Thursday, April 19, 2007

Life And Nothing Like It

The recent bloodbath that took place in Virginia Tech a few days ago is affecting me more than I'd like it to. I can only think of 2 reasons why it is so: 1) either I feel deeply for these college kids who are now semi-deprived of a carefree, jocund college life that is essentially a source of memories to be regaled to the next few generations, or 2) that I suddenly realized how death can present itself to anyone, anywhere, any time and in any way -- no warning at all. It is quite disturbing, no?

I was also once a college student that aimlessly roamed the dormitory halls, classroom buildings, cafeterias and even the library (believe it or not) for 4 whole years -- 4 years of my life that was well-spent and eternally etched in my head. It never occurred to me that I might get into a fatal accident, more so get shot in the head by a repressed and enraged lunatic. It was only by sheer luck (though mathematicians can probably statistically disprove me on this) that those 4 years I spent in college were with relatively normal and mentally-balanced people. If there was one deranged person in my campus, thank heavens he or she didn't push through with an episode involving warfare.

I went to a pretty suburban college in Massachusetts within 10 minutes from Boston and with a cozy student population of about 5,000. We were all aspiring businessmen who were biding time in order to get that much-coveted piece of paper that will serve as our foot on the door to the nefarious corporate America. The decision for me to go to that particular business school was entirely my parents' only because a) they were paying for it through and through, and b) they were paying for it through and through *grin*. I got conned into taking up a business degree as I come from a business-oriented family -- no doctors, no lawyers, no teachers, no architects, nada at all. Not even an ounce of exaggeration there. I figured that maybe I can excel in the trade just like everyone else that I'm related to by blood. Whether or not I did is a story reserved for another time... *enigmatic smile*

See, I could've gone to other business schools but my mum was adamant that I stayed out of the city so my choices were narrowed. She reckoned that it would lower my chances of getting abducted, mugged, raped, murdered, robbed... (insert unfortunate here) . It made sense for a while -- up until a few days ago just after hearing about the VTech massacre. Without warning, it was as if there were no more places on earth that was deemed safe. From what I hear, VTech is located in the mountains of Virginia. It's an outstanding school that houses 25,000 of students from all over the world -- in the borders of redneckstan.

Now, tell me, would it still have made any difference if my parents sent me to a college in Queens, New York or Peach Tree, Georgia? Or even a college in Wyoming boasting a population of 500,000 in the entire state? Or Blacksburg, Virginia?

Suddenly, all the precautionary measures that my parents took and that I know of while we were choosing the ideal college were rendered invalid. What is the benchmark of "safe" now? How can anyone make a college psycho-proof without inviting a lawsuit for discrimation? Is home school in vogue these days?

Here's the thing: If it's our time, then it's our time -- no questions, no buts, no ifs. I had mixed feelings regarding that VTech student who was part of the unfortunate few who got robbed of their lives. He was only a few months away from receiving his doctorate. If God whispered to him a few years ago that he will die around 9 in the morning of April 16, 2007, would he have still pursued his PhD or would he have done something else? Would he have gone on a completely different path and gathered experiences that only one can imagine?

It really makes us think.

I'll be outright truthful -- if I know that I were only to live another year in my life, I will not be where I am right now. I have no idea where I'll be, but I know I will be busy sucking the juices out of life in gallons and truckloads. I've recently learned that I'm sidelined by risk aversion and that I tend to think too much of the future. I've only begun to make up for all the lost opportunities to make a difference and to really live. This includes bringing financial security and a successful career several notches down on the priority ladder. I used to obsess about those a few years back. I thought, "Hey, if I had those, then I can do about anything else I want. After all, money's a powerful ticket that can bring me anywhere I want."

Right. I think St. Peter will give me a negative score on how I played the game of life.

Here's the tricky part. I am highly aware that it's malapropros to be horribly reckless and irresponsible, but I also think that we all deserve to be happy and to skip out on the bitter realities derailing our true dreams and ambitions. A happy medium can be achieved, methinks, where we can still enjoy life without necessarily ruining it. As the Greeks have it: nothing in excess -- moderation, balance and self control. There is reason, and there is passion -- poignantly addressed by the battle between Apollo and Dionysos in ancient Greek mythology. Both can be blended together but keep it true in heart what matters the most. And that can only be decided by us and us alone. Not anyone, not society, not religion, not the government, and not our families. Nonetheless, as many would probably agree, it is easier said than done. And I know for a fact that this particular kink in life is where I struggle.

God never gave us a cheat sheet when He brought us all on earth. We're essentially on our own to scavenge for guidance and truth. However, I'm sure He meant for us to enjoy the journey. And until He decides when He wants to drop the axe, we shall continue living. It's just up to us whether or not we should live passionately, reasonably or a cocktail of both.

The question is: If there is a gun pointing directly at your face and you are literally given 2 seconds to think of how to get out of the situation (which you clearly won't be able to) -- would you be desperately begging for reprieve because you feel that you haven't fully lived life yet? That you haven't done half of the things that you've truly wanted to accomplish?

I say, take your checklist and start ticking now... and not tomorrow. I'm sure at least 32 people will vouch for that and will say "Trust me, I would too."

PS -- When was the last time that you did something for the first time?


Blogger it's the little things... said...

Aw, while I ran on the treadmill at the gym this morning...ten tv screens in the front of the room displayed various images of Cho.
There was no escaping the guns, the hammer, his lack of smile.
I felt so violated that I just ran faster and faster, and the images just kept on coming.
It's bothered me a lot, and that is a silly understatement.
Death at any moment is difficult to comprehend. But it is a reality, no?

9:38 PM  
Blogger mathew said...

it took me be surprise how much ur thoughts echo mine..brilliantly written..
This incident although happened so far away from brings back lot of quesions..and a lot more introspection..It just got me thinking...

10:13 PM  
Blogger Protegeoflife said...

Gr88 this incident has shock globe all around it really send tremors and tears. The questions have arisen, fears are stirred and all are dumbstruck U have great opinion there good work just loved ur opinion and cannot help agreeing more with it god cless all souls and most imp give strenght and courage to dela with their family, friends and whole area to deal with the traumna

11:28 PM  
Blogger alex said...


"We're essentially on our own to scavenge for guidance and truth. However, I'm sure He meant for us to enjoy the journey. And until He decides when He wants to drop the axe, we shall continue living."


Yes. Living every moment. This comment was put because i wanted to. :)

11:38 PM  
Blogger Cuckoo said...

Heyy Wonderful post !
Yeah, these incidents force us to think ..think deeply.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way... :))

Thanks for dropping by. Keep visiting.

12:43 AM  
Blogger alpine path said...

You are right! There doesn't seem to be a safe place anymore in the world. If the schools and colleges (where the young are) are not safe, where can we go to cleanse the next generation of violence? A great post!

1:18 AM  
Blogger Maverick said...

i go to Arizona State and as u said, it affected me more than i thought it would. The very thought that it could've happened to anyone of us anywhere says it all.

we build our lives with so many dreams and hopes and future plans and when someone comes from no where to shatter all those before we'd even know, its really terrible.

as and as the time passes by, instead of being able to move over it, the terror is sinking in and spreading by all our brains and hearts.

i will always remember it as a tragedy i've seen in my school life,a tragedy tht US has seen in its history and mankind has seen in the modern times.

4:19 AM  
Blogger mjd said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:46 AM  
Blogger mjd said...

This my second visit to your blog. You have such an interesting perspective about life. During my first visit, I read the prior entry. I meant to return and to comment, and now you have composed a new entry jam-packed with thoughts and feelings.
You show great insight about life and death. Maybe you are right it is time to take those dulcimer lessons.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

Can't help feeling awful for the person who did alone and unloved and unvalued he must have felt to do something this horrible. Maybe if we all had a little more compassion people on society'slhpvseiv fringes wouldn't be driven to such horrendous acts to get the world to acknowledge them.....Wasn't there a song a while back---"Let peace begin with me...."?

7:08 AM  
Blogger Molly said...

Oops! word verification leapfrogged into the middle of my comment....

7:10 AM  
Blogger Sling said...

"The question is: If there is a gun pointing directly at your face and you are literally given 2 seconds to think of how to get out of the situation (which you clearly won't be able to)"

I was tending bar at a So.Cal.night club when I was held up at gunpoint.
I did what I had been trained to do.Give him the money,and try to garner a good description.I was surprised at how smoothly it went until,on the same day(Tuesday)one week later,it finally hit me.A delayed reaction that gave me a mild panic attack.I got the shakes,and could barely funtion at my job..It took several months before Tuesdays weren't a source of anxiety for me.

8:13 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Just now..I told a good friend (for the very first time) that I couldnt lie just cos Im her friend.


10:41 AM  
Blogger Lisa Francisco said...

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome to my little blog! It's always great to meet new people in this blogworld!

Well first, I opened up my songs to an outsider which is something that had been very difficult for me to do. I did that a couple of weeks ago and it has proven to be nothing but positive! I'm glad I did so. Now, I will be taking Indian Classical singing and dancing lessons! 2 more new things!

Nice post...but if i misread...i think you never stated when was the last time you did something new....


11:44 AM  
Blogger Shantu said...

Thanks for visiting! The story has continued...

Anyway, I loved your introspection on the frailties of life. It seems we are not in control most of the time. With strict reasoning, we can try to mask this helplessness; or we can just let go, satisfy our passions, and fall in step with the inevitable circle of life. There will always be suffering. And death. We can't change that. But on the other hand there will be many opportunities to celebrate and be giddy with joy. This isn't just a compromise with our creator, it's a perfect balance.

Be looking forward to your next visit, I'm glad you like my silly stories...


11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't do something for the first time every day, but when it occurs it does give me pause. Then I think to myself, 'wow, first time for that.' After that brief moment of appreciation, I move on.

1:20 PM  
Blogger nel said...

I don't think this is the first time that happen, even if it did happen for the first time, people should be wondering why, and where we are heading as a society. Now, to me that is a pity -- life? ... :)

5:49 PM  
Blogger raghav said...

there is no escaping death .. why bother about that guy when we have a beautiful companion in 'Life' .. lets live our lives to the fullest and worry abt St Peter and his score card later .. :)

6:26 PM  
Blogger Princess Banter said...

Hey guys -- Lovely seeing you all here! And I'm glad that everyone was somehow able to related to my post. And even more glad that everyone's heart goes out to the VTech victims... *hugs*

Little things -- Yes, Cho's pictures are everywhere and though I'm aware that the media is simply keeping the public in the loop, sometimes I wish they would just stop posting up his pictures everywhere. Even in this part of the world, everyone knows who he is...

Mathew -- Well, great minds think alike, no? Haha! Earth-moving incidents like the one that just passed causes us to rethink our lives. And sometimes, it could even be turning points too. The important thing is that it makes us better people.

Protegeoflife -- I think that we are one with the world in their prayers for the souls and for their families and friends too. Thanks you for the kind words.

Alex -- :) Welcome!

Cuckoo -- We're never alone, no? :) Hope to see you back here! I'll defo be back in your lair!

Alpine Path -- Thanks. Haven't seen you in a while. How have you been? And yes, very true. Even though the places we think are safest... now makes us think twice about it. Violence picks no one and is truly unfortunate.

Maverick -- It's not fair isn't it? When someone plays God and decides to take lives just like that. I'd like to think that there's ultimately a system of justice and fairness in the afterlife where people like that could be given what they deserve

MJD -- Thank you for coming back :) Go for it!!! Dulcimer lessons! You never know, you may become the Pavarotti of dulcimer players! Haha...

Molly -- Yeah, it's one thing to keep on propagating peace but never allowing it to start within. And I agree with you that if we try to extend an extra mile of compassion and care towards others, it can really make a difference. The person is evidently very angry and repressed... someone could've helped him let it out :(

Sling -- OMG, really? That must've been horrible!!! I'm so glad that you've managed to get over it... is going back on Tuesday's all good now though? Do you think that the experience changed you in some way?

Keshi -- That's totally hard to do! Good for you! I'm so proud of you! How did it feel afterwards though?

Lisa Francisco -- Oooh good luck to your songs! I'm sure you'll do brilliantly! I hope to hear some of it. It's been a while since I've done something new but I got lots on the pipeline :) I plan to travel to new countries in the next few years. I figured... I may as well do it now, cuz I dunno if I may have a tomorrow for it!

Shantu -- I do love your stories haha! Hope to see more of it! And yes, there are many things we can't change but we can certainly control how we handle situations -- and how we put our perspectives. Wise words!

Mopfog -- But hey, you at least appreciate it even for a moment :) And that's what matters! Here's to more first times! *cheers*

Nel -- Unfortunately, crimes like this happen again and again only to different degrees. And even more unfortuante, it seems to be getting worse. It truly is a pity for society! I hope it's not a dead end...

Raghav -- 100% agreed... life's too short! We'll all have to encounter death and let's hope that we have good stories to tell it on the way to the afterlife :)

8:32 PM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

Yeah, princess. The axe is always up there - waiting sadistically to fall on our unassuming heads.
But, as lowly humans, what choice do we have but to ignore the reaper and smell the flowers instead?

1:31 AM  
Blogger soul&body said...

i liked very much your text, and also makes me think too.
thanks for dropping in my blog, ai lready added you for visit later ;)
have a great week end

6:41 AM  
Blogger nasia said...

Personally i feel Cho was just very irritated seeing the people around happy.. which he probably never came across..

I dont feel like blaming him :-).. he just acted upon frustration before anything or anyone could distract him..

11:48 AM  
Blogger fifi said...

Such a hateful act, so many lives laid waste.

A friend staying in the US was really creeeped out when his hosts, real Bible belt baptists, merely shrugged when he brought up the subject of the shooting.

He moved out, and moved on.

7:08 PM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Hi Princess.. Hw r u doing?
VTech incident - defntly a terrible one. Hope somethg of this never happens any where..anymore.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Kalyan said...

Its true the world has become so unsafe today that even in the places which we never have dreamt of also to be unsafe, now we have to move around with a fast-beating heart. These days perhaps impossible is nothing and violence seem to have spread in almost any form anywhere. I can ask 'Is it b'cos of our lifestyles', maybe we get frustrated too easily nowadays.

A very well written post...Well done!

12:51 PM  
Blogger Rajarshi said...

a very well-written post. one of the best i've read on the recent killings. i wrote a bit on the VA tech incident as well. thanks for your comment on the genome post! :-)

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Kyla Bea said...

Very well put, I think that we all have to push our boundaries and try new things to grow as people and to grow into new experiences. Terrifying events like VT really drive that home.

8:31 PM  
Blogger --Sunrise-- said...

Hi Princess..

A very thought-provoking post.. I loved reading it... and it's midnight over here! (And I should be sleeping. Or working. lol)

When was the last time I did something for the first time? That is a very good question.. but, truth be told, Princess, I don't like that question. Because it assumes one needs to do something for the first time.. it's just my interpretation of the words, and I may be wrong.. but there you go. :S lol.

What's interesting is a lot of blog posts on the incident at Virginia Tech... does it really take a harsh incident to act as a wake-up call for us? To turn the page on the stale chapters of our lives, and dance with more passion than ever on a new, fresh page?

There will always be some things, some turning points in our lives... directly or indirectly related to us... that will deeply mould our way of life, our way of thinking... I guess I am just surprised that it takes a mentally disturbed man killing innocent students, for us to realise it.

This incident had very little impact on me, in terms of making me think about my life. What does that mean? Does that mean I am immune to events going on in this world? I don't know. This incident certainly is not making me pause and reflect about my life.. I have done that many times before, and I am still doing so.

Ouffff... Princess, I always seem to be thinking out loud on your blog.. it's your fault for posting such thought-provoking posts! Hehe... hope you weren't offended by anything I said...

Take care,


7:10 AM  

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