Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Archive for July, 2019


Small acts that can actually change the world 0

Posted on July 14, 2019 by jimparedes

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HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – July 14, 2019 – 12:00am

Life is hard. We don’t have to make it harder. The world is cruel enough as it is. I am making a list that is doable and can result in making life easier for everyone on an everyday basis. Some items may be easy. Others will need a change of attitude. I hope they become ingrained as habits.

Here goes.

1) I cannot say it more emphatically. Follow all traffic rules.

2) Always say “Please” and “Thank you.” Be sincere and look at the person you say these words to.

3) Try to lessen the noise level wherever you are. You can talk more softly while walking along streets, especially at night. Be considerate of your neighbors. You can also lower the volume of your car stereo when you are parked and your doors are open. You can avoid honking your car horn, too.

4) When you want something, as much as possible do not burden others to do it for you, especially if you can do it yourself.

5) When you are too angry, write down your feelings first. Wait a few hours before you decide to throw away that piece of paper or post it on social media.

6) Whenever possible, be aware of and respect everyone’s physical and emotional space.

7) Be kind and courteous to kasambahays, waiters, vendors, salespeople, taxi drivers, security guards, barangay tanods, small public officials who serve us daily.

8) When you have the sudden impulse to buy something, let the moment pass. If you still want it after a day, wait another day. Ask yourself if you really want it or need it. It is important that you know the difference. It happens often that a so-called must-have purchase loses its appeal shortly after you get it, and it ends up as trash piled up in your room.

You may ask, how does this make life easier for other people? It does because you will be one less confused person in this world. You will have more self-awareness, discernment and, hopefully, will do less harm to others.

9) Learn to really listen to people before giving advice. Everyone has something correct to say.

10) Change the oil of your car regularly. That simple act will save the lungs of people who have to breathe in your car exhaust.

11) No matter what the situation is, do not litter: do not throw out your garbage randomly. Especially, do not throw garbage out of your car. That is barbaric behavior and disrespectful to all sentient beings on the road. It is also dangerous. Look for a trash can. Or better yet, lessen your garbage by living more simply.

12) Learn restraint and judgment so you can stop yourself from participating in every argument that comes your way. In terms of your time and blood pressure, most of them are probably not worth it anyway. You do not need more stress.

13) When you can lift up peoples’ spirits in your daily grind, do so even with just a small gesture. Say something kind. Smile. Everybody is going through something. Maybe you can ease some of their pain.

14) Help old and disabled people cross the street when the opportunity arises.

15) Say no to one-time-use plastic bags. Refuse them when offered. Bring your own bag or container when buying stuff.

16) Do not encourage misogynistic, vulgar behavior even if everybody else seems supportive of it. Say no and show your displeasure.

17) When you are with people who are much older than you, consider the possibility that this could be the last time you may be seeing them. Be kind. Pay attention. Show compassion. Learn from every moment with them and treasure the lessons.

18) Do random, wanton acts of kindness towards strangers. As much as other people have helped you in the past, your simple act may actually be the prayer they are asking for. Trust that a kind act will always lead to good.

19) Do not pass on fake news. It is morally wrong and only makes the world a more cruel and confused place.

20) Get to know your neighbors. You don’t have to wait for an emergency to get to know them. Strike up a conversation when you can. It makes the neighborhood safer and friendlier and it builds community.

21) Keep your body active. Take long walks. Jump. Run. Do physical stuff repeatedly. An active body is less prone to depression and sickness. You will be one less person your friends and relatives will have to worry about. And that is good, right?

22) Look out for beautiful things throughout the day. Notice the flowers that sprouted in your garden overnight. Sigh at the sunset. Enjoy that wind that suddenly blew your way. Look for positivity and beauty everywhere in every moment. I like to imagine that everything in the world shows up because it keeps a sacred appointment with me. I must reciprocate. In this way, the mundane can awaken our sense of wonder. It can make us feel grateful just to be alive.

22) Have a few small snacks in the car ready to give to beggars. We used to do this off and on. Instead of giving money, which may end up in syndicates’ pockets, at least you can nourish these hapless people by giving them bodily sustenance.

23) Be less conditional when it comes to seeking happiness. Be happy with less. Be more accepting, open-minded and less judgmental. The only way suffering can become a blessing is if we embrace it. That’s how frogs turn into princes. And when you are happy and content, you automatically pass it on.

24) Check on friends and relatives who may be depressed or going through a rough time. A simple call or visit can do them wonders.

25) Finally, a special lesson for men. When using public toilets, please lift the seat so that the next guy who needs it for a bigger undertaking will not have to use the wet seat you may have left behind. It can be a big deal.

We’ve heard it all before — that we can all do something to make the world a kinder place. No one is asking anyone to be Superman or be the savior of mankind. If we all did something, no matter how small, things add up and can change quickly for the better. That is all that is asked of us.

How I want to go 0

Posted on July 07, 2019 by jimparedes

Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – July 6, 2019 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Last June was the saddest month I have experienced in a long while. Too many people I knew passed on. I attended four wakes. That was too much for me. I was not even able to attend all the wakes of all those I knew who died.

The ages of the deceased were varied. They represented the young, the middle-aged, the aging and the very elderly. It seemed like people I knew were dying at a faster rate than usual the past month. It was brutal.

My wife balked at attending all the wakes. She attended just one. Some of the wakes I went to seemed sadder than usual because some of the deaths occurred under sudden tragic circumstances.

Death is always a shock even when we kind of expect it to happen. The biggest shocks are those that happen almost without warning. One day a person is alive and seemingly in the pink of health. The next day, he or she are gone from the earthly plane.

While I was at the wakes, I tried to acutely observe everything that went on. I paid attention to a lot of things. I wanted to understand what death meant to all the people inside the chapels. For the departed’s immediate family, loved ones and close friends, the death is clearly a huge loss, an overwhelmingly sad affair. They bear emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and financial pain. A loved one is gone. There are regrets and could-have-beens that are expressed, or sometimes not. The pain cuts deep and personal. The time for any rectification is passed.

To other visitors, there is the sadness of seeing those left behind dealing with death with such great difficulty. There is also that awkwardness and inadequacy (no matter how sincere we are) of trying to express condolence and grief to comfort the feelings of those left behind, knowing that nothing we say can really replace the loss. And yet, we still express them. Well, because we have to. We also feel some loss. No one can restore what has been taken away. We can only sympathize and pray and hope it helps somehow.

When Jacqui Magno died, it affected me quite deeply even if I was already expecting it. I knew she was terminally ill. Knowing I would never speak to her or hear her sing live again was quite devastating. At the wake, I watched a collage of pics on the screen showing her at different times in her life. She was so alive, beautiful and filled with zest. I remembered all the different times when our paths crossed. I knew her as the best friend of an ex-girlfriend in college, a recording artist I produced, a fellow performer on stage, a friend whom I got quite close to on different occasions.

All that is passed and gone will never come back again. We all just have to move on as best we can. There is nothing else to do.

At every single moment, we are moving closer to death. That is a fact. Death is inescapable. There is nothing morbid about this. While we will never know when it will happen, one way I prepare for it is to be less attached to things that I can’t take with me in the afterlife. I must learn detachment. Another is to have a sense of urgency.

Coming home last night from a wake of a friend who suddenly fell ill and died of sepsis in less than 24 hours, it dawned on me how much time I was wasting doing nothing and not acting fast enough on important callings and dreams. I told Lydia that I still had so much music I wanted to write and record. I still want to help people in ways that would make them evolve into something better than what they know about themselves. I want to spend more time with my family, my friends and classmates, meet new people, travel to places that I have not visited, write essays, books, do a lot of photography. I also want to keep taking long walks and enjoy my body while I am still healthy. I want to touch lives in the ways that I can. I also want to continue my efforts at fighting for democracy and human rights in our country.

Years ago, I told Lydia that when I die, I would want my body to be thrown into the sea to be fed to the fishes. At least then, even in death, my carcass would sustain ocean life forms. I was very much into diving then. It was a less selfish option than being buried in a cemetery which deprives land from the living.

But after studying how difficult it would be to carry this out, especially for my family who found it too grotesque, I changed my mind. I now wish to be cremated. I do not want to be in a coffin with people gawking at me. But before I am disposed of, I wish to donate any healthy organs I may still have to help the living who may need them.

I also would not like the usual big flower arrangements at my funeral. They smell of death and evoke sadness. Instead, I would like people to use the money they would have spent for the flowers to help pay for scholarships for poor students. Instead of flowers, I want photos everywhere of friends, loved ones and memorabilia hanging on the walls. I would like my music to be played in the room, and fellow performers to sing songs for everyone. I want a celebration, laughter, but also moments of thoughtful reminiscing and remembrances. I would like some quiet time, too, where people can sit and meditate if they wish.

If it were my choice, I would still want to live longer. Much longer. I still have many things I would like to do. I do not want to die with too much unfinished business. There are things to settle, people to forgive and to ask for forgiveness from. Hopefully, I will use the time I have left wisely and purposely. I am aware it is not our choice as to when we will die. Our only choice is how to live the rest of our days before we expire.

At our age, the choice is to either slow down, do nothing and simply fade away when the time comes; or, we could use our remaining lives staying creative till the end, as we build up to that moment when we pass on like stars exploding in the night, leaving beautiful trails that light up the sky.

What a way to say goodbye!

That’s how I want to go!

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