HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes
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
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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 lulu.com, 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 http://www.lulu.com/content/721014, or try http://stores.lulu.com/store.
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