Category Archives: Life and Everything In Between

How Are You?

“How are you?” might be the most underrated and overused question in the world.

It’s subtle. It’s simple. It can mean a myriad of different things.

It can be used for small talk – an opening statement of a conversation to a friend or colleague you haven’t seen for a long time.

It can be used for bigger conversations – a father asking a son how he is or a woman asking about his lover.

It’s simple, but also complex. It’s innocent, but also sensitive. It’s everything and nothing all in one.

How does one answer that question?

If it’s used for small talk, should be the response be just as insignificant? We’ve experienced it before: someone asking this question and then we go into a two-second decision-making sprint whether or not we say how we really are or say something generic like, “I’m okay,” or “I’m good.”

On one hand, this might be true – we are “okay” and we are “good” in every sense of the word. Maybe we’re at that point in our life that we are genuinely fine with everything that’s going on around us.

On the other hand, you and I both that the simplest of replies like “I’m okay” can just be a mask, a façade, to something bigger and deeper. The two-second mind-juggle is a time when we decide whether or not the person who asked that question deserves a generic answer or a genuine one.

Sometimes, the question “how are you?” is solely dependent on the person asking. Do we want to tell him that I’m not okay? Should I tell my friend about this secret? Do I really tell this person that I’m struggling? We decide whether or not that person is capable of knowing anything about us.

That’s the line from being a small talk conversation into a real conversation.

The question is straight-forward but we can also dodge it if we choose to.

Maybe we don’t want people knowing about our lives more than they should. Maybe we want to portray something different about ourselves.  Maybe we just want to be left alone.

Or maybe we’re just waiting for someone to ask that question. Maybe asking how you are can translate into something deeper and more genuine. From how are you they can ask how you been or what are you doing now or even further, let’s meet to catch up.

The question can sometimes be all there is and can be something more.

Maybe the question is for the person asking the query. That person is sincerely asking how you are because he or she really cares. That person is curious, wanting to know what you’ve been up to because you haven’t spoken in a long time.

The question breeds about person asking and the person being asked to.

But at the end of the day, it will always boil down  to you.

Inevitably, “how are you” is just about that: You.

What Type of Friends Do You Have?

As you get older, one undeniable fact in life you will realize is that there will only be a handful of people who will stick with you. It’s not something to be sad about, that’s just the way it is. People get older. People get married, have kids, and all that, and people lose touch. That’s the world we live in.

You may have a lot of acquaintances and contacts, but there are only a few you can your good friends you can count on; the type you can call in the middle of the night for a drink or the ones you can talk to about literally anything.

So if all your acquaintances and contacts are not really “friends,” what are they then? What’s the borderline between calling someone a friend and not a friend? Are Facebook friends still considered friends?

Humor me a bit and let’s take a closer look at the different type of friends that a person can have. The following may not be all the types that exist in the world, but here are the ones that I’ve come up with.

Also, I’m not going to discuss the boyfriend/girlfriend/bestfriend types because those are… well, pretty obvious and too easy. Of course your BFF will stay with you till the end of time!

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A) Acquaintance Friend

I guess this is pretty basic and straightforward. In reality, an acquaintance isn’t really a friend right? That’s why we call it an acquaintance. However, some people can cross that line between a person you just met into becoming a real friend. Whether you met that person in a business meeting or in a party, that one event wherein you met can just be a one-time thing or to something bigger: actually being friends.

This is more of the “Oh yeah I know him. We met in a party once last year” variety.

B) Work Friend

Work friends include your officemates, your partners, your clients, and whoever you have to deal with it at work. Work friends are obviously closer than acquaintances but somehow there’s that “line” again. Are they your close friends or are you close to them just because the circumstances in your work led you to be close? You know what I mean?

Remember, proximity breeds likeness. Relationships can be formed just because you spend countless hours doing a job with a person.

Personally, I became really good friends with the people from a company I used to work before because the circumstances led us to be close. The work was really stressful and we had no other option but to band together. And besides, they’re really cool people too so it was easy for us to be friends. Of course I wasn’t friends with the entire office and there were still those that I consider acquaintances or shallow work friends.

C) Friend from School

School friends extend to the people you met in elementary, high school, college, law school, grad school, and whatever else school is out there. I’m sure all of us have that one or two group of friends that were once our schoolmates. The bond is different I should say. Maybe because you were all young at one point – immature and discovering shit together. Also, all of you have one singular purpose in school: to graduate. That goal, together with the environment you guys are in (teachers, relationships, projects, etc) led you guys to be close and to be friends.

What’s nice about school friends are the memories that you guys share. Again, the bond is just different. I’m not saying that this is the strongest kind of friendship. No, it’s like that. It’s more of having that shared history that makes you guys feel close despite getting older.

D) I-can’t-remember-how-we-became-friends Friends

Maybe you met that person in a party, or in a business meeting, or at a friend’s house, or at a bar or just somewhere. The point is that you can’t remember where you met and why you guys are still friends. Despite this fact, you still surprisingly get along.

You possibly met through a common friend but somehow the two of you just hit it off and started hanging out even when that common friend is unavailable. You guys got close and the origins of your friendship doesn’t really matter anymore.

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E) I’m-not-really-sure-if-we’re-still-friends Friends

All your old schoolmates, old officemates, old acquaintances, and all your exes are included here. Either time has brought you distance, or maybe your friend moved far away from home, or worse that friend broke your trust.

There are tons of reasons why people leave. But guess what, you have left people too. Both sides are at fault and somehow things aren’t the way it used to be.

Are you still friends? Maybe there’s also such a thing called conditional friends – the type you only became friends because you were in a position to be friends. Perhaps it was the environment or situations you were involved in, but now, since those circumstances have changed and I’m sure each of you has individually changed too, you sadly realize that you’re not meant to be good friends.

But then again, because of that history considers you to be friends. It’s the present that’s iffy. You were close before, but how close are you with that person now?

F) Facebook Friends

Facebook Friends or Social Media Friends in general (i.e. Twitter or Instagram followers) can be really tricky. It’s obvious that someone’s 800+ friends aren’t all his friends. It’s easy to add someone on Facebook. With just a couple of clicks, some random person can automatically be your friend.

Getting someone’s Facebook is also the 21st century version of getting someone’s number. Being friends on social media is all about being cute, really. You post some random crap about your cat or dog and your “new friend” (who just might be your crush and that’s why he got your Facebook in the first place), will like your post or photo.

I do get the point of Facebook however. You do get to connect to people one way or another. The important thing is not to get used to the connection that social media gives us. Liking someone’s post or even chatting someone online shouldn’t replace actually having a conversation with a live person.

G) Friend Friend

To put it bluntly, these are your real friends. Anytime, anywhere, no matter what situation you are in life, they will always be there.

They are real in a sense that I don’t even have to explain what they are. They are real too much that as you read this, you’re already thinking who the people in your life fall into this category.

They are friends to keep.

You might meet thousands of people in your lifetime, and if you’re lucky you just might be friends with some of them. Friendship isn’t about the number of friends you have, but the relationships you formed with the people you love the most.

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Are You Ready For The New Year?

I know, I know. We’re halfway into January and I’m here asking if you’re ready for the New Year. But hey, it’s a question that you have to ask yourself again and again if you want to make this year count.

More often than not, people can get into a type of Rambo mode wherein they just go full-force towards the New Year without caution or preparation.

But I get it.

Don’t you feel empowered when the New Year comes along? Don’t you feel that sense of hope? Don’t you want to make this year mean something for a change? Are you one of those people who says those ill-fated words “Bring it on 2015”?

Of course feeling that sense of empowerment is normal. It’s human nature to look forward to new beginnings and fresh starts.

For some of us, a New Year can be like a big eraser, eliminating our past in one swoop, and a new page can be written in our lives.

For others it can be like a big bright green “Go” signal. The New Year symbolizes a start to finally begin your goals or dreams.

I get it. I like New Years too.

But can you ever be ready? Or should you even be ready?

By March this year, I’m sure most of us have already forgotten about our New Year’s resolutions, our goals, and our promises. I’m not being pessimistic; just realistic. Even if we do keep them in mind, circumstances might have changed this or that about our goals.

Are we just keeping the façade of a fresh start brought by the New Year? Are we just fooling ourselves? Are we trying to be hopeful despite the inevitable challenges that will come our way?

In a way, maybe getting ready for the New Year is a constant state of mind. Maybe we should always be ready.

Then again, maybe we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves. Maybe a New Year… is just that: a New Year. People change in a course of a very long time and they certainly don’t change from December 31 to January 1. It doesn’t happen overnight. I’m sure the aspirations you have this year will eventually happen one way or another. It may take a month, six months, or even twelve months.

The point is that whether we are ready or not for the New Year, life will come at us. Life will hurt us. It will beat us down repeatedly and without mercy. Life will uplift us. It will inspire us on our darkest days. Life will give us joy. The people who matter to you the most will stay because they love you. Life will let us experience whatever it is we have to experience in one single year.

Just let life be life and you be you.

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How Do You Keep The Faith?

Faith is the battle between what you believe in against what you don’t believe in. It’s a challenge between what’s going on with your mind and what’s happening right in front of you. It’s a struggle between what you see with your eyes and what you want to see with your heart. Faith is what you believe in despite everything else inside of you telling otherwise.

A friend recently asked me if I had doubts with my faith. You see, the thing about faith is that since it’s something intangible, it can disappear too. There is truth that faith can be tough like a rock – strong and sturdy – but things can happen to you that will allow it to crumble and fall.

Faith can be whatever you want to believe in. Faith in God, in people, or in yourself are all different factions of faith. Since it’s subjective, nobody can tell you what you should believe in or not. People can however guide you and help you find what you’re looking for.

The friend who asked me about faith told me not to give up. We haven’t seen each other for more than a year and have probably spoken only a handful of times the past year. Still, she urged me that in whatever I’m going through that I shouldn’t give up.

How do you keep it? How do you believe in the unknown when the things known to you are the exact opposite? How do you persevere through difficult situations in your life?

Honestly, I still don’t know how to keep it. What’s even more difficult is trying to keep it when the situation you’re in doesn’t change. Faith can’t be circumstantial in a sense that you can’t waver in your beliefs or morals just because things don’t go your way. That wouldn’t be faith right?

What you can do is continue to try. Believing to believe is a step. Believing that there has got to be more to life than this, is still something. To try to have faith is not as good as having a strong foundation in your faith, but it’s still worth trying.

Faith is still worth trying to save.

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Are You Still Messed Up?

Sorry for the quality of the video. But this scene from Adam Sandler’s Reign Over Me still gets me every single time.

Sometimes it’s scary to admit that we’re messed up. It’s weakness. It’s humility. It’s admission to failure.

When you’re young you tend to think and say to yourself, “When I’m 30, I’ll be all set up. I’ll have a decent job, a family, a house, etc.” But then you get older and realize things don’t often go as planned. They just don’t. Sometimes you get messed up along the way and you spend the next few months, or even years trying to get back on your feet.

Even when sometimes you think everything is pretty okay at one point, there’s always that one instance that makes you reflect and realize maybe you’re still not where you want to be. I guess that’s okay. It’s alright. Maybe you need a little more time. Whatever it is you’re going through, you are where you are for a reason. Feel whatever you need to feel. If you feel you need to be sad, then be sad. If you want to fight the feelings, then fight it. The point is let this issue of your life take its course.

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What Do You Like Most In Being A Kid?

About a week ago my family and I went out to celebrate my mother’s birthday. It was fun, normal, and basically everything that should happen in a birthday dinner happened.

What was interesting about the night however, was the family beside us. Seated were two parents and their daughter who was maybe around 4 or 5 years old.

She was the most adorable little thing you could ever find. For dinner, she had marshmallows and éclairs on her plate. She was eating them piece by piece as her parents were eating… well, normal grownup food. Of course her mother gave her a few pieces of chicken here and there but her marshmallows was the main dish of the evening.

More than the cuteness of eating marshmallows in a restaurant, what caught my attention was the innocence that was revealed in her eyes. She wasn’t stressed and she didn’t have any hidden agenda. She was eating her marshmallows like they were the most important thing in the world. It was the innocence, the lack of worry, and the pure joy of being alive that made my heart smile.

We were in those restaurants where they were hired singers who go table to table to sing. It’s a thing in Mexican restaurants like you see in the movies and they are also present here in the Philippines. Anyway, when the singers asked their table what song they would play, the dad asks, “can you guys do a song from Frozen?”

A second later, the lady was already belting out Let it Go. At that moment, can you imagine the face of the little girl? At first she didn’t realize the song being played but after a few lines she suddenly realized it was the hit Disney song. Her eyes widened and her eyebrows raised. She looked at her mother as if to scream “MOM THE LADY IS SINGING LET IT GO. GAAAAH!” She didn’t say a word but her open mouth and expression gave that tone. She also wasn’t one of those kids who just sang along or did crazy things when they hear their favorite tune. She still remained that innocent and cute aura she had while she was eating her marshmallows. She stood up and looked at the lady singing and started nodding her head. It was the most beautiful thing!

I don’t know how or why but the whole thing just struck me that night. Again maybe it was the innocence and purity of being a child that all grownups don’t have anymore. I know people always say that you should be childlike or whatever but there’s nothing like experiencing things with an open mind and a cheerful heart, and unfortunately that often happens only in your youth.

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Don’t You Wish You Could Turn Back Time?

I’ve pondered and wondered endless nights wishing I could turn back time. I used to do that a lot. More accurately, I still do. What is it about time and our actions that make us want to do things all over again? I mean, we know we have one chance in this life. Our grandparents and parents are testament that we truly have one life to live. It is one life to make use of yourself or one life to make a fool of everything.

As youth is spent on the young and regret is bestowed on the aged, we are left with unresolved decisions and missed opportunities that most of us won’t care to admit. That’s part of life, I guess. The shame, regret, and the wishing. By God, the wishing. I wish I could have done this, or that, or whatever it is that you’re wishing for.

I recall a movie I watched a couple of weeks back entitled About Time. I’m sure some of you might have watched this. This is a recent movie and it also stars Rachel McAdams. I first thought that this was just going to be about love and the power of going back in time to correct things so that love could work. You know, typical Hollywood romantic comedy hoopla.

Sure, there were moments when the main character used his power to go back in time to change his relationship with a girl, but for the most part, the movie was essentially about life and the choices we make. It was about having the ability to go back in time, but sometimes choosing not to because some things have to happen. They have to happen in order for us to grow. It all sounds cheesy but they have to happen.

Towards the end of the movie, the main character’s father gave him the ultimate advice regarding time travel. He suggested that Tim (the lead guy) should live each day twice. Instead of changing what’s going to happen on the second day (like what most of us might do), the father said that he shouldn’t change anything and just observe the same day on a different light. That’s the secret to time traveling he says.

This profound realization got me thinking: would I do the same? Given the chance, would I live through the same day twice? What about the bad days? Can I honestly live through a shitty day again? Reliving the same day brought about appreciation and understanding for Tim. It’s not just the fact that you know what’s going to happen but it’s more to the fact that there are certain things you don’t notice when you go through the daily routines of life. We get caught up in work, family, relationships, news, people, and so on, that we often take for granted the things that can bring smiles on our faces.

However, even though this might seem the secret of all secrets as to how to live a meaningful life if you ever had the chance to have the power to go back in time, Tim pushes it even further. After living days twice, noticing all the beautiful small things in life became habitual. Eventually, he didn’t need to go back in time anymore. He didn’t need to change his past. He didn’t need to stop to look and appreciate at the little things. He lived each day to its utmost potential. It wasn’t cheesy, it wasn’t cliché, it seemed like the most perfect and natural thing to do.

I guess I have to stop wishing and just keep on living.

What would you do if you had the power to go back in time?

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What’s Your Next Move?

Some people are good planners. They make careful calculations on how to proceed on a certain task and then they execute with precise precision. I’d like to say I’m one of those good planners, but I’m really not.

I used to try to do the whole “go with the flow” type of approach in life but that didn’t really get me anywhere. One of my worst fears in life is closing your eyes for a bit in the present, and then waking up all of a sudden in the middle of the night when you’re 60 years old. It’s like blinking from one moment onto the next.

This fear has led me to, or has dutifully forced me to think of the future with more caution. But how in the world do I do that? Do I dream big like I’m part of a Disney movie or something? Do I go Frank Underwood ala House of Cards and manipulate, extort, and connive my way onto the top? What should I do?

It’s cheesy to say to trust in the man above. It’s too… oh how do I put it… preachy. I mean, all of the things I’ve done or have accomplished have been orchestrated by some supernatural force that can’t be explained. It’s weird to explain, really. Nearly all of the work I’ve been getting are landing on my lap. It’s weird and it’s strange.

So what do I do? Do I wait for another something to land on my lap or do I take my matters into my own hands and plan my life ahead like a model son?

In the end I just want to do good – good in a sense I just want to do what I feel is right. As much this is about my life and my goals, there are people around me. It’s not that I overly go out of my way to help people but more of the fact that I realize there are people around me who support me and in turn I can support myself. Or even if I feel that I don’t have any support, and even the people closest to me who don’t believe in me, I must march on and do what I think is best.

Change is coming. I can feel it. I can sense it. All I want to do is to change myself first before the environment around me changes first.

 

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How Much Should You Depend On Others?

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In a couple of entries back, I’ve touched on the subject of people helping you reaching your goals. Furthermore, I’ve emphasized that your dreams matter to others. Believe it or not, your way of living and you reach your goals have an indirect on other people as they see your life. When you are fortunate enough, you get to inspire others.

But what if you don’t get the support? What if you don’t get the encouragement that you need?

I’ve slowly realized that there’s a very fine line between how you desire the need of affirmation and encouragement from other people versus listening to your inner fire that’s dwelling inside you. As much as we are social beings, we are singular entities traveling in this vast world.

It’s difficult when the people we expect to be the ones who encourage us don’t really… well, encourage us. Maybe you get disappointed with your spouse, your parents, your friends or whoever. At the end of the day, some people won’t believe in you. It’s just the way it is.

And in that moment of brief realization, that’s when you look not towards other people, but into your own soul. As there are other people telling you to do this or that, the voices within you have to be heard. Well, as long as they’re positive voices. The truth is, your inner drive can also be a speed bump to where you want to go. In most cases, we have to dig deeeeeep.

Recently, I got inspired to focus on myself after a series of self-defeating moments. For my own sanity, I had to dig deep. I searched for my gut who was wallowing in regret and looked into my heart who was looking in the past. I read a blog entry of my close friend Agnes who recently underwent her own realizations. If anyone’s interested, take a look at her blog – http://chubbytopia.blogspot.com. 🙂

Here’s an excerpt from her essay:

“I want you to know , that YOU and YOU ALONE are the driver of your own life. So you’re not happy? Do something about it. In a moment of weakness, someone can tell you something that will break your spirit. THEY CAN SAY ANYTHING TO CRUSH YOU AND IT’S OKAY TO GET CRUSHED BUT STAND UP. Don’t allow it to eat you alive.”

Though strangely I was inspired by a friend, it was a gentle reminder to fan the inner flames within myself.

You have to turn on your “Eff You Mode” and stop taking crap from other people and even from your evil self locked in the depths of your soul. So what if your parents don’t really understand what you’re doing? So what if you’re friends aren’t there for you when you need them the most? So what if all the things you once held dear went up in flames like a nuclear explosion? Eff. Freakin’. You.

When no ones watching or no ones listening, dream bigger. When you’re already tired, work harder. When no one’s giving you the right motivation, eliminate the fears. Yes, there is a need to be affirmed by others, but when it comes down to it, you have to listen to yourself. Believe in yourself. This is a bit cheesy and a common cliché but hey, clichés are clichés for a reason. Believe in yourself.

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How Can I Stand Here With You and Not Be Moved By You?

Hopefully you watch the video first before reading. 🙂

The first time I watched this video was about maybe 7-8 years ago in a youth camp. I remember I cried like a little girl and had goosebumps that made me stop dead in my tracks. And 7-8 years later, here I was again crying (though not like a little girl anymore thank goodness!) and had goosebumps that could fill the entire room. As a young man and looking back at this video today, there’s more understanding  to the symbolism of the characters. Of course, everyone experiences different kinds of evil in their lives. There are various temptations in this world, and the enemy knows exactly what will make us fall. For the longest time, I was that person in the video who was so caught up with life and what I perceived to be good. I was that person who was so lost (and many ways still lost) and trying desperately to get back in my life. In all honesty it came to a point that I resonated with the last temptation of the hooded figure inviting death. Not that I was going to kill myself, but I felt that life has left me. Besides, we’re dead anyway once we have no drive and no purpose to keep on living.

Besides the video, the song expresses what people want from the Lord. He’s all that we want, all that we need, our everything. However, what got me thinking differently was what if the song was actually sung in the perspective of God? Can it be possible that He’s saying “You’re all that I want. You’re my everything”? It’s a tough pill to swallow that the God of the universe loves us so much that He’s willing to do everything just to have us back in His arms. The thought of Him being crazy about me is…. well, crazy. Me? I always think that I’m nothing and I’m never enough. And God wants me?

How about you, do you believe God is pursuing you with everything He’s got? Do you believe He’s saying “How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?

Yes, He loves you and me. As hard it is to believe sometimes, but it’s true.

The tears always begin to move out of my eyes when the girl drops the gun and tries to get back with Christ. And then… and then… He starts defend all the evil that’s trying to get His child. Oh crap. Here I am crying like a little girl again and having goosebumps.

 

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