Mar 5, 2017

Your Memory as a Tool

One night I was walking alone. I was feeling sad and anxious about my life. After a while, when I felt a little better I thought of finding out which memories in my lifetime so far actually stand out to me. 
I wondered, if I don't think hard or ask specific questions, which past events would I instantly remember? 

I was surprised at what I discovered. I thought I’d remember much more than I did. I thought I’d remember things I once believed unforgettable.

I remembered my first mountain climb, the dangerous trail, the view from above… I remembered waking up in a cottage under a black sky filled with super bright stars. I remembered going to a concert all alone, the giddy feeling when the band was about to play. I remembered rolling down the grassy slopes somewhere in Tagaytay when I was about eight.

Fast forward, I saw myself assisting in an amputation procedure at a hospital during college. Then I remembered sitting in an Alternative Medicine class. Oh how much I enjoyed the lessons. How cool that professor was! I remembered sampling my cousin’s Italian white wine whilst gobbling up tuna salad on a New Year’s Eve (which year, I don’t even recall).

I remembered entering a beautiful bookstore for the first time. I remembered the moment I bumped into a former colleague who very soon became my lifeline through a terrible break up and thereafter, a very close friend. I flashbacked on yet another new year’s eve, 1997, yes. My cousins and I were playing around a jackfruit tree, singing and having so much fun in a backdrop of adult fire cracking celebration.

I remembered other things and when I stopped, my list amused me. I told myself, yeah so if I die anytime soon these are actually the memories I’ll be carrying to grave. Not bad, really, not bad.

It was evident that my most vivid recollections were simple, or, I must say much simpler than I assumed.

The themes revolved around nature, books, learning new things, having fun times and good food. I bet in another 4 or more years, this list will change. But now I have reasons to doubt it will be far off from what I’ve already held dear.

This made me see what things made the most positive impression on me.

Nowadays, it’s difficult to not be constantly aware of what others’ memorable moments are. Add to this our tendency to associate best times to grander things-- special occasions, reaching some kind of goal or recognition, owning something (or someone haha), and we lose touch of what our special brand of happiness truly consist of.

I thought I’d remember acing an interview to this big time company, I didn’t. I thought it mattered to me that I was able to finally buy a pricey gadget, or that I didn’t have a blast in some party.

I thought it’ll be unforgettable to resign to my boss in a very dignified manner. Well, not really. I thought maybe I should be travelling more. Or I should be watching more series or building my wardrobe. That little exercise suggested otherwise to me.

If you explore personal development literature, you’ll find lots of practices and ideas where memories serve as a guide to good living. In moments of darkness and confusion, we can turn to our memories to lead us back home. Asking ourselves which memories we actually cherish can give us a well-informed suggestion on what to do next; what would provide us greater satisfaction.

For instance, I saw that sitting in a class and learning new things made me very happy years ago. So instead of doubting the benefits of going to seminars or workshops, I realize there’s a greater chance I’ll have fun. That sounds like an easy thing to figure out but I did this during one of my existential-quarterlife-depression-whatever-blackhole-it-is-crisis moments. Hahaha. And I can tell you when you’re deep in the muck, you do not even trust yourself to know yourself or vice versa.

So if you’re wading through dark clouds this might help!

Clear your head. Take a walk. 
Ask: what do I remember from my life?

What else?

Go home or sit somewhere. Write the memories down. (I had fun writing mine.)

Don’t think hard. Just write them down as they come. Be honest. If there’s no genuine feeling, forget it.
If you write only three, that’s perfectly fine.

I hope you re-discover yourself after. xoxo

May 27, 2016

That's What It's Called

I am no literary geek. In fact I did not know quite a number of things that are considered general knowledge in the reading world: Like George Eliot being a woman, the Harry Potter series’ general storyline, what the heck the Tournament of Books is and so on. (if you are in any way like this, throw your hands up on me, lol ). But given that we’re living in the Information age we’ve no excuse for not working on it. 

One of the things I‘ve only recently learned (*blush*) is that there are such things as literary and commercial fictions. (DUH.) I am of course aware that there are books that would amass sales and gain popularity either over time or upon its release that may or may not have lasting effect to readers. And then there are humbler volumes showing off pretty praises from them almighty critics. But I wasn’t sure there was indeed an official classification so to speak.

I had often pondered on how I forgo page-turners that front major bookstores and instead dig up underrated or non-contemporary books that have seemingly boring or obscure premises. I also talked about it just 2 posts ago. 

Anyways, classifying works as either a literary or a commercial would unavoidably, call for some disagreements. But here is a really well-thought out take on what distinguishes the two. Enjoy. 

Thank you, Books On The Nightstand. :)

May 5, 2016

The Book That Ended My Reading Slump

Hi friends. Today, I’d share about my reading experience with this book called “The Virgin Suicides” by Jeffrey Eugenides. Eugenides is also the author of acclaimed novel Middlesex.

For almost a year my desire to stick with any book dwindled while my to-read list ballooned to my horror. Piles of books grew beside my pillow with their quiet reproach. Nothing felt good or worthy enough to dive into for long. I would alternately jump from a YA bestseller, to a modern classic, to a praised fantasy book; to a couple of literary fiction but nothing seemed to get to me.

 I leafed through thrillers, even reread an old favourite, checked out non-fiction and poetry books but I was still far from being continuously absorbed in a story.  We know that even the most avid of readers go through these bouts. But that fact didn’t help. I was so bummed.  In my head I hear the words: “Book flirt.” Oh yeah I was book flirting too much.

One day while commuting to work, I opened The Virgin Suicides and decided to finally get past the first paragraph. The book opens with a straightforward account of the last suicide in comparison with the first told by an unnamed narrator who was one of the guys obsessed with the Lisbon sisters.

Teenage girls Mary, Cecilia, Bonnie, Lux and Therese Lisbon – all committed suicide in different methods.

The narrator then seamlessly takes the reader to the dark and humorous workings of adolescent life, their suburban neighbourhood, the painfully funny but realistic characters and high school dramas, in conjunction with the inner turmoil in the Lisbon household.

He let us on their schemes and voyeuristic indulgences, the tensions and anticipation of males in the grips of infatuation. One of the first words that came up to me was visceral.

I could smell the girls’ Jasmine soap, the gloom in the aftermath of the first suicide, felt the boys’ wonder and ache as they scrutinize Cecilia’s diary; I was filled with excitement as Trip –the high school heartthrob pursued Lux. I was laughing out loud and then grieving with them. And the thing is I did not even like any of the sisters.

Eugenides painted a time that would very soon end but can’t not be lived. Sheesh High school.  I applaud him for having written a volume so ridiculous and yet so heart breaking.  Heart breaking and yet so grounded. It didn’t attempt to idealize nor romanticize its themes (suicide, young love, and rebellion) yet one is moved if not provoked to ruminate, which I dare say is not easy to achieve given the premise.

It is a delicious read. There were parts where I just had to pause just because it was too much. (But maybe it’s just me, oh)

Hey, have you ever tried
Really reaching out for the other side
I may be climbing on rainbows
But baby, here goes

Dreams, they're for those who sleep
Life is for us to keep
And if you're wondering what this song is leading to
I want to make it with you   

I’ll end this with Bread. :)