Weekly Photo Challenge: Paths 

This week’s photo challenge theme is “Paths.” And these photos of a runway symbolize my hope for a straighter, smoother 2017. 


It is quite apt for me to summarize my year with photos of a plane (part of it) and a runway, as this is the first year I found myself on a plane at least four times a month for 11 months (May was the only month I didn’t travel).  

The first quarter of this year, the reasons for flying was my son’s visa and my mother’s deteriorating health (and passing). The rest of the year, I flew home every month to see my son just for the weekend. 

My 2016 path was full of bumps and potholes. I hope (and pray to whoever can hear up there!) 2017 will be straighter and smoother, like a runway!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

T. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Paths

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On Ideal/Real Men as Heroes 

      Two incidents brought this blog topic to mind. The first was my friend laughing at me for always, in our conversations, referencing Jack Bauer of “24” (portrayed by Kieffer Sutherland, who I still ADORE after all these years. He will always be Jack Bauer to me. Lol.) The second was reading the narrator’s description of Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch (good luck remembering the spelling!) in Dostoevsky’s The Possessed (The Devils). 
So why do I like Jack Bauer so much, even when he cold-bloodedly killed, assassinated, mutilated his enemies? Of course he is the “good guy” in the series. I know Jack Bauer is not a unique action “hero”; most action heroes are just like him: tough, cool, gentle with women and children, and merciless with bad people. (So I guess I like Jack Bauer because he’s Kieffer Sutherland!) 
Today I found the answer in Dostoevsky’s description of Nikolay:
 “Stavrogin would have shot his opponent in a duel, and would have faced a bear if necessary, and would have defended himself from a brigand in the forest as successfully and as fearlessly as L—n, but it would be without the slightest thrill of enjoyment, languidly, listlessly, even with ennui and entirely from unpleasant necessity. “
     “Without the slightest thrill of enjoyment…and entirely from unpleasant necessity. “
To me this is what distinguishes a real man from a child or a bully. When a real man defeats his enemy in a REAL fight, as in battle, (not in sports nor any game,) he does not gloat. He does not laugh. He does not feel proud at having killed another human being. Rather to him, it’s an “unpleasant necessity.”
There are bad people. “Bad” as society have judged them — the likes of former dictators who died a brutal death in the hands of their own people. The people’s anger is justified, but I find very disturbing that one can laugh about the very violent and public death of these people. If you find joy in killing a murderer or in watching his violent death, what makes you different from him?
Jack Bauer never smiled nor laughed after killing his enemies. You can say he’s a fictitious character. True. So is Nikolay. But why are these characters created? With fiction being based on reality, is it because there are REAL men like Jack Bauer and Nikolay? Or is it because these are what we hope our heroes should be?
Only a child or a bully (an adult with the mentality of a child) or a sick person, can smile or laugh at the death of his enemy.
Real men/women, tough men/women would not find the “slightest thrill of enjoyment” in defeating them.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Anticipation 

Jimei Sunrise

This week’s theme  for the weekly photo challenge is anticipation. 
Part of my ritual upon waking up in the morning is to go to the balcony and look at the sky. Since we moved to our new apartment in September, I haven’t stopped looking forward to having my son come and see what I liked about this new apartment.  I know he doesn’t like change, but I also know he would enjoy looking up at the sky as much as I do, and watching the sunrise and in the evening, looking at the moon and the planes flying to and from and the airport at a distance. He will enjoy walking and running and riding his bike around wide, open spaces. 

I look forward to having him join me and his father again, being together as a family again. 

Anticipation. 

Have a lovely weekend! 
T. 

Old Age and Dependency in Neruda’s Don’t Go Far Off

dont-go-far-off
Mindanao, Philippines 

Don’t go far off by Pablo Neruda

Don’t go far off, not even for a day, because —
because — I don’t know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.

I like the hesitation expressed in the repetition of “because,” as it seems the speaker seems unsure whether the reason he is going to give for asking the other person not to go too far even for a day, would be reasonable enough for the latter. And to me, he succeeded in sounding convincing with his use of the imagery of the empty train station – empty of not only people, but of the trains as well as they are “parked off somewhere else, asleep.” This last line of the first stanza emphasizes his feeling of emptiness – everyone and everything else has gone and they are asleep (not dead, just having a rest), which I think signals what the speaker himself is going through (revealed in the last line of the last stanza.)

Don’t leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.

His demand not to be left alone becomes urgent as he argues even an hour would be too long. He knows himself and knows that slowly but surely anguish will come in full force. I think “smoke” here refers to fear that can overwhelm a person and make one’s heart rate grow faster thus “choking my lost heart.”

Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don’t leave me for a second, my dearest,

Whereas in the first and second stanzas, he gives reasons for not wanting the other to leave him (he will be waiting, feeling empty; he will be full of anguish and be heartbroken), in the third stanza, he reveals further that he is not only thinking of physical distance, but emotional as well – “may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.” These words show the total dependence of the speaker to the other person. He never wants to lose sight of this person (“Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;”), nor to have this person not being in the present with him. From not being able to be without this person for a day, then for an hour, then for a second, the speaker obviously relies heavily on the other person for his existence.

because in that moment you’ll have gone so far
I’ll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?

Normally, I would be very cynical about people being too dependent on other people, emotionally. But I totally understand that certain people like the elderly and young children, and people with certain developmental disorders cannot help being so. And this is how I see the speaker of this poem. He is not a young and healthy man in the best years of his life. Rather he is old, and nearing his end and fears dying alone. This is not a man speaking to his lover, but a mere human being asking the one he trusts not to leave him, physically and emotionally.

This is not a love poem.

A couple of times, I have heard old men, who when they were young, were once brave soldiers and then, stern fathers; but, as they became old and frail, they became fearful of being left alone, begging their children not to leave them. This, I find extremely sad.

This is perhaps the saddest Neruda poem I have ever read.

 

Here’s the Spanish version (probably the original)

“No lejos de mí un solo día”
Pablo Neruda

No estés lejos de mí un solo día, porque cómo,
porque, no sé decirlo, es largo el día,
y te estaré esperando como en las estaciones
cuando en alguna parte se durmieron los trenes.

No te vayas por una hora porque entonces
en esa hora se juntan las gotas del desvelo
y tal vez todo el humo que anda buscando casa
venga a matar aún mi corazón perdido.

Ay que no se quebrante tu silueta en la arena,
ay que no vuelen tus párpados en la ausencia:
no te vayas por un minuto, bienamada,

porque en ese minuto te habrás ido tan lejos
que yo cruzaré toda la tierra preguntando
si volverás o si me dejarás muriendo.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: New Horizon 

My not-so-much-into-the-arts husband was so impressed seeing this work of mine, but my more artsy friend asked me if my five-year-old son did this. Lol


This week’s photo challenge has the theme: New Horizon. It asks participants to “think ahead” and “imagine your new horizon.” 

I think I am always thinking ahead and imagining new horizons, but the problem is actually doing something to get there. 

So I guess that’s me sitting on the boat, looking out at the horizon, wondering what’s on the other side.  Perhaps most islanders think like this. 

This .year though I am actually doing something to get to that new horizon. I just hope that boat is strong enough and I’m strong enough to paddle. Lol. 

Have a lovely weekend! 
T. 

Solitude in the Age of Smartphones

solitude-2

            In today’s society, people are more comfortable with being physically alone, but only because they have their smartphones to keep them company. “Alone but not lonely” has taken another meaning. But when you come to think of it, people who are alone among strangers are not really alone when they have their phones that they use to communicate with multiple people at the same time. They are probably even busier than when they are in face-to-face communication with other people, because with their phones, they can multi-text, or multitask.

                I personally think it’s nearly impossible to let a day pass without using the smartphone. I know I cannot, especially when I am living away from my young son, and every day I video chat with him and my family to make sure everything is alright. Businesspeople would probably lose money or business if they miss a call or message from an important client. Employees and students may miss an important announcement. Truly I can understand how difficult it is for people who have already made online communication an integral part of their lives, to forego using it even for a day.

                However with people’s addiction to social media and online games to pass time, people are  getting farther and farther away from knowing the one person that they should know best: themselves. It is sad seeing adults posting numerous pictures of themselves and what they are doing on social media. One can forgive young people, as they are still growing and their brains have not fully developed (until mid-20s), and therefore, neurologically speaking, cannot be considered mature or be expected to act or think like an adult. But quadragenarians and older should know better (unless their brains, too, have not as yet fully developed.)

         With social media addiction, it seems people know more about what other people are doing than they know themselves. And that is all they know – what others are doing. They do not really know the person they are “following” (or  really, stalking) because, online, there’s hardly any sharing of thoughts, only small talk. Worse, social media can cause undue stress to people who post or read information, as everything that is made public can be commented on and used and abused by all kinds of people with all kinds of I.Q., E.Q. or mental condition.

         I am not against technology or social media at all. I know its benefits. I use them every day of my life. But I hope people will find a way to use technology and social media in more meaningful ways. They can certainly make our lives easier, and they should. Technology is supposed to help humans live more comfortable lives, not a stressful one. Technology has allowed us to have more time for ourselves, and this is one of the greatest gifts technology has given us. We can be more human – we have more time to think, more time to feel, more time to know ourselves and become better people.

     And we can only achieve that if we know ourselves first. We need solitude – not only to relax or relieve stress, but also to know ourselves better and be able to understand others better.

       Next time you have stress, try putting your phone away, be quiet and try listening to your heartbeat, and then to every single sound that you hear, be aware of every movement that you feel or see, every scent. Just be in the present. The more you do this, the sharper your senses will be. And you’ll know your body. And you’ll know and understand yourself. That’s better than sighing after playing Bejewelled, don’t you think?

“Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                               -Marcus Aurelius

Weekly Photo Challenge:Relax 


Nothing relaxes me more than being alone and quiet on a quiet beach– feeling the ripples touching my feet, seeing the waves at a distance and hearing their rhythmic sound like a mantra, smelling the briny scent of the sea and feeling the breeze on my skin. 

I had lots of quiet moments at quiet beaches back in the Philippines. I have one precious memory of being in a stilt-hut a few meters from the shore. It was part of the property owned by the Carmelite Sisters at whose monastery I was having a one-week retreat. One week of quiet except for a one-hour visit three times that week from the retreat directress. 

Whenever I get overwhelmed with tasks and life, and I cannot go away to have some quiet time on the beach, all I do is recall that time of solitude — quiet, and peace, and self-awareness. And that’s enough to relax me. 

May you have a relaxing week. 🙂 

T. 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax