Choose joy

March 14, 2020 almost seven months ago… I wrote this entry on my journal:

“Know that sometimes things will not go your way even if you do your best, and regardless of whether you deserved it or not.

Do not confuse your aspirations with how the universe should turn out. “– Jonas Salzgeber

Everything really happens for a reason. Lately, I have been thinking of what would happen if I applied to the Interior Design program instead of Archi. I am 101% sure that I would not pass the exam for ID and would not have been considered. I would probably be in a pre-med program and would be bored as hell.

BUT I am here in a situation I never actually dreamed of but I am happy to be here. Yes, I still have thoughts of wanting to apply again at Minerva [a university abroad in which I applied twice and got rejected twice too] (I guess I will always feel like that bcoz its my dream school).

BUT I know that maybe it really is not my path now (maybe in my next life lol). God put me in this journey on this day and the days onward for I have a purpose to fill. If I got in to Minerva, the first time around, would I have met the amazing community of MakeSense? Will I learn how to sketch, draw, color, and render? Will I have known Likhaan, Tita Rosie, & other crafters? Will I be able to explore the museums in our country? Will I be able to [learn how to] crochet? Will I be able to help the ppl that I am surrounded with every single day?

It might not seem obvious to others but for me, I take time to see how I am making a difference in the specific place I am in. Whether its just buying something at a local store or helping someone w/ the directions or just simply riding the public transpo, in a way, I am thinking that I am helping to others. I was meant to be here because I have to do this or buy that.

So I do not like get so worked up because I did not get in twice but rather I am happy thay because this is how the universe should turn out. I did my best but it really is not for me (now). I am very very grateful of this journey I am taking on. I hope to meet more people, to connect, to learn, and to always remember to be in the present.”

I have the habit of re-reading my past journals because it makes me remember that where I am right now is something that my past self worked hard to get to and that this is something I wanted and I should not take it for granted.

I love how seven months ago, I choose to look at the silver lining of what’s happening. So far (or maybe, ever), I am grateful that I did not make it because I am having a lot of fun today and all the previous days that passed or… maybe its because I just consciously choose joy.

Regardless of what will happen, I will choose joy and I hope I will always will.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.

Slow down

Fred Mitchell: Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.

Last week, classes has started and God, I just adjusted quickly to synchronous learning. I barely remembered how I used to wake up 4 am in the morning to go to class and go home at around 7 pm (for 5 days a week) before pandemic. (How did I even kept up with that for my whole freshman year??)

Now, I am living my best life. I wake up, not being hurried or anything. I spend the day at my own pace. We have classes in less hours now. The lectures do not even pass the 2-hour mark. I have time for my hobbies (and that’s amazing!) Though ofcourse, there are days when the workload is heavier than usual but that’s okay (I mean I’m an architecture student, that is expected).

Though what I did not expect was how I adjusted so quickly. I am so grateful to have time for myself or better yet, I am grateful that I make time to slow down. When I know, I spent so much time on academics, I rest and watch my favorite k-variety shows or read. 

Last week (and for the following weeks), I make ‘slowing down’ my priority. And Rick Ezell best explained it why. In Defining Moments May 5, 2020 issue, he wrote,

Slow down. It has been said, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” Well, often we need to do the opposite: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” Regularly we need to be still. Stop what we are doing long enough to reflect on what is most important right. If we stay busy continuously, we lose sight of the significant in life. The important is tossed on the altar of a busy and hurried life. That sacrifice is much too great and utterly useless.

In those ‘unproductive’ times, that is where I get clarity- that I am more than my academics and productivity. I am a human being with hobbies and a soul. Also, slowing down is where I get energy by asking myself, “Is this important? Is this something I want to do right now?”

Slowing down is where I can breathe. To be human in this world conducive to anxiety and busyness.

Albert Camus, in Notebooks 1951-1959, wrote, “Do not be afraid or spending quality time by yourself. Find meaning or don’t find meaning but ‘steal’ some time and give it freely and exclusively to your own self. Opt for privacy and solitude. That doesn’t make you antisocial or cause you to reject the rest of the world. But you need to breathe. And you need to be.

Why I Write

I just started publishing short stories on Wattpad (there are currently two!) and in my bio I wrote,

I’m Claire.

I write short stories because I like doing so. They may be in purpose of informing or anything (which is true, yes). However, my main purpose is I love doing it just for the sake of doing it. Similar to Zadie Smith (author of Intimations), writing, for me, is something to do. It keeps me sane, makes me alive and what the world needs are people who have come alive.

I, sincerely, hope that you do what makes you alive too.

Back when I read novels on Wattpad around six years ago, I had this urge to write. But that did not continue. Now, I am not rejecting myself any longer. Hence, I just write in any form I wanted. I’m now venturing to short stories and I’m excited for what lies ahead. All while remembering why I decided to do this in the first place. It is because I want to do it and I love doing it. Creating itself is the reward for me.

Author and artist Austin Kleon wrote in a blog post, “What if you stopped thinking about your ideas as things you need to let out of you, but things you need to let in to you? Things you need to be ready to receive? If you start to think about creative work this way, Gilbert says, “it starts to change everything.” You can stop being afraid and daunted and just “do your job. Continue to show up.””

Like what I wrote in my bio, I hope you do what makes you alive. For me, it is writing. And regardless of the external outcome, author Elizabeth Gilbert says, “do your job. Continue to show up.

When Words Do Not Come

Is it when words do not come or rather when words do not arrive yet? I believe that they still haven’t come yet so its the latter.

Today I struggled with connecting words together. I had them in my head like bits of words and they just do not connect when I wrote them down.

My article for my school paper just got published in public and I’m growing anxious by the minute. I’m anxiously waiting for a comment saying, “This article is bad. They should fire the student who wrote this.” or whatnot. I came to the conclusion that as much as I enjoyed writing the whole article together, I still need to learn how to not care so much of what the world thinks.

I’m still learning and I hope I will learn to get past this.

Back to the when words do not come, I read an entry from the Red Hand Files of songwriter and musician Nick Cave. Someone asked him “What do you do when words aren’t coming?”

Nick Cave answered, “The idea of lyrics ‘not coming’ is basically a category error. What we are talking about is not a period of ‘not coming’ but a period of ‘not arriving’. The lyrics are always coming. They are always pending. They are always on their way toward us. But often they must journey a great distance and over vast stretches of time to get there. They advance through the rugged terrains of lived experience, battling to arrive at the end of our pen. In time, they emerge, leaping free of the unknown — from memory or, more thrillingly, from the predictive part of our minds that exists on the far side of the lived moment. It has been a long and arduous journey, and our waiting much anguished.

Finally, he ended with, “Our task is to remain patient and vigilant and to not lose heart — for we are the destination. We are the portals from which the idea explodes, forced forth by its yearning to arrive. We are the revelators, the living instruments through which the idea announces itself — the flourishing and the blooming — but we are also the waiting and the wondering and the worrying. We are all of these things — we are the songwriters.

I believe this does not only apply to songwriters. I believe it applies for all writers as well. Its not when words do not come, its just that they havent arrived yet. While we are patiently waiting for them to arrive, it is our task to be aware of them at all times and still continue to live our life.

Run to the Roar

These past few months, I kept running to the roar. My stomach clenching and heart pounding. I very well know for sure that I am afraid during those times and I am still afraid now. Regardless of how afraid I am, I still run to the roar.

Tina Essmaker said, “When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.

In retrospect, all the things that I did were scary when I haven’t started them yet. But two things that I learned,

1. Do not reject yourself.

There is this expression inside you that originate from the experiences and things that you consume. And since you are the only one of you at a lifetime, this expression, hence, is unique. No one has lived in the same way as you and that what’s make your expression unique. Your job is to share it with the world and not to limit yourself with the beliefs like not enough experience, not enough time not enough audience, etc.

2. Continue to follow your hobbies, interests, and desires for the sake of learning. Have faith that by following them, you will get closer to the person you need to be.

Its not really about winning at doing things but rather doing them because you want to learn, because it brings you joy. Yes. It is scary. But remember that you are not doing it for anyone, you are doing it for you.

That is the two things that I have in my mind these past few months. And I hope you got something from it.

What a ride!

How does a successful day look like?

Each person has their own meanings of a successful day. And I have my own too.

To me, a day is succesful if it is well-lived. Well-lived in a sense that I make myself live in the present. You can’t believe how much I have spent ruminating of the happenings of yesterday or the anxiousness of the future during the past few years. Hence, for every day, I remind myself that I’ll do the work of today and worry about the problems of today.

This morning, I unconsciously recited a quote of Maya Angelou in my mind. “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.” Reciting this, I never would have expected that this day will really be a day that I have never seen before.

My main task for the day was to write two feature articles and yes, I completed them. However, spontaneous things happened and I was tasked to write another article–a news article–an type of article that I’m not (yet) comfortable.

With the help of our managing editor, I am able to accomplish the task. The previous feature articles I had done before, somehow exhausted my mind but at the end, I’m satisfied with how I spent my day. It’s not really about accomplishing things in a day but more of have I done something that I love and did it with my utmost best?

I love this words from Mavis Leyrer about the goal is not to arrive without scars, “The object of life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body but rather skid sideways, totally worn out shouting holy shit what a ride.”

And that’s basically what I perceive as a successful day.

You may arrive with bruise and cuts and yet, satisfied on how the little adventures went shouting: “What a ride!”

End

This post is part of the Bag of Words exercises wherein I will write something, anything about a word I chose. The word varies in each post. For every word, I’ll ask, “What does this word mean to me?”

Word: End

As much as I enjoy the journey of creating something, I can’t wait for the end as well. The end means I will now move on to a new activity. New things to learn. An opportunity to apply the things I learned from the prior creation.

But as much as I enjoy the end, in every ending, I see how much of an ignorant I am. I see areas wherein I could have done better and I try to be optimistic about it, knowing that I may apply what I have learned to the next thing I will be creating.

Today, I will be submitting my internship article and a feature article I wrote for my uni org. The journey while writing these two articles is rough. I can’t help to be embarrassed about myself. But the proof that I am growing is if I am able to identify areas in which I could have done better.

And every day comes to an end. We can no longer re-spent the time of yesterday. The only thing that we have is today. Live it. Do the things you enjoy. When the day comes to an end, you’ll not regret anything. We regret more on the actions we did not take rather than the actions that we took.

Adam Grant wrote, “When people reflect on their biggest regrets, they wish they could redo the inactions, not the actions. “In the long run, people of every age and in every walk of life seem to regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did,” psychologists Tom Gilovich and Vicky Medvec summarize, “which is why the most popular regrets include not going to college, not grasping profitable business opportunities and not spending enough time with family and friends.””

The end exhibits how much you need to learn but it also signifies that you experience becoming. Whatever you had done and finished, it is now part of your life and will be part of your journey. And you are ready to do more, armed with the lessons and stories you have inside.

Heartwarming Cubing Documentary

Speed Cubers, a Netflix original documentary about the lives of Feliks Zemdegs and Max Park, both of them have been world champions for various years and are well-known in the cubing world. What made me emotional while watching was how Feliks treat his rival Max Park.

A year ago, I first heard about Feliks Zemdegs through an article wherein a speedcuber shared about how Feliks treated him with so much humanity and respect when he could just be a “nobody” or someone who he has to compete with.

Going back to the documentary, diagnosed with autism at an early age Max’s mother want to develop his motor skills and be able to bond with him, she taught Max on how to solve a Rubik’s Cube and that continued. Max first met Feliks in the world championship and according to Max’s mom, Feliks was the first person Max took a picture from. Greatly inspired by Feliks, Max went on to break the world records set by Feliks. Max continues to improve mostly because of Feliks.

What touched me was how Feliks constantly send congratulations message to Max by texting Max’s parents whenever Max broke another record. Throughout the film, I can see and feel how Feliks has influenced and inspired the lives of Max and other speedcubers through his humane actions during the competition. All of them were his rivals and yet Feliks knew that he has to treat them as his peers first.

And all of these would not happen if Feliks did not pursue his hobby. This whole situation above shows why hobbies are important. 

They started learning how to solve a Rubik’s cube because they want to and until it became a hobby. Somehow through the continuous pursuance of their hobbies, they grew closer to their best selves. They were able to meet various people who would positively influence their lives and this would not be possible if they did not pursue their hobbies.

Here is a note: Pursue your hobby. It does not matter if it is something you can make a profit of or not. If you enjoy doing it; if you enjoy just learning and doing it even without tangible gains (like wealth), still do it. I keep on saying this, and I will say it again, no one knows what will happen in the future and what we will be. What we can do is let out interests and desires guide us to becoming who we ought to be. And have hope that if we keep doing what we love and what we think is right, we will get closer to our best selves.

To Feliks, Max, and all other speedcubers, it did not matter to them if their hobby does not make money but they pursue it because they want to learn and it led them to personal growth.

 

 

Reading to Improve Work

Novelist Jennifer Egan stated in an interview, “Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work.”

All of my blog posts and projects are based on everything that I read. I read the books recommended by artists that I look up to in order to understand how they come up with their works.

I’ll take this time to recommend articles that I believe are worth reading and worth the time:

  • 19 Great Truths My Grandmother Told Me on Her 90th Birthday

The willingness to do hard things opens great windows of opportunity. – One of the most important abilities you can develop in life is the willingness to accept and grow through times of difficulty and discomfort.  Because the best things are often hard to come by, at least initially.  And if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out on them entirely. Marc & Angel. (https://www.marcandangel.com/2018/03/25/19-great-truths-my-grandmother-told-me-on-her-90th-birthday/)

  • The 15-Minute Routine Anthony Trollope Used to Write 40+ Books

“It had at this time become my custom,—and is still my custom, though of late I have become a little lenient of myself—to write with my watch before me, and to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour…

This division of time allowed me to produce over ten pages of an ordinary novel volume a day, and if kept up through ten months, would have given as its results three novels of three volumes each in the year…” —Anthony Trollope. James Clear. (https://jamesclear.com/anthony-trollope)

  • Shonda Rhimes ’91 Delivers a Lesson-Packed Commencement Address

Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. Darthmouth College. (https://250.dartmouth.edu/highlights/shonda-rhimes-91-delivers-lesson-packed-commencement-address)

  • The Case For Letting Kids Design Their Own Play

In the same way that some girls like to build things, climb trees, and poke dead things, some boys want to play house, wear pink, and avoid mud. Boys should be encouraged to wear pink tutus. Girls should be encouraged to use hammers. Performing gender, class, race, and careers is the beginning of learning empathy. More specifically, through open-ended play they have the agency to understand their identity as their own to invent and define.

When children have agency in their play, they learn to have agency in their lives. The instructions we should give to children? Don’t wait for someone to tell you who and what to be–jump in and figure it out. Fast Company. (https://www.fastcompany.com/3048508/the-case-for-letting-kids-design-their-own-play)

I hope by reading these articles, we can produce even better works. Let us continue learning, growing, and improving. Author James Clear wrote, “You choose the future with your actions each day.