Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify


The roots transmogrified the sidewalk. 

Have a lovely weekend! 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transmogrify 

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On Reality

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When I was still a child, I often heard my mother tell people about how I liked to look up at the sky —  wondering, (over)thinking, imagining, which was why she didn’t let me wash the dishes. It took me forever to finish.

These days I find myself doing the same thing — taking some time to finish washing the dishes because I keep looking up at the sky from my kitchen window and wondering, “Is there somebody up there watching us live our lives here below?”

I shared this thought with my husband, who simply laughed and said, “Oh, yes! And they are looking down and saying, ‘Oh look at this cute little girl bravely asking such questions!” (Let me be clear on this one: No one else thinks I’m cute except my husband. That’s why he’s my husband.) 

Ever since I read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Marquez’s “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World,” and Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” over twenty years ago, I’ve always wondered about the nature of “reality.” I remembered asking the question, what if there was another world where their idea of reality is different from ours?

It was a few years later that I read Bradbury’s stories, and watched “The Matrix” and my idea of “reality” was further changed. Two years ago I watched “Interstellar” and the scene where Cooper was finally able to communicate with Murph (they once thought there was a “ghost”) made me think of what we think is “real” or “imagined.”(Some of my friends who are into science fiction weren’t very impressed with “Interstellar,”  but I’m not a big sci-fi fan, so it was very impressive for me.) 

These days there are more and more people talking  about the simulation hypothesis and consciousness and how human beings can suddenly change because of some damage to the brain. Reading about the brain and consciousness and theories on reality and our existence makes me even more eager to know the truth about our existence, our reality.

Just yesterday I started watching the HBO TV series, Westworld, and perhaps this is the reason at 11:31 in the evening I am still up writing this. Hopefully with the popularity of this TV series, more people will be asking questions about our existence and actively seek answers to these questions.

Who are we?

I really want to know.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shine

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This week’s WPC theme is “Shine.”

I took this photo a few months ago when I was in the Philippines. I have taken several photos of this place and posted some of them here on my blog.

Beautiful sunsets almost always make me wistful, and this one truly did as I was on my way home from a neighboring city working on one of the many, many things that needed my attention during the first quarter of this year. I was exhausted and looked out the car window. I just had to ask the driver to stop so I could get out of the car and snap photos of this sunset.

And for a few minutes, I forgot how tired I was as I looked at the photos I took.

Have a lovely weekend!

 

T.

 

 

Self-made Prisons: Thoughts on Dostoevsky’s The House of the Dead

house-of-the-dead    I just finished reading Dostoevsky’s House of the Dead or Prison Life in Siberia, and as I was reading about the different people he met in prison — the ones he liked, disliked, tried to avoid — I couldn’t help feeling life itself is like a prison. This feeling was made stronger after a friend complained about the shamelessness of a former colleague who had lied about his condition to the employer. He said he couldn’t stand working at the same place as this unscrupulous person. So I said to my friend, “I told you this is like prison. You can’t choose your prison mates!” 🙂
The main character, Alexander Petrovich, a noble, observed the peasants in the same prison he was in and said, “…you’ll never know what is at the bottom of the man’s mind or heart. You may think you know something about him, but it is all optical illusion, nothing more.” Isn’t this true of people, in general? It is truly impossible to know one person fully. How many times have you been surprised or shocked by something done by a person you think you know inside out, something so out of character?
Petrovich also said this of Suchiloff, the man who volunteered himself to serve the former, “It is indeed difficult to know a man, even after having lived long years with him.”
In our lifetime we sometimes have to live, study or work with people we do not like. It is stressful to always try to be polite with them, which we still do because it is what we were taught to do since we were kids. Be nice. Be polite. Be courteous. Perhaps we can learn from the main character, Alexander Petrovich, how to deal with the oppressiveness of a “prison,” surrounded by people with whom we are not comfortable: “I soon understood that work alone could save me, by fortifying my health and my body, whereas incessant restlessness of mind, nervous irritation, and the close air of the barracks would ruin them completely. I should go out vigorous and full of elasticity. I did not deceive myself, work and movement were very useful to me.”

Sometimes we create our own prisons. If we are aware that we put ourselves there, then we can get ourselves out of that prison. Unless we are too afraid of freedom, just like some convicts in Dostoevsky’s time “…poor devils who commit crimes in order to be sent to hard labour, and thus to escape the liberty which is much more painful than confinement….”
Why do some people stay in an unhealthy relationship for decades, for example? Could it be being in “prison” where their role is set is less painful? Or the person they are with, no matter how vile, is predictable and therefore not as petrifying as the uncertainty that freedom brings?
I think each of us has his own “prison.” Some have luxurious “prisons” — they have a materially rich and luxurious environment, but inwardly they are tortured by their own demons. Others probably have even worse than the barracks in Siberia in the 19th century — economically poor, uneducated, unemployed living in squalor among those who want to be forgotten by society. And there are those who have just enough — neither too much nor too little — but they get bored easily, so they create their own “prisons” and for some time their minds are “occupied” as to how to get out of it, and they may or may not admit to being responsible for creating it.
The House of the Dead, like all the other novels by Dostoevsky that I have read, leads the reader to think and re-think ideas or previously held ideas about humanity — individually and as a group. One critic of Dostoevsky berated his endless psychologizing and philosophizing, but to me, these are exactly what made his novels achieve greatness. His characters are people that readers get to know deeply, and with whom we can relate because underneath all the masks worn and personality and experience of each one, is a real human being, and no matter how vile a character may be, because we get to know him, then we understand and have compassion.
I know I’ve said this before in this blog: the more Dostoevsky works I read, the more I admire the man, the more grateful I am for his words.

(The House of the Dead by Fedor Dostoieffsky with an Introduction by Julius Bramont)

Weekly Photo Challenge : Local

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I have been living away from the small city I was born and raised in, Iligan, for about 14 years now. But it will always be home for me, even though my parents are no longer around and so many friends have left for other countries.

It is a coastal city of about 300,000 people, which is a much bigger number from 30 or 40 years ago. Back then, on Sundays, when we walked to church my parents would be saying “Hi!” or “Good morning” to people we met on the road. Now, I can walk around the city for an hour and not see anybody I recognize.

But it’s a different feeling when I look out to the sea. Watching the sea in Iligan gives me  the feeling of being home.

Then I feel I am truly a local.

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Local

Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

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Dalipuga, Iligan, Philippines 

I love watching the sea. And this photo is of one of my favorite spots at home. As I prepare to go home again for a few days, I look forward to looking down from the plane again and seeing the beautiful waters north of Mindanao.

There is something about seeing the blueness of the sea and scattered white clouds above it, and the feel of the cool breeze on your skin, and the sound of the waves, and  the briny scent of the sea. When I sit  alone on a beach witnessing all this, I just wish for time to stand still.

What comes into your mind when you hear the word “water”?

The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgia


This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “nostalgia.” There are many things I’m nostalgic about (me being drama queen and all,) but as I was making coffee earlier, I remembered why I bought the coffee that I’m having right now. It’s the same coffee that my family — my parents and my sisters, and my aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents — drank before instant coffee became popular in my country. 

The last time I was home (which was a couple of weeks ago, because now I go home every month to see the love of my life), I bought coffee from the same store that my mother used to buy it from. The husband and wife who own the store are still there, now with dyed hair, but their assistants are much younger women. The young assistant seemed to do a mental eye-rolling as my sister and I went “Aaw” after smelling the coffee that brought back lots of memories of our childhood. (We probably drank more coffee than milk when we were kids!) 

So I’m saying goodbye to instant coffee for now. And also to Starbucks. It’ll be Iligan kape for now.  For a long, long time 🙂
Happy Weekend! 

Iligan coffee