Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Street smarts

Posted on October 27, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated October 28, 2012 12:00 AM

Education is important. Very few will dispute that. And I am glad that many parents who finished a certain level of education almost always encourage their children to go for a higher level than they have achieved. Education, as it should be, is associated not just with upward economic and social mobility, but also with achievement, refinement of character and wisdom.

And while it is generally correct to assume that this is so, education as introduced and offered formally in institutes of learning is often not enough to get us through. We need more than book learning. And I am not just talking about the saying that education never ends. Indeed, that is true. I am talking more about the kind of education that develops a practical mind that allows one to deal with situations not taught or imagined in school. It’s all about being street smart.

I have met many people who have finished college, and have gone on to studies for specializations. They have master’s degrees and PhDs. You would think that with all that knowledge, one could go to them for advice. Not always. Often, the wisdom you wish to tap and the advice you wish to get from the very learned is limited, actually wanting, since they can tend to be bookish and academic or purely theoretical. They lack a pragmatic, practical viewpoint, a realistic understanding of how things operate in this world.

I have also met quite a number of “unschooled” people who may lack formal education but have a lot more smarts. These people do not have PhDs and some of them hardly read or sit down and discuss issues in acceptably “learned” ways, but they impart wisdom that can serve anyone well. Here are some things I have learned from conversations with ordinary people, some of them drivers and household help, which I think are brilliant.

1) “Kung gusto mo ng steak, di kailangan bumili ng buong baka.” (If you want steak, you don’t have to buy the whole cow.)

I heard this from my former driver. We were talking about sex and relationships and it was his way of explaining the difference between lust and love. He was saying that if you just need sexual release, you don’t need an entire relationship. But this applies to many things as well, like knowing exactly what you want, paying the right price and not fooling yourself by overcommitting to extras you do not really want just to get one thing.

2) “Dapat alamin kung kelan magsalita at kung kelan tumahimik.” (One should know when and what to say or when to keep silent.)

Billy Joel wrote a song about this. It is brilliant. One should develop the sense to withhold comment when it is not needed, or one may be seen as crude, crass, banal or insensitive. It may make the situation worse.

Or do the opposite and say the proper things at the proper time. Know also when someone just needs a hug, or just a quiet, small but loving response, or none at all. This requires correct reading and discernment of the situation, self-control and self-knowledge, mindfulness and fellow-feeling.

3) “Huwag matulog nang galit.” (Don’t go to sleep holding a grudge.)

This is great advice even if it is hard to follow. And it applies to relating with people who live under the same roof. It takes a lot, but when people bring up issues that cause irritation or quarrels with the resolve to talk about them maturely and go past them, it is a big step in keeping relationships open, and will guarantee good sleep.

4) “Iba yung dati sa ngayon.” (That was then. This is now.)

I really like this. Many times, we get stuck in the idea that one must hold the same views, attitudes or preferences forever, and that to change them makes us inconsistent, dishonest or lacking in commitment. I like being reminded that we live in a world that is dynamic and that we must adapt to change. Often, it is pride more than anything else that makes us hold intractable views, mindsets and opinions. When one is sure of himself, he is more accepting of change, and does not feel guilty going with change, especially when a higher wisdom dictates it.

5) If you can trust a person on money matters, you can trust him in most things.

Many friendships or close relationships have been shattered due to mistrust about money matters. I firmly believe in paying debts on time. At the very least, one must say beforehand if there are difficulties about meeting such a commitment. Transparency about money is very important. One must not be shy about bringing up money matters upfront to avoid misunderstanding or generate suspicion. And yes, every cent must be accounted for.

6) “Pagtapos na, tapos na.” (When it’s over, it’s over.)

This is practical, useful and a real relationship saver. Do not bring up past arguments that have already been fought over and settled. It also refers to not looking back and dwelling on things that one can’t do anything about anymore. No more living in the past with its toxic inertia. To do so is to foolishly invest energy in things that cannot possibly give any emotional or psychological payback whatsoever. Sadly, very few people practice this great lesson.

Here’s two more things I picked up from random conversations with ordinary people that need no elaboration. One is, when men talk about relationships they’ve had, they tend to up the number of partners. But when women do, they tend to lower the figure. The other one is, when a man leaves a long-standing relationship, there is a chance that he will return. But when it is the woman who leaves, the chance she may return is practically zero. I’ve observed this to be true in almost all cases.

The education you get outside of the classroom is equally fascinating, and valuable.

* * *

On Nov. 3, I will hold a photography workshop at the Bee Farm resort in Tagbilaran, Bohol. This will be from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. You must have a DSLR camera to join. To make a reservation or ask for more details, pls write me at jpfotojim@gmail.com. This will be lots of fun and at the very least will dramatically improve the photos you post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

2 to “Street smarts”

  1. Nilda of Radio Dalisay says:

    Hi Jim,

    I hope you don’t mind if we read this on our Radio portion one time 99.3FM Sunday 8 to 9pm Radio Dalisay and play your Laro songs very good empowerment for Pinoys the haves and the have nots

    salamat … Nilda

  2. VixieH says:

    I most certainly agree with everything you said here about being street smart. Grades and honors don’t justify the success and/or wisdom of a person. Being educated in prestigious schools doesn’t mean that one is ahead of the other who was not fortunate enough to enter such schools. My mother is proof enough for me to able to impress an Atenista (aka Uncle Mark) with the way she deals with life’s challenges.

    I believe that in order to fully understand a certain subject, we must understand it from its roots. Back to the basics. Nowadays there are too many suoerficial people only caring about superficial matters. Or perhaps it is only me seeing only one side of them. I have always contemplated on that.

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