Live your own life

The Philippine STAR 04/01/2007

Have you ever experienced this? You meet an old friend and he/she asks a routine, mindless question like, “How’s life?”, and you are stumped and quiet, not knowing what to answer? It’s as if there is so much to say if only you had a good grip on your current story. Sometimes you don?t know where to start. Or maybe life’s very complexity, which seems full-blown to you at the moment, prevents you from giving an easy, casual reply.

It happens to me sometimes when I am in one of those phases when I am deep in thought about many of life’s intriguing twists and turns. These are the times when I am in a contemplative mode (which can last for weeks and even months) and when life and all its angst and unanswered questions and complications are top of mind. The philosophical questions, which are normally distant concerns, are burning and pressing, demanding to be heard and answered.

A lot of people like to read self-help books, or consult or follow others on a path. They figure that there are people who are wiser, more intelligent than they are and so all they need to do is use “the formula” that has worked for others. Which is all very good, if it works for you. But I must warn you that at best, a formula will only work part of the way. And the sooner things go wrong, the better, since you will really have to carve your own path to realize your higher mission.

I speak of “original experiences,” or situations that when they happen seem like they apply only to me, and I can?t take comfort or advice from anyone. It’s like they were tailor-made by the universe for me alone to get real and live life out of my head. So, I must ditch other people’s interpretations and solutions and follow my own take on things because absolutely no one else can give me a satisfactory answer that fits like a good pair of shoes. I must walk it alone.

My daughter Ala is presently grappling with the choice whether to work for an MA in Development Studies, or pursue art, which she loves. I recall what it was like being fresh out of college and being under intense pressure to look for a regular job or go back to school and take an MBA. I actually applied for a job and got it, but because I did not really want it, I never showed up. I even took the entrance exam for a prestigious business school but never bothered to find out if I passed or failed. I realized that the whole exercise was silly since all I was doing was complying with the wishes of others who were so afraid that I would fail in the artist?s calling that I had chosen.

It was a confusing time. I was definitely being called out of my cocoon. There was no one to run to for advice, or maybe it seemed that way because I really could not take any advice that did not coincide with the gut feel I had about what would make me happy. It was scary to imagine the possibility of my being wrong and them being right. I was sure of only one thing: the realization that I had to make my choices, even wrong ones, as part of my process of coming into my own.

It happens to everyone. And even after you’ve gone through it, it could happen again and again. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, just pay attention. You are bound to encounter an unexpected event where you are called to find the unexplored path, the road less traveled. There are trials and tests along the way and the idea is to come up with a whole new range of fresh responses that open to unique possibilities. Your actions then become part of the repertoire of interpreted experiences for other people to model.

And what lies beyond our decision to follow the stirrings of our hearts? I dare say that when we do it right, we find our bliss.

But to do it right and find it, we need to pay attention to the pulse of this new life we are suddenly in because it will lead to the X spot, the deep calling. We need to be intuitive and at the same time analyze, be honest and brave enough to tell the difference between cheap thrills and true bliss, and make the right choice. To discover our bliss is to find our treasure which, as Joseph Campbell put it, is the magnificent “aha” moment of being face-to-face with “the privilege of being who we are.”

“Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.” That’s Joseph Campbell trying to find a metaphor for each person?s experience about how we make sense of it all. It explains how people can be living in the same time and space, but have a different take on the meaning of everything. Even if we are all watching the same movie, we have a different and unique story to tell about it. And what is asked of us by life is simply to live it as we see it.

I gifted my daughter Erica a song when she turned 21. To this day, I still feel it applies to her, and to me as well.

Live your own life
By Jim Paredes

Don’t take my word or anyone else?s
What’s right for me may not be right for you
I have my own dreams
I live my own story
And someday soon you?ll be living yours too

Enjoy your own joys
Gain from your own pain
Dream your own dreams
Dance to your own song
It’s the only way to go
It’s the only road you’ll ever know


Live your own life
Feel it so you know it?s real
Hold on to your own truth
Live life without any fear
Decide your own fate
With bated breath the world awaits
Make your own mark
All you gotta do is start

There are no two people in this world who?ve got the same point of view
There’s no one else who’s gonna live your life better than you

Cry your own tears
Believe in your own cause
Don’t be afraid if sometimes you feel lost
It’s the only way to go
It’s the only way you’ll ever know
Everything you need is inside of you
You?re the fire and breath of your own soul
* * *
At long last!

I actually finished writing my fourth book more than a year ago and I’ve had it in the back burner all this time. It is now finally available.

I decided to make it available through, a print-on-demand publisher on the Internet, so that it is accessible to anyone in the world. Depending on where you live and how soon you want it, the book can cost anywhere from around $15+ to $20+. The website will have all the info.

As Is Where Is can be ordered at, or try
* * *

11 thoughts on “Live your own life”

  1. What an inspiring and refreshing read (i have this same comment on alot of your entries). πŸ™‚ especially before my graduation! ;P

  2. Hey Doranne,
    I wrote this for people like you. I can still remember you and your classmates with your wide-eyed faces in class. I remembered my thoughts then as I wondered how someday you guys would live your own stories and impact the world the world with them.

    take care.

  3. ordered your new book already. am so excited to read something new from you-to cheer me up & put color to my somewhat(at the moment)”gray days.” just need some inspiration sometimes, like anybody else.
    all the best to you & your family.

  4. Jim, although we have briefly met you don’t know me. You graciously allowed a photo opportunity with me recently, at the cocktail evening in Rooty Hill for the ROTC stars (I was the big guy wearing a barong) just as you were leaving.

    My wife & I came down from Brisbane for that evening & the ROTC concert, & being able to meet you – albeit so briefly – made it all worthwhile.

    You, your music, & your writings have been an inspiration to me for a number of years Jim, especially with you & your family’s well-documented journey to relocate to Sydney.

    I guess every person that sees a story with a title like “live your own life” will extract from it the most relevant meaning to them. For me, that meaning is almost a 180Β° reverse to your recent journey I speak of.

    I decided about 3 years ago to finally listen to what my heart was telling me, & make the journey to move & settle in the Philippines. I have been learning Tagalog for a few years now (aided by TFC at home) whilst preparing myself financially etc., & I hope that this year will be the year it comes to fruition. My goal is to spend my 40th birthday (Oct 2008) with us finally settled in Manila.

    I truly love the Philippines & especially the filipino people, Jim. Each time we’re there I feel like I’m where I’m destined to be. My wife (a provincial Ilongga) does not want to return to the Philippines, but the kids & I are just so keen. We know the journey & the necessary adjustments we’ll have to make are not going to be easy, but what worthwhile journey in life ever is? That is why I have thought this throught long & hard, & taken my time to prepare as best I can for it. I just know that I’d rather give living my own life my best effort & fail, than to never have even tried.

    Sorry to unload my story onto you here in this space meant for comments Jim, but this blog story I found particularly touching. I hope my interpretation of your blog story hasn’t missed your original intent for writing it.

    Dave Lock.

  5. girlie–I hope you enjoy the book Please write me your thoughts on it when you get it.

    davelock–Very well said. Yours is THE journey to do right now in your stage in life. It’s better to do so than wonder how life would have been when it is too late. And while there may be dangers and minefields ahead, Joseph Campbell (whom I love to quote ) says that ‘where you stumble, there lies your treasure.’

    Godspeed and my the winds give your wings the lift to soar ahead.

  6. hi sir jim, your words really inspires me. I can say that now, I am at my lowest point but I know there are many trials to come, so I just to have hang on and live life at the moment. Thanks for your great wisdom. πŸ™‚

    By the way, are your books available in our local bookstores here in the Philippines? Thanks so much and God Bless you and your family.

  7. Hi Reese,

    Hang in there. Pay attention and new directions and advice always show up to move the journey forward. Yes, my first three books are available in powerbooks, national bookstores.

  8. Indeed, the hardest question in the world is “how’s life?” or “how are you?” and sometimes you feel like answering, “do you REALLY wanna know? Come, sit down with me while I try to figure it out.” Hehe.

    If I follow my bliss right now that means I would have to quit my job pronto. Hmm. πŸ™‚

  9. im a firm believer of the concept of the article you’ve just written…
    iv quit my job from a big firm out of unhappiness from the job… tried to look for a different path..but i wasn’t fully convinced about giving up my original profession so i’m gonna try it again, now in a smaller firm..hopefully its better this still trying to convince myself that the profession my parents chose for me isn’t so’s my life i’m accountable to myself..
    whoA. really, just..don’t know what to do next…but your articles help me check my sanity hehe..thanks a lot…

    by the way,i love apo songs and i grew up listening to them…kudos! πŸ˜€ -liz

  10. I was hoping that you would write up something simple but heart-warming about Mother’s Day. But instead you open your 5/13th article with Carl Jung? I’m disappointed. Most of the fans who supported you and APO at the onset in the early 70s are now 50-ish moms – dealing with the mid-age crisis, financial difficulties and non-supportive husbands as we go through that whirlwind cycle. Can you put us on a pedestal even for at least a day? Or maybe even compose a song about us. That would be – like they say it during those days – groovy.

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