Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for January 29th, 2012

An accident, an old flame and a new addiction 1

Posted on January 29, 2012 by jimparedes

My son Mio had always wanted a motorcycle which from day one, his mom and I had always had a problem accepting, much less encouraging. At every conceivable opportunity, we would always mention the pitfalls of owning one. But my son Mio persisted. He worked hard to save money and spent hours upon hours online and on the road searching for THE ONE he wanted. It had to be a specific model and cc that conformed to his taste for vintage and for the requirements of the state of NSW for one just starting bike. When he got one, he was so proud and happy. It took him weeks to learn, take the test, pass, practice at night when there are few cars on the road before going on his first ride to the City. He also purchased a helmet, jacket and all the stuff bikers need to be safe.

This afternoon, I got a text from Lydia that Walter, Mio’s best friend had taken the bike and got into an accident. From what I can gather, he slid on some gravel, and ended up under a caravan. My wife and Mio brought him to the hospital where he is at the moment being treated for some injuries. I still don’t know how serious it is but it seems he did not hit his head which is good. The bike, alas, was totaled.

Aside from feeling bad about his friend, Mio is (as my wife described it), ‘beyond upset’ for obvious reasons. I texted him to console him. I said that while I was upset that Walter was hurt, as his father I am somewhat relieved that it was not him who was in the accident. Material things come and go. That can be settled later. I did not have to advice him to be with his friend. Mio has always valued his friendships.

Even when we know things will eventually get better, as a father, I suffer as well when my children are inconvenienced, hurt in any way. But, life happens. They must deal with it. I only hope he gets second thoughts about buying another one after seeing how easily accidents can happen.

Just got a new message from my wife. Mio, though upset, told her, ‘Ma, it’s only a bike. I hope Walt is OK.’

* * *
Yesterday, I picked up one of my guitars after not playing the instrument for over a month. I was in Sydney all that time and even if I have a nice Aussie-made Maton guitar there, I hardly even touched it. Have not been feeling musical these days. But yesterday, here at my house in Manila, I opened my guitar case and picked up my newly renovated Gibson guitar and played it for close to an hour. It was like spending time with an old flame that one’s heart still beats for. It was wonderful, to put it easily. I sang a few songs I used to sing in high school.

I noticed two things immediately though: my fingers hurt from lack of playing for awhile, and it took me some time to warm up vocally to reach the notes I used to reach much easier a few months ago. I must go back to the artists’ credo of ‘practice, practice, and most importantly, more practice.’ It never stops.

* * *

Slept this afternoon. I think I am still jet-lagged. I sleep late and wake up too early. The 3 hours difference between Sydney and Manila is quite hard to shrug off. I can handle the time difference between manila and the US better, strangely enough.

I have also taken to coffee in my 60th year of existence. I have been a non-coffee drinker since I was born. Masarap pala. My wife who is a strong coffee drinker, and my daughter Ala who supervises a Starbucks store in Sydney’s Darling Harbor have been guiding me through the pleasures that caffeine can deliver to the body. How did I miss out on this all these years..

Growing up, I always thought coffee was one addiction I could live without. I also do not smoke and hardly drink. But at age 60, one can begin to allow these ‘vices’.

* * *
1) Basic Photography classes on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Cost is P3,920. Venue is at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call 426-5375 or 0916-8554303 to reserve.

2) Songwriting Workshop on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Learn the basics and actually write songs during the session. Very hands on! Student must play the guitar or the piano. Venue is at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call 426-5375 or 0916-8554303 to reserve.

The art of giving and recieving 0

Posted on January 29, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated January 29, 2012

Giving is difficult. That is understandable because in giving, you give up something. You may even feel like you’ve not just given something away but that you have given up a part of yourself. It may feel like you’ve lost something tangible. And, in truth, you do.

And even when you are very willing to give something to someone, it can be scary. The fear is that your gift will be not be accepted well, or that it will say something about you, the giver, that is unpleasant or not too flattering. For example, nobody wants to be called a cheapskate.

Accepting a gift is also not so simple. It can be fraught with awkwardness. One is not sure how to accept a gift for a variety of reasons. For one, you, the receiver, may feel unworthy of the gift being offered, or you may feel that the giver is greatly inconvenienced because he is parting with a something of great value. Often, the natural reaction is to refuse the gift so as not to be burdened by the inconvenience, perceived or imagined, that the giver goes through.

I believe that both giving and receiving must be done with grace and sensitivity.

One of the things I regret is that I do not possess any material memento from my father who died too early in my life. Even as his sterling reputation has guided me for the most part of my life, I still wish I had something that he possessed, something he valued, that was important to him. He left his family with very little. One of them was his sword, a fine epee which was part of his uniform as a Knight of Columbus. Its handle was of gold and mother of pearl, and it came in a leather sheath with gold trimmings.

When it was my turn to be a dad, I swore that I would give my kids important souvenirs, meaningful items they can cherish after I have gone. I do not mean cell phones, iPads or anything trendy like that. I want to give them valuable things with historical and symbolic significance that they can pass on to their children someday. It will be my way of creating family traditions while I am still a part of their lives.

Eighteen years ago, at the height of my passion for collecting timepieces, I struggled with myself whether or not I should get a Breitling Navitimer watch. It was expensive and the frugal Ilocano in me could not justify the extravagance. I thought of other reasons to justify the acquisition — that it was my gift to myself for working so hard, or it would be more valuable someday. My daughter Erica who was shopping with me at the Shangri-la Mall asked me what was so special about the watch. I replied that it was a watch for life. I explained that it was a finely-crafted watch, and it was valuable and would one day have the status of a family heirloom.

Without any hesitation, she advised me to purchase it pronto since, if it is a watch for life, further dilly-dallying would be a waste of my limited time on earth. Her refreshing take was all the justification I needed. Within a few minutes, I purchased the watch.
I wore the watch off and on the first 12 years after I bought it. But in the last six years, I have worn it constantly. It is an automatic which, if left unused for days, has to be wound. Its hand movement is smooth and consistent unlike a digital watch whose second hand moves briskly and in a jerky fashion. I love it. It looks very manly — expensive but rugged.

It isn’t a conservative-looking gold watch the type that executives wear. This looks like one that active, imaginative and adventurous people like pilots, car racers, sailors, explorers, athletes or hip but serious musicians would use.

On my last visit to my family in Sydney, my conversations with my son Mio revolved around his future plans. He is looking into courses, training that will set him on a career path for life. He has lately been making decisions that are truly his own, sometimes contrary to the parental advice that his mother and I tend to lay on thick. He has a job that pays okay and I know he is enjoying this surge of independence and power that young people feel when they earn their own money and can purchase things. When we went out to eat, he would offer to pay the bill, or at least pay for his own share.

As a parent, I delighted in his independent thinking and persistence in following his dreams. He is really growing up and coming into his own.

For many years now, I had wanted to give him something valuable that would not just bond us as father and son but also something utilitarian that he could use for a long time. And so, during our last lunch together, as we talked about how quickly time had flown since our move to Australia, I took off my Breitling Navigator watch and gave it to him. He was a bit shocked, and he immediately refused, saying that he did not even wear a watch. I told him that it was one reason why I was giving it to him.

“Real men wear watches,” I told him, only half-joking. Besides, it would go well with his new motorcycle which he had saved up for and recently purchased against our advice.

I told him that the watch had kept time for me for many years. It reminded me of my schedules, birthdays, anniversaries and other important milestones, and also less memorable moments like the mere passing of time. It also kept me from being late, and it gave me a sense of urgency. It was now time for this valuable piece of equipment to help another person live his life in a more orderly fashion. “Time is fleeting,” I said, as I gave it to him.

After a while, he sensed my seriousness and the importance of what I was doing. He still balked a little knowing how expensive the watch was. I told him that it was also for that very reason that I was giving it — because it had great value. “It’s not really giving unless the gift is of value,” I told him.

At that point, he smiled and I knew he got the point as he accepted my gift graciously. He was quite profuse in showing his appreciation and gratitude. Within minutes, he already had a picture of it on his Facebook page.

I felt good about parting with my watch. It will be of good use if only to remind my son that youth does not last long; one must not waste much time. Eventually, he must seriously tackle more meaningful pursuits in life.

More than the material value of my timepiece, I felt it was appropriate to give it to one who is on the threshold of life. And I like the idea of passing on something from father to son. It is a memento of sorts for us, something sacred that binds us in some way.

It is true that when one gives, one also receives. Someone once said, “Fragrance clings to the hand that gives the rose.” I felt I received something of value when I gave my watch to my son. I felt his appreciation and the strengthening of ties between us. It was father-son moment and I felt good about how well we both handled it, with grace and sensitivity, traits that are not overtly masculine, but are life skills that are part of the gift of wisdom.

* * *

1) Basic Photography classes on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Cost is P3,920. Venue is at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call 426-5375 or 0916-8554303 to reserve.

2) Songwriting Workshop on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Learn the basics and actually write songs during the session. Very hands on! Student must play the guitar or the piano. Venue is at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call 426-5375 or 0916-8554303 to reserve.

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