Saturday, December 12, 2015

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Stoikiy Muzhik

Colonel Abel and James Donovan in Bridge of Spies
Ever since I heard the phrase in Bridge of Spies, I have been captivated by it. In the movie, Colonel Abel used it to describe the quality he observed in his lawyer James Donovan. He said the words after watching how resilient Donovan was in defending him. Stoikiy Muzhik, or standing man, the man who keeps standing back even though everyone tries to put him down, ignites something in me. What can be more mesmerizing than the thought of a man who just won’t back down? And the funny thing is, it is not his resoluteness I admire. It is not the strength, nor the conviction. The thing that captivates me the most is the reason. The why. Why does he keep standing? What enables him to go beyond his supposed self?

There is nothing new in my question. It has been brought up numerous times in books and movies. Just like in The Matrix Revolutions when Neo is constantly getting back up. Agent Smith asks him why he keeps standing. Is it freedom, truth, peace, love? Neo finally replies because he chooses so. It is an exceptional answer. It is an answer that emphasizes the greatness of a subject that is man, the ability to choose. But it is not the kind of answer that I currently want to write. Right now, I want to write about something that in the perspective of spiritual enlightenment, goes a bit lower. I want to write about the reason that comes not from the inside, like the ability to choose, but starts from outside the person, something that deeply mesmerises him to go beyond his usual strength, something like an ancient overplayed concept, something like a simple love.

I have a friend that I haven’t seen in a while. There are many things about him, but one thing that stands out is his experience with a girl he loved. He once loved this girl so much that he kept chasing her for more that twelve years. Mind you, I never thought of him as a standing man. I would think that the reason that drove a standing man would have to be something greater than mere infatuation. It would have to be humanity, or peace, or something similar. It couldn’t be love.

John Keating in Dead Poets Society
However, my recent experiences has put another perspective on the matter. Why can’t it be love? Isn’t it a grand thing? In the movie Dead Poets Society, John Keating says to his students, “Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” They are what make life, well... life. They are the reasons we fight so hard to survive. They give meaning to our survival. I have also heard someone said, “Loving is like having a song in your heart.” I know what it's like to be depressed, and I know what it’s like to be so happy that you want to sing. I imagine someone who has a song in his heart, whose heart is constantly singing, to be nothing less than jubilant. Isn’t it the drive of countless great people? Love is a good enough reason to sustain someone beyond his self. Love is more than enough.

Still I think, the rough patches he must have gone through. Twelve years must not have come easy. Happiness in love comes and goes. It can’t be the only thing that sustains him. Then I think that perhaps he managed to go through because for him, the whole deal was who he was. There are things that have put me in pain and distress, and one of those things is having to do something that contradicts my honest being. Maybe it was harder for him denying his heart than going through the twelve years. Maybe at least when he’s with her, he is at peace within his own self, and everything makes sense. It is something that I can only suspect, remembering that when he’s with her he was the most vibrant and giving person I know.

Poetry, beauty, romance, love are what we stay alive for. For the Stoikiy Muzhik in my life, it's what kept him standing. It is what matters. I imagine if I had asked him to pick between living pain free without love or having the chance to pursue a great love, I would have known the answer.

My choice would have been the same.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A F*cking Toast

Here's a toast to the relentless stupidity and misguided romanticism this f*cking creature embodies!
F*ck you WALL-E!
F*ck you EVE!
F*ck you life!
And to quote another miserable character I happened to watch last night, Erica Barry,
"Do you know what this is? This is heartbroken."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Save an Arrow

As I rest my eyes upon her
and present myself to her presence
Cupid appears before me
and lifts up his bow and arrow

You can go home today, I said
Save yourself an arrow, I continued
The thing you want for me
That thing I already am

*written on a train ride because of reasons

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Most Happiest

Today I had lunch with a friend. She was telling me about her love life when she said something about how she picked a significant other. She only picked someone whom she thought would make a good companion. She wasn’t bothered much about his status or wealth. A good companion... That was her criterion.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the above paragraph. However, like most old, overused ideas, its sense of weight only grows larger as I grow older. I too, can’t agree more. A good companion... That is also what I’m looking for.

When I wrote Encounters, I was talking about how although it doesn’t seem likely, people do meet and connect. It is this kind of bond that I crave, a relationship where you truly see and be seen. I remember when Patrick Jane, the protagonist of the series The Mentalist, spent his days in seclusion somewhere in Central America, he had no one to talk to. Everyone was speaking Spanish, a language he’s still adopting. One day, he met a woman at the beach. She was an American. Patrick Jane eagerly tried to start a conversation with her, anything he could think of. It had been a long time since he talked in English and he missed it. “Being understood is an underrated pleasure,” he said in a reflective tone.

Being understood is a great pleasure for me too. And also of course, if I may add, understanding someone. Perhaps it’s because secretly, I’m afraid of loneliness. Perhaps it’s because like the thinking behind The Celestine Prophecy, I’m an incomplete person, looking for completeness in the soul of others, making it some kind of a defect that I have.

I don’t know.

Although, sometimes I think it’s simply because deep down, I believe that happiness doesn’t mean a thing unless it is shared.

I don’t like people in general, so that is an odd thing for me to say. I’m a quiet extrovert though, so it kinda makes sense. And although I’ve often times said that I hated people, it amazes me that almost all my fondest memories always involve someone. May it be a moment with friends or lovers, I’m happiest when I’m with someone. It’s funny.

When the film Into the Wild was released, my friend warned me not to watch it. I had always shown a tendency of doing things alone that he was afraid it would make me worse. I think he was dead wrong. The film was about a young man who was disgusted by people and the social structure and so lived his life in the wild in isolation. It didn’t work out for him. His supplies ran out and he was forced to eat plants, accidentally eating the poisonous one. In the last moment of his life, he wrote his realization in his book, “Happiness only real when shared.”

I guess the theme resonates in a lot of hearts, because a lot of films seem to adopt it. After having a great success without the presence of his wife, Jerry Maguire said, “Our little company had a good night tonight. A really big night. But it wasn't complete, it wasn't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn't share it with you. I couldn't hear your voice, or laugh about it with you.” Even Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother said, “Whatever you do in this life, it’s not legendary unless your friends are there to see it.”

I’ve always wanted someone. I guess I’m one of those miserable people who were born to share. There’s hardly anything grander for me than a true and honest connection. It's a must have for me. We may come into this world alone and leave it alone, but I think... it doesn't always have to be that way.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Slip vs. Skip

While most people may lose some sleep over contemplation on grave matters, Sleeping Sixty lost hers because she’s busy pondering the difference between the word slip and skip.

Sleeping Sixty is a 28 year old woman with the enthusiasm of an 18 year old and gullibility of an 8 year old. She is an expert snoozer and is always on the six of all things tasty, hence the name Sleeping Sixty (so sixty is not how much she weighs). Her mind is sadly clouded with paraphasia, a type of language output error. That means she can say cupang (hickey) while what she means is cuping (lobe), two very different things. She can also say towel or milk while in fact she’s trying to say antibiotics, proving the severity of her condition. I once read her message in horror when we were talking about a spirit haunting the laboratory. She told me to whisper her regards into the apparition’s dens caninus (fang) when she really meant auricula (ear). I, for one, certainly don’t want to be anywhere near the ghost, let alone her fangs.

It is no strange then to have Sleeping Sixty awake in the middle of the night thinking about slip vs. skip. She knew that both words were very different, yet she couldn’t figure out why they felt eerily similar. She tried to come up with different examples on how both words could be used interchangeably, but ended up empty handed. Sentences like “We just skip this night” vs. “We just slip this night” or “The meat slipped between her teeth” and “The meat skipped between her teeth” crossed her mind but they just didn’t work.

I, who happened to be an innocent bystander messaging her at the time, was also unenthusiastically dragged into the problem. Slip usually means “to fall” (she slips over the puddle of water, the profit slips in November) or “to move quietly” (he slips through the night). Skip, on the other hand, usually means “to hop” (he skips on the road when he is happy) or “to omit” (she skips breakfast). In a glance, there’s really nothing in common about the two, yet I too secretly felt what Sleeping Sixty felt. There’s a sense of similarity between the words.

It wasn’t until the next day that I found out an example where the two words could actually be used interchangeably. It is for describing the word attention. For instance, "The matter slipped my attention" vs. "The matter skipped my attention." In it, the word slip and skip may have different meanings (“to move [out] quietly” vs. “to omit”) but the end result is the same. Both sentences mean that one matter is devoid of my attention.

Sleeping Sixty turned out to be right. There are times when the words bring out the same meaning. Another example, although basically the same, is for describing the word mind. For instance, "Sleeping Sixty rarely slips my mind" vs. "Sleeping Sixty rarely skips my mind." It’s a terrible example, I know, but you’ve got the point.