Objects

I honor the life of my running shoes by looking at the layers of dirt and not washing it—it’s admirable how much ground it has covered. I honor its life by not replacing it at a whim—it’s perfectly beautiful and functional as the day we bought it. I honor the feeling as it embraces and warms my feet.

I honor the life of my phone by not draining its battery on constant fidgeting, but by using it on few things that’s worth its invention. I can click here and there but it’s a shame if I complain too much on how fast its battery has drained, and that I want a new one that lasts thrice as long. I honor the experience of having read e-books for free and listened to Africa.

Things are tools. Life is definitely better with them.

But we’re not making ourselves necessarily better by merely having them. Pursuing objects as the reason for living doesn’t serve us. It only makes us more discontented. And it doesn’t afford us the beauty which is already right here. We honor our lives beyond purchase.

Worry

I love to worry and it’s not helping.

I always have to remind myself of the importance of “now”—at this very moment, clear of wandering thoughts. I prod myself to stay and enjoy the moment.

Once it’s been your momentum, it’s hard to pull one’s self from the constant flow of thoughts and motion. But when I learn to pause, see, and feel the moment for what it is, I feel like a superhuman with ordinary powers, turning the mundane to quite special. It feels like lengthening the time that would otherwise fade in a moment.

Especially in pain, I believe, this kind of mind-framing is vital. From regular, predictable days turned sour, sickly, uncomfortable, full of hurdles, our perceptions are at their most vulnerable to change. Our minds suffer.

Instead of calming down, we tend to cling to the past (or look forward to the future), mulling over what could be otherwise have we not got ourselves in a slump. We entitle ourselves to what things should be, rather than what is and accept it. At the sight of discomfort, we succumb to the thought of our lives having been robbed, when, in reality, our situation is far from deadly—it’s just a circumstance.

Looking back now at the times I’ve been upset —exams, emails, conversations, random remarks, sickness, emotional turmoil, and stories in my head—I realized how much energy and sanity I could have saved have I practiced and guarded my mind from such “perceived” perturbations. I could have maintained a cool head and made the most of the situation.

More than we realize, we are in strong control of how we feel and react: We’re empowered to turn a “bad” situation to our own advantage. After all, as Ryan Holiday said, the obstacle is the way: Hurdles are opportunities. Bad things are bad if only we deem them as such. Should we choose to see the good, circumstances become launch pads to better ourselves.

Every Day

Every day is a chance to see the details of our lives—down to the next ephemeral step. It is a chance to discover what’s missing in the recipe, to be calm when fussing doesn’t help, to fear less the things we’re afraid of.

Every day is a chance to better ourselves by deconstructing and focusing on each step, not the result.

Every day is a chance to immerse on life’s moments—that warmth, smile, soothing wind, relief. The small things that really matter.

We’re all capable of being intentional, conscious of the details around us. Sure, we tend to go on autopilot as driven and refined by our habits. But by merely pausing and noticing the details (however familiar they seem)—the people, the stores, the smell, the sensation—can draw the line between the mundane and incredible. We’ll probably unfold things and feelings we never knew existed.

By paying extra attention, we could be stretching the time. But it could also be that calming our minds, setting the right perspective, and being gentle with ourselves help us enhance our experience and appreciation of the world.

Every day, I believe, is a chance, if not for a unique experience, but a heightened one. There is more good if we allow ourselves to see it. I was about to finish blending my avocado shake, but thinking something novel (then seeing the cocoa powder), I thought about adding some. Avocado in its first taste; bitter the second. Perfect. It was a chance for a surprise.

Every day is a chance to know how lucky we are, and how we can always be grateful. Every day is a chance to refine a skill, to be passionate by putting ourselves forward with tenacity. Every day is a chance to be more kind, forgiving, patient and funny. Every day we decide what colors to add.

Impediment

Fear is an impediment, as uncertainty, lack of resources, connections, and inexperience are. At least, to me, they’ve hindered me for so long. Paralyzed, doing nothing, but secretly hoping things will turn for the best.

And I figured, after a long period of idle, short-lived attempts, and even regressing after quite a success, what constantly impedes us is us. Usually what we’re battling with is ourselves––an internal tension. The world has become safer and filled with opportunities, but instead of it stirring us forward, it softened us and made us complacent. Our lizard brain tells us that inaction is safer.

And as I write this, I feel a shudder from resistance. I know that every day, every minute, is a chance to enrich my life. And yet, even I know that life is short, I still feel a strong pull towards wasting more of it, rather than actually making every bit count.

I found that it helps when we believe that what we’re doing is intentional and aligned with our values. When we satisfy our internal rudder, instead of going against it, our actions, even the detours in our lives, become a part of the whole. We derive benefit and meaning from our decisions.

More or less, we will remain our worst enemy. We can limit being the hurdle to our own life by doing exactly what makes us afraid, envious, discontent and frustrated. When we feel a strong pull towards an activity and an equal evasion to it, that’s our clue. Not hiding or running away, but immersing and catapulting ourselves through the waves of our inner conflict can we only break through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edits

Recently, I had edited a thesis and a report. It was arduous and fun. Arduous because I undermined the actual time it would take for me to ease into the role. And fun because I felt like I’m on a ride, on top of the words, picking “gems” – some I throw away because they were mere debris, cluttering the scene, while some I polish because they have potential.

There was frustration at first while looking at the mire, but simultaneously, in a strange, profound way, it made my heart flutter. I’ve discovered my love for words in high school, but only started writing after school. And now I’m editing! Education, for me, has only just begun.

Today is pivotal for me. Before, I felt it best for people to partake into my indecision – I let the world decide for me. But now I discovered I can make a solid decision for myself. It has been a pile of small choices which led me to this day. It’s freeing.

What I have learned from editing and proofreading someone’s work was meaning: It made me feel, or perhaps hope, that I’m adding a sliver of value to someone’s life through words, sometimes painfully omitting them, or peppering some in elusive crevices. It makes me think that improving ourselves and extending it to others, however small or subtle, is what makes up an art.

Seven days into it made me realize how much I assumed I know, what in fact I don’t, and how much I could do about it. My job in research made sense. Citation, indeed, is an art and it pays to know them well whenever necessary. I got to know APA better. That’s a bonus.

It also taught me how to be flexible, i.e., without relying heavily on computer. Doing most of the revisions on paper – slashes here, insertion there – allowed me to detect errors more easily. Despite the lack of space to insert words or phrases (line spacing was single), the limitation in itself helped me stretch out of my comfort zone. It could be messy but it’s interesting. And it’s human, too. I think I’m beginning to understand what connection means. It made me buy a blue pen.

 

 

 

Alignment

Do you have that internal rudder to be consistent with your actions? Eating eggs in the morning, for instance.

It’s your values calling unto you.

There’s a certain sense of satisfaction when we meet our values – the things we say we are. When we align our self-declarations with our actions, we earn ourselves peace, contentment, and pride.

In small, experimental steps, we build towards “something”. We don’t know exactly what that action could bring us, but we all agree that we’re doing something great and “right” for ourselves – may it be with a decision to be healthy or ship an idea or a project.

Alignment is not always easy. It’s even harder to align things that aren’t prepared to be aligned: We  might be oblivious that there’s something askew in our lives that needs fixing; or, if we’re aware but stuck, we choose to deny it and pacify ourselves instead.

To align ourselves then is to pause and re-calibrate. It is to ask ourselves what we truly want to focus on. It becomes critical because we only have one body and limited time. To know how we should best utilize our energy at a particular moment in our lives becomes pivotal.

It’s okay to want several things. If anything, we’re primed to be good or even great at a few. But only if we choose one now.

Should we choose, we must first extricate ourselves from perfect – the grandiose planning. I’ve tricked myself of the spot-on plan. In reality, it takes persistently putting yourself out there and making blunders. It’s making yourself experience a variety of imperfections to sift what’s really worth doing.

Being in sync with the beat of our drums takes intentionality and effort. To align ourselves with the yearning inside us is to begin aligning that desire with our actions.

Anytime, Anything

The thing is we can do it anytime. Genuinely busy or not. We can drop down literally everything and do whatever we want to, even in short bursts.

Time is a precious ally and we all have it. The difference lies, however, on how much we value or squander time. It’s easy to waste much of it on passivity. But it’s surprisingly easy to make it count, too.

We can take back now. Every time we choose to be intentional of what we do, of what we bring into our lives, we take back chunks of our humanity. Every time we become clear of what’s going to make us truly satisfied, we save ourselves from pocket holes, vices, and insanity.

In whatever sphere we are now, whatever hopes we dream for ourselves, we can start making our own map. We can break free from rationalizations, doubts, and fears. But only if we choose to.

We can do anything at any given moment, and relive those times where we are laser-beam- focused (i.e. mono-tasking) on something real and interesting. We can literally make something incredible out of scratch.

We can take it easy and begin: We can jot down ideas for a start-up, cook that nebulous recipe in our head, write that peculiar narrative, draw that charming character, or speak that strange language.

All it takes is that we discern and jettison those that don’t add value and focus on what does. We can make space and curate wonders which light us up and stir us forward – perhaps evolving in ways we’d never thought possible.