Everyone seems to be making lists these days, and because lists are admittedly fun to read (and that they organize our thoughts so well they’re anathema to the world made too disorganized by everyone’s random rants about everything), I thought why not jump onto the bandwagon (perhaps I’ll have something to laugh at rereading this ten years from now). So here is the list of things I learned after having lived long enough:
1. Sleep is too necessary the promise of a fun Saturday night pales in comparison to the promise of a fun Sunday morning after a long, restful sleep.
2. I’ve gotten too old to party, too disillusioned by supposed excitement of night-outs gone awry, painful headache from hangover the next day, and the utter meaninglessness of it all. And the crowd, arrgh, the crowd of young people wanting acceptance so desperately from people who barely matter.
I’d rather have my mug of hot coffee and a book of essays on nationalism in Southeast Asia than aimlessly gyrating on a crowded dance floor while downing an overpriced drink to the tune of a trashy mix done by an overpaid DJ (I’m not even sure of they still call them DJ; the word sounds too dated to me). Seriously.
3. Which brings me to my third point – Reading. I need to read. And I should read indiscriminately, while making sure at the same time that I have a healthy mix of esoteric and challenging ones, of fiction that takes me to other planes of realities, and of those that are mind-deadening because doing so will allow me to participate in this communal conversation.
4. When one reaches his late twenties, he’ll realize that getting those rock-hard abs is not anymore as easy to have as it used to be. There was a time not so long ago when one can eat five cups of rice and completely burn them in three hours. Those days are, of course, over.
However, more than having those chiseled abs, exercising regularly is the easiest way to be high on endorphin and all those happy hormones without getting dangerously dependent on them. Exercising, aside from making one feel and look better, also functions like a milepost and aids in establishing healthy routine. I can go on an on talking about it, but I know you get what I mean.
5. There are days when I hate my job, and it’s just normal. Nobody passionately loves his job all the time. One need not to. There’s life after it, and that life outside of one’s job is just as important.
6. Invest. I buy stocks, purchase mutual funds, and of course keep some hard cash in the bank just in case. I do not have much, just enough to live comfortably based on a standard I have set for myself. I’ve gone past the stage when I’d squander a month’s worth of salary buying unnecessary stuff that reach their point of diminishing marginal utility as soon as I leave the shopping mall.
7. Get insurance. It’s too painful to fish out from one’s pocket cash to pay medical bills. A stay in an emergency room of a hospital due to a simple upset stomach can easily cost 6,000 pesos. And a three-day stay in a hospital will drain all your cash in no time. It’ll feel less overwhelming to spread out the burden of one’s health bills over a period of time by getting insurance because of course you’re not anymore as invincible as you thought you were.
Yeah, I just have to admit that this feeling of security costs something, too.
8. I only need three pairs of shoes: A pair of everyday canvas shoes for work, a pair of black leather shoes for important days (say reading a paper or attending a friend’s wedding), and a pair of dependable running shoes. All the rest, as a friend said, are nothing but fluff.
9. A weekly general cleaning of one’s place is healthy. It gives me peace of mind; I become more productive, and doing domestic chores inevitably keeps me sane. Getting rid of those cobwebs on the ceiling, mopping the floor, wiping those dusts away, emptying the trash basket, defrosting the freezer contribute to one’s overall well-being.
10. There’s nothing wrong if after all this time Alanis Morissette and Savage Garden still appeal to you. No one should be given the right to dictate upon you the kind of music to listen.
11. Fast foods are overpriced. Lack of time will never be an acceptable reason for falling into the trap of these multinationals that prey on the idea of our supposed lack of time, which they manufacture along with their soggy spaghetti, fat-soaked hamburger patties, and chickens drenched in sodium solution masquerading as gravy. With practice, one can easily make a gourmet meal that will give even more horrendously overpriced restaurants a run for their money.
12. People are poor not only because they do not have access to opportunities but also because they simply do not have enough time for everything.
13. Moisturize. I am not certain, but it makes the skin look less tired. I think. The moment one introduces his sentence with ‘I think,’ it’s like raising red flags of his uncertainty over the his assertion.
14. Eat lots of fiber. You can get it from grains and cereals, fruits, and vegetables. They do wonders to bowel movement.
15. It’s nice to have several pairs of house slippers. One, they get misplaced too easily. Nothing is worse than that feeling of having no slippers waiting for you as soon as you take off your shoes. Two, they’re cheap so having many will have very little impact on the budget. Three, they’re so comfortable and they remind you that finally you’re home.
16. Call, text, or visit them, but make sure your family knows you still exist. With independence it’s so easy to lose contact with people that truly matter to one’s life. But hey, it’s never to late to reconnect and to make your parents and siblings feel how much they still affect you in one way or another. Because like any relationships, our relationship with our family thrives in constant nurturing and conversations.
17. Raise plants. Or if your space does not allow for a garden, at least a plant in a pot. But there should be an animate green thing in your place. Unlike pets that require much attention and time, plants need only regular watering and a weekly three-hour stay under the sun. Plants remind you that somehow you still have not severed your connection from nature. They’re also lovely to look at. And if work becomes unbearable, looking at them can be calming.
18. Pray. There was a time before when it was supposedly cool to brandish one’s lack of faith in anything supernatural. Eventually that time will end.
19. The world doesn’t care.
20. Neither should you.
21. But there’s nothing wrong if you do.
22. Happiness is our only goal in life.
23. Learn to let go. It would be a perfect world if we could keep forever whatever and whoever keep us happy. But it’s not the case. When it’s time to let go, hold on for a little while, but when it’s really truly time to let go, then let go. Nothing’s wrong with holding on for a while. It’s normal. Then when it’s okay, you’d know in your heart when it truly is, move on and begin living life again.
24. Being kind to yourself is a responsibility.
25. Love someone until you bleed inside. Love until it hurts. Love until you cannot give anymore. And you will realize how much more you can still give. And that’s when you truly love. I think.
26. Forgiving people who hurt you will seem impossible at first, but soon everything will be forgotten that forgiveness will be unnecessary. Still, despite its futility, forgive.
27. Do not skip breakfast.
28. Don’t let others’ lists determine how you live your life. Make your own list.
I cannot recall when I unconsciously decided to slow down on my writing. Perhaps it was the lack of time, physical exhaustion, spiritual barrenness, or it can be all these working against me. This after having declared before with all certainty that I’d go mental the moment I quit writing. Or have I become one a long time ago?
My father has never given me any piece of advice on work, my writing, or how to live my life. Or perhaps I need to go deeper into the recesses of my unreliable memory and pull out the memory of that time when my father, in one of those rare moments we have quiet time together in the province, sitting next to me, holding his cup of steaming coffee, me sipping mine, telling me to visit them more often, but not to be worried so much about him and our mother, and that I need to take things slow.
Today’s Father’s Day. For sure my father has never opened this blog. He knows this exists, though, I think. But he will not open this blog to know his son who’s changed so much after having left home more than eleven years ago. Although I am not anymore the same son my father knew, my father will confidently declare that I am still the son he raised and nurtured with my mother in the province. And that I have not changed.
And he knows that I will go back to what I truly love soon as I always did in the past. Home and writing.
Happy Father’s Day, pa.
WordPress sent me an automatically-generated email greeting me on my sixth year of blogging. When blogging, one easily gets lost in the forest of the self, in a constant self-evaluation and never-ending introspection that for the most part leads to nothing being done about the real issues that continue to challenge us.
I guess, it’s time that I become more involved, more open to the world again, more ready to help. This is what I have lost after so many years of constantly looking within, I lost the skill of looking without.