Of scarcity and abundance

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 30, 2015 – 12:00am

Neale Donald Walsch wrote that people come from only one of two places at any given time. We either come from love or fear. I’ve written about this before.

Today I want to write about the connection between creativity and abundance with love, and creative blockage and scarcity with fear.

They are interconnected. I have experienced it in my life.

The feeling of being creative is expansive. There is an inner joy, a felt ability to become many times bigger and greater than what you are. You feel that you have the power to create beautiful things. You can do magic and pull things out of thin air. And yes, in the process, you can even recreate yourself into almost anything you desire.

You also feel a generosity and an abundance that you wish to share with everyone. As a teacher and an artist, it gives me great pleasure to teach what I know. What drives me is the feeling of being expanded, or to put it simply, the feeling of love for what I do. It sparks a passion inside that drives me to do my best and enjoy what I do. And in the process, my openness to the world makes me learn as much as I teach.

The feeling of abundance is quite marvelous. You feel that what you have does not leave anyone wanting or deprived. And there is more, much more where it came from for everyone to acquire for themselves.

But the truth is, it is not even acquired. It is something one awakens to. It has always been there and it is always accessible.

Now let’s take a look at fear, and its connection to scarcity and negativity.

Fear is a feeling of contraction. It is a sensation of getting smaller, a kind of shrinking feeling where you feel a loss of power. You feel energy slipping out of your hands. You feel your life getting smaller and you feel somewhat threatened.

Even when something good happens to you, you feel that it is mere luck and probably won’t happen again. You also believe that when someone gains, someone always has to lose. There is not enough for everyone. That’s the way of the world.

And so you are always cautious, and do not trust too much. You are wary of people’s intentions and cannot see goodness when it happens. You always look for the “hidden agenda,” especially when people act with generosity and kindness.

In such a state, it is not hard to imagine why abundance may seem distant and unreal. It is something that happens elsewhere and to others but not to you.

What I am describing here are two separate realities, contrasting neighborhoods.

The people who live on the fearful side of town are more likely to be less open to people and opportunities. They are also sensitive and find it really difficult to accept criticism of any sort. They are also more suspicious of other people’s motives.

They are guarded in their conversation and hide things. They are rigid, conventional and adverse to risk. Often they project a façade and will rarely allow anyone into their private gates.

They also have a shallow perception of things, and they view themselves and the world with great distortion.

On the other hand, those who feel abundance are more open to the world. They take kindlier to criticism, often seeing them as feedback more than personal attacks. Thus, they can change or alter their behavior much easier than those who are fearful. They welcome others into their lives and are eager to allow them to be part of it. They rely not just on themselves but also other people and are comfortable with this interdependence.

They are less rigid, can adjust easier to situations, and take more risks. They are easy to get along with. Their openness makes you feel you are talking to real people. They come as they are. They are capable of a deeper and more accurate perception of the world and of themselves.

I am sure we can relate to both sides, and have actually lived in both neighborhoods sometime in our lives.

But what makes some fearful, and others more open and happier? There are many factors for sure. But I know one sure way you can always feel abundance in life.

When I speak of abundance, I am not referring to material wealth alone but more importantly, the feeling that one is complete and that there is enough to fulfill his or her needs. In other words, abundance is not a fixed amount or value. A billionaire will think nothing of winning P1 million in a lottery. But a poor man will feel very rich if he suddenly gets even one fourth of the amount.

The formula for feeling abundance is to have gratitude. When you are in this mode, there is nothing that is not a blessing. Everything can turn to gold. There is an overflowing feeling of having more than enough.

Contrast this with someone who may have every material thing in the world but still constantly craves for more. Life for them is about constantly clinging to things because you may lose “the little that you have.”

Who is living in abundance, and who is living in scarcity then?

Neale Donald Walsch in his lecture in Manila in 1998 asked the audience how one could feel abundance with just $20 in his pocket. His advice was simple: “Give it away!”

The art of living creatively

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 23, 2015 – 12:00am

No, this is not a column for some society magazine. This is not about fashion or lifestyle in the sense that glossy magazines handle them.

This article is about living everyday life with enough grace, meaning and effort to make being alive worthwhile. I would like to state clearly, though, that I am writing this as a 60-plus-year-old man who has lived long enough to hopefully give this article enough substance to be worthy of your time and attention.

People age in many ways. But I notice that while we all age (barring illness or accidents that will make our lives short), we go through our years basically either happy or cranky.

At this age, some will feel that life has passed them by, or that they have missed out on many opportunities and are therefore resigned to an existence of waiting to just get older and eventually die. Some harbor regrets. They say no to most challenges that will take them out of their comfort zones. They are not up to taking new classes, adventures or learning new skills. The spark has long left them and they have narrowed the space where they wish to spend their remaining energies.

But there are others who never seem to want to retire or fade away. They want to continue learning, growing and trying new stuff that will bring out something they have not discovered about themselves or life itself. I must confess that while I belong to this set, it takes effort to fight the inertia and continue to live creatively.

Here are my rules for aging gracefully and living creatively.

Keep as fit as you can.

Former DOH Secretary Alran Bengzon once told me that generally, your body at 40 years old will be the best it can be. Be that as it may, it is not too late. Whatever shape you are in now, it is always good for the body to keep active. Move, walk, run, jump, plank. Go to the gym if you can. Do exercises consistently.

Discover and constantly visit your sacred spaces.

These are the places that make you feel centered and aware of the wonder of your entire being. They are places that make you feel alive, where you are present to yourself and everything else. You need to know where to go to feel reborn and rejuvenated.

Continue to read, study and learn.

Learn a language or a new skill. Do not have a closed mind. Engage in discussion and continue developing your mind with new ideas and new stuff. This is a daily thing.

Begin to look back at how you’ve lived life so far.

Celebrate the good things that have happened. Let go of the bad stuff. You do not need to waste energy keeping the bad stuff alive. Invest in things that pay, not in those that keep you hooked but offer no payback. Move on. Learn to sincerely and unconditionally forgive others and yourself.

Pay it forward.

In your field of expertise and endeavor, look for opportunities to mentor. The wisdom of how you’ve lived is valuable to younger people. I teach part-time and I learn as much from my students as they learn from me.

Live and act appropriately according to your means.

Actually, as I got older, I learned to live with less for myself and with more generosity toward others. I am quickly learning to let go of fluff and non-essential things.

Always remind yourself that you can’t take material things with you when you die.

Everything is perishable except love. I personally believe that when all is said and done it will be the only real enduring thing in the world.

More and more, begin to see yourself in the third person.

You have been thrown into the life circumstances you are in and have made something out of it. This gives you perspective on the themes that have comprised your life so far.

There is also more to how you look at yourself. Discover it. If you can look at yourself objectively, you may stumble upon who is actually doing the looking. This simple discovery can change everything.

Appreciate art in all its authentic expressions.

It cleanses your soul and clears your perception of life.

Take up a hobby or a cause where you can throw your time and passion with great abandon.

The mere commitment to anything that gives you delight and joy is an act of longevity. And if you wish to live long, you might as well live it with meaning and purpose.

When choices are given to you, take the one you haven’t tried. It may turn out to be a great discovery.

Living with pain

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 16, 2015 – 12:00am

Pain. Nobody wants it, but everyone encounters it in life. Pain is that thing that ruins our comfort, happiness, fulfillment and joy. It is that thing that tells us, “No. You can’t have a good time.” It spoils everything and mocks us for its own reasons.

There is physical pain that can stop us from doing a lot of things. Immediately, when something hurts, it shuts down any other sensation you are feeling. It does not make you numb. On the contrary, it has you screaming and agitated. It shuts off your attention to anything else. It is as if all life has been reduced to a throbbing pain in your body and demands all your attention. Nothing else matters.

There is also psychological and emotional pain, which seems to remap your mind and change your emotional software so all things you see are in relation to some unpleasant and awful memories you can’t get rid of. Big chunks of life revolve around this pain that generates negativity and fear.

In many ways, much of what we do in life is about avoiding pain. We have medicines to kill it, substances to numb it and apathy to help us not deal with it. We also have religions and philosophies to explain it.

But let’s face it. We are all born into this world of pain only to die in the end. And even if we know all pain ends when we die, we are not in any rush to end pain in that manner.

Why? Because we have also experienced what it is like to feel good, to be happy, joyful and fulfilled. And for many of us, it is worth all the pain to experience those.

I have met people who have lived in constant pain for years, and more often than not, many of them exude a certain calm, depth and acceptance. It must have taken them quite a while to deal with it. The pain is annoying and gives them great suffering but they seem to know better how to handle it. It is as if they have accepted it and made a leap of sorts to become bigger than the pain. It is a psycho-spiritual decision to stop feeding the pain and instead use the energy to highlight other aspects of living.

A woman who suffered the loss of her daughter to suicide told me how difficult it was to bear the pain. Aside from losing a daughter, she had to deal with so much imagined guilt. This happened a few years back. She has largely moved on, with great effort and forgiveness. It was truly spiritual journey. When the pain of losing her daughter under such terrible circumstances haunts her, she goes into busy mode and applies her attention to other things until she feels exhausted. It is inspiring seeing her still with a beautiful smile, a love for people and the ability to sit through long soulful conversations.

There is something that happens to a person whose life suddenly becomes pain-filled. The philosopher Ken Wilber put it very well: “A person who is beginning to sense the suffering of life is, at the same time, beginning to awaken to deeper realities, truer realities. For suffering smashes to pieces the complacency of our normal fictions about reality, and forces us to come alive in a special sense — to see carefully, to feel deeply, to touch ourselves and our worlds in ways we have heretofore avoided.’

Wilber is right. Pain opens us to a greater reality and asks us to get bigger. “The wound is the place where the Light enters you,” wrote the poet Rumi. This light introduces us to our bigger, truer selves.

The most difficult psychological and emotional pains to deal with are those that have already solidified and become big blocks that have turned our hearts into lead. They have become dark places inside us that prevent us from further self-realization.

I believe the best way to deal with emotional pain is to act on it immediately. Otherwise, one becomes cynical. I tell this to artists who must deal with rejection. It is not good to linger too long in self-pity.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artists’ Way, has an excellent suggestion. She says that instead of asking, “Why me?” the right question to ask is “What’s next?”

Author Eckart Tolle suggests we all have a pain body living inside us where all our emotional pains are stored. Our pain body may lie dormant for years, but will awaken and be energized when our ego is threatened. And it can take over our thoughts, words, and actions.

When two people awaken each others’ pain body, they feed frenziedly on each other until both are sated. They no longer need to be fed until the ego is threatened once again and their pain bodies wake up and attack each other again.

Spiritual maturity asks us to lessen the pain body’s influence over us. This means living with as small an ego as possible. By consciously dealing with traumas and therefore lessening our pain body’s grip on our lives, we become less prone to acting out our hurts on other people, ourselves and the world.

Finally, there is pain that serves a purpose and there is pain that is needless. The pain of losing someone, of heartbreak, of failure, or body pain from exercising may serve some good, if properly processed. But pain caused by a headache or a toothache and the like is unnecessary and hardly serves a purpose. There really is not much to learn from them.

Just take meds.

Nothing has changed. You are still a liar, Rigoberto Tiglao

Dear friends,

I could not respond to Rigoberto Tiglao’s latest article about me because my FB account was suspended for 3 days and I got renewed suspension when I made my first post a few days ago. It remains suspended.

Dear Classmate Bobi Tiglao.

1) You were right in saying we were never classmates in High School. What you avoided saying was we were classmates in COLLEGE under Rolando Tinio’s class. You were mostly hilo in that class. We always imagined you were lost thinking about the impending Proletarian Revolution which you were espousing then. And how you, an idealistic young man of the 70s ended supporting GMA must be another series of hilo moments in your life.

2) You posted all those articles from Inquirer about my migration. But they say nothing about your claim that I am an Australian Citizen. You just wanted to appear ‘authoritative’ by adding so-called documents proving nothing! Anfd you readers, deluged by ‘documents’ did not read them and merely presumed you had proven your case.

3) Your claim, however you buttress it with so-called documents is still false. I am NOT an Australian citizen. You still LIED! You are however good at OBFUSCATION, deception and trickery.

4) Call the Embassy. Write to the Ambassador. Check our immigration what passport I travel with. You claim to be a jouno. Are you or aren’t you? Yun lang di mo ma-verify? Baka hintayin mo pa ang FOI.. LOL

5) I still do not owe you 10M Pesos.

Lastly, as an ardent student of history, I hope you stop being in denial and admit that you have been on the wrong side of it. This may help diffuse all that hatred and negativity you espouse daily.

Raissa Robles says hi! She knows you VERY WELL.

Pls REPOST, Peeps.

A songwriter writes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 2, 2015 – 12:00am

I was recently interviewed by some college kids who are doing a thesis on the APO Hiking Society, and I was asked when I wrote my first song. I answered that I must have been about 14 or 15 years old.

I was actually stunned by my answer. Holy cow! That means I have been writing songs for almost 50 years now!

It seems not too long ago when I wrote my very first song. Looking back now, it was an amateurish, sophomoric song called Every Minute of the Day, which I wrote inside the family car on the way home from school. It felt like a great achievement at that time. And once I started, I just kept writing, up to this day.

Songs are very interesting creations. They seem to come from nowhere and create themselves by using songwriters to bring them to life. What do songwriters use? A mix of some 12 notes spread out in octaves, beats, and time signatures. They put words into them and voila! A song is born.

It is a magical process. It is astonishing that practically all songs are made this way but each one has different permutations and combinations.

Every week I receive mail from young songwriters asking me to listen to their stuff. I sometimes do, but most of the time, I don’t. It is tiring to listen to songs that are not made or recorded well. Besides, I never got free advice from songwriters I admired when I was starting and it was probably a good thing. I worked my own mojo.

But for those who aspire to be songwriters, here are some tips you may find useful.

1 Write as often as you can. Be determined. Do not wait to be inspired. Write because a songwriter writes songs. It is as simple as that. Look at what you do as both art and craft.

2 Follow three or four artists you like, and listen to everything they have recorded. It is important to know that the best ones have written songs that are good, bad, mediocre and brilliant. They also have songs that never became hits. Follow them initially as a fan and later as a critic.

3 Great songs have wonderful melodies, lyrics, arrangements and vocals. Mostly though, you will notice that many of the good ones are driven either by very recallable, haunting tunes, or lyrics that move you. Be able to take notice and understand why you like the songs you like. It will help you as you create your own stuff.

4 Most good songs climb melodically and make you feel like they are taking the listener somewhere. Imagine an airplane on a runway. Your compositions should not stay too long on the runway. These days, listeners have a shorter attention span than their parents did. So try to climb and take off within 15 seconds if you can so they don’t lose interest.

5 Probably 98 percent of pop songs are about love. Therefore, avoid clichéd melodic lines and lyrics. There are ways to express love that have not been explored yet. Discover them. Write from the heart.

6 Listen to old recordings from the ‘40s to the ‘70s. You will learn a lot of chords, progressions and great lyric writing. Listen to Jim Webb, Cole Porter, the Beatles, Michelle Legrand, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, to name a few. I learned to play all the Beatles songs and I credit them with about 70 percent of my musical education. It’s good to develop a wide reference in many genres.

7 Imagine your songs in different styles. You may have written it in a certain genre. Try to play it in different ways and styles and beats. You may discover that it sounds better when you play around with it.

8 Do not fall in love too much with your work. From its inception to final mix, think of every part of it as still a work in progress. You may have to rewrite a few lyrics, or alter the melody. You may even discover that you have written something better in the past that works better with your current project.

9 Learn to accept rejection. I have joined many songwriting contests only to be told that I did not make the grade. I have submitted songs to artists and record companies and have been turned down as well. That’s life.

But do not let rejection leaden your heart or kill your spirit. Some songs are made to be played in the future under new and different circumstances. My rejected songs eventually did become hits — as recordings with APO.

Lastly, do not judge your work too harshly. Don’t beat yourself up because of what you think is “bad” work. Remember that whatever you do, you are doing your best under whatever circumstances you are in. Just enjoy it.