Sunday, March 25, 2007

Yellow Brick Road

There are times when I'm convinced that the universe teases us in a bid to inject some appreciation in us and to allow us to walk out of situations as better people. In the quarter of a century that I've been living, I have learned that occurrences in life have a particular order of nature that is not necessarily designed for human comprehension -- not until later anyway. There are things that we are not meant to initially understand but desperately begs for acceptance. Down the road, as more answers unfold before our very eyes, we usually learn that everything indeed happens for a reason.

Disappointments and frustrations are constant fixtures in our lives. They are the bastard sons of Satan sent on earth to give us all a glimpse of how hell really is like. These result from us not getting everything we want -- and the heightened drive to try even harder and still getting nowhere. We naturally feel anger and rage because of it but I've learned that letting those get the better of me only means that I've just lost. My mantra has gone from "Why the fuck not?" to "It's okay. One day, I will understand why it didn't happen." Or at least hope against hope that I will understand. It absolutely grates me not being able to fathom why something isn't meant for me -- but as they say, "good things happen to those who wait." Patience is surely a virtue. Unfortunately, it isn't one of mine. And even more unfortunate, sometimes we are left with no other choice but to accept circumstances and make the most out of it.

However, I do admit that there aren't many things that I regret doing in my life -- mistakes included. I think of it as taking a few wrong turns only to discover newer roads and alleys. I have never once looked back on those times where I was forced to accept less than favorable situations and shook my head. As a matter of fact, many of those instances have called on gratefulness from my side. Something bigger and better usually followed the disappointments I have experienced causing me to believe that maybe, just maybe, there is a greater power up above that is responsible for some sort of master plan that has been laid out and put into action by those who live it day by day -- those people like us who blindly follow a path that we think is taken purely out of our choices.

Perhaps our choices are responsible for the circumstances that we are currently in, but we still carry our fate with us. No matter which road we choose to take, we will still end up in the same destination that was meant for us.

And the funny thing is, all the loose ends only tie up at the end of our roads. It is only when we reach the end of the freeway that the light bulb finally switches on in our heads. Let's just hope that when that time comes, there will be no regrets and no remorse. The destination doesn't matter -- the journey does. It is one of the few things we can control.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No End To Our Roads

I like driving. No, correction -- I love driving. Especially on freeways. There's this power that comes over me whenever I take over the wheel and I step on the gas... and I escalade into the horizon. It's just me, the road and my destination (or perhaps the lack of one). It is when I'm one with the world and it is when I feel most at ease. Enter great music blasting from the car's CD players and I think I may have just had a glimpse of heaven.

Unfortunately, my stubborn quest for new things have led me to give up the luxury (and necessity) of driving. I eventually moved from a country possessing neverending roads and countless highways... to a city-state that thirsts for any road that allows the driver to go beyond 40 miles per hour. It's a trade off, however, as I've never been anywhere with a more efficient public transportation system. I had to give up something that I enjoy immensely (driving) in exchange for something else that's close to my heart (city living).

Living in the city can be overwhelming. You lose yourself to the daily hustle and bustle of activities and immerse yourself in the crowds of people with their own personal agendas in mind. You look everywhere and every person out in the streets seems to know exactly where they're going and what they want to do. There is no particular direction shared -- left, right, back, forward, center -- but it doesn't matter. There is no point following the pack. Just keep on going and you'll eventually get there. Wherever it may be.

As for driving, there is a general direction where you're headed. However, it doesn't always follow that you know where you're going. Aimless driving and blind hope that you'll eventually figure a destination out -- it's reckless and brave at the same time.

Funny enough, that's how I feel everyday. Not about where I live though, but more about what I'm living. I have a daily routine just like everyone else, I could imagine. I live and I work, and then some. It gets old though -- it's a vicious cycle of waking up and praying hard that the day will go without drastic glitches; of working to live and to survive; of looking forward to the end of the work day... only to wake up again the next morning to do everything all over again. I may seemingly have gotten my life down to a T but that may be the biggest fraud ever.

I trudge through life with no particular direction. I've got the basics covered but anything else beyond that is unknown. I'm not looking to settle down, I'm not looking to start procreating and giving life to beautiful children, I'm not looking to bag the career of the century, and neither am I looking to have a million dollars to my name by 30 (though that would be nice, admittedly). All I ask for is a direction as to where I'm going -- and what I'm working for. That would surely answer a lot of questions in my head. And it would shed light on murky thoughts and uncertainties.

Life can pretty much feel like a tattered beetle VW being driven onto a straight road with no exits and no turns -- and as you keep driving, you realize that you're actually back where you came from. You've been driving in circles. And until you muster up enough courage and energy, you will just keep on flirting with the idea of running to the nearest convenience store and getting a new map. And just like living in an impersonal city, it can be difficult when you realize that the bright lights surrounding you are nothing but artificial and manufactured -- and that in reality, it is only engineered to mask the growing darkness around you. One can't help but think: how long can the disguise sustain itself?

Sometimes it's easy forget that we're the drivers of our own lives. We get so caught up with little details that we tend to depend too much on cruise control -- and sometimes even on autopilot. We should be the ones taking control of it and not the other way around. After all, what good is it reaching a destination when the journey was crap?

I'm sick of wandering about and I'm through being Alice in Wonderland. I'm the king of my own road and I'm the ruler of my own city. Why on mother earth did I ever forget that?

I need that new map from the quickie mart around the corner.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Roulette of Life and Essence

"Life is one big game" isn't a cliche for no reason. To be more accurate, life is one big gamble -- with risks taking the form of the choices and decisions we take. Just like in gambling, we take our chances in cards, numbers, suits or combinations that we think will win us the jackpot. In life's case, we choose to be with the people that we think will give us the happiness we've always yearned for. We take our chances in them.

Admittedly, it is a pretty scary concept giving one's self to another person 100% with absolutely no reservations. After all, the bigger the stakes, the bigger the returns. Winners are always the riskiest people. Choosing to expose ourselves to such situations allows us to run the risk of getting hit squarely in the face by life's wooden paddle -- repeatedly at that. Many of us jaded ones always ask: what is the sodding point?

Seriously, it is like voluntarily crouching on the ground stark naked and utterly defenseless -- and inviting kicks and beatings by those whom you love the most. Again, what is the sodding point?

True, we stand to lose a lot whenever we put ourselves out there in our most vulnerable state. However, isn't the opposite true as well? That we stand to gain so much more by doing the same? See, we can't always be playing it safe because we will just end up losing everything in the end. By putting ourselves in a position that can potentially fuck us upside down, it also means that a part of us has faith that it won't happen. And this stems from the faith we put on those people we care about. We pray hard that they will not be relentlessly kicking us in the balls in the event that they catch us at a bad time.

That gargantuan 4-letter word that we all know about: LOVE. Allowing ourselves to feel that is likened to driving a vehicle with a blindfold on. It is silly -- yet it never stops us from doing it. Why, you ask? Same reason as above. It is because we bank on those risks that we think will yield high returns. Loving someone and completely opening yourself up to someone can either leave you terribly hurt -- or unbelievably happy. Simple as that. Sure, it seems a bit more complex than that in real life, but bottomline, falling in love only produces 2 results: extreme happiness and extreme sadness. Nothing in between, unfortunately.

We always get our turn spinning the roulette of life and its very essence. And every time we do so, we hope against all hope that we've made the correct choice. And we stand back watching life unfold in front of us and waiting to find out if we have indeed made the right decision. Every time we are given a chance to do so, we seek inspiration from our instincts. It's never an exact science -- hence, the reason why it's a gamble. We win some, we lose some. And every time we lose, we always stand to gain a lesson... so it's never really losing.

We won't be able to gain, when we don't lose out. We only start learning when we begin making mistakes.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Vexed Quarter Life Crisis

While killing time at Borders yesterday, I decided to flip through some magazines that I didn't think were worth any dime I've worked oh-so hard for. It's really those magazine that have way more advertisements than they have articles (quality ones at that). I chanced upon the millionth article on quarter-life crisis (yes, they actually had it in a glossy magazine -- imagine that!). I’ve read several articles on that particular topic but today’s article struck a different chord in me. They used that dreaded word “milestone.” I do agree with the author that perhaps the reason why "twenteens" suffer from quarter-life crises is that they put so much pressure on themselves by setting milestones. Fresh right out of college, they set foot on the world thinking that they would be able to bag the perfect job that would give them the fulfillment and benefits that they’re looking for. Then they proceed on to the next logical step which is starting a family. They think it’s an exact science to do all these. They don’t realize that it’s actually a big game of trial and error.

My personal opinion on this is:

Who are we actually comparing ourselves to? Are there benchmarks that we are supposed to look at? Who? The previous generations? There are about a few million things that we have right now that we didn’t have a few years ago… more so a whole generation ago. These things such as technology, added knowledge, enhanced media, higher education, etc, have to be factored in the equation. Before, it seemed perfectly natural for people to finish school and then get married immediately. Some even had to balance both lives. But now, it has become such a novelty (if not an anomaly). In between the two stages comes in masters degrees, internships, traveling opportunities, dating vigorously and such. And intertwined among those are career options that have to be weighed out. Things have gotten more complicated. Thus, definitely more different.

I don’t know why we constantly beat ourselves up just because we haven’t achieved X, Y and Z at 25. It’s just a number, for crying out loud. I think it’s perfectly fine to not know what the hell you’re doing at 25... GRANTED that you’re actually doing something. It’s one thing to think about your life and peruse career options while you’re in bed watching DVDs the whole day and out drinking at night. If you’re “finding yourself” at least do it proactively. Pick up a few jobs or projects that will contribute to the ever glowing resume. Despite popular belief, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying out a few jobs first and then making a more permanent decision after dipping your fingers in a few things.

I don’t understand why hiring companies make such a huge fuss on why you’ve only stayed X number of months in previous jobs. Staying in a company for more than ten years doesn’t necessarily show loyalty and commitment. Okay, fine, maybe it does… but doesn’t that easily mask settlement and loss of ambition as well? The hunger for new challenges are gone since one has gotten so used to a certain way. When I went to Germany a few years ago with my dad on his business trip, one of his associates informed us that in their country, it’s typical to stay in one company for the rest of your life. Usually, when you shift, your skills, attitude and loyalty are questioned. They ask “Why didn’t they keep you? Or why did you have to move? Did they not find your skills suitable?” Talk about limiting yourself in all aspects.

I reckon that the quarter-life crisis has more to do with career and money more than anything else. Everything stems from it -- may it be about moving out or buying your own car or not being able to find someone and having a family. Why can’t people understand that IT’S FINE! No one has drawn a time table for all these. They’re merely trends. We don’t have to follow all of it per se.

To wrap things up… the quarter-life crisis is a load of crock. It exists because we like creating problems of our own. So just stop it. Whatever it is, just stop it! You’re giving me wrinkles… and I don’t have money for botox.

Nor do I have the tolerance for that kind for pain.

So let’s not worry now, yeah? Screw the quarter-life crisis. It just something that people made up so they can have something to write about… like what I’m doing now.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I Dunno Jack

I honestly don't know what's better -- being jack of all trades or being a specialist?

It was absolute horror the other day: I was laying in bed with my feet on my pillows and my face towards the ceiling. I was closely observing the cracks on my ceiling when I had an epiphany.

I. Am. Not. Good. At. Anything.

Oh god... let's assess this rationally.

For me, talent is a parable that was told by Jesus. A hobby is something that you enjoy doing during your spare time -- which makes mine shopping and eating (lots too). Sports? Doesn't exist in my vocab (or my world). Music? Well, I did take lessons when I was younger. I skipped most of them. 'Nuf said. Art? I can draw stick figures perfectly :) My major in college? Please... I went to business school to take up IT. So I'm half-baked in between business and IT. And my job? Well, that's precisely it. It's a job. Nothing more.

I did pretty well in school back in those days. I had my fair share of awards and honors... but come on, doing well in school is hardly any specialization. It simply meant I succumbed to the pressures that my (very Asian) parents have given me... and I worked hard. It doesn't really mean anything more at the end of the day.

And this brings us back to square one: I still am not good in anything. Sure, I can do a lot of things but none of those things I excel in. I can cook without managing to poison anyone; I can be artistic but only if it's abstract; I can write a computer program as long as it doesn't involve complex cases and as long as I have Google; I can sing karaoke; I can bowl, if you count that as a sport, and sometimes I can even hit a birdie when playing badminton... you get the idea. It's pretty pathetic, really.

So what's the deal? What do I say to St. Peter when I arrive by the gates of heaven when he asks me what my biggest accomplishments are?

That I have this blog where I pour out my hypochondriac thoughts?

He will totally keel over in laughter...

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Visitor

I think my ghost visited me again... and this time, he said it's going to be for a while. When I asked what gave me the honor of his visit, he said "It's to make you appreciate the bed of roses that people create for you to lay on." He took his bags, went straight up to my room and lay down on my bed to catch up on his snooze. And there I was, left at the bottom of the staircase, dumbfounded and scratching my head. He's like a tax collector... you never know when he'll come by to seek payment for luxuries that I've enjoyed.

So as to not bother my resting ghost, I'm submerging myself in my usual routine. Until he leaves and until I get over it. In the meantime, I will cling onto those people that provide me love and support... for without them, I wouldn't be where I am right now.

It's quite difficult to grasp the concept of not being dependent on anyone. Simply counting on yourself and not trusting anyone. I don't question people's innate capabilities to be independent... but isn't it, without a doubt, that we need other people as well? We're all allowed to falter once in a while. And during those times, we ought to allow ourselves to be picked up by our loved ones and be restored to life. To have faith in them when we don't have enough faith within us. And in this just world, we are also given opportunities to do the same thing for others. It's give and take.

So I reckon it's perfectly all right to admit that we cannot make it on our own... and that we aren't as strong as we think we are. After all, we're just human. We help each other out and we fulfill each others' setbacks. It's something that we don't realize everyday. We only get to unfold truths like this during the most trying times... and unfortunately, during the most painful times as well.

As my ghost stays with me for the next few weeks, I call out to the higher powers to give me strength to endure everything that he'll put me through. And I cry my thanks to all my angels around me (both in heaven and on earth) for always being here for me. Thank you for all the magic and the pillars of fortitude.

So to my ghost, welcome to my abode. Please enjoy your stay.