Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for August 11th, 2005

The 5th, the 4th, and the One and Only! 20

Posted on August 11, 2005 by jimparedes

The first time was during my childhood in the early 1950s. The second time was 1981. The third was 1985, the 4th in 1990. And now it’s happening again for the 5th time. I am talking about my first introduction to letters and numbers and the 4 other times I went back to it as a teacher to my kids, and now to my granddaughter.

I discovered early in their young years that what helped calm them down when I got tired of running after them was opening a book and reading to them. Maybe it was primarily the pictures that got them hooked. But soon enough, they must have begun to notice that the letters meant something since I always ran my fingers on them as I read them aloud. I would read every letter and word on the page from title to author to publisher in the hope that they would see that letters signified something!

As an over-doting dad, I read tons of Dr. Seuss and lots of poetry to them. It must have paid off because almost the moment after they began to talk, they could recite poems by heart! I would get such a kick when Erica, Ala and Mio around the age of 2 1/2 years old could be left alone by themselves as they read. And I would get a bigger thrill when they would recite the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson or even William Blake’s Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright, or portions of Mark Anthony’s speech admonishing his fellow Romans in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I would repeat poems all the time because they loved listening to them. Try to imagine 2 1/2 year old kids reciting these:

Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or sight
Can form thy fearful symmetry.


You blocks, you stones
You worse than senseless things
Oh you hard hearts
You cruel men of Rome.
Knew you not Pompei
When many a time and oft
Have you climbed its walls and battlements?

Ha ha! I took pleasure in hearing their young voices reciting literary stuff even if they knew nothing of what it meant!

It’s no wonder my kids are readers, writers and artists. Now it’s also happening with Ananda. I’m starting to read to her and sitting with her at different times of the day. We often sit in front of the ref and I also try to get her interested in identifying magnetized letters and figures. I tell you, by the time I’m 70 years, I would have gone through grade school and high school 4 times, and college 5 times! I still hope to be around and be the walking dictionary, thesaurus and general reference to Ananda as she goes through school just as I was to my own kids. And oh, I wouldn’t mind going through all of these a few times more with more apos. It goes with being a grandpa! Heh heh!.

I’ve finished my 4th book! Or at least I think I have. I am now going through the editing phase where I read and re-read what I’ve written down and see if I’ve expressed what I wanted to say in the best way I can. Sometimes as I read the pages, I hear a voice saying ‘write me better’, and so I redo the entries. It’s a never ending thing— rewriting and improving. And yet I know that sometimes, I just have to stop before I obsessively edit my work to death. No book or work of art is ever really finished anyway. In a real sense, it can always be improved— but sometimes at the risk of making it ‘perfect’ yet lifeless like some insect in a killing jar. You just have to let it go, release it and allow it have a life of its own, however ‘imperfect’ it is. I take obliquely to heart Billy Joel’s advice when he says we must sometimes ‘leave a tender moment alone.’ Things should be allowed to be left undisturbed ‘just as they are’.

I am hoping I can get my publisher still interested considering that in this age of deepening economic crisis, no one seems to have the money to spare and buy books, much less those about zen and transpersonal stuff. The biggest sellers in the Philippine market (in the Filipiniana section) have generally been cookbooks and cheesy romance novels. Would anyone be interested in buying stuff that deals not with the needs of the body and emotions, but with the soul and spirit? Hmm.. I may need to compromise a bit! Maybe I should be writing stuff with titles like The Zen Chef, or You are Everything, And Everything is You: A Story of Love and Passion Between Man and the Universe! In this way, I may yet feed both body and spirit–both mine and my publishers, and yes, my readers! Ha ha!

My one and only beloved son Mio with whom I am generally pleased is home at last from his Oxford experience. He flew in from Paris after he completed the 10 day Paris Connection part of the program. Still wearing his trademark hat that he left with, he got into the car from the airport and he excitedly talked about ‘the best experience yet’! Aside from meeting so many cool people his age, he loved the whole program including his philosophy and art history classes. But I think that what made an indelible mark on him was his traveling alone to Europe and discovering things by and about himself. He discovered the thrill of being independent. He has been through a watershed experience which I think has changed him, the way Erica’s and Ala’s Oxford stints transformed them into the free persons they are today.

As a father, I notice that I so readily give what I never had for myself in my youth to my children. Maybe that’s really how it is.

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  • August 2005
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