Posts Tagged ‘learn’

There are markers for the passage of time. The seasons change, temperatures drop or rise, one side of your planner gets thinner than the other until it’s almost time to buy a new one, movies that were in the theater are suddenly now on DVD or Blu-ray, friends’ birthdays come and go, and before you know it you’re standing right at the edge of a precipice and staring into the unknown. The kind of unknown that comes with the pages of your planner running out, or the next chapter of a story starts but you gotta flip the page to know what happens next.  The kind of unknown when you find yourself at a crossroads and you can’t know what happens next until you make a choice first.

Yeah, the scary kind.

There is comfort in the everyday. There is safety in routine. There is something very reassuring about knowing what’s next.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned living in this skin is that life is about change.  Life never really lets you be comfortable for far too long. After all, how else are we to mark the passage of time but in the changes in ourselves?

The only way we grow is to be pushed past our comfort zone. The only way to learn is to reach out towards the unknown. Sometimes we’re ready for it. Sometimes it more or less hits us like a line drive out of nowhere knocking us off our feet. And mind you, line drives have killed people. (Trust me, I watch CSI — and the Drillers’ first base coach, Mike Coolbaugh, is an example of a fatal line drive too.)

But change will come. And we just do our best to roll along. I’ve learned that if I try to hang on to things too hard, I start to turn a blind eye to things that would have helped me deal with the changes. Things that could have helped me grow, be better, be prepared. And you know, that’s usually when things get all screwed up.

If you keep looking backwards all the time, you won’t know what’s coming right at you. And when it’s a line drive headed for you, you might wanna duck.

But despite change, there are also things that feel like…they never changed at all. You go on living everyday and there are these parts of you that just somehow still stay the same–or at least not as changed as it ought to have been by now. Like old wounds that should’ve healed by now — but I guess I keep pickin’ at it, so it never really gets a chance to fully close.

And of course, I’m still me. Still the same girl throughout the years. Kind of spunky, kind of always in trouble because I’m too impatient, kind of scared but annoyed that she does get scared, kind of the jeans-and-t-shirt girl despite efforts at being not, kind of tomboyish, kind of girly, kind of smart but slightly ditzy, kind of a goof but more of a dork, kind of battle-worn from life, and kind of still hopeful.

But then of course, as the years go by, I’ve changed too. Maybe a little more jaded, a little more sad, a little less book smart, a little more street. I’m a little bit wiser and a whole lot older, the smile’s changed from the full-on I-grin-and-the-world-grins-with-me, to a more tentative will-you-smile-back-at-me one. I’m a little bit stronger, tougher, less cool. I have a lot less faith in people, but a little bit more in the world. I’m a lot more careful about being hurt, but a lot more reckless with my life.  And while I’m still hopeful, I don’t quite know what to hope for anymore. 

It’s that great paradox Jacob Dylan sings, “I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same.”

And in the end, time is just passing along, the seasons change, fashions come and go, the clouds in the skies change before our very eyes, and we move forward into that unknown.

“It’s up to you how far you go, if you don’t try you’ll never know.” –> that’s from The Sword in the Stone, and it’s what my dad always told me whenever I got scared to try something or whenever I didn’t know what to do. And in the end, it’s still how I deal with change. It’s up to me how far I go. I can stay and be the same and rot away…or I can move forward with the changes and grow.

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I don’t really know the power of “Sorry.”

I was watching the Season Finale of Celebrity Fit Club (yeah, don’t judge), and Kevin Federline apologizes to Shar Jackson. He finally says sorry. And she proclaims that it meant “the world” to her.

I’m sorry…but No.

I’ve been at both ends of that word.

At one end, it is everything. At the other end, it is absolutely nothing.

When you’re the one who’s sorry, it can mean everything to you. It means that you’ve accepted that you’ve done something wrong. It means that you’re ready to move on, to grow up. It means that you’ve lowered your pride and admitted fault. It means that you’ve reached a certain degree of self-realization, self-acceptance such that you can look at the bigger picture of your life and say I did something that wasn’t good–that hurt someone else.

And you are SORRY. You will change. You will grow up, learn and be a better person.

But when you’re at the other end of sorry…well, it doesn’t really change the fact that you were hurt. It doesn’t turn back time and it sure as hell doesn’t erase all the pain and scars that were left behind.  Sorry just means you get left behind. It means the other guy knows he has done something wrong…and can move on from that. It doesn’t mean that you get to be all better, too.

It’s not fair, almost. When the other person says sorry for hurting you…does it mean you can’t be angry with them anymore? Does it mean you have to forgive? Does it mean you aren’t supposed to feel the pain anymore?

It just doesn’t work that way.

I think the flipside to being told the s-word is forgiveness. I’m sure it’s got the same effect as being the one who says the S-word.  And maybe, right now…I’m just not ready to forgive.

So when you’re sorry, I’m glad you figured it out and feel that way and can move on. But I’m not ready to not be angry because I still hurt. I’m not ready to forgive because I still can’t wrap my head and heart around it.  I do hate feeling this way and I am working towards it.

But for now, unlike Shar, your ‘sorry’ doesn’t mean the world to me.

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She was 90 years old.

She had 10 sons and daughters.

She had over 45 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She was the gravitational force that kept a family that large so closely-knit. She was the force of nature that had us always coming home, or knowing that we had a home to go to no matter what.

It was with great sadness that I said goodbye to my grandmother, Gloria J. Tan. She was the only grandparent I knew on my father’s side since my grandfather passed away in 1978, long before I was born. She was always strict. We had homework during the summers we spent with her. She was a school teacher that drilled education into all 10 of her children.

She hoarded and portioned everything.

In some ways, it was odd that all gifts to anyone in the family went through my grandmother first. But in the end, I see the bigger picture. With such a large family, there was absolutely no room for ideas of favoritism or any perception that one person was valued higher in the family than another.

She loved all of us equally.

When my father died, he was the first of her children to pre-decease her. I remember witnessing her grief. She had crumbled right in front of his casket, unable to move forward, unable to bring herself to look inside at her son.

Indi ni siya tarong, gid,” she cried. This is not right.  A mother must not have to see her children die before her.

I cannot understand that kind of grief right now. Mine was of a different sort. But she lived through the same grief two more times. I cannot imagine having the strength to relive my own grief three times.  It must have taken inconsiderable strength.

But from my grandmother, it comes as no surprise.

I will always love her. The lessons she taught (bulutong [pimples] if I don’t finish my rice), the idea of family that she represented, and the way she used to absolutely light up, open her arms wide and hug us whenever we came to visit.  She always felt like home.

Rest in Peace, Lola Amah. You are loved.

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Soul Hurt

“When I say I love you, it’s not because I want your or I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity, exactly what you are.  Thank you for everything that you have taught me and been to me. You truly are an exceptional being.”

“I feel like our love for one another runs deep and will always be there and we will be able to find our way home.”

I don’t know what to believe in. I don’t know how to feel. Sometimes I know deep down to my very bones that I am at peace with everything. And other times, it still hurts all the way to my soul.

In the simple words of Neil Gaiman, “I hate love.”

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Tonight, how I feel now, sitting here with tears on my face, is just one reminder that I was right.

I just wish I wasn’t.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I wish too hard, I wish too much.

And I’m just reminded that everything was always a disappointment.

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When I was a child, my father was my hero.  He was everything to me.  He was a soldier who was brave and strong and could do push-ups even when I was sitting on his back.  He was the kind of dad who mostly believed in experience and discipline.  He didn’t believe that “sheltering” us was the way to teach us about the world.

He was the kind of dad who threw us into the sea to teach us how to swim.  My mother was horrified.  But I remember him saying, “They are children.  Children always find a way to survive.”  Of course, he had to dive in after us.  He would swim just beyond our reach so that we couldn’t reach for him and half-ass the lesson and stop…but he could always reach us when he knew we were very likely going to drown if he didn’t pick us up. 


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Every time I find myself at a trailhead that forks between two roads in my life, I always somehow remember this song. I heard it for the first time from my mom on my high school graduation. Yes, it seems a bit on the sappy side, but the song has the kind of message mothers always want to pass along to their children. And it does work, even now, several years later, the song reminds me about what kind of decisions I want to make.

I want to choose to dance.

It’s not always the safe choice. It’s the choice that makes your heart pound a little bit harder, turns your mouth dry with anticipation, sends little jolts of electricity through to the tips of your fingers, and it’s the choice that makes you feel alive.

It’s not always the better choice. Because sometimes, it’s the choice that leaves you standing out in the rain, or with your heart shattered at your feet, or you find yourself tripping over your own feet and falling right on your face. It’s the choice that risks being foolish.

And yet, it is the choice.

Do I dance or do I sit this one out?

I hope I always choose to dance, no matter how foolish it may be. After all, as the song says, “Living might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking; Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’.”

I Hope You Dance

by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance

<<Will you dance with me?>>

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…between a rock and a hard place.

When going backwards is about falling.

When going forward isn’t really an option.

The minutes, hours and days go on.  Erosion sets in.  Emotions come to fore.  Shaken and starved.

And yet…unwilling to move, scared to lose.  Every step forward has been earned. Yet any movement away hurts.

In a way, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

But, it’s like a trap, shackles, a prison around myself to keep me safe.  If I don’t move, I can’t get hurt.

I know someday…one day soon…I have to choose.  I cannot stay where I am forever.  I am starved.  I am eroded.  I waver.

How do you teach your heart it’s a crime to fall in love again?

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I’m angry because he was right. 

Because he saw what I didn’t want to see; he put into words what I saw but did not want to acknowledge.  I’m angry because he flung it in my face and I still turned away from it. 

I justified.




I blinded myself.

Foolish, foolish little girl.  Such a foolish, foolish little world you live in.  Someone needs to cure me of my ridiculous faith in people.  Someone needs to give me a patch against disappointment.  Someone needs to shield me from hurt.

I’m angry he was right.

Everything really is just nothing.

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