Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for January, 2008


A small voice whispering 4

Posted on January 27, 2008 by jimparedes

 

At the on-set of the first Iraq war under the American leadership of George Bush Sr., I remember watching TV and seeing US General Norman Schwarzkopf bragging about the superiority of American might against the Iraqis, who had invaded Kuwait. He talked about the armory at his disposal. Like a little boy thrilled with his dazzling new gadgets, he was showing the world how powerful his killing toys were.

During one press briefing, he showed a video of a target-seeking missile that had been launched from a US plane as it hit a truck crossing a bridge. The footage taken from the plane was not as clear or as dramatic a depiction as a Hollywood movie would have been. It was grainy, in black and white and had no sound. It was actually quite clinical. No one seemed to suffer — not even the faceless “enemy” since we did not even really see the man driving the truck.

During the start of the second Gulf War (this time in Iraq, and this time under the command of son George W. Bush), we saw similar scenes again, this time depicted with heightened drama. They called the bombing of the populated city of Baghdad “Operation Shock and Awe.” I wondered then if it was just me or was there the same gleam in the eyes of US Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he talked about the precision of an aerial attack on Iraq during a press conference.

The way that weapons of war have evolved is quite interesting and terrifying. They now pack more bang per buck and destroy infinitely more lives and property at a much faster rate than at any time in man’s history. And to make it easier for those who use the weapons, they have made the whole process “cleaner.” One does not have to meet, touch or have any contact with the enemy in any way. No more hand-to-hand combat where the possibility of having to face the enemy and see the humanity in his eyes can happen. That’s just too messy. After all, death and suffering are easier to deal with when you can’t hear the screaming. Firepower and the roar of planes can pretty much drown out anything. Besides, they don’t call it “death” now but “collateral damage.” Technology has made it easier for human beings to momentarily stop being human and instead become objective killing machines.

I’ve often wondered what it is like for a Stealth fighter pilot, secure in his cockpit and feeling superior with all his state-of-the-art armory and death gadgets, to push a button and cause the annihilation of a person, a crowd, a village. Sure, one can always avoid any guilt or wash one’s hands by saying that one is just following orders, or just doing a job, even if, at times, he ends up killing innocent children, even fellow soldiers.

But there has to be a little voice sounding somewhere in the core of his being that tells him something else — however subtle, muted or inarticulate the voice may be.

“My God, what have we done?” These were reportedly the words uttered by Robert Lewis, the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. On the other hand, the main pilot, Paul Tibbets, offered no regrets decades later over his role in the atomic carnage.

The act of killing, maiming, torturing or even humiliating a person necessarily involves a “distancing” to allow us to treat the “other” as an object. It is a twisted objectivity that dismisses the reality of other people completely. It’s a mindset one enters into to be able to deny another person’s humanity, and perhaps denying one’s own humanity.

Where peace, harmony and brotherhood are all about oneness, unity and commonality, what is being emphasized when one is at war is the differences — cultural, ideological, political, religious and even physical appearance. And these differences, in the hands of demagogues, can make many people deaf to the little voice that is in tune with what’s real.

And yet, I feel that in many instances, this same objectivity or distancing that we use for bad may also be a powerful tool in bringing us back from hate and restoring us to humanity. Why? Because with distance, we are able to get out of the trance of the craziness, aggression and threat that becomes so compelling with proximity.

The song From a Distance has a line that goes,

From a distance you look like my friend,

Even though we are at war;

From a distance I just cannot comprehend

What all this fighting is for…

I have never experienced war firsthand, not as a combatant, not even as an ordinary person in a war setting. I hope I never have to. I doubt that I am capable of ever killing anyone.

A few days ago, I saw an interview with Osama Bin Laden’s son on CNN. I learned that this handsome man who was a member of Al Qaeda but quit sometime before 9/11 because he disagreed with the way his father was conducting his war, is projecting himself now as a man of peace. Curiously, he said he was organizing a horse race that was meant to promote peace among people.

Interestingly, when asked whether he considered his father to be a terrorist, he said “No.” He said that Osama allowed him to leave the terrorist group and go his own way. For both father and son, the decision they arrived at must have been hard and soul-wrenching, considering their culture of extremism. I am inclined to believe it must have been well thought-out.

I sometimes wonder why I choose to be objective concerning some issues and subjective with others. Many times, it’s a “mind versus heart: thing when we make choices in our own lives. But I suspect that, more often, it’s really more about not making conscious choices either way. We simply make decisions without knowing where we are coming from.

A set criterion for deciding how subjective or objective to be in a given situation is not easy to formulate. Sometimes, one must choose to ignore the forest for one single tree. At times, it’s the opposite. In my case, I believe that any decision that will ultimately create more spaciousness, freedom and well-being for everyone involved is a good guide. In other words, whatever decision will make everyone more human is the correct one. Whatever creates the opposite effect is the wrong decision. And in instances when the din of craziness seems to distort perceptions and drown out reason,  catching the sound of a small voice whispering can spell the difference.

* * *

Are you ready to really feel alive?

“Tapping the Creative Universe,” the cutting-edge creativity workshop, will have a new run in Manila. It’s held March 10-14, and concludes March 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. The workshop will cost P5,000.

If you wish to reserve a slot, call 426-5375 or 0917-8554303 and ask for Ollie. If you want to know more about the workshop or would like a syllabus, write to emailjimp@gmail.com.

Don’t wait too long. Seats are limited.

I am speechless! Say it for me… 7

Posted on January 21, 2008 by jimparedes

 


Watch this guy. You will surely laugh at him but he has a presence that could not be ignored. It’s amazing how for a few minutes he got Paula Abdul dancing and joking like she was in Eat Bulaga, and Simon Cowel was rendered meek as a lamb!What a guy! I almost wish it was an act because if it was, it’s brilliant! But I think he was just being totally natural.I was falling off my seat watching this! He may not be the next American Idol. Maybe the next American Pop Hero!! Or as the website below calls him, the new World Hero!! Hmmm… Baka may pagasa si April Boy. Man, I am speechless.

Listen to the remix done with his song at http://www.myspace.com/rs11rocko

Perfectly imperfect 3

Posted on January 19, 2008 by jimparedes



It’s election season in America and we’ve seen the candidates go out of their way to put their best foot forward. Watching them, it makes me wonder what the other foot is like.

Everyone wants to be projected as the perfect leader, husband or wife, parent, citizen, etc., and if they can’t play the hero, they play it down or deny any accusations that may sully their projected ideal images. This holds true for every person in the public eye. Everyone wants to look perfect and ideal.

The curious thing is that even if almost everyone knows, at least in theory, that there is no such thing as a perfect person, there is still great disappointment, outrage even, when a perceived “hero” displays attitudes, opinions or actions that make him or her appear less than perfect. There is a feeling of betrayal among his or her admirers.

I often wonder why we humans have this burning demand and desire for perfection. We really want to have something or someone perfect to admire and emulate, despite what experience tells us — that there is no such animal. Is it because, deep down, the quest for perfection is all about the desire to experience God in our lives? Is that why anyone who tries to shine above the rest but ultimately fails the perfection test must be crucified in the end?

The two-timing lover, the priest whose carnal sins are exposed, the public official who is caught stealing, the “honorable” person who is exposed as a phony — they are all condemned by the public for failing to uphold their perfect images. Crudely but truthfully put, they are thrashed because they have unwittingly claimed to be God by rising above the rest only to be exposed as having feet of clay, just like the rest of us.

Apart from disappointment, there are people who get satisfaction in seeing someone great humbled, or cut down to size. It’s been the same story since the beginning of time. And so the world becomes bitter and cynical seeing so many of its leaders fall by the wayside, and looks for perfection elsewhere.

In his writings, Carl Jung debunked the idea of purity when he posited that there is nothing that comes from a pure source. He points to the history of the Catholic Church, which every moral guardian should study. Church history is replete with interesting but morally bankrupt characters — priests and popes with children and mistresses, “holy men” who allied themselves with the wealthy and powerful and looked the other way, or even sanctioned the ruling classes’ outrageous behavior.

They did this, for sure, for personal gain but cloaked it in the noble aim of service to the divine by enhancing the power of the Church over the lives of everyone. But still, despite its checkered past, it cannot be denied that there were many who remained true to the service of this imperfect institution. My late father, a true son of the Church, in defending the institution, used to say that the fact that the Church has survived through the centuries in spite of the many flaws and weaknesses of its leaders, proves that it is God’s project.

Every so often, we see high-profile people candidly admit to indiscretions or shortcomings. What surprises me (delights me, actually) more than their confessions is that the public not only forgives them but admires them for their candor. A few examples are Bill Clinton’s admitting to having had an affair and Erap presenting himself candidly to voters as a womanizer. Here in Australia, during the last election campaign, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd admitted that he was thrown out of a strip joint in New York years ago for unruly drunken behavior. Remarkably, that admission may have helped propel his ratings. And more recently, much has been said about Hillary Clinton’s teary reaction when she lost the Iowa caucus. It showed a side of her that was “weak” and “human” — and it may have helped her win the New Hampshire primary the following week.

Perhaps we should learn how to look at ourselves in a kinder, more realistic light. While we cheer our heroes, let us not be tempted to elevate them to God status. Leaders are like everyone else — ordinary people!

What makes them different is they strive to rise above the rest of us and do extraordinary things despite their imperfections.

I am a big fan of recovery stories, and I admire the brilliance of the “12 Steps” program, the radically beautiful and life-changing prescription of Alcoholics Anonymous. The very first step a recovering alcoholic must make is to admit that he is powerless over his addiction and that his life has become unmanageable because of it. Meetings in AA begin with introductions that go, “Hi, I’m Jim and I’m an alcoholic.” Put in another way, the first step is to admit imperfection. The embraced weakness itself becomes the key to recovering great strength.

I remember watching an athlete on TV who had only one arm. He said something interesting. He said, “The only difference between you and me is that you see my imperfection. Yours is still hidden.”

The following is a story of unknown origin that celebrates what I am talking about. It’s a good way to end this essay.

“A water-bearer in China had two large pots, each hanging on the end of a pole which he carried across his shoulders.

“One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. Daily, for a full two years, this went on, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his house.

“Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment, for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection. It was miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it was made to do.

“One day, after two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water-bearer. ‘I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes my water to leak out all the way back to your house.’

“The water-bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, we would not have such beauty.’”

* * *

Here are a few questions we should all ask ourselves at this time in our lives: Do you want a new experience in 2008 or would you like it to be just like the past years you’ve been living? Do you want to (finally) get over past experiences, attitudes and beliefs that have bogged you down in the past and start living with joy and power? Would you like to learn and acquire life-long tools that will help you unblock your creativity, and keep you unblocked for life? Do you want to totally amaze yourself in a great, positive, fantastic way in 2008?

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? In fact, it would be more than nice, it would be great! If you answered yes to all or any of these questions, it’s time to invest in yourself and experience the best of who you can be.

“Tapping the Creative Universe,” the life-changing creativity workshop, is on another run in Manila. Sessions will be held March 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. The total cost of the sessions is P5,000.

For inquiries, call 0916-8554303, or contact emailjimp@gmail.com for a syllabus.

This is a workshop that aims to free your awesome creativity, which may have remained dormant these past years, and give you an experience of unlimited joy, power and achievement. If you are in between dreams, relationships, careers, lives or feel that parts of you are stuck, this is the workshop for you.

As Is Where Is fan mail 6

Posted on January 18, 2008 by jimparedes

It’s no secret I enjoy feedback from readers of this blog, but I get an incredible high when people write me about my books. Here’s a letter I recieved from Reena Crisanto-Orosa who purchased my book As Is Where Is on the net.

Allow me some chest thumping and beaming. It’s not often people go out of their way to write about  a book which takes a lot of work to do.

Dear Jim,


Not only did I enjoy the book, but I couldn’t seem to get enough of it.  When I saw that I was reaching the end of the book, I started to reread the other parts because I didn’t want to be finished with the book. When I finally gave in and finished reading it, I simply read it again.  And in reading again, I also caught insights I did not catch the first time. My high school classmate from Maryknoll wants to borrow the book after me, but I think I will just buy her one since I want to hold on to my AS IS WHERE IS copy. I want to highlight parts that touched or moved me.  I want to underline phrases that inspired me.  I even memorized phrases that were relevant to me.  I was even taking down notes while reading the book!

I have to confess I do not know how to meditate, and I wonder if you can recommend a cd or dvd to help me get started. There is too much clutter in my brains and I am curious as to how to clear my mind of the clutter and focus on nothing.  I want to, as you say, surrender to the moment.

You’re write up about suffering (to be present to suffering is to diminish it) was very timely as I was going through a rough patch, and I still am. Your insights on this subject alleviated my pain and my suffering. Its as it I was meant to read the book.

I just read your blog and I quote: “Life is short. Wake up to it while you still have time and energy.” I so agree with you and everything you express in your blog are my sentiments exactly.

Reena

Observations and trivia 8

Posted on January 17, 2008 by jimparedes

The past few weeks, I’ve come across some interesting observations and trivia which I’ve been wanting to write about.

– On the way to Cronulla Beach in Sydney, we passed by a bridge with a great view, which was unbelievably called ‘Tom Ugly’s Bridge’. Ala (my daughter) and I were imagining the teasing and ribbing Tom Ugly (whoever he is) must have experienced in his lifetime. Imagine growing up with a name like that. Imagine the school roll call. Imagine him a grown up and having a child and his friends visiting the nursery and commenting that the kid looks like his father by saying, ‘That sure is an Ugly child’.

– I am having some house repairs done currently, and one of the handymen, a Pinoy graduate of PMA told me something interesting, and quite amusing. He said that during their masses at PMA in his time, they actually sang the APO song , ‘Love is for Singing”.

For the life of me I don’t know how this song I made can be an Offertory hymn. I kinda find it funny imagining soldiers and cadets standing straight and taut and with their manly voices singing,

Love is for silly, silly things that you never think of doing
And all in a sudden little things have bigger meanings.
It’s getting up at night and climbing up a tree so high
And then you try and touch the sky and you ask why…’

In church at that!



– I learned from a military general’s son that the best rendition of the song “My Way’ can be heard during PMA reunions. It is sung with so much feeling and passion that almost everyone present is brought to tears.


– I have observed that Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, unlike GMA is NOT in the news everyday. Sometimes, you don’t hear about the Prime Misnister at all for 4 days or even a week. There seems to be a lot more things happening in this country other than politics.

– The Prime Minister’s house is called the Kiribilli House. One can pass by it when sailing at the harbor, or go by car. Right next to the house are just regular neighbors!

– Australia is now officially the country with the highest percentage of obese people. There is a reality TV show here called The Biggest Loser where contestants compete against each other by losing the most weight. The government also has ads on TV and print encouraging people to have a fresh go at weight loss this new year.

– Behind our house is a very small farm with a corral and meandering cows. And beyond that is a park which gives us a great view of the outdoors. Driving around the neighborhood and even in parts of the city, one can see cockatoos, and other very colorful birds everywhere.

– Think of prime time TV shows in the Philippines. There’s BIg Brother, Marimar, dramas, and inane comedy shows. Over here in Australia, even if they have game shows, comedies, dramas as well, they also have great, well-made documentaries. Aussies are also big on gardens, and one of the shows on prime time features Australia’s most beautifully made gardens!! That would be totally unheard of in the Philippines.

– Past 10 PM, there is so much soft porn on TV, including ads for downloading erotica on your cellphone or meeting singles, etc., it’s actually irritating. I sometimes wonder how much of the percieved ‘breakdown of morals’ in the Philippines is caused by pornography when there is relatively so little available there except for the occasional accidental ‘exposure’ in variety shows. Sex is so much more open and seemingly more casual here, from people going topless in beaches to legal brothels in many places. Yet, there doesn’t appear to be a moral breakdown in the sense that there are not too many rape cases, at least not as much as we seem to hear about back home.

We should worry about drugs more.

—-Still on the same topic, I find it quite refreshing that open discussion of sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction are openly tackled. One sees advertising (serious ones, and also funny and clever ones) on TV, and on radio.

A memorable one features two pianists who go in front of the piano, drop their pants, raise their hands and play Chopsticks with… you get the picture?

– I watched the Spanish Harlem Orchestra at the Domain. It was quite a show with great musicuans playing latin, zalsa and all that. Furthermore, it was a free concert. There’s lots of things going on in Sydney at this time of the year being art month. So many free events everywhere. People show up in outdoor concerts with mats, and with elaborate meals, at times complete with appetizers, cheese and wine.

Aussies are quite informal and know how to party. I sort of draw the line though (meaning, I wont do it) when it comes to walking barefeet and shirtless in the city no matter how hot a summer’s day it can be.

You can be kicking and screaming but please come 1

Posted on January 15, 2008 by jimparedes

It’ s so strange how many times I have had students in the workshop who took about 3 or 4 invitations to finally go. In itself, that is probably a symptom of many blocks and this is the type of student I am waiting for. It is a courageous step to go into the unknown. When they finally end up going even if so hesitantly, they end up being so enthusiatic about it after.

If you find yourself in this situation, take the step NOW! Life is short. Wake up to it while you still have time and energy. Often we turn down what is good for us and only go towards it kicking and screaming along the way.

This is the last call for the TCU workshop this Saturday. If you are planning to join, I need to know your intention so please get in touch ASAP since we are preparing meals. For those who have signed up, read below.

Here are a few things to prepare for the workshop. Please take note of the following:

1) The staff will be there by 8AM. Workshop will start at 8:45. Registration will be open from 8AM.

WHEN: JANUARY 19, 2008
TIME: 8:30 AM to 6:30PM
WHERE:
ASSUMPTION SEMINARY AND CONFERENCE CENTER
200 Jersey Rd., Plumpton, 2761

HOW MUCH: 100 AUD.
FOR QUERIES AND RESERVATIONS: (02) 98363494

2) Bring a journal

3) Bring 4 or 5 old andom magazines that you will be ready to leave behind. This will be used for an excercise.

3) Dress comfortably.

For directions, please call 0424338142.

Thank yourself for signing up for this great adventure called TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE WORKSHOP (TCU).

The Swiss Army Knife of life 11

Posted on January 12, 2008 by jimparedes



I am an incorrigible gadget guy. Smart and easy approaches to problems — those small digital, electronic and other technical wonders — have never failed to beguile me.

It should be no surprise therefore that I am a big fan of the Victorinox Company. Ever since I was a Boy Scout, I’ve always liked their Swiss Army Knives which have something useful for every need. The joke goes that on one episode of MacGyver, the TV hero was preparing to stop a couple of tanks with only a grenade and a Swiss Army Knife in his hands. An employee of Victorinox asked, “What does he need a grenade for?”

There’s nothing like a one-stop-shop solution to our every need.

Which has made me wonder if there exists an all-in-one attitude that can carry us through life. Hundreds of philosophical and spiritual quests have been launched in search of a theory that encompasses everything we believe in. Is there such a thing? I don’t know. Could there be one solution to every situation one faces?

I came across this story on the Net.

“Once a king called upon all of his wise men and asked them, ‘Is there a mantra or suggestion which works in every situation, in every circumstance, in every place and every time? Something which can help me when none of you is available to advise me? Tell me, is there any such mantra?’

“The wise men were puzzled by the King’s question. One answer for all questions? Something that works everywhere, in every situation? In every joy, every sorrow, every defeat and every victory?

“They thought and thought. After a lengthy discussion, an old man suggested a solution that applies to all situations. They went to the king and gave him something written on paper, but on the condition that the king was not to see it out of curiosity. Only in extreme danger — when the king finds himself alone and there seems to be no other way —will he be allowed to see it. The king put the paper under the diamond on his ring.

“After a few days, the neighbors attacked the kingdom. It was a collective surprise attack carried out by the king’s enemies. The king and his army fought bravely but, alas, they lost the battle. The king had to flee on his horse with the enemies in hot pursuit. His horse took him far and deep into the jungle. He could hear the many troops on horses following him and the noise was coming closer and closer.

“Suddenly the king found himself standing at the end of the road — that road was not going anywhere. Underneath there was a rocky valley a thousand feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished. Turning back was impossible since the enemy had occupied the road and was getting closer. The king became restless. There seemed to be no way out.

“Then suddenly he saw the diamond in his ring shining in the sun, and he remembered the message hidden in the ring. He opened the diamond and read the message. The message was very small but very great.

“The message was: ‘This, too, will pass.’

“The king read it. Again he read it. Suddenly something struck his mind: ‘Yes! This too will pass. Only a few days ago, I was enjoying my kingdom. I was the mightiest of all the kings. Yet today, my kingdom and all its pleasures have gone. I am here trying to escape from my enemies. But just like those days of luxuries have gone, this day of danger too will pass.’ A calm came to his face. He stood there and gazed at everything around him. The place where he was standing was full of natural beauty. He had never known that such a beautiful place was also a part of his kingdom. The revelation in the message had a great effect on him.

“He relaxed and forgot about those following him. After a few minutes, he noticed that the noise of the horses and the enemy was receding. They moved to some other part of the mountains and failed to pick up his trail. He was spared.

“The king, as it turns out, was a very brave leader. He immediately reorganized his army and fought back. He defeated the enemy and regained his lost empire. When he returned to his empire after victory, he was received with much fanfare. The whole capital was rejoicing in the victory. Everyone was in a festive mood. Flowers were being thrown at the king from every house, from every corner. People were dancing and singing. For a moment the king said to himself, ‘I am one of the bravest and greatest of kings. It is not easy to defeat me.’ With all the reception and celebration, he noticed that ego was emerging within him.

“Suddenly the diamond of his ring flashed in the sunlight and reminded him of the message. He opened it and read it again: ‘This, too, will pass.’

“He became silent. His demeanor went through a total change — from the egoist that he had become, back to a state of utter humbleness.

“‘If this, too, is going to pass, it is not yours. The defeat was not yours. The victory is not yours. You are just a watcher. Everything passes,’ he told himself.”

The story was a real eye-opener for me. Who has not witnessed something like this to some degree in his or her life? Yes, we are living our lives, but we are also only watching it in the end. We perceive life, happiness, sorrow and everything in between as they come and go. And yes, everything really just comes and goes. We are all only spectators.

As you read this, sit silently and watch yourself reading it and thinking about it, as you evaluate your own life. This very moment — this, too, will pass.

Can you think of anything that is permanent? Aside from change itself, is there anything else? Friends, relatives, youth, ambition, wealth, gains and losses will all come and go. Everything and its opposite are the two faces of the same coin. They, too, will go.

What about you? Are you permanent? What of you will remain when your face and body age and crumble and eventually die?

The only thing that does not change is the real you. So who are you? To answer that is to touch on the very core of all meaning and spirituality. If this question makes you feel excited, confused, depressed, angry, delighted or mystified — remember that this, too, shall pass.

Feeling ‘local’ 18

Posted on January 06, 2008 by jimparedes

I heard something interesting on Australian TV a few nights ago about the attitudes migrants in Australia had about their host country, which was prominently featured in the news. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs commissioned a survey a few months ago to find out how migrants felt about being in Australia. The people behind the survey interviewed migrants who have been living in Australia for three years or more.

They specifically asked two questions and the answers the respondents gave were quite amazing, and yes, surprising. In many ways, they said it all for me. The first question was, ‘What do you like about Australia?’ The answer that got a high thirty percent rating was ‘the people’. Migrants, it seems find Australians quite easy- going, friendly and funny in their own way. The weather got another high response. Other positive answers were “the beach’ (17 percent), nature (17 percent), lifestyle (15 percent). Clean air and surroundings got about five percent.

Even more revealing were the answers to the question, ‘What don’t you like about Australia?’ A very surprisingly tiny four percent put ‘discrimination’ as a negative. I say it is surprising, considering that the subject of discrimination is the most commonly asked query I get about living in Australia when I am in Manila. I always answer that I have not experienced discrimination here so far. The low figure of four percent belies the perception that Aussies are generally racists. I have experienced alienation, yes, but not discrimination.  Besides, I subscribe to the answer of a friend who has lived in the both the US and Australia for a long time. On the question about whether there is discrimination in Aus, his answer is, ‘Anywhere on the world, there is discrimination, if you allow it.’

Ten percent answered ‘missing the family back home’ as a drawback to living in Aus, which is quite understandable. Unhappiness with employment got something like seven percent. But the biggest, total surprise of all was this:  a whopping 30 percent answered ‘nothing’ to the question of what they did not like about Aus life. Believe it or not!

I could not believe that such a sizeable number of migrants from different parts of the world were seeing Aus almost the same way I was seeing it. Sure, there are things I complain about, but the obviously palpable pleasantness of life is something that is so evident to many who live here.

I actually felt good listening to the results of the survey. I knew I was not being blindly positive about this country and that I had made a good choice on which country to migrate to.

I celebrated Christmas and New Year here in Aus, and it was a very different experience. In the Philippines, the yuletide season is all about hordes of relatives, fireworks, noisy revelers everywhere and the longest Christmas season on the world. In contrast, last Christmas Eve, I just had my immediate family with me, and I was amazed to find myself not missing everyone in Manila. It was a quiet, intimate, wonderful and meaningful Christmas with just my wife, three kids and grandchild as we ate, drank and opened our present amid laughter and gaiety.

In Australia, while there is also the build-up to Christmas day, there is not the frenzy and anticipation that we have back home. It is sedate by Philippine standards. The next day which is the 26th, is strangely called ‘Boxing Day’ in Aus and in all Commonwealth countries. Boxing Day is the time when a second round of shopping occurs since prices drop rock bottom right after Christmas.

The next big one is New Year’s Eve where Sydney puts up perhaps the biggest, most spectacular fireworks show in the entire planet. In the Philippines, revelers buy fireworks and explode them. Over here, the explosion of fireworks to greet the coming year is state-sponsored to the tune of four million dollars this year. It is a government monopoly.  Hundreds of thousands of people crowd every inch of space in the city that has a view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House to be near the center of the fiery display. There is TV coverage, and tourists from all over Australia and the world come to watch.

Celebrating Christmas outside one’s home country is quite a unique experience. I was not lost in the revelry but I very intensely watched everything, including myself, and my own reactions. I have discovered that one’s absorption of different cultures and practices usually entails two steps: the first is the constant comparison between one’s home culture and the way it is done in the foreign country. While that can be fun and even fascinating, there is also a deeper joy in finding oneself in the next level of appreciation, which is the cessation of comparison and to the total immersion to the foreign customs and ways. For a few moments, one catches oneself NOT looking at other people as foreigners but as plain people, just like the way one looks at people in one’s home country.  One crosses the ‘them versus us’ line and just enjoys oneself, period.

Gone are the seeming differences that have always put a gap like accents, races, skin colors, religion body sizes, etc. Every one is just like everyone else. We are a throng of humanity simply celebrating what it’s like to be alive amidst such beauty and celebratory happenstance. It’s great to hang one’s protective coat and layers, and one’s defenses and simply allow oneself to be overwhelmed by everything unfolding.

Almost every week that passes, my comfort zone gets bigger as I allow more of the Aussie lifestyle into my home, habits and skin. I figure, all this can only make me a richer person and a better inhabitant of this part of the planet that is shared by a lot of races and people of different creeds.

While at certain points it is important to heed the call of nationalism, there is also virtue in seeing the world as borderless. And one does not even need to give up one for the other. In a way it is like a widening of identity. It’s akin to how one psychiatrist described the concept of compassion and enlightenment in the terms of his trade. He said that one must have an identity first and foremost before one can ‘lose’ it. ####

Make 2008 YOUR year 4

Posted on January 01, 2008 by jimparedes

ATTENTION READERS IN AUSTRALIA!!cosmos.jpg

Here’s a few questions we should all ask ourselves at this time in our lives.

– Do you want a new experience this 2008 or would you like it to be just like the past years you’ve been living?

– Do you want to (FINALLY) get over past experiences, attitudes and beliefs that have bogged you down in the past and start living with joy and power?

– Would you like to learn and acquire life-long tools that will help you unblock your creativity, and keep you unblocked for life?

– Do you want to totally amaze yourself in a great, positive, fantastic way this 2008?

That would be nice, wouldn’t it? In fact, it would be more than nice, it would be GREAT! If you answered yes to all or any of the questions, it’s time to invest in yourself and experience the best of who you can be.

I will be running TAPPING THE CREATIVE UNIVERSE (TCU) workshop this January 19, Saturday in Sydney.

This is a workshop whose main aim is to your awesome creativity that may have remained dormant these past years, and give you the experience of unlimited joy, power and achievement. If you are in between dreams, relationships, careers, lives or feel that parts of you are stuck, this is the workshop for you.

WHEN: JANUARY 19, 2008
TIME: 8:30 AM to 6:30PM
WHERE:
ASSUMPTION SEMINARY AND CONFERENCE CENTER
200 Jersey Rd., Plumpton, 2761

HOW MUCH: 100 AUD.
FOR QUERIES AND RESERVATIONS: (02) 98363494

If you are interested or have any queries or want a copy of the syllabus, you can send me an email at: emailjimp@gmail.com and I will be happy to respond.

All materials, snacks are included. (Lunch will be extra. I am arranging something very reasonable).

power.jpg

This is the best time to do it. Don’t fall into the usual pattern of again delaying fulfillment of your dreams with doubts and negativity. You’ve been there and done that—too many times. ACT NOW! Call or write now and reserve a slot.


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