Less

2014 is here! How fast time speeds by.

This year’s theme for me is less. Less Facebook and Internet, for sure. Less time on useless (though sometimes superficially enjoyable) things like surfing, chatting, TV, wondering why people behave this way or that, and so on.

At the same time, I hope to do more of reading, journaling, running, letting things be, being grateful, enjoying solitude, and improving my mindfulness practice. I hope to finally finish reading Walden and The Art of Motorcycle Bike Maintenance (long overdue!). I hope to be able to walk  or run or wash the dishes and be completely *present* in my body while I do those things. I hope to do less multi-tasking and more savoring of each moment.

I hope to do less, accumulate less, and get by with less this year. With less, I hope to be simpler, quieter, and happier.

Happy New Year! 🙂

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In Search of Purity

When road running, I’d sometimes hear catcalls and comments from pedestrians or bystanders. Some people would simply say “Good morning” and smile. Others would comment with something more memorable, such as “Sige, takbo ka lang, mararating mo rin ang gusto mong abutin.” (“Go, just keep on running. You’ll get to where you want to be eventually.”) Or something to that effect. Those words of wisdom came from a drunk, pot-bellied guy on a passing truck. He was so loud that I heard him over the din of the truck and my iPod music. Hearing him made me smile. It also got me started on a long, silent soliloquy about why I run.
The little, unexpected things are what I love about running. I love feeling the wind against my face. I love feeling free and carefree. (Yes, those two are different.) I love feeling strong and fit. I love running to the beat of my favorite music. I also enjoy being “thought-less” in a meditative way, just attuning to my breathing, to my legs and arms, and letting go. I love the me-time that running affords me. I love seeing a father carrying his little tot on his back, elderly couples walking hand-in-hand, tired people coming home from work, and children marching off to school with their oversized backpacks. These sights are precious. They remind me that I’m one with these honest, loving, hardworking folks. (I don’t know why I assume they’re honest and loving and so on… it just feels that way to me when I’m running, and I feel a close kinship with them.) And last but not least, I relish the tired-but-I-did-it! feeling that comes after I’ve accomplished (or surpassed) my running goal for the day.
What I don’t like about running is when it gets technical. I confess that I don’t enjoy running intervals (e.g. run-walk-run for set periods of time). I also don’t really enjoy following a plan for a week or a month. I don’t like comparing runs and going after PRs. I don’t like feeling pressured to do core and strengthening workouts. I know that these things are meant to guide and help the runner, but they somehow diminish the pure pleasure of just running.
It’s the same with badminton, another sport that I enjoy. I don’t really enjoy training and tournaments as much as just playing for the love of the game. I don’t like having to think about footwork, drops, stances, grip and so on. I also don’t enjoy the drama and conflict that sometimes arise just because you’re in a group and you have to interact with other individuals. I just love to play, and play with abandon. If only I could do just that all the time.
All this reminds me of a favorite poem by Walt Whitman.
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Right on, Mr. Whitman. Next time I run, I’ll junk the learn’d astronomer’s advice (and my timer watch), and just enjoy the road and the stars.

Two Words

On a lazy day, I saw this photo on (where else?) the Internet.

Image

Just two words? Some of the things that immediately came to mind were:

  • Just run. (Because I love to run.)
  • Don’t trust. (Okay, this is technically three words, but the thought is there. I’d be happier with “Don’t be too trusting,” but that’s a mouthful.)
  • Smile much.
  • Be happy.
  • Just be.
  • Be yourself.
  • Fear not.
  • Do it.
  • Laugh lots.
  • Deep breaths…
  • It’s okey. (Again, technically three words, but…)

What’s your two words for your younger self? 🙂

Let’s Please Be Nice (Or Not?)

I went with my daughter as she enrolled in college today. As an incoming freshman, she’s understandably excited and anxious. She’s excited that she’s taking her dream course: animation and game development. She’s anxious about college life and how to survive it.

She’s fortunate to get a scholarship because of her good grades in high school and the entrance test result. As part of the enrollment process, she had to be briefed on the terms and conditions of the scholarship. The person in charge of this was an unsmiling man with a loud voice. He gave my daughter a document to study, and told her to come back after 15 minutes.

The document mostly explained grade requirements. My daughter was unfamiliar with the college grading system that has 1.0 as the highest grade and 5.0 as a failing mark.  She’s used to grade percentages (with 75% as barely passing and 95% as excellent). And so, she probably didn’t understand everything that was in the scholarship contract. She did study it a bit, and then came back to Mr. Stern-and-Loud.

What he did was to quiz her on what she had read. From where I sat, I could see my daughter cringing as she failed to answer some of his questions. I could also see his facial expressions and gestures. He would slap his forehead in exasperation, hide his face in his hands, and behave like he was talking to a moron. I felt bad for my daughter. I wanted to come rescue her, but this, in a manner of speaking, was her fight. So I just suffered in silence, praying that he’d quit with the twenty questions already and just brief her properly.

After the interrogation interview, my daughter was visibly rattled. She didn’t have to tell me she felt very embarrassed. What she did say was that she felt degraded. According to her, Mr. Stern-and-Loud said he wouldn’t be surprised if she failed math, and that he couldn’t believe she was a scholar. She said she was confused with some Tagalog words he used (like “uno” and “singko”); unfortunately, her Filipino vocabulary isn’t as good as her English. She must also have been confused with phrases like “lower than 3.0.” Numerically, this of course refers to anything less than 3, such as 2.5 or 1.75. But grades-wise, it means 4.0 or 5.0, which are worse and therefore lower grades than 3.0. To confound matters, the school had unique grades such as 7.0 (for subjects dropped). Oh well.

Mr. S&L wasn’t nice at all, that’s for sure. But I told my daughter to just take it as a normal part of life. I told her she’ll surely meet people who are mean and rude. She just has to learn to have thicker skin and not be too stressed by them.

Besides, it’s not all bad. Something good seems to have come out of this incident. My daughter says she’s now more determined to get really good grades so she could slap her report card in Mr. S&L’s face when scholarship renewal time comes. I believe her. Like everyone else, she seems to be strengthened by challenge and adversity. But a mother worries still.

So, was it alright that Mr. Mean was rude and demeaning? I don’t think so.

…But without people and situations like him, how can we learn to be tough?

Hello, WordPress!

For my first post ever, I won’t write about how I’ve been wanting to try out WordPress for a long time now (I’ve been using blogspot.com), or how today was such a boring day (nothing on my To-Do list, hah!) that I thought I’d create another blog just to have something to do. No, no, no. Instead, I’ll write about how the weather is so warm today, and it’s not even officially summer yet! The humidity meter on my corkboard says 55%, but the air  feels way heavier than that. But wait, that’s not such a nice topic for a first post either, so scrap that.

Okay, what to say, what to say?

Heck. I’m just testing out WordPress. Playing around with the templates and widgets. Let’s see if something worthwhile comes out of it.

See yah when I have something more meaty to blog about!