watchword of the week

                             pblue

There has been a myriad of challenges occurring in the past week, my old wounds and pains getting triggered left and right. Even as I write these words, I feel an intense weariness, and a persistent need to let out deep sighs from the weight of it all. No one needs to tell me life is hard, as I am well acquainted with that fact, but when there are days or weeks like these and I am tested to my very limit, I fear breaking underneath all the pressure. I fear going back down again.

But after speaking with my professor and mentor, one word he said stuck to me: integrity. If you are to say that integrity is what you live by, then it means adhering to your values, even when you’re shaken and pushed down by others. It means choosing good over easy. It means taking on courage, because you’ll sure as hell need it in the face of social pressures, your inner demons, and all those who are looking forward to seeing you relent and fail.

As Barbara De Angelis elaborated, “Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.

So, with these things in mind, I will not just speak lip-service, and instead live up to what I preach. I will stand strong and not allow the outside world shake me in who I am, and the values I live by. I will continue to live by honesty, love, faith, authenticity, and integrity, no matter what situation I am placed in or who I have to face… because each battle carves out my true character, and yields me greater strength in my success.

for an open mind

                            how_to_break_the_ice_at_a_party

I went to a friend’s party last weekend, and as I sat with a group of people I didn’t know and had little interests in common with, I was struck with the thought of how big our world seems to be in our heads, but how small it is in the scheme of things, especially in the eyes of an “outsider.”

We expect others to “match” our conception of things, that much of compatibility, whether we are brave enough to admit to it or not, is really about how much a person “fits” into our small world. In truth, it is our egocentric tendencies as humans at their best. As I mulled it over, I realized how much we end up missing when we constantly gauge people by how they match us, and only converse or connect to those who are like us. It’s rigid, and confining.

Instead, what if we opened our hearts and minds, and attempted to truly get to know the other person and acquaint ourselves with their world? What if we all did this? Perhaps we would have more friends, or be more inspired, or discover the beauty and diversity of the human experience in a fuller manner. Confines only leave us feeling unsatisfied and empty and longing for more… yet we cannot discern “the more” without venturing out of our tiny space and considering possibilities outside our knowledge and experiences.

There’s so much beauty out there, and we end up missing most of it by expecting the world to be like we want it to be. There’s something to say about sticking to what you know, but I’d dare argue that there is also something to open-mindedness and broadening yourself to outside your comfort zone.

moving past realism

                         writ

Many people say in argument for pessimism that it is “realistic.” Or in other words, “I’m not pessimistic. I’m just a realist.”

In one respect, I see where people are coming from when they say this. I’ve said it before myself. Perhaps they are trying to point out the fact that real life is not like a Disney movie, that simply, shit happens. Things don’t work out sometimes (or many times). There are moments when we will be sad, mad, upset, or lonely, no matter how hard we try to deny them.

BUT. To use this argument as an all-encompassing view of how one perceives every aspect of life is, I would argue, also not realistic. That only shit happens. If you believe that, then it is either confirmation bias, or self-fulfilling prophecy hard at work in you. What we believe, we make things come true for ourselves. Or we only remember events that confirm our views, and pay no heed to contradictory information. Research heavily backs these two viable options up. The truth of the matter is though, life holds both bad and good experiences. Not everything will match or meet our expectations. But there may be occasions when it will, if we actively seek them and let them happen.

I suppose the reason why I am waxing lyrical on this subject is because for the past few months, I have been in a pessimistic mode. It was not until recently I realized how much my so-called “realistic” view was limiting me in my perception, in my writing, in every way, really. As I was working on my novel, I found the same thought sneaking its way through, “This is so not realistic. None of this would really happen. My reality attests to this. Why am I writing this?” Little did I know how that contributed to my writer’s block and kept me from seeing beyond the wall of my experiences. One of the many, many wonderful things about writing is how it yields so much freedom for the writer, to imagine the most fantastical things, to go beyond reality into the infinite spaces of what could be. With that, you can re-imagine, create, discover, open your and your readers’ minds to new ideas and perspectives. You travel to new heights, ones you would never be able to in a confining, physical reality. There is, after all, more to life than your five senses.

I broke free from my writer’s block when I realized how I was constricting myself by not allowing myself to dream past my known experiences and reality. There is more to life than what I know. I should’ve known better. But it was a valuable lesson for me. Life is not just about disappointment, pain and hurt. Although those are there and so important, and certainly needing to be attended to, there is also so much good. And the possibility for good. Such as: through my suffering, I gain my strength and resilience. Instead of re-creating the same “woe is me” story, we should instead ask ourselves, what is the story I want to have? What is holding me back from creating it?

“Reality” only holds you back when you allow it to. With the pen in our hands, we are writing the story of our lives. We always have a choice. And we have the power to lead it elsewhere, if we so chose.

life is

                           fant-moun

The way I see it, we are all looking at an enormously large statue, one that even if we were to strain our necks, we cannot see in its entirety. All of us are scattered around it, staring at, above, and below, attempting to comprehend the towering statue, to figure it out, discern its meaning, have our eyes touch every single intricacy and complexity, every twist and knot. Yet we will certainly fail at the task in completeness, because the statue is far too large to consume. From the position we stand, at the ground and angle we are viewing, we cannot see everything. It is not physically possible, not in our means to. In addition, we all experience the statue differently, hold a cacophony of emotions, feelings, and thoughts toward it. It is impossible to find an “ultimate meaning” of a statue that we can all agree on, that none of us had a hand in creating. As it is with any piece of art, the Artist has his or her intent in creating it, whether we know or understand it, and as we encounter it, we subjectively experience it in our individual being.

We can only experience the statue, see it, feel it, from where we stand. Perhaps, one can argue, that is the point.

The statue is, of course, life. Each of us are at a different position, have a particular view of the statue, yet sometimes we forget, sometimes we think that all we see is all there is to it. Although it certainly is not. There is so much to the statue that is out of our sights, beyond our experiences, beyond our capacity to experience from where we stand. That is why it is a wonderful gift to me when I hear people and their perspectives. Part of my life’s motto is to live with an open mind, because to hear another’s view provides me with the unique experience of seeing a part of the statue I have not seen. It is so easy to get stuck in our bubble of thinking, so to open our mind to various perspectives bursts the bubble, tears down the walls that keep us stuck, stretches our thinking to touch new thoughts, new heights.

That is why I would never criticize a person simply for having a different perspective than mine, for their perspective yields a piece of a statue that many others cannot see, just as mine does also. Each person’s perspective is valuable.

It is also a comforting fact to discover there are others near you, when you realize someone sees the same twist in the statue that you do… when all this time you thought you were isolated and alone in your view. Finally, there is a companion to join you in your experience of the statue. You are not so weird after all. And what a validating feeling that is!

From my perspective, I find it a futile task to create an all-encompassing definition of life when we have not, and cannot, see the whole statue. There will be an infinite number of contradictions to whatever we come up with, because the statue is just that immense, that complex. We only know what we see. Life appears to be what you perceive, and what you make of those perceptions. Yet, I find it a valuable task indeed to open your ears and broaden your mind to others’ experiences and definitions. It helps to tear down those dangerous, narrowing assumptions that could drown us: that it is hopeless, there is nothing more to life than your four walls, things will never change, you will never change. We always have a choice, albeit a difficult one. It is hard to willingly stretch your mind, heart, and soul to reach past where you have stood for so many years. But I will believe to my death that that is the way we learn, mature and grow.

‘Tis life, I suppose. At least from where I stand.