Love is a choice

We often think love is when you fall helplessly for someone. It may be at first sight. It may be after years of friendship. It just spiralled out of control, and now, you find yourself madly in love with someone.

We buy this notion a lot. When we love, it’s more than just conscious thought. The pheromones, the hormones, the nonverbal behavior, the scent, the touch, the energy—these are all at work as someone becomes dearer and dearer to us.

But the past few years have taught me that, although unseen forces sway our feelings, love is a choice.

When we love, we choose to love. It is a conscious decision to go with the unseen forces that make up our emotional, intellectual and physical systems. It can also be a conscious decision to go against it. When the situation tells you not to love, but you still do, it’s because you chose.

Love is a choice. And the ultimate manifestation of love as a choice is commitment.

Love is a commitment.

It isn’t just about what you feel at the moment.  It isn’t about the forces that surround you. It isn’t about what the circumstances call for.

You see, you can choose to love, and then the next day, you choose not to. You may have reasons. Your man cheated. Or your wife suddenly got amnesia. Your child betrayed the family.

In these cases, circumstances tell you, the cost of loving outweighs the benefits of loving. That’s when the ultimate choice to love comes in the form of commitment.

You commit. You declared it, and now you stand by it.

Whether you’re badly hurt, or your emotions run dry, when it seems so illogical and counterintuitive to stay, that’s when love manifests itself in its most profound form: a conscious choice.

When all the world pushes for equality, practicality, cynicism, independence, and justice—you see, these are not bad values and philosophies—you choose to love.

Love is a choice.

Growing up, getting serious?

As a full-time graduate student, I only have four classes a week. Apparently, I have lots and lots of free time. But it seems I don’t have enough time to do everything. What am I doing wrong?

I haven’t received my November, December and January salary yet. That’s three months in a row. Fortunately, I’ve been surviving on dad’s regular provision of money and friends’ kindness. 🙂 (Thanks for that.) However, I sometimes find my self in the brink of draining cash, like now. I only have a few hundred pesos left. What am I missing? Continue reading Growing up, getting serious?

I’m leaving in a month…What now?

I’ve tried to dodge this for almost a year and a half. But now I’m facing the inevitable. I’m moving out.

Leaving for masters is a big thing for me. I’ve been working at the department as an instructor for almost three years now. It’s not my own liking to leave. But civil service rules that anybody teaching in college should have more than a BS degree. And my current contract is about to finish. So renewing it would require me to have more than a BS degree.

I’ve been here for 22 years. Born in the university hospital, raised in the next village, studied elementary nearby, and at the university for high school and college. I’ve practically lived with my family all my life (my brother experienced four years out even before I could).

I’m in this shell. Comfortable. I have a salary, and I contribute to household expenses. But all else, I don’t have worries here. We pay for laundry. My dad takes care of most transactions, like paying the bills, renewing licenses, etc. I have only myself to take about.

But in a month, I have EVERYTHING about myself to take about. I’m going outside my shell.

People might laugh at me. My students know how it is to be away from home. Me, I don’t. I still don’t know how that feels.

Even if I go out, I still have people around me. Dictating me what to do. Do this, do that. I’ll do the talking. I’ll do the transacting. (Like when I travel to Manila. My buddy sir Derek calls almost all the shots.)

But really, for me, this is a new chapter of my life. Lots of changes, I know. There are questions and concerns that run in my head, and I outlined them to be these.

Menial Things

I’m used to being at home where I don’t care about the little household things. Like worrying about my food, washing the dishes, cleaning the house, taking care of the laundry, managing my budget and paying bills.

I consider it a hassle. I’m an introvert. A low energy introvert who doesn’t care about the outside world. I find details a hassle. (I’ve only used at most 3 proper nouns so far.)

Ministry

I’ll be looking for a local church to join when I get there. Will I be fellowshipping nearby? Or at my cousin’s church two hours away? How involved can I get?

Family

I really have no qualms about my family. Except that I’ll miss them. I have two fun siblings to miss. And my mom and dad are so great (and not really intrusive to my day to day things, which I kind of appreciate as an introvert–just the big life concerns–yeyy! the abstract. Hooray for the introvert).

My girlfriend

This one’s unresolved until now. We haven’t talked face to face, heart to heart, and really openly about me leaving. We’re introverts. And we’re passive aggressive. We haven’t really sat down and discussed this.

But as what I understand (taking from non-verbal cues and short verbal hints), she doesn’t like the idea. And I understand. I don’t like leaving either. And it’s mainly because of this.

And we’ve avoided bringing this up ever. We just go out. We enjoy our time. We text and call. But never this conversation. And I don’t know why. It’s like, okay, let’s cross the bridge when we get there. But we’re almost there!!!!!!!!

But it’s okay. We’ll get to that. (I’ll maybe write a long letter for her.)

I don’t know. (I’m about to space out so, next…)

Space and independence

I know masters would entail a lot of things to me. When I go out, I’m on my own. But not really.

I have two buddies there, who are also on their graduate studies. There are pros and cons.

One, I have seniors who could give me guidance. They could offer insight when I need them. And maybe advice when I need to have some.

But on the other hand, I don’t want to be spoonfed. I want to learn how to cope up with masters and being independent rather independently. I don’t want to be told what to do down to the last detail. That’s not how I learn.

I want another shell where I can space out, and continue living. I want to work and cope and live at my own pace. That’s how it is, eh. I want to go out and socialize at the times of my own choosing.

I don’t think this timidity is a problem. My space and my privacy and my quiet times are where I get my strengths. Where I get my insight and my ideas. Without it I burn out.

And this post ends abruptly. (Spacing out in 3… 2… 1…)

(Ok. I’m scatter brained.)

(To be continued…) 🙂

Nobody jokes to my girlfriend like that

‘Whatcha doin’? You must be flirting.. Flirt with me instead. It’s free.’

There must be a limit to ‘friendly jests’. There must be a limit to jokes that can be said without ‘malice’. THAT is apparently beyond the limit.

It’s not cool to joke around with that. It’s not cool. From a boyfriend’s point of view, it’s appalling. My girlfriend is not cheap. But that ‘joke’ is very demeaning. The assumption that she must be flirting is unflattering. Second, that you invite her to flirt with you (for free!) is distasteful.

I love and value my girlfriend. And whoever dares to ‘joke’ like that to her will answer to me.

Authenticity and leadership

To be a leader, you must learn to be authentic. To be great is to be faithful to the truth.

Recently, I started to tell myself I’m not good at leading. Because, leaders, they say, have good social skills. They smile at everyone, they remember names well. They are great at focusing their attention. They are good at small talk.

All of these, I’m not.

But I’ve been a ‘leader’ since I was in grade school. Ran for the school government. Ran a college publication. And so many other things. I wasn’t well-loved. But I’ve got a faithful following. And it’s not because I was socially awkward.

Because I was authentic. I didn’t pretend. I speak my mind. I tell others that something is good. I tell them if it isn’t.

I told the truth.

And I think that’s what’s important.

Leadership styles vary. But it’s always important that, to attract the right followers, leaders should trump honesty and truth at all times.

Spinning lies and half-truths can only rally troops that love to be pampered. We cannot go on saying, Hey! We’re doing great! when we aren’t. We can only live in these bubbles temporarily.

Honesty is not just “the best policy”. It should be the only policy. It’s a mark of greatness.

Candid as I am, I think it works. Those who are afraid to realize their weakness avoid it.

But the truth… sets free.

On confidence: I always second-guess myself…do I?

Today, I feel great. But no, I don’t.

Teehee. I always am in a roller coaster ride when it comes to how I gauge myself. A lot of talks and articles and quotes and Facebook statuses have been devoted to encouraging people—come on, feel good about yourself!

Is it right? Is it wrong? For me, it’s neither. It depends on the case.

I sometimes feel I’m really good. I can enumerate to you the set of skills that I have. (Ehem, look at my Facebook profile.) I can be so egoistic, I cause hurricanes.

But sometimes, I just feel so nothing. Inept. Inadequate. Useless.

Which is right?

In the day to day dealing with people and things, I believe confidence is important. To ‘schedule’ when you feel great and when you don’t is needed. You have to adjust with people around you.

I usually ‘motivate myself’ when I give talks and when I hold classes. It’s a psychological phenomenon, I believe, that you have more influence when people around you perceive you as confident (even if you’re wrong, haha!).

But I also think that we have to muster a moderate amount of ‘lack of confidence’. The Dunning-Kruger effect tells us we must feel inferior to motivate us to be skilled all the more.

James also says in the Bible that God humbles the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

There are always two options when it comes to evaluating yourself.

Are you that great? Have to think twice.

For me, uhm, I don’t know.

Why am I even writing this post? Haha. I’ll stop right here. 😛

Poverty is a mindset

It’s all in the mind.

I’ve known a lot of poor people who eventually succeed. They don’t remain poor. It’s because they know they can.

It’s really a matter of conditioning the mind. Early on, I have held on to the belief that poverty is not a binding, crippling disease. Like, if you’re poor, you’re poor forever.

In behavioral psychology, they study about learned helplessness, when people do not act on opportunities or muster the willpower to rise above mediocrity.

I feel bad about that.

I know a lot of people—though not well off—who have potential. They have talents and skills. But they do not learn and improve. They do not excel.

Because poverty is a mindset.

Ashes will be my final version

When I die, cremate me.

I say this to my family and friends when conversions reach the topic of death.

However, not all of them are very open to my idea. Cremation is uncommon in the Philippines. Putting people in caskets, that’s what we usually do. It’s kind of a thing of tradition and custom. We put dead people in boxes with glasses so we could see them. Cry, mourn, stay overnight for vigils, talk, eat… some play cards, or even gamble. Then after a week or so, we put them on tombs.

Do you want your final version to be a dead body, lying inside a casket, in a tomb, in a cemetery, with other dead bodies beside you? And you rot through the years?

I wouldn’t want that.

I’ve been to a lot of wakes. A few of them with their ashes only. And I could compare the mood, the ambiance of the ceremony. With ashes, people mourn less. Of course, you wouldn’t want to jest around with a dead body in the house, would you? Creepy.

I want to be cremated because of similar reasons. First of all, I don’t want my final version, to be just me, but in a dead way. I don’t want to lie there, wearing some formal outfit, but emptied with life. Pale, without blood, with makeup, with gel, with lipstick.

I don’t want people who will see me for the last time, see me dead.

I want to transform into something else. Haha!

Some say cremation is unethical, or unbiblical. I don’t think so. It will not make my soul less worthy of heaven (for it’s faith that will lead me home, not how I died). If that’s the case, what about all the Christian martyrs burned at stake in the early Church age?

So I shrug that off.

But honestly, it’s rather philosophical: I want my life to be celebrated.

I don’t want people to come, see me dead, and say, what a waste! This guy could have lived longer. Or, you could even accomplish more! Now, I see you dead, in that barong. Sigh!

No, I don’t want that. With ashes, there’s no body to mourn. There’s no dead Jed to behold.

I want you guys to celebrate my life. Go ahead, laugh, joke, eat, and share memories! Relish the moments that you’ve been with me. Watch videos, listen to recordings, play my productions, compositions, perform my songs… Remember how I lived and loved. (While I stay there in a jar, somewhere in front or at the side. I wouldn’t mind.)

After all, that’s what wakes are for, right? It’s a ceremony, it’s a tradition, it’s a custom. Let’s keep it at that, less the hassle of carrying me about on a box, and walking under the heat of the sun to bring me to someplace you won’t even visit often.

Spread my ashes to some piece of land, or at sea, I wouldn’t mind. Don’t keep me, if possible.

As much as you can, don’t see me dead. When I die, remember me alive.

But there are conditions. If I die being ripped off by a chain saw or something else gruesome, then put me in an open casket. Or a pure glass coffin. (I want to mess with your head, haha!)

You’ll wish you should have upgraded me to ashes, my final version.

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all. ~The Preacher, Ecclesiastes 3:20