called “A Surgeon’s Life,” which is about Dr. Carl Bennett (a pseudonym), a surgeon who has Tourette’s Syndrome.

This chapter was truly an eye-opener for me, and I’m writing about this because I am hoping this can somehow also¬†make my readers re-evaluate how we judge our fellow human beings.

Dr. Bennett is highly respected by his colleagues and patients, and despite his tics, is able to perform surgery efficiently as if he didn’t have Tourette’s at all. He said the outward expressions of his Tourette’s that most people see are not the worst problems he has to face. The real ones are those within — panic and rage. In his words,

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† “It’s not gentle….You can see it as whimsical, funny — be tempted to romanticize it — ¬† but Tourette’s comes from deep down in the nervous system and the unconscious. It taps ¬† ¬†into the oldest, strongest feelings we have. Tourette’s is like an epilepsy in the ¬†subcortex.; when it takes over, there’s just a thin line of control, a thin line of cortex,¬†¬†between you and it, between you and that raging storm, the blind force of the subcortex. ¬† ¬† One can see the charming things, the funny things, the creative side of Tourette’s, but there’s also that dark side. You have to fight it all your life.”

At home, Dr. Bennett can give expression to this rage, not directed at people but at inanimate objects around him. His wall, his refrigerator are witnesses to this rage. One wall is covered with knife marks.

Scary? I find this very sad. That a human being who does not want to be violent CANNOT CHOOSE not to be violent.

Dr. Bennett is fortunate enough to have a family that understands and accepts him and helps him deal with all of these. But not everyone is as fortunate as Dr. Bennett. I wonder how many people out there have undiagnosed neurological disorders, committing crimes which they could not help doing? They don’t even know why they are doing it, or perhaps they think they know why they are doing it; but¬†do they really?

I wonder if a brain scan is required of every criminal, how many of these people we would find to have neurological disorders?

This question led me to think how the human brain is very much like a computer. Just as computers have software-related problems such as viruses and bugs, the human brain can have chemical imbalance or viral infections. And just like computers that can have hardware-related problems such as overheating, a malfunctioning chip or a motherboard failure, our brain can also suffer from head or brain injuries.

When your computer is defective, do you try to save it or do you discard it, right away?

It seems computers are luckier than humans because we can easily see that our computer has a problem, and our initial reaction is to find out what caused it and how to fix it.

But with a human being, if his¬†brain has a problem but it’s undiagnosed, we right away judge the person according to his actions without asking whether he has control over his actions or not.

What is worse is we label these people as crazy, nuts, wacko, lunatic, deranged, etc. without even knowing what caused them to become such people. Perhaps  you have heard or read about people who were known to be gentle or kind, and all of a sudden murdered somebody. People express shock or disbelief, saying it was totally out of character.

Here are some ways people can suddenly change:

Trauma to the brain can cause a drastic change in personality. 

Alcohol and drugs (medications) can change a person’s personality.¬†

Viral infections in the brain can cause a change in personality. 

Certain foods and food  ingredients like MSG can affect your behavior. 

Now, going back to my first question: Have you ever been extremely angry with somebody that you imagined you were Daenerys riding Drogon which was breathing fire on to your enemies?

If you have or you still are extremely angry with somebody, ask yourself whether it’s possible this person has a hardware or software-related problem in his brain, and perhaps he has no control over some of his thoughts and actions, just like, sometimes, you have no control over some of your own thoughts and actions.

And when you realize that we are all in the same boat, then you would hopefully understand your fellow human being, and perhaps forgiving will be a little bit easier (but, of course, be smart about it!)

I wonder if that is what prompted¬†Jesus to utter these words when he was crucified: “Father, forgive them for they do not know¬†what they are doing.”

When he said those words, He became the epitome of compassion and forgiveness.

 

Note:

A couple of years ago a friend and I talked about whether human beings have free will or not. Back then I wasn’t really convinced that we don’t, but mostly because I did not have the time to think about it and read about it more. But now I think my friend may be on to something. ūüôā He wrote a book called Without Free Will. It’s well-written and thought-provoking. Check it out.

You’re special

special1

Dear Son,

You are special to me
Not in the same way
The world calls you special
Because you can’t speak
The way kids your age do,
You can’t throw a ball
Like most 5-year olds do
You can’t even catch one
Though we’ve tried to teach you
Over and over again.

You are special to me
But not in the same way
The world sees you
Because you flap your hands
Or jump a thousand times on the trampoline
Or recite your books from cover to cover
Instead of talking with people.

No, you’re special to me
Because I see what the world can’t see
How sweet your smile is
When I finish a line that you start to recite;
When you leave your toys
To run to me just to give me a hug;
When you snuggle close to me
Because you want to be kissed;
When you ask me to sing
Your favorite song
Or read your favorite book.

You are special to me
Not only for who or what you are,
But also because, in your simplicity,
You have taught me —
Patience and understanding,
Humility and gratitude.

And most all you taught me
Love that expects nothing in return

Save for that sweet, little smile
You give to me alone.

Thank you, Son.

Love,
Mom

On Words and Immortality

sonnet 18

I personally know a few people who look forward to the discovery of making humans immortal. Although I’d be very happy for and proud of humanity should they make such an achievement, I don’t think I will be around long enough for that, and I don’t really wish to become physically immortal.

Having recently seen someone I love suffer, I cannot see the point of prolonging one’s life if one is unable to function normally, both physically and mentally. It is heartbreaking to see a fellow human being’s condition deteriorate like that, especially when it is one you hold close to your heart. It makes you wish you were suffering instead of them.

So, no. Immortality in the physical sense is not for me.

I have said before that I would probably reconsider if life could be painless, and one could remain young and healthy. But I think that is too big a dream for humanity — one I find extremely hard to hope for.

However, some people have successfully immortalized themselves and others they cared¬†about thru arts and literature. There are too many works and artists and writers to mention them all, but one¬†poem that promises immortality thru poetry that has really stuck with me since I first read it¬†as a student is¬†Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The first two quatrains of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 explains why the speaker cannot possibly liken the subject (supposedly a young man but some people insist it’s a woman; it doesn’t matter to me) to a summer’s day. The third quatrain explains further how time nor death cannot rid the subject of his/her beauty.The couplet promises eternal life to the subject, saying, for as long as people can read this poem about him/her, he/she will always live.

And the poet has been proven true to his promise. We are still reading about the young person’s beauty. You are reading about it now as you are reading my post.

To me that IS immortality.

How (in what way) would you like to be immortalized? 

The Tryst

writing is my lover1


As I lie in bed 
Waiting for the husband 
To put down his book, 
I think of the words, 
Imagine them flowing,
Hearing the sound,
Savoring each syllable. 

As soon as the light is off
I wait a little more
For the eventual snore
A sign that I was free 

To get up 
And to be 
With my lover. 

I check on the little one
Sleeping like an angel,
And then, quietly, I go
To meet with my lover,

For my lover makes me feel 
And think 
And smile.

My lover heals me 
And comforts me 
And helps me move on. 

As I step into the room 
And walk towards the table
Where everything
Will soon commence,

I say to myself, 
Now I can do this. 
I can let the words out. 

I am in love with words. 
And writing is my lover. 

 

smiley

If it isn’t obvious yet, it’s written tongue-in-cheek. A reaction to the questions asked of me recently: what I’ve been doing with my time and why I like being alone. ūüôā

Why do you write?

Like you used to

missing miming 1

For my Miming

Today I read something that made me laugh
And I thought of you, and for a second,
I thought of picking up the phone
To tell you the story,
And hear you laugh
Like you used to.

But then I remembered
That I had already said my goodbyes
That I won’t ever hear your voice again
Nor ever see your eyes disappear
As you laugh at my silliness,
Like you used to.

You’re no longer here.
That’s¬†something
I have to get used to.