Netflix’s “After Life” and the Cycle of Depression and Self-Absorption

Alona Beach, Panglao, Bohol, Philippines

I am glad that I was told about “After Life” as I positively enjoyed every single episode. My friend and I agreed in our thinking that it’s not black comedy. Yes, it addresses the subject of death and suicide and Alzheimer’s but it does so with delicacy and compassion and with an adequate amount of humor that only heightens the pain of reality. I prefer to categorize it as dramedy.

(If you haven’t watched it, then you may not want to continue reading.)

Though he’s not my favorite character, I admire Tony’s brother-in-law for his quiet strength. Frail-looking and too kind for most people, he is able to live his life with all the problems without complaining to or bothering others about it. He represents the many mature people who selflessly help others without being asked in return how they, themselves, are faring in this life.

And then there’s depressed, self-absorbed Tony. Though we can understand and even empathize with him in his pain over losing his wife and best friend, and we admire his devotion to his late wife, we may also want to shake him into waking up to reality which is that he actually has a good life — much better than most people, and the only reason he is depressed is he is focusing on what he lost, not what he still has which is so much more than what majority of humanity have.

I understand that we all experience grief when we lose someone we love, but we are not supposed to be entombed in that grief among the living. Unless one has damage in the brain, I believe we are all capable of recovering from this emotional pain, suffering, or depression.

(I love how the scenes are shot mostly in the day time or in well-lit rooms. It reinforces the overall optimism that this show presents.)

Tony has people around him who truly care about him. Even the new employee, Sandy, likes him instantly and asks him to be happy. His brother-in-law tolerates him, forgives him for his nastiness, and helps him in every way he can even though he has his own problems.

Tony has a job which may not be the best, but he likes his co-workers who are all good people.

The old widow he meets at the cemetery has more wisdom than the therapist he pays to help him. And he did not have to pay her for getting him out of his self-absorption.

What truly saved Tony in the end is his desire for the pain to stop. Julian was right in saying that Tony had not given up on life yet. Tony just needed to find the right way to get the pain to stop, and thankfully he had the patience and the right people around him to help him. Personally, I think it is most important that one believes and knows that the pain will eventually come to an end. That cliche, “Time heals all wounds,” has always been true.

When you stop focusing all your energy on your pain, and see how others are hurting worse than you are, and if you knowingly try to open your eyes to others’ needs and make an effort to make somebody happy, you’ll be surprised at how, little by little, the pain will subside. And in its place will be peace, and probably even joy that somehow in your own little way, you have made this world a better place by simply being you.

Look around you.

May you find joy in life. 🙏🏽💕

T.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence

Mt. Taiwu, Kinmen, Taiwan

A friend and I went to Kinmen on a Monday a few months ago, and it was very quiet at Mt. Taiwu. It was a good day for a quiet walk, surrounded by nature and the silence of the departed.

Silence

Daily Prompt: Popular 


I think most of us, in our childhood, have dreamed of becoming popular. We wanted to be liked, to have the most number of friends, but as we grow older, most of us realize, we do not need that many people in our lives. We just need our real friends, and they are usually fewer than what we originally thought.

These days people, young and old alike, gauge their popularity by the number of “likes,” “comments,” or “shares” they get for their post in whatever social media platform they are using. I was genuinely perplexed one time when a student asked another student in my class, “How would you feel if you find out your best friend ‘liked’ the post of one of your friends, but didn’t ‘like’ yours?” I really didn’t think it should matter. But then again I’m “old.”

If you’re popular, you will never have peace. People will always want to get your attention or get something from you. (I heard about Ed Sheeran refusing to use a celllphone, so he can get away from people who are always asking something from him.)

If you’re popular, you’re an easy target for criticism from people who do not like your popularity. And there are always that kind of people. And if you’re the type who value popularity, most likely you wouldn’t like criticism.

The desire for popularity, like any other form of desire, causes suffering. If you want to be popular, better be ready to suffer.
Daily Prompt: Popular

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

Jimei Bridge, Xiamen


This photo was taken last month as our plane was landing at Gaoqi Airport, Xiamen. 

For the  last two years, I’ve been flying home every month, which means at least four flights a month. So I feel something like a transient in the two cities I call home. They are both home, yet when I am in either place, it seems I’m only there as a guest. 

I am hopeful that this year, I will cease feeling like a transient and have more stability in my life. I hope my whole family can be together in one safe place. 🙏🏻
T. 💕

Weekly Photo Challenge: Transient 

Daily Prompt: Triumph 


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ” — Edmund Burke

Everyday now I only hear bad news coming from my city. It makes me angry. It makes me fear for my family.

But I have hope we can overcome this one. There is light in this darkness. We can get out of this darkness.

Iliganons are tough. We have always been. We won’t let evil triumph.

 

Daily Prompt: Triumph

Weekly Photo Challenge: Order 

Misamis Oriental, Philippines 

 

There’s chaos in some parts of Mindanao, but in some areas like Misamis Oriental where the airport is, there’s peace and calm and order.

I had asked the driver to stop at this spot.  The farmer agreed with a smile when I asked if I could take a picture. My family and I were on our way to an airport hotel where we could spend the night before my flight back the next day. I didn’t want to miss my flight because of the curfew and numerous checkpoints (at least 6  during a one-hour drive, but the soldiers were all courteous and friendly!)

Being home and seeing how people were scared but were fighting their fear by trying as best they could to live as normally as possible, I was greatly encouraged, and I’m very proud of my fellow Mindanaoans.

Lohas Hotel, Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental

 


With or without Martial Law, life goes on in Mindanao. There’s still some kind of order.

Have a peaceful week!
T.

Mindanao

iliganc

I have to admit I am a little scared to go home to Mindanao this time. I actually cried as I was packing this morning. Living for so many years in China where the only explosions I hear are from firecrackers or fireworks, I have become too comfortable and a little cowardly. In 2001, when the government declared an all-out war with the rebels, I dared to go to Marawi to accompany my journalist friend who was going to interview a religious leader there. On our way to Marawi, we could see and hear helicopters strafing certain areas. I was scared, but also thought of it as an adventure, something I could boast about later on.

Then I left for China. Seven years later when I went home in the summer for a visit, rebels threatened to attack my city. It was the first time I felt real FEAR. Seeing my sister deathly pale and cold, watching my mother pray the rosary as we all huddled in the bedroom, I nearly went crazy with fear.

Now, I am going home again to a conflict-ridden Mindanao. I envy my fellow Mindanaoans , who do not  allow their fear to defeat them, who continue to believe that this too shall pass. I have lost my Mindanaoan courage and optimism, but I hope to get them back when I arrive home. Soon.

Peace.

 

T.