HUMANITY: Earth, Wind, Fire

BE ADDICTED to something good... Got to do them on regular basis. Collect autumn leaves and frame them, photograph anything that moves (or don’t) on earth, cook from scratch, gather used newspapers and make art, or just be addicted with kissing the love of your life. Somewhere, somehow psychoanalysis will “study” you, anyway—whether you stay immobile, stay neutral, or be hyper. There will always be a label for a specific human reflex. Those labels, sadly, are for sale…

LONELINESS, paranoia, disconnect—in a society that seems to have it all? I was raised by vicious typhoons that pummel the gut—but mere laughters feed starving spirits, love warms... But now, I feel my soul is drugged, my heart—a lump of snow… immaculate emptiness, cold, fleeting.

DREAMING is reality at work. What if the Wright Brothers didn’t dream of flying a lump of steel or wood up in the air? Or how’d the first humans come up with fire? If we don’t dream of seemingly impossible stuff, life wouldn’t move at all. 

AS HUMANITY evolves, we are conditioned to believe that life and living must be comfortable, beautiful, and safe. Maybe, many years ago—before all these utmost necessities of human existence were not peddled as corporate commodities and consumerist baits behind the counter—these ideals were attainable. But when all these good things on earth are for sale on credit, the pristine essence of humanity is lost. Love has become alien. Or we don’t even know if such sentimental dalliance actually matters in the equation of basic survival…

WHEN we age, we also simmer down in reflective wisdom, redemptive peace. Relationship arguments are all the same, all political debates have been used up, all romantic idealism have been explored. While the young quarterback their own games, it’s my time to remember how I strategized and played my role in life and love’s field of dreams. There’s no failures, only attempts—in pursuit of happiness… As a writer, this is the time to excise quiet wisdom from broken fragments and salvaged ruins—and then leave humanity with a guiltless smile.

WE WOULD be happier if we simply do stuff because it instinctively pleases us—not because we want to be justifiably right or politically-correct all the time. I don’t subscribe to anything specifically relevant or particularly appropriate. I don’t believe in nationalism or ideological or religious, but I believe there is a God. I go to Wal-Mart, I dig downtown indie bookstores, I love Goodwill and local produce, I drink PBR, I watch TV a lot, I am a fan of Howard Zinn and the Bee Gees, I glance at lovely women’s hips, I shoot pools alone…

EVERYBODY’s got an “addiction.” Makes us less bored… Drinking problem? That’s alcoholism, AA is it. Hooked on drugs? Substance-abuse. Too much sex, Tiger Woods! Food trip—chow detox. Compulsive vacuuming—vacuum shrink, done! What, no insurance? You’re doomed! Get a life!

I FIND fascination and intrigue with people. There’s sublime urgency in meeting strangers—mostly, those who seem so different from my cultural upbringing. The only way to understand humanity is to have courage to be upfront about how other’s people’s culture strikes us. Such blatant honesty would put us in an awkward stance—we hurt and we get hurt. But then, if we continue to be silent, be nice and accept what we couldn’t, then we remain oblique and shadowy and lowly to a so-called dominant, ruling culture…

LIFE is a gift to enjoy and be thankful for. Like the imperfect dude tryin’ to do good on a daily basis, I try my darndest best to veer away from silly arguments, suspicious thoughts, endless rants—and savor the sweet crackle of fire in a camp, kids in frolic, rock `n roll, quiet moments by a river’s shoulder.

GOOD life? No. My tortured soul hangs overhead the average societal woes of the world… I break to pieces at night as I lick my wounds, let my poems heal me—one night at a time. But come daylight as the sun spreads out, I piece my broken glass together, turn it into a new vessel for a fresh set of flowers.

I REMEMBER the days when rain feeds the flow of creative juices in one’s imagination. It is still possible though… Rivers and mountains and oceans and snowfall—or a fleeting smile from a neighbor who just passed by your window or porch. These nurture words and music and colors within the heart, and flow into the spirit—blessings of human sensitivity that quietly evolve and shape as poetry, stories, songs, or a canvas that emits life and love.

IF I HAVE millions, I will buy a ranch-farm (that is, after usual grocery purchase and generous giveaways). There’ll be buffaloes, horses and animals (no pythons and pterodactyls). Then I'll spend the rest of my life writing, cooking, playing with grandkids, and makin’ love with the woman of my life.

THE INSISTENT chatter in a Greyhound bus, the busy meanderings of spirits in New York’s subway… the poet who shares his wounds for 10 minutes in an open mic and gets healed with a smile… the attentive ears that keep a street musician company. These feed my truths, ignite my inner fire, make me live.

WE CALL some human beings as freaks and “weirdos”—just because these equally worthy children of earth are not what we categorize as “normal.” Gays, nerds, “deformed,” unschooled souls. Freaks are those who usher war that murder earth and its beautiful creations. Those who destroy are freaks.

YEARS ago, folks banter in a barbershop, women knit yarns on the porch, kids frolic around a bonfire—windows are open, doors say welcome. These days, we set rules to protect our gated community like the village belongs only to gods… Yet do we really know who our neighbors are?

OLD SONGS bring us back to places and faces and bittersweet memories of the past. We remember the scent and smell of those days—the insistent sound of yesteryears. Remembering is good… old songs help us remember. When we remember, it’s easier to connect with the present. Wisdom is nurtured.

OBSESSION in material gains: Huge houses bought by high-paying jobs. But what is happiness, esp. when you are already grey and old? Happiness is the wealth of having many friends who shared your blues and laughters, many people you shared your plateful of scrounged beans and cup of soup. A “cool” job can easily be terminated and a mansion taken away by a bank… Respect of humanity is eternal.

WHEN THE weather is gloomy or subdued: a bit dark, rainy, windy, snowy---I feel my spirits are alive and my heart, warm. The vibe exudes peace and quiet… reflective, meditative, therapeutic even. And it’s also a good moment to write, read a cool book, plan dinner, listen to soft music, and make love.

UNCOOL is easy: Be an alcoholic, fight your neighbor, deal dope, gamble away hard-earned money. So why not try some sweet indulgences, instead? Chow down Boston creams, splurge at Goodwill, Facebook your free time away, pamper your babedawg or koolcat—be corny, it’s not bad at all.

PEACE… If we have good food on the table, rock `n roll frolickin’ around as bodies and spirits dance, poetry to share, lots of laughters as silly jokes abound—then we don’t have much time to argue. Our mouths, feet, legs, arms, eyes, ears will be so busy having fun—no time to fight at all.

I DON’T believe that animals prefer to be treated the way humans treat fellow human beings—no matter how we believe we are being compassionate and humane. I believe animals deserve the same freedom and joy that all livings things deserve. Otherwise, we just’ve to leave them alone…

REASON why I enjoy the quiet, solitary company of babedawgs and koolcat—they make me feel I am not alone without bugging me from whatever I am doing at the moment (reading, writing, cooking etc). And they don’t expect much and give more than what basic needs and responses that imperfect living things like us could offer.

WE ALL got an addiction to something. Shrinks profit from labeling focused affinities to anything pleasing to the mind or body: alcohol, caffeine, shopping, internet… Even love is addictive—or rock music, kissing, or charity work. We got to do something, somehow on regular basis. Life is boring if we don’t have “addictions” in life.

WE WILL never find out what is it that we really want, or why we want it… and when we have it, it has already lost its enticement in favor of the next whim. We are insatiable seekers who are lost in a maze of our wild appetite to heighten our contradictions. Hence, we are forever lost... 

THREE THINGS THAT I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP IN LIFE DESPITE THE BLUES: (1) Prayers. I believe there is an almighty energy who made life possible, I reach out to that energy; (2) Laughing. Laughters stretches muscles more than crying, my jaws relax and my heart bloom—compared with crying when my tears blur my eyes and my heart contracts.  (3) Determination. I fall so many times, break my heart like it’s made to be—but I never stopped getting up, doing it again. Failure only happens when we finally stopped trying. 

AH, BEAUTIFUL pristine mountains! Butterflies dancing with the breeze, specks of snow kissing the moist earth, the quiet serenity of a full moon sky… Appreciation of these gifts of life have no meanings at all—unless these pleasures are shared. What is the point of seeing beauty if we can’t share them?

HOW we place people in a box while entrenched in our respective boxes. A weary man on tattered coat and worn-out shoes walked 7 blocks to his tiny apartment in a Manhattan building, which he owns… Another man on Brooks Brothers suit, drives a Maseratti to deal drugs in the `hood.

APART from meditating peace, hugging trees, recycling stuff—we can do more realistic deeds by extending real help to those who most need them, beyond our comfort zones. Ever wonder how far would $120 (an ounce of weed or month’s beer budget?) go to a family of 4 in Asia or Africa?

IF PEOPLE are so happy, experts say something is wrong, that dude needs professional help. When people are sad, experts say something is bad, this dude needs medication. When someone is neither here and there, they say he/she is bipolar, he is so sick. Can we just we just cry, laugh, get angry, be nice—without having to overthink why are we such humans?

HOW DO WE deal with our humanity? With how many hours we spent meditating peace? How many times we uttered politically-incorrect or gender-insensitive remarks? Beyond the impulsive rage and obligatory niceties, what matters is the heart’s depth and the spirit unfailing sincerity… When you see people scrounge for dirty swamp greens to mix with canned cat food for dinner and houses blown away by typhoons, while we whine over conked out ACs and 30 minutes to offer a friend a ride… when $70 monthly cellphone fee equals 3 meals for a month somewhere beyond our comfort zones, we know what we gotta do.

HOW do we start a day? Regroup a previous plan that didn’t work, or forget about it—just devise a new strategy to accomplish tasks… say sorry to someone we hurt, or forget about it—just move on look ahead with bright anticipation. Today becomes tomorrow but yesterday is gone. Life is a magic slate: scribble, scribble, just scribble—we may hit it or we may not. Erase then do it again…

I REMEMBER youth. The creative fire, the relentless energy… When I was in my 20s to late 30s, my spirit’s persistence was a wild moondance: Travel was 100 miles equal a footstep, creative output flowed like monsoon rain—a writer’s madness that defied danger and reason. Emotional tempests and physical exhaustion were flushed out in each battering typhoon… How I sustained flawless focus in reckless romanticism. At least, these days—I could sit down, reflect, find peace. Writing offers calm and quiet like a hammock for two…

ARE WE PROGRESSING or digressing—or worst, self-destructing? Almost everything around us is computerized, so reliant on technology. What if a major blackout ensues? What’s the use of online banking, email messages, networked production lines? How’d we traffic thousands of planes on flight at the same time, cars and trucks on sustained speed on freeways… The world’s main worry, however, is the loss of human spirit—the numbing of the heart in favor of a constantly changing reflex that beat like digital clocks. We do exchange words and interface nuances but we aren’t really connecting; we are in a social network where we palpitate like emoticons and fleeting URLs. How do we go back where we were? We know how yet we deny that we can…

THE SHEER SIGHT of books gives me a kind of unexplained high. The smell of books, the urgent swishing of pages as I leaf through—such pleasure… I apprenticed as publishing house worker when I was maybe 12 years old. I manually folded uncut newsprints for 12 pesos a night. Well, I didn’t care… I loved the experience. I observed linotype setters effortlessly placed those molds of metal on plates—and then secure them on giant Web printing machines. It was a fascinating craft, a work of art. As sheaves and pages of newsprints come out of the rollers, it sure was like loaves of bread emerging from clay oven—hot and delicious. The day’s of the newspaper, like new books resting on shelves: A writer’s bliss!

THE HEART, in spite of the mind’s sane prodding, possesses a wayward adventurism that is both sweetly sublime and astoundingly stupid. We love mostly for the sake of a moment’s gift of intimate bliss although those moments could be fleeting. Whoever the heart desires, we heed it because love has an amazing ability to derive euphoric joy on midair as it falls slowly to its ruin. Lovers don’t see pain coming despite clear and present danger. They just love for the sheer joy of loving. Such defiance makes them gigantic idiots yet it also makes them beautifully human.

TWO humans in a room will connect—if wavelengths usher comfort zone. No walls are impenetrable. I have defied language, cultural truths and sociopolitical barriers—so I could penetrate the human heart. I could hang out with a vagrant with the same ease and facility as I engage a lawyer to an intelligent banter; I could make a 3-year old kid laugh as I am very relaxed in speaking my mind with a 90-year old stranger. I always wished and dreamed that my written words connect where my spoken language couldn’t… But I can only do so much. I wish smiles are enough.

WAKING UP is always a reflection… I ask myself: “What’s up today?” Years ago, life was so fast—like bullet train or speedboat. My most compelling struggle these days—is how to remember those days and put them all in writing. In between, I entertain my spirits with cooking, reading, watching TV and movies. Just taking things easy—I try not to question stuff and protest things anymore. I just want to reflect, excise wisdom from what life continues to offer me—and find simple, quiet joy in them.

TWO humans in a room will connect—if wavelengths usher comfort zone. No walls are impenetrable. I have defied language, cultural truths and sociopolitical barriers—so I could penetrate the human heart. I could hang out with a vagrant with the same ease and facility as I engage a lawyer to an intelligent banter; I could make a 3-year old kid laugh as I am very relaxed in speaking my mind with a 90-year old stranger. I always wished and dreamed that my written words connect where my spoken language couldn’t… But I can only do so much. I wish smiles are enough.

HOW am I supposed to understand the bond that connects a child to the mother—that was forged right from conception in her womb and carried there for nine long months, then delivered to earth with fresh blood and sweet pain? And when the umbilical cord is cut, that streak of tears running down her face as the baby screams the first cry of life—that is magic, that is love. That is the world. How am I supposed to experience that? It’s beyond me, beyond my limitations as a man… [Remembering my mother who passed away six years ago this month]

SPIRITUALITY is the true activism—devoid of religious dictum, cultural dogma or political/ideological elitism. Spirituality is not daily meditations atop a hill or convergences for privileged membership. Spirituality is getting out of comfort zones to tend the sick and dying, weak and oppressed… I believe, as well, that spirituality is not taught or learned—it is inherent in the human heart. It’s only possible to experience and live it if we strip ourselves of self-aggrandizements, excessive possessions, and holier-than-thou analyses of life and living—and seek the spirit out there in the breathing, albeit wounded world…

DREAMING is reality at work. Without dreamers, life is dead… What if the Wright Brothers didn’t dream of flying a lump of steel or wood up in the air? Did Alexander Graham Bell poke around with a pair of emptied Campbell Soup cans connected by a string—to invent the telephone? I reckon… I mean, how’d the first humans come up with fire—did they burn their pinkies first before they’re able to induce fire out of sticks and stones so they could grill some ribs? Makes sense… If we don’t dream of seemingly impossible, crazy stuff, life wouldn’t move at all. 

“LET’s HAVE FUN” is a strategy, not a lifestyle. We need to look at life more like it’s a gift, a blessing—not a duty or task. It doesn’t say—we need to sustain a certain level of material goal or physical pleasure to be able to live. We will never be contented… Instead, we should say—we need to find joy and contentment while we maintain a life. Simplicity is sublime.

A MOTHER happens only once in a lifetime because a mother’s love—unconditional, immaculate, unswerving—can only be had once. A mother is the only human being who will defend and protect her child even if it means her life… the only human being who will not run of second chances—one thousand second chances—for her erring child… the only human being who will use the universe of her limited body and the supremacy of her mortal heart to keep a candle burning amidst a torrid storm so her child shall assured guidance in light and warmth…

ANIMALS are much better than humans in terms of articulation of innermost feelings of love. Or anger. Animals bark, tweet, moan, snarl, growl—yet they easily get the message because it seems they act spontaneously, instinctively. Like birds that fly on flawless alignment, and ants that follow a disciplined bee line… On the other hand, we humans confuse ourselves in a complex web of words and language. To make it more complicated, our “rational” mind is so into analysis of even the most basic response and reflex… I mean, if we just say “I love you” and no other shenanigans like, “I think I love you” or “I feel I love you this much…” or “I love you but…” Or, can’t we just bark like a babedawg when in love, or purr like a koolcat when horny?

YEARS AGO, a 72-year old, rice farmer taught me meditation and tai-chi, shared me words of wisdom—in exchange for work in his farm. My family’s laundrywoman was the village herbalist and massage therapist and gets paid with a dozen eggs or few kilos of rice. Recycling means used bottles and cans are reused and refilled with locally-produced/cultured soy sauce, cooking oil, rice vinegar etc and then sold in open markets; old newspapers are refurbished as bags for rice, salt, and sugar. Prices are not fixed for these commodities and staples (as well as meat and seafood), these are mostly negotiated right there. What was called daily interaction is now called business transaction; spontaneous sharing is now “upgraded” as professional consultancy…

FLOWERS, I always love flowers—the sight and feel of flowers, the more colorful ones, the better. I grew up around a huge garden of flowers: roses, lilies, magnolias, tulips, bougainvilleas, carnations etc. Flowers ignite and fuse life—place red roses in a dark room, all of sudden the dim void lights up. When I couldn’t write a word, the presence of flowers among the grazing grass or seated quietly by the windowsill, wakes my muse up. Flowers—in a way, balance my masculine vanity and bring me to a deeper or higher spiritual plane. Many times I feel like a warrior who alights from his horse to smell flowers by the roadside—and, in a way, alters or modifies his journey’s course. Flowers are inspirational, ethereal reminders of life’s gifts.

SOME of us label or designate ourselves as “spiritual teachers”—as though “spirit” is some academic treatise or scientific theorem that we learned or been taught wherever exotic hinterland we spent time… The spirit can only be handed to and then delivered or shared with humanity; nobody owns it because it’s not even knowledge or skill. It is far more transcendent and sublime than how we analyze or professionalize certain acquired intelligence. There are gifted humans (and other living things) that serve as couriers or messengers of the spirit. But they are not teachers or so-called shamans with commensurate salaries or per hour rates.