Lessons from a stranger

An old man suddenly came within reach. He gazed at me intently and said what do you want to be? I quickly retorted saying, I want to be rich. He replied, then you’ll never be rich. I was thinking to myself who the hell is this intruder to tell me I will never be rich.

Noticing the weird and terrified look in my eyes, he then said look around you every single person who is alive and breathing wanted the same thing. They all want to be rich, we all want to but not all of us are. What was the problem? They were never specific. Your statement of wanting to be rich is too vague. That’s the problem. The moment you become specific with what you want in life is the moment it starts becoming real. So I’ll ask you for the second time. What do you want to be?

I answered, I want to be an ambassador and I want to dedicate my life trying to change the world and achieve a life free of hunger. I stopped. That’s the moment I realized the old man made sense. So I stood there nodding my head without a word.

He said, I was like you in my first life I had a lot of dreams but I was vague.

I was dumbfounded by his statement. First life?

He said, yes, this is my second life and I have been living in it for 11 years. I should have died on a plane crash but it was rather intended rather than a mere accident. An intended plane crash I had no means to control, a plane crash that killed thousands of people. I was supposedly on that American airline flight that crashed on the twin tower 11 years ago. I was supposed to board in time for a business meeting but I missed my flight. I was minutes late. Had I boarded that plane, I would be nothing but ash, unidentified and unrecovered.

I was bewildered by his story. He then continued. Watching the plane crash at the twin tower, his foot were glued on the floor. It could have been his fate had he arrived earlier. It was a clear image of his life to what could have been. He’s forever thankful for that few minutes that saved his life.

He left telling me that life is too short not to be specific, too short not to smile even on a phone conversation because the person on the other line can feel it, too short to spend it on waste. You’ve got to make sense about it every minute because you will never know you’re minutes from being gone.

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A life long dream starting to be real

Many do not understand my decision of giving up a decent corporate job to get my hands dirty because many will settle for the fancy. People have become rather conventional about life. Kids are sent to good schools, get a university degree and work for the best companies. That’s what life is for millions of people around the world. Let’s put an exception to those that are destined to create employment rather than getting employed but just the same they all traverse the same roads to end up in the same paths, to be CEOs or VPs of the big corporations. We’re all scared to take risks not knowing what’s out there so we go for what’s safe and what’s sure we’re afraid of an unknown future. I have quitted working with one of the world’s largest financial institution to serve the forgotten and the neglected.

When I was a student, my professor asked me in one of my final oral revalida what would you do to eradicate poverty?  I told him to alleviate poverty is rather more appropriate than eradicating it because poverty will forever exist it is an economic sentiment that even the first worlds deal with. It is an economic factor that balances out the cycle or all economies will overheat and then an economic depression.

My lifelong dream is simple, to make life bearable for the marginalized, to improve the quality of their current socioeconomic situation, to help the marginalized have an equal opportunity in our society, access to greater health conditions and a quality education. I have so much hope for the dying nations, to the population who have given up trusting the government to improve their lives.

I would like to be an inspiration to my children to never stop trying to change the world and make better living conditions and I feel that right now is the most appropriate time to start, while they are still far from existence.

“Because the people who are crazy enough who think they can change the world are the ones who do” –Steve Jobs

What daddy would do.

Yesterday, I was happy I could go home with a fairly good weather or it’s what I atleast thought. Soon as I got off the shuttle, the rain started to pour. And (of all days) I forgot to bring my umbrella but I had to be home. Needless to say, I was soaking wet. I dried up myself as soon as I got home. Unfortunately, I didn’t expect (which I should’ve expected) I woke up this morning with a terrible fever. So I popped some medicine taking it every 3 hours instead of 4-6 hours thinking it’d make it go away sooner. But I managed to come to work today without looking sick and groggy (a bit).

I threw up twice in the morning so I ate my lunch fast so I could sleep through my lunch break. Well, I got an hour of sleep but I woke up feeling worse with a red mark on my forehead and then my colleagues started telling me I looked sick and that I looked like a victim of a calamity. I threw up again in the afternoon.  That’s the third time today but I managed to get myself home. Times like this make me recall what my dad usually does when I’m sick. He’d usually buy some soup from my favorite restaurant if he couldn’t make one. He’d drive me to the beach so I can get some fresh air. He’d make me sit in the garden or at the old US naval base where there are tall trees, wide range of green fields and birds flying freely. He’d usually wake me up to drink my medicines exactly on the times I need to take them. He’d make me warm milk before I go to sleep. He’d come into my room with apple slices or my favorite fruits like grapes, lychee, strawberry, guyabano or rambutan. He’d cook whatever I want for dinner.

There was a time I’ve fallen terribly sick after I got back from Singapore, he’d make me sit at the garden in the morning while massaging my head. He bought me tons of lozenges because I couldn’t sleep without taking one that’s how terrible my cough was it keeps me awake and the rest of our household (I was coughing my throat out, my nerves on my neck seemed like they would snap anytime). Yeah, I had that cough for 3 months (geez, imported cough… difficult to deal with). I went to see the doctor she gave me the strongest medicines but it didn’t help much. My dad would feed me in bed like a 5 year old.

But daddy isn’t here now and there’s no beach here, no fresh air in Manila so for now, bed rest should do.

PS: I love you Dad!

Piece of Paper

I was on my way to the airport for a vacation overseas when I was handed a piece of paper. I ignored it for a moment because I was about to miss my flight. When I opened the paper this is what’s in it.

Dear Grace,

I’m writing you a letter that’s right a good ol fashioned letter. I have a confession to make. I wasn’t fond of you at first , you were this strong and classy woman who gives a shit about everything. Don’t take that the wrong way, I find breaking your defences challenging. As I spent more and more time with you, I see you as this little girl, brave, curious and  somewhat really really looney. Like bugs only with a smackable ass.

That hooked me, good.

I’m not with you now, for matters you and I know why. Even so, do breathe in for me, extend your arms for me, and rape the beautiful sights with your eyes on your way for me. This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time, I feel I don’t need to remind you this because you’re one helluva dangerous woman. So dig deep, buck up and enjoy the ride.

Attention reader, we are cutting down on expenses. Yeah, It’s high time I teach you to live cheap. You’ll reap the rewards of thousands of pesos under your bank account, I swear. Let’s spend it on travelling, like I said, if it’s experience I don’t mind spending.

Life is a sum total of reference experiences you accumulate from the moment of consciousness to the well.. you know the next.

Yeah, you forgot your ipod with me. call it your fault, but I’d like to think of it as me distracting you from finding out. Oh the humanity

Fuck it, I’ll miss you. You know this, I don’t  like repeating myself so there. I’ll see your nose magic trick, hear your ‘secrets’ and listen to you ramble about how you just love to hate turtles soon. As for pasalubongs, I would say unnecessary but follow your heart.

I’ll just be here, awesoming all over the place. I wish I can see how your face lights up everytime you visit overseas. That would be a treat.

Seriously up to no good,

Ron Santos

Just so you know, when I read it I was on my way to the airport so my head wasn’t in condition. Surprised can be a good word to describe how I felt. I couldn’t believe what was in it so I read the letter again while I was traversing the clouds at 36,000 feet, then it started to sink in. This is really unusual, who writes letters these days? So this is from someone that has changed the way I see things, the change I never realized I needed.

P.S. We’ll continue counting strawberries.

Does ink mix with alcohol?

While I would not encourage anybody to get into alcohol or drugs as abusing it may lead to serious consequences, I would not deny the fact that for some people it stimulates them to produce their craft. Because writing needs confidence and alcohol gives us the temporary courage to write, to ignite and release our emotions and traverse to our artistic sides. I would not claim myself as a writer but even when I was in college I had to be under the influence of an alcohol or in a state of a botanical heaven to get my head working or to even get my hands painting. Perhaps, people see alcohol as a vice or a practice that may not be considered moral and people think that way because the society engineered them to think that way. But at the end of the day we all know that not all that they say is bad, is bad.

Here’s a repost of the Top 15 Great Alcoholic Writers

Many great writers of the 20th century (especially American writers) struggled with addictions to alcohol. Some believe that this may have contributed to their great artistic abilities, while others believe that the alcohol served as a medication for other problems in their lives. This is a list of the 15 greatest writers who were alcoholics.

15. Hunter Thompson

Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author, famous for his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. On July 21, 1981, in Aspen, Colorado, Thompson ran a stop sign at 2 am and began to “rave” at a state trooper. He also refused to take alcohol tests. Because of his refusal he was detained, although during a trial the drunk-driving charges against the journalist were dropped because there was no basis for the charges.

14. Raymond Chandler

Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an author of crime stories and novels of immense stylistic influence upon modern crime fiction, especially in the style of the writing and the attitudes now characteristic of the genre. His most famous character is Philip Marlowe. Chandler abused alcohol for the entire duration of his writing career.

13. John Cheever

John Cheever (May 27, 1912–June 18, 1982) was an American novelist and short story writer, sometimes called “the Chekhov of the suburbs” or “the Ovid of Ossining.” A compilation of his short stories, The Stories of John Cheever, won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. A combination of his extreme alcoholism and inability to cope with being bisexual, Cheever sought the advice of a therapist who said: “[Cheever] is a neurotic man, narcissistic, egocentric, friendless, and so deeply involved in [his] own defensive illusions that [he has] invented a manic-depressive wife.” He eventually won the battle against Alcohol and began a relationship with a male student.

12. O. Henry

O. Henry is the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 – June 5, 1910). Porter’s 400 short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, characterization and the clever use of twist endings. A prolific writer, often turning out a story a week, he kept his real identity a secret as his fame as O. Henry grew. A failure at business, a spendthrift, and finally an alcoholic, he died in poverty on June 5, 1910.

11. Tennessee Williams

Thomas Lanier Williams III (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), better known by the nickname Tennessee Williams, was a major American playwright of the twentieth century who received many of the top theatrical awards for his work. One of Williams’ most enduring works, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, included references to elements of his life such as homosexuality, mental instability and alcoholism.

10. Dylan Thomas

Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was a Welsh poet. He is regarded by many as one of the 20th century’s most influential poets. His best known works include “Under Milk Wood” and “Do not go gentle into that good night”. He liked to boast about his drinking and said: “An alcoholic is someone you don’t like, who drinks as much as you do.” Thomas’ health rapidly began to deteriorate as a result of his drinking; he was warned by his doctor to give up alcohol but he carried on regardless. On 3 November 1953, Dylan Thomas and Liz Reitell, celebrated his 39th birthday and the success of 18 Poems. On November 5, Dylan Thomas was quaffing a few beers with Liz Reitell at the White Horse Tavern, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, when he started to feel ill. He slipped in to a coma and died four days later.

9. Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American writer and poet, best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles. Parker survived three marriages (two to the same man) and several suicide attempts, but grew increasingly dependent on alcohol. Although she would come to dismiss her own talents and deplore her reputation as a “wisecracker,” her literary output and her sparkling wit have endured long past her death.

8. Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short-story writer, editor, and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and invented the detective-fiction genre. On October 7, 1849, at age 40, Poe died in Baltimore; the cause of his death is unknown and has been attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.

7. Truman Capote

Truman Capote (30 September 1924 – 25 August 1984) was an American writer whose stories, novels, plays, and non-fiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a “non-fiction novel.” While Capote was writing In Cold Blood, he would have a double martini before lunch, another with lunch and a stinger afterward. After he was arrested for drunken driving on Long Island, he went to Silver Hill, an expensive clinic in Connecticut for alcoholics. He could stay off the booze for three or four months, and then he went back on it. He appeared on a talk show; drunk and rambling. “I drink,” he said after one binge, “because it’s the only time I can stand it.”

6. Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, and artist. Along with William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, he is amongst the best known of the writers (and friends) known as the Beat Generation. Kerouac died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, one day after being rushed with severe abdominal pain from his St. Petersburg home by ambulance. His death, at the age of 47, resulted from an internal hemorrhage (bleeding esophageal varices) caused by cirrhosis of the liver, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking.

5. William Faulkner

William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) was an American novelist, film screenwriter, and poet whose works feature his native state of Mississippi. He is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century and was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize for Literature. Much has been made of the fact that Faulkner had a serious drinking problem throughout his life, but as Faulkner himself stated on several occasions, and as was witnessed by members of his family, the press, and friends at various periods over the course of his career, he did not drink while writing, nor did he believe that alcohol helped to fuel the creative process. It is now widely believed that Faulkner used alcohol as an “escape valve” from the day-to-day pressures of his regular life.

4. Charles Bukowski

Henry Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was an influential Los Angeles poet and novelist. Bukowski’s writing was heavily influenced by the geography and atmosphere of his home city of Los Angeles. His father was in and out of work during the Depression years and was a reputed tyrant, verbally and physically abusing his son throughout his childhood. It was perhaps to numb himself from his father’s abuse that Bukowski began drinking at the age of 13, initiating his life-long affair with alcohol.

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940) was an American writer of novels and short stories, whose works have been seen as evocative of the Jazz Age, a term he himself allegedly coined. Fitzgerald had been an alcoholic since his college days, and became notorious during the 1920s for his extraordinarily heavy drinking, leaving him in poor health by the late 1930s. On the night of December 20, 1940, he had a heart attack, and the next day, December 21, while awaiting a visit from his doctor, Fitzgerald collapsed and died. He was 44.

2. James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish expatriate writer, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its highly controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce lived in Dublin for many years, binge drinking the whole time. His drinking episodes occasionally caused fights in the local pubs.

1. Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Miller Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) was an American novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. Nicknaming himself “Papa” while still in his 20s, he was part of the 1920s expatriate community in Paris known as “the Lost Generation”, as described in his memoir A Moveable Feast. Throughout his life, Hemingway had been a heavy drinker, succumbing to alcoholism in his later years during which time he suffered from increasing physical and mental problems. In July 1961, after being released from a mental hospital where he’d been treated for severe depression, he committed suicide at his home in Ketchum, Idaho with a shotgun.

Reposted from: http://listverse.com/2008/01/22/top-15-great-alcoholic-writers/

Drink Moderately!

Irony

I like walking fast. I like riding in a fast car. I hate waiting. I am impatient. I like everything to happen in a blink of an eye. I hate my time being wasted.

If there’s a word to describe my 7 years of independent living it’s the word FAST. I have basically raised myself. I don’t follow rules because I have none. I don’t ask permission from anyone because I don’t need to. I am FREE.

I started recalling when was the last time I tried to slow down, there was nothing I could think of. My normal walk would be hasty. I remember walking hastily on a fine Saturday morning overseas to get myself a scrumptious lunch. Then I now realize if I could have slowed down I would have appreciated the beauty of the islands and the mountains I crossed but I was too busy appreciating the speed of the bullet train while looking at the train stops. While I was finding my way to the restaurant, I was in a hurry. That’s me on a normal day, on a vacation. I’m always in a hurry for no reason.

I am just that impatient. Things we don’t realize until someone makes us appreciate what it’s like to slow down for a moment and seize the day with all its beauty. Things we don’t understand until someone makes us conscious that there’s so much more to life than rushing, that there’s more to a day than just doing our jobs and going home to get some sleep for the next day’s work.

When you thought you were living life, seeing the world, learning other cultures, loving the beauty of living life dangerously, someone walks up to make you realize what living is. Life is appreciating the little things. The genuineness of appreciating the small things we rarely even notice. It is seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

When you thought you were a happy crazy kid and you are just completely satisfied with everything that’s happening in your life someone makes you realize what you’re missing. Someone shows you what happy is.

Maybe my mentor was right. I’ve had my future planned out but there’s more to life than just fulfilling it. There’s more to life than just burning yourself out from work. How many Christmas and New Years have passed that I barely noticed the season because I was too busy with work, with responsibilities, with despairing of the things I lack because I have been far behind what I have planned out for myself. Too busy fighting the changes that were happening around me.

Someone comes to change it all. Someone comes to show you there is more to life than what you know. Someone comes to teach you what you still don’t know. Someone comes to make you better, to appreciate the things around you, to bring you to a lighter perspective. Then you start appreciating the irony in your life that all along, for 7 years this is the change you wanted to see, the change you wanted to feel, the change you didn’t know you needed.

A peculiar conversation with my mentor

I sat in her office, her face lit up and that moment I knew she was excited to see me.

She was very happy when she asked me how I was. I briefly told her about how my work was and she told me stories of how the department has been since I left. For quite a while we’ve recalled professors who left, who retired, who were great and of course those who didn’t deserve to be given credit.

Then she started asking me how my life was going on apart from work. I told her there was nothing going on aside from work. My life has been nothing more than a routine I wake up in the morning I go to work, in the afternoon I deal with an-hour-long traffic jam then I hear the mass and walk myself home.

She gave me the look and stared at me for a very long time. When she finally spoke she said “What have you been doing with your life? You’re missing out” She told me you can’t forget how good life is just because you’re in a hurry to get your dreams. You are not forever young. When you’re old you can’t have the same rush and bliss when you see your crush, when you fall in love, when you hold someone’s hand. Have you ever had a real relationship?

I shrugged and said no (A high school relationship doesn’t count. C’mon I was just a kid then). I was too busy studying and I really never felt the need for it. I was happy with my friends, too happy I didn’t even notice it. Then she asked me what do you do with all the guys that approached you? I befriended them. She took off her glasses and said ‘what?’ With a tone like how she couldn’t believe when she first knew Michael Jackson was dead. Well, I didn’t want any emotional attachments. My dreams are obviously somewhere overseas and I’m scared that I might get emotionally satisfied I might choose to stay with the comforts of local opportunities then I’d unknowingly give up on my dreams. It happened to a lot of people that I know and I wouldn’t want to wake up one day telling myself I could’ve had my dreams.

Then she answered you’re not them you know better, I taught you for years. You can’t lose all your time worrying about your future. You will be old before you realize you can’t do all these things anymore. And you will be old when you think about what real happiness means. Then I quickly answered back, what if my dream is my real happiness, something that will make me very contented. She looked at me straight in the eye and she said look at you, you’re devastated more than you’re happy. The way to your dreams is always rough, remember that.  It is a level of satisfaction, a self-fulfilment but it won’t be your real happiness because your dreams won’t be at your death bed when you’re about to go. I didn’t tell her what was running in my head but for the love of arguments I was about to ask what if he dies earlier than I do then that makes it all the same right?

I really couldn’t believe my mentor who was a feminist was talking to me in a very different perspective. I guess these are those things you won’t learn from books. How am I supposed to argue with all these? She has  already seen the world and I’m still about to see it.