Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Low Tide

I want to write about so many things - my innermost feelings, my aspirations and my regrets ... but every time I start doing one, letters just jammed in my mind and all that I could type are bare words that do not give justice to emotions I want to spell.

I want to paint the beauty of what I see - the mountains, the sea, the sunset ... but every time I start creating one, the images just stick in my mind and all I can paint is an empty canvas that is a poor imitation of the real beauty I wish to depict.

I want to take pictures of what I see - from mundane everyday lives to profound postcard quality landscapes ... but every time I start clicking my camera, I can't seem to capture the real beauty of what my bare eyes could see.

I'm losing my creativity. There's a certain element in me that is missing and not knowing what it is makes it even worse.

I guess I just have to let this be. I believe that to live through life, I have to undergo the different seasons. To survive each day, I need to have the serene acceptance of time and tide. Sometimes, a low tide can really be as low as it gets, exposing the very core of one's life and seeing that there is nothing much in there hidden beneath the waves.

If this is low tide, then let it be.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Water Under The Bridge

It was a long year for me. Without any hint, it started like a fresh morning. Then suddenly the storm came. It lasted like ages like it's not going to end.

A day was like a decade.
A week was like a century.
A month was like forever.

I never knew what hit me. Everything was in chaos no matter how I tried to fix it. The more I struggled, the deeper I was sinking in the mud. I kept asking myself "What have I done to deserve this?" Yet, no matter how I kept repeating the question, I never got the answer.

Everyday was like a struggle. I had to drag myself to work and tried to pull the days till it would be Saturday. No amount of encouragement from friends could ease the pain inflicted by people who wanted me to fail.

It was the worst year of my life but it brought out the best in me. I came face to face with the ugly truth that some people have so much hatred and bad intentions in their heart. But on the other hand, I also saw the real gem on others for their understanding and encouragement. Through all the trials, I discovered that I had so much patience and strength than I never thought I had. It was a humbling experience but the wisdom I gained has made me larger than myself.

The year is about to end and with it came the stillness of dusk. At long last, the storm was gone. The people who caused me misery are no longer in my team. They are now like the murky water after the storm, flowing under the bridge...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My Daily Dozen

In this life and time, I have observed that materialism seems to overpower spirituality, greed is consuming love, apathy is perennial and empathy is scarce. Wherever I turn my eyes, I see this.

I asked myself, do I have to be a part of it or do I strive to make a difference? The choice is easy. I want to be a ray of light in this world.

To create a thousand lists on how I can make a difference is not difficult. How to do it all is the real challenge. So, I trimmed down my list to an achievable dozen things I can do to make my world a better place, in my own little way.

My Daily Dozen:

  1. Call my mother and let her know I love her.
  2. Let my son know I love him.
  3. Smile to at least 1 stranger.
  4. Say "Please" when I ask for something.
  5. Say "Thank You" to every favor received, no matter how small it is.
  6. Start and end my day with a prayer of gratitude.
  7. Count my blessings.
  8. Do a good deed to one person.
  9. Give a heartfelt compliment to one person.
  10. Send one inspiring SMS message to one friend.
  11. Offer a prayer of blessings to one person.
  12. Save at least a dollar for charity.
These are the small things I vow to do everyday.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My Afterthoughts of Ho Chi Minh and Angkor Wat

It was a well deserved vacation that I took together with a friend. I just wanted to forget my stressful corporate life and be lost in Ho Chi Minh and Siam Reap. Yes, I had a short vacation in Vietnam and Cambodia.

I traveled light. No cell phone. No Laptop. No reports. I just brought the bare essentials: money, clothes, camera and loads of enthusiasm.

It was my second time to visit Ho Chi Minh so I was the tour guide to my friend. My reasons for going back are the delicious food, the cheap but beautiful souvenirs and the friendly people of Vietnam.

I brought my friend to this restaurant I discovered 4 years ago named Quan Ngon which served very delicious Vietnamese food. Tourists and locals alike line up and wait to be seated for as long as 45 minutes. I knew my friend love it there because she agreed to eat there several times. We also had a short dinner cruise along Mekong River one moonlit night and attended a Catholic Mass (in English!) at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in down town Ho Chi Minh.

Losing my self in Vietnam was easy. All I did in Vietnam was eat, shop and pray.

The flight to Siam Reap from Ho Chi Minh was just an hour. With only less than 2 days to see the ruins, we hired a taxi driver to be our official guide around the city and the ruins.
Seeing Angkor Wat face to face was more overwhelming than I expected. I was consumed with unexplainable mixed feelings: Happy to be here at last; Sad that I only had a day to see it ... Amazed how such an ancient civilization built the huge temple complex; Perplexed how they just left it to crumble ... Touched by the indomitable spirit of those who built it with hard labor; Grateful how they tried to restore it for the next generations to see.

The carvings were so intricate. Every nook and cranny was adorned with exquisite design of all conceivable images – dragons, gods, serpents, flowers, trees and creatures of the netherworld.

It was hot and a bit crowded with tourists from all countries and races: English, French, Japanese, Korean, German, Italian, Spanish...I guess I heard them all. Everyone was armed with camera, ready to shoot at every opportunity there would be. Some were just there to just to be there. Some were there to really be there. Some were there and wanted to be really, really be there. I could say that I was there just to be lost in the myriad of beautiful stone works and rich history.

One of the sidelights of my visit was knowing that all weddings in Siam Reap would always end up with the pictorial at the ruins. It was so heartwarming to note that the Cambodians really value their heritage even in these modern times. I happened to take a snap shot of the entourage waiting for their cue for the pictorial.

Siam Reap is a small City in a developing country thriving amidst an extinct advanced civilization. I could say that their ancestors did not only leave them the temples of the past but also left them a gift of their future – a booming economy through tourism. They have plenty of big hotels and still counting, yet never enough, to accommodate the throngs of tourists who want to take a glimpse of this ancient and rich civilization.

Losing my self in Angkor Wat was easy. All I did was shamelessly take pictures of their gods and goddesses (like what most tourists do), hoping that I could bring everything I could without taking a single stone from the ruins.

I never imagined that losing one's self can be so enriching. It was in losing my self in the ancient temples of Cambodia and the busy restaurant in Ho Chi Minh that I found what I had been looking for: ME.