Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Things I learned just by being alive

Posted on December 14, 2014 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 14, 2014 – 12:00am

There are many things you learn in school. But there are many more things you learn just by being alive and growing up and maturing. The world and life are great sources of real knowledge and wisdom.

I would like to share a few things that I have learned not through any academic way of learning but through experiences that I treasure in my heart.

1) There are two kinds of truths: Big Truths and little truths. Little truths are things we believe in that eventually turn out to be false. It’s as though they slowly or maybe suddenly reach their expiry dates. We wake up one day and see that they are no longer true. These can be anything we believe in, from Santa Claus to the Tooth Fairy, to more serious “truths” like the earth not being round but flat. We eventually stop believing in these things as we grow older and/or when empirical evidence debunks them.

The Big Truths are things we continue to believe in that serve us and so far have not shown any expiry date. Many of these are religious, scientific or philosophic and paradoxical in nature. But just because they have been true up to now doesn’t mean they will always be true. Will some or most of them eventually become little truths? Only time will tell.

2) Everyone is born naïve and innocent but we will all lose this over time. Like Adam and Eve, everyone is born in Eden but eventually we all get kicked out into the real world. That’s life.

This is quite profound. For some, it may be something as trivial as waking up one day and finding out that there really is no Santa and it was your parents who actually gave you all those gifts. (Sorry, dear innocent readers. For those who didn’t know, I hope this wasn’t too shocking for you.) Or it can be a profound experience like discovering that someone you idealize and look up to falls far short of your expectations. Or it could even be terrible things that happen like the death of someone close, war, physical assault,

3) There is no point in searching for God. It is futile. Instead I go back to a catechism truth taught to me that says “God is everywhere.” How indeed can you search for something that is already here, there and everywhere?

Instead of searching, what we must do is to just awaken to this great truth that God is all over the place and thus cannot possibly be missed. There need not be a search. All you need is to open your eyes and be aware. So let’s drop the delusion of a conceptual God in our minds because it prevents us from experiencing God in the very “here and now” we are in.

There is nothing that isn’t God, which means He/She could be your helper at home, your neighbor, your dog, etc.

4) No matter how evil we think a person is, when we wake up and see his humanity, we see a face of the Divine looking back at us. Does that mean the person is free from any liability or punishment because he carries within him a face of the divine? Not at all. It only means that in the phenomenal world we live in and under its justice system, he may still be served justice but we must still treat him with dignity and compassion.

5) We can easily break down and calculate a person’s value according to his age, assets, his IQ, EQ, looks, educational attainment and his physical capacity to work or produce worldly things. But we have hardly touched the core of who he really is. He is infinitely greater than the sum of all the parts that supposedly comprise him. His potential to be anything he wishes to be can create greater value than we can imagine. In this way, we are all completely open-ended.

6) There is this irony I notice about God and man, and it is this: man relentlessly strives hard to be powerful in all ways to be God-like. And yet God apparently wanted so much to be human that, according to Christian faith, He actually came down from heaven to become like us. Mystics believe that Spirit yearns to express itself as a life form. Indeed, the Word wants to be made flesh.

I know this may sound crazy but I feel that maybe man wishes to own everything to feel like God, while God made everything and everyone so He/She can experience what it’s like to be everyone and everything.

7) In nature and in everything that evolves, the direction is always towards differentiation. Nature abhors monolithic thinking. It likes diversity. Nature expresses itself as different races, sexes, species, life forms, styles, processes, etc. The job of the poets, artists and the spiritually inclined is to find the unity that makes all this diversity an experience of Oneness.

8) One of our saving graces as humans is that while we are trapped in our specific time and place, we are able to experience timelessness through art and through the expression of our passions. When we are doing what we love to do, we become oblivious to the time we spend doing it. It could be hours, or even days before we realize how much time we’ve spent on an activity. It is like we are mortals capable of eternal experiences.

9) A joyful, cheerful, happy person is better company and a lot more fun to be with than those who are intelligent, witty and cruel. Personally, I would rather be with someone like the late Juan Flavier than, say, someone like Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

10) Here is something I learned from my sister Lory. If a cat does not like you, it repeatedly moves its tail from left to right or vice-versa. If a dog likes you, it wags its tail.

11) There is a basic difference between how men see the world and how women see it. Men like to solve problems. Women like to heal difficult situations. A man may build a house but a woman’s touch transforms it into a home. A man’s wisdom is culled through logic and rationality. A woman also acquires wisdom the same way but will also use her intuition and may even give more weight to that.

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