Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

…And miles to go before i sleep

Posted on June 10, 2018 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – June 10, 2018 – 12:00am

I have been taking stock of my physical, mental, psychological, artistic and spiritual health lateIy.

I have been paying attention to my body and all its aches and pains and its new gains since I’ve been going to the gym. A few years ago, I also started eating moderately and more sensibly, and have generally been taking care of myself.

I have been sleeping well lately, around seven hours a night and a few naps at different times of the day. I still have bad nights sometimes where I get less sleep because I wake up and can’t get back to sleep. But that is rare.

I go to the gym two to four times a week. I do a lot of stomach crunches of different types — around 500 reps each visit. I do 3:15 minutes of planking followed by 60 pushups and 13 pull-ups. I work out with jump ropes and a few weights as part of my routine.
I would say my gym activity is a light one. What I am aiming for is to get better body definition and a few cuts around my arms, chest and stomach. I also like getting that endorphin high and that feeling of well-being which exercise brings. I also walk to and from the gym which is about a 26-minute walk. Sometimes, I walk further inside the ADMU campus near the gym for an hour.

Mentally, I try to stay alert. I like to read a lot and still like to learn new things. I continue to write a weekly column. Quite often, though, it happens that I forget people’s names and can’t remember certain circumstances when I met them. I notice memory lapses. However, my innate curiosity about everything continues. I also still teach at the Ateneo de Manila University. Teaching young people is as much a learning experience for me as it is for them. It challenges not just my mental skills but my overall ability to pay attention. I am also thinking of taking up a new language.

Psychologically, I feel more or less balanced. Despite the times, I can easily find calmness when I need to. I am generally okay. I am less bothered now by things that used to bother me a lot when I was younger. I can watch my mind processing information and can flag most of my own biases. But best of all, I may even say I am capable of generating my own inspiration or happiness. I like being by myself. I like myself most of the time.
Spiritually, I am still dialoguing with the Universe and trying to ask questions about life. Maybe this will never stop. I talk to God the way I understand God to be. Yes, I hear answers. I try to have a Zen take or understanding of everything. It makes me calm. Sometimes, I become more compassionate. The state of the world and our nation has not dampened my optimism or hope. I am still up to the challenge to change things for the better. The contemplative in me is still there although perhaps I should cultivate it some more by going back to daily meditation.

Artistically, I feel freer than ever to think and do what I want. I have lately picked up the guitar again and started learning new songs and chords. I can write songs easier. I do not fret about whether people will like them or not. I do what I like. I do not need constant reassurance from an audience. I can also be more focused if I have to be. More easily, I am able to synthesize my thoughts and feelings and shape them as presentable musical or literary pieces.

My interest in photography continues although I should be shooting more. I should also do more workshops like I used to.

In short, I feel more good than bad, overall.

I know I am getting older. My hair is thinning. My hearing has deteriorated a bit. Sometimes, I get sudden joint pain, but this disappears just as quickly. I am still working on getting even just a shadow of abs on my stomach. I refuse to accept that this goal may be a losing battle at this point, and yes, it will be difficult to achieve.

The first thing my Zen teacher told me to meditate on some 16 years ago was the phrase, “Every day is a good day.” I mostly believe in this. Every day brings blessings. When it is not a good day, it’s probably because I unconsciously decided it wouldn’t be one.

For this phrase to be true in your life, you must be able to practice self-acceptance on a daily basis. With aging comes diminishing abilities. You will never gain back a 30-year-old body. The past is gone forever. That’s life. But if you can accept that how you are today is the best you can be right now, you will probably congratulate yourself. This is not mind’s play. This is the truth. You may have been more productive, healthier, better when you were younger. You were great then. But you are also great now.

Every day, we are great and perfect.

I will be 67 soon. Some people think that is already a ripe old age. Sometimes, the world can make you feel like that. Some people are retired at this age. I don’t think I will ever retire unless my body makes it impossible for me to move and do things. Maybe I can’t picture retirement because I never had a 9 to 5 job. I did what I wanted and got paid for it. How can I retire from things I love doing?

One of my favorite lines in poetry is from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It goes,

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

While it is not my choice to decide when I will die, I still want to do many other things while I can before I go into the lovely dark and deep woods.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/06/10/1823074/and-miles-go-i-sleep#wB5rrijKKcmXHm3u.99

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