Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Life in Manila is crazy

Posted on September 25, 2018 by jimparedes

Life in Manila is crazy

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – September 9, 2018 – 12:00am
It was officially the start of spring last Sept. 1 in Australia. It was not as cold as it was in July at the height of winter. But it can still get cold at night.

I am back in Sydney. It is great to be here. I look at my stays here as respite from my regular life in the Philippines. By “regular,” I certainly do not mean ordinary, boring or uneventful. Certainly not! Life in the Philippines, especially the past two years, has been anything but that.

Living in Manila is crazy. It means being assaulted by traffic daily. There are the heavy rains that bring flashfloods resulting in hastily declared holidays and cancelations of work every now and then. The never-ending crises foisted by the government on Filipinos can actually put you on perennially heightened mode physically and psychologically without your knowing it. It is like we are always unconsciously expecting bad things to happen.

It is only when I go on vacation that I feel my body fully relaxed. I have been having long periods of sleep since I got to Sydney a few days ago. Maybe it is the weather that relaxes me. Or maybe because I am not as busy here. But the change of scene certainly makes me more detached from the goings-on at home, which can eat me up daily since I am too close to the action.

Our home in Sydney is quiet. I wake up to the sound of birds chirping in the morning. The air is crisp and clean. When the sun is out, the sky is blue as blue. You hardly see people walking in the streets. At night, my neighbors have their lights off by 8 p.m. They do not even leave the front door lights on. Only Filipino homes do. You hear no cars screeching or even passing by. When people are walking in the streets, they talk softly. No loud laughter or conversation.

Right now it is only Lydia and I at home for the next two weeks. We will expect visitors every now and then. I look forward to long walks in the neighborhood parks, visits to art galleries, which Lydia and I love to do. We are also looking forward to weekends with our daughter Ala, her husband John and our granddaughter Zadie. Our son Mio, who is currently on a trek to the Base Camp of Mt. Everest with his mates will be home after Sept.16.

I believe in having places of solace. Silence is getting rare in this modern world where everyone is constantly looking for stimulation and titillation. Life has become noisier and faster paced. Sometimes, all you want is peace and quiet. You want to just sit back and watch dispassionately as the world turns.

It is a quiet joy to sit down and read poetry, or just play the guitar, or even do housework. Cleaning the house, doing laundry, hanging clothes to dry, washing dishes, mopping the floor, preparing meals can be joyful experiences. One can get a sense of quiet fulfillment.

Sometimes, my life can get too “large” since I am a public person. There are people who are constantly reaching out and wanting to talk, shake hands, and have photos with me. This happens in both social media and in real life. As a seasoned performer, I am quite comfortable with crowds. I revel in it. While I must admit that I mostly enjoy the interaction with people and have great satisfaction, “me” time can be wonderfully refreshing, too.

When you are taken out of your usual milieu and put in a place where the scenery and the routines are changed, something happens. It can be uncomfortable and unpleasant if you resist it. The best and perhaps the only good way to deal with the situation is to succumb to it. Settle yourself with it and in it. Be present wherever you are. You can’t be in two places at the same time anyway. When you can accept it, the situation opens its gifts to you.

This morning, I noticed that the leaves of the Jacaranda trees in our frontage are turning yellow. Did they bloom their beautiful violet flowers while I was away? I do not know. The grass has not grown much since July. That’s how it is during winter. Sometimes it turns brown as if it had died. In a few weeks, the grass will look alive again and grow at a faster rate.

It is also good to eat meals slowly and appreciate what has been prepared. Often I eat a meal, and can’t even recall what I had eaten two hours later. That is certainly not a good thing. It means I was not present as I was doing it.

When you get into the silence, your feelings and emotions may express themselves more readily. That’s because you are more in touch with them. No deadlines, schedules or obligations stand in the way. You don’t have to react to so many things.

During moments like these, I can write songs so easily. Inspirations need not be dramatic. Looking through a window or walking in open spaces with so much greenery is enough. With a little coaxing, songs just bubble up to the surface.

Solace is an inner place where you report to yourself and are reminded of where you are and who you have become at the moment. It is an affirmation of basic identity without all the frills and the delusions that modern life tries to make you believe are central to you.

I wish for all of you some solace. We all need it more than we think.

MANILA IS CRAZY

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/lifestyle/sunday-life/2018/09/09/1849783/life-manila-crazy#Bu2gEpIy2rcCufyf.99

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