Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for July 7th, 2013

Thoughts on forever 0

Posted on July 07, 2013 by jimparedes

Thoughts on forever
HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 7, 2013 – 12:00am

There is nothing that is still. Nothing is static. Everything is moving, changing, evolving into something new. Some change quickly. Others change slowly. Each has its own speed or vibration. And even when things seem like they are perennially frozen in time, they are actually going through a metamorphosis, albeit too slowly for us to realize. But trust that it is happening. That is the way of life and the world.

I once saw a video on the Internet that showed a new born baby sleeping. To the naked eye, it may seem like nothing much was going on. That’s how it appeared when it was shot with a regular video camera. But when it was filmed with a super high speed camera it caught the many previously unnoticed movements he was making. Parts of his body were practically pulsating here and there non-stop together with the beating of his heart.

One can say that the irony of it all is that you only notice the aliveness of everything and the direction things are taking when you are in a state of stillness and awareness. It is only when you take stock by pausing, detaching and stepping back do you see what is really happening.

I have seen fortunes change quickly. I have also seen it change slowly. Money not only changes hands but it also grows and gets depleted. Friends have come and gone. And new ones are always made. Loved ones were once there. Some have died. Others have moved away. Some have moved on. My own youth once seemingly endless and eternal has frittered away with the passage of time.

Some people get surprised when they see me in person and tell me how much I have physically aged. These are people who used to see me daily on TV. Little do they realize that more than a decade has passed since I was visible everyday on their TV sets. They did not see changes happening incrementally. And much less do they probably realize that they too have aged just as much.

It is tempting to romanticize and imagine that there are things that last forever. But do they really? I ask this rhetorically, because the truth is, I am not sure.

People form partnerships. These are deals or agreements made where they promise to invest their energies, emotions, love together in pursuit of happiness in a future that is full of beneficial potentialities. In short, these agreements are investments with forever in mind even if the future may or may not deliver. It is always an open future. Things can go either way even if they are hopeful things will work out for well. But even so, people do this for many reasons that they imagine are mostly beneficial. One of them is, at least they don’t have to live life alone in the world.

But once loyal friends can and do part ways and may even turn into enemies. Lovers can go their separate lives even after promises are solemnly made before God and friends. Bonds, explicit or unspoken are made and often broken. This I have seen and experienced many times.

People disappoint. Fate plays cruel tricks. I know women who have awakened to the shock of discovering that their husbands were not the knights in shining armor they thought they were. I have also heard husbands complain that their once sweet, loving, beautiful wives have changed into monsters. I knew of a young couple many years ago who were so much in love and got married only to discover a few years into their blissful union that one of them was sick with a fatal disease and would not live long. The wife died of cancer after just four years.

Commitments, relationships and promises may last and endure until death. It doesn’t always turn out that way but some do. But I think they only do so when the parties involved are awake enough to recognize the dynamic nature of the people they invest into forever with.

With eyes wide open, we enter the gates that lead to forever but with every few steps, the road conditions may change. One moment it is a smooth, easy path pleasant to traverse. Suddenly it can get very rough with hardly a path to walk on. It is easy and even understandable at times to turn around and just abandon the journey. It may even be the wise thing if the path ends on a cliff and continuing to go on may mean great physical injury or even death.

But the wisest advise may be this: before you make your commitments, consider the worst possibilities. If you think that in the end, you will gain more in terms of personal growth and that it is worth all trouble, then go and do so.

I mentioned long ago that I read article in Psychology Today that says all types of relationships go through the perennial cycle of promise, disappointment or betrayal and courtship. It is similar to what is described in zen as great faith, great doubt, great vow and great effort. St. John of the Cross says something similar. You attempt, you fail and rise to repeat the cycle again and again. It may sound senseless and cynical to some and may justify why things don’t work but to me it seems like a reasonable explanation why things can work despite the disappointments.

Through every cycle of it, if we keep our eyes open there can be qualitative changes on how we experience the stages. This may indeed be the cycle of things but the level of the experience of it may be higher each time. There are always lessons and realizations to be learned which include taming and adjusting expectations, keeping fears and negativity away and refining and improving efforts at what we do.

Sensei Sevan Ross, director of the Chicago Zen Center said, “If we have no doubt, we have no faith. If we have no faith, we have no doubt.” The doubt comes with the faith. The faith here is not about certainty, nor is the doubt here about denial. True faith and doubt will always go hand in hand. You will always feel free but you must continue anyway. Both are about committing to the continuation of life’s unknown journey but through a progressively higher level of experience.

Pema Chodron, a Zen Buddhist monk says, “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.”

People who buy into “forever” are not necessarily fools who are marching off to a cliff of disappointment and cynicism. “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Take one leap after another in the darkness until the light shines,” is a zen saying. With eyes open and with awareness, the continuous jumping into the unknown may be better guided each times as we learn and grow.

Three kids and a dad 1

Posted on July 07, 2013 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 30, 2013 – 12:00am

The author Jim Paredes with children Erica, Ala and Mio in London.

I just love being with family especially while abroad. We’ve had family travels before. We’ve been to Australia, Cambodia, US, Davao, Baguio, Boracay and a few other places. Last week we had one that was unexpected and unplanned. Except for Lydia who was in Sydney, I met up with the rest of my family in London last week.

My three kids Erica, Ala and Mio had finally decided to take a much-delayed European travel given to them by a generous uncle and aunt as graduation gifts years ago. They all took off from work and decided to leave for London from where they would start their European adventure. As luck would have it, I was going to be in London at the same time they were to attend the Samsung Premier 2013 launch of new products.


The moment I landed at Heathrow Airport in London, I contacted my daughter Erica. We immediately planned lunch since I had limited time to be with them. I was in London for work after all and I was just taking advantage of whatever free time I could get.

So with hardly any sleep from that long ride from NAIA 2 to Heathrow, I took Bus 27 from Kensington High where my hotel was to Camden Market, which was close to an hour’s ride. I got off the bus after about 25 stops. After a block’s walk, I met up with Erica, Ala, their friends Trina Epilepsia and Issa Perez Tagle who were also traveling around Europe and shared a flat with them. My son Mio who was taking some photos around the block appeared a few minutes later.

In previous family travels, we usually went to places where none of us really knew how to get around. We liked to rely on maps, guides and friends. I remember how young they were then. As a parent, I was always watchful of where they went and what they did.
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But my kids are grownup now. And this was London, Erica’s favorite city. She had spent a few months here some years back to study a course on makeup. She knew the nooks and crannies so well, the places to visit and avoid like the back of her hand, that I had to ask her half-seriously if she actually did study during the time she was here, or did she spend all the time gallivanting and just having a great time? Hmm.

Camden is quite an interesting place. It is edgy and daring. You see a lot of very young, very bold fashion clothes and accessories for sale, and a cornucopia of post–hippie cool stuff. T-shirts, beads, rings, bracelets — things you would see in tiangges, flea markets, etc. You see lots of hand and homemade stuff everywhere but the difference is they are very hip. The natives are either very casually attired or dressed to make a statement. Fashionistas in elaborate punk get-ups are a common sight. It is a photographer’s paradise.

After some shopping, we went into one of the side streets for lunch at a Latin-Carribean inspired restaurant called Guanabana. It is owned by a friend Erica had known way back named Omar Khan. He served a fusion menu ranging from adobo sandwich to lamb, to ribs. He served us a yummy refreshing mojito concoction but without alcohol. Everything was actually very delicious.

After the meal, we went back to shopping again. But I soon had to beg off since jetlag was taking its toll on me. I went back to the hotel around mid-afternoon to get some rest.

I found more free time the next day and so we all met again this time at Borrough’s Market. I took the train, or the tube as Londoners call it to get there. I had my fear of getting lost since I knew I had to change trains midway but it all went well without a hitch.

Borrough’s Market is a covered area with lots of stalls and open stores selling all sorts of cheeses, wines, meats, chocolates, pasta, fruits, pastries, candies and a host of other things. I had a pork belly sandwich which I highly recommend if you are ever there. It was tasty, scrumptious and filling — a full meal. We went around a bit more but after about two hours, we bid our goodbyes since each one wanted to go to a different site to visit. It would be the last time I would see them in the next two months.

Travel can be quite stressful. Thank God it was too early for that since they were just at the start of their six-week journey. All throughout my time with them, I felt a sense of fatherly pride as I watched how decent, independent and fun-loving my children had grown up to be. I noticed how intelligent, perceptive and appreciative they were of everything they saw. And the way they soak it all in and even go native and local is admirable! No doubt, they are cosmopolitan travelers. And best of all, they are people who know how to comport and conduct themselves properly in almost any locale or setting.

I wished Lydia had been there to enjoy their company and to just watch how our kids had turned out.

I especially enjoyed the few one-on-one moments with them. While walking, Ala put her arm around my waist as we walked and expressed how she had missed me. I loved that. I missed her, too. Mio and I had our male-bonding moment when we casually talked about the pretty girls we saw on the streets. We also talked about where he was at the moment in his life and some turning points he was going through. With Erica, I felt she was taking the ate role quite seriously and made extra sure her sibs were on schedule and coordinated. She also took care that her papa would not get lost in London or be uncomfortable while with them.

Family travel is wonderful. And I am lucky that my family has the same penchant for it as I have. We all like saying yes to unknown places, appreciating strange accents and being open to new experiences.

There is an openness one must have for travel to work its magic. One must be ready to take both an outward and inward journey. There is as much to learn about oneself as well as other people. The whole idea is to immerse oneself into a bigger reality and greater sense of what humanity is all about. Otherwise, travel anywhere becomes just another reason to feel superior or inferior vis-à-vis another culture.

Travel is expensive, no doubt about that. But if it gets you bonded closely as a family while being educated about the world, people, cultures, traditions and a host of other things one can only learn through actual travel, it is worth the price.

  • July 2013
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