Morning Woes and Romance De Amor

I woke up late this morning for work. Now I have an hour to waste at home.

“Gan ni chi ba”, is heard in the living room as my mom continues to yammer on about our house. I’m not too sure what “chi ba” means or if I’m even hearing it correctly, but what I do know is “Gan ni” is fuck you in Chinese. This phrase is about 90% of what I hear come out of my dad’s mouth to my mom.  You’d think I’d know what “chi ba” or “chi da” or whatever, means by now but I don’t.

I pick up my guitar while on my bed to drown out the immediate boredom, frustration, and laziness I get when waking up to this noise. I pick out the strings for Romance de’ Amor while the chorus of the morning plays in the background. Dogs barking, birds chirping, crickets cricketing, and parents parenting.  I play the song imperfectly two more times, meditating on the notes and beauty of the song before finally getting out of bed to get ready for work. I wash my face, brush my teeth and comb out half of my bed hair and cover the rest with my beanie. In the living room, my dad, head full of white hair, continues to lay in bed while my mom looks curiously outside the window with a million more words to say.

Romance of love was what was played in the morning by guitar strings and this is what is expected for my heart strings to play throughout the morning, afternoon and night time. We are called to love and be loved in the midst of chaos and unrest that surrounds us.

Oh, how this feels opposed to every fleshly fiber of my body

when sleep becomes the king and escape is his decree

What a lovely king he seems to be to offer a soft bed

During times of war, famine, and things that are said

But when the time comes and the war is over

We will realize that this bed is rather

an infirmary for fallen

soldiers of men

Made by a Prince in disguise

To entice

us in our evil desires, sin, and deeds

and when these sins are fully conceived

We lie dead

on our soft infirmary bed

But I hear a roar in the distance

Awake from your slumber and cease your resistance

For I have made you strong in your weakness

I have healed and freed you from your sickness,

So get up, pick up your bed and go!

For you will reap what you sow

No longer are you paralyzed by your flesh

For in Me you will find rest.

This rest that comes from the author of love. This “Romance de Amor” is what he played for us throughout his life and death. It is what’s placed in us through the Word and this is how and why we are to love despite what surrounds us. Beauty that emanates from His song reminds me of the many things to be thankful for. At this moment I only see a glimmer of it, and many times it’s mixed with sour notes and untuned strings of my own heart, yet I see the immense beauty that could be if I just spent more time in it.

The Messages That We Send

I believe that the topic of messages sent is a very important thing to talk about, especially in a divided society full of protests, talk shows, and social media discussions. Messages have the potential to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented, taken out of context, and downright twisted against you. It can be ignored, laughed at, criticized and shot down.  But it can also stir up movements, riots, wars, arguments, death, and life.

The problem with messages is that it contains both rational and emotional elements. Rational thinkers tend to strip emotion away from a message and simply look at the logical implications of such messages. Emotional feelers tend to ignore the reason and logic behind the message and simply look at the emotional implications of the act or words. Granted these are two extreme spectrums, but we all fall somewhere within it.

Moreover, there’s a divide between the fields of rationality and emotions. Let’s talk about emotions first. People can feel differently about people, food, movies, books, relationships, pets, and almost anything under the sun. You wouldn’t call someone wrong for liking a movie you don’t like. Instead, you may say that they have a bad taste in movies, but that would simply be your opinion. You can be on team red, blue, or yellow on Pokemon Go, but neither one is inherently right.  The “better” team is based on personal preference or socially created ideas.

For rationality, we tend to want to remove these opinions and emotions from our arguments. However, I will argue that this is much easier said than done. David Hume, a 17th-century empiricist philosopher, argued that “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” In other words, we cannot separate our rational thinking from our passions (or emotions) because passions necessitate our reason.

I am an example of this. I tend to pride myself on logical arguments and thinking. Premise A, B, and C give this conclusion so this proves I’m right! However, many times I have been humbled to see that my emotions tend to cause me to ignore or quickly dismiss other premises. I catch myself defending my side through a strong confirmation bias, rather than fully considering both sides. I’m already emotionally attached to one side of the argument, so my rational side is influenced by this feeling as I defend myself.

For example, I think Kobe Bryant is the greatest basketball player of all time. I will argue it based off his stats, championships, and the legacy he left behind. Others may say Jorden or Lebron and also base their arguments on stats and championships. However, when we take a step back and observe our motivations, I believe that we all have an emotional attachment to the player that influences the “logic” and our rational thought process. I grew up watching Kobe. I experienced every game winner, every fade-away, and every championship he’s ever won. Through all the good and bad times in his career, I was watching and rooting for him. So, of course, my arguments are based on passion and emotion. If I were to argue against Kobe, even for logical reasons, I would feel like I’m betraying a part of myself.

Conservatives and liberals, theists and atheists, philosophers and scientists, are all the same way; emotionally attached to their cause, especially one that are the most educated, outspoken, and involved in it. If you spend hours, months, years, and even a lifetime learning and supporting your cause, how can you not be emotionally attached to it? How can you not feel defensive when someone says you’re wrong, despite people’s reasons? There’s nothing wrong with being attached to a cause, especially one that you believe in, but we must all realize when our emotions start clouding our rational thought.

So this is where the topic of messages come in. When someone burns a flag or raises a flag, takes a knee in protest or praise, blocks a freeway, supports a movement, votes for a political candidate, prays in school, or posts on facebook, a message is sent out to the masses whether they want it or not. However, very few of these messages ever change the opinions of others. If fact, they tend to divide people even more! What’s most indicative of conflict than a disagreement between something that both parties are emotionally attached to?

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee to the national anthem, the nation was divided in labeling it as an act of protest and an act of disrespect. The results of this knee was not a promotion of rights for minorities, instead, it was a catalyst of further division among people of differing opinions. Who’s to blame for this? I don’t believe Kaepernick intended any harm. I think he simply wanted to protest in his own way and exercise his freedom of speech. Whether you think it’s right or not, I don’t really care. But the problem with sending a message is that your intentions become ignored. When society gets ahold of your message, they can twist and turn it into whatever fits their emotions.

Two common responses to Kaepernick are as followed:

“Oh, you disrespect our national anthem? If you hate our country so much, then why don’t you just leave!”

“He’s expressing his 1st Amendment rights and giving a voice against the problems of society!”

Both I believe are valid. Yes, many people find it very disrespectful and yes things need to be said and expressed so people can be aware of the inequalities in the United States. Neither side is going to concede to the others opinions because it causes their emotionally charged beliefs to lose power to the other side.

TL;DR

I think this is the state of America today. Too much opposition with each other, too much pride, and too little understanding of our emotionally charged beliefs. Sending messages through actions or words is not a bad thing, but we must recognize that such messages may strike an emotional chord for some people. Henry Ford once said that “If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own”. Empathy is the key to finding a common ground, but it’s very difficult to empathize across a moral divide. 

But that’s where humility sheds its soft, yet powerful light. Humility is a dying virtue, especially in a society that’s ready to pounce on any sign of weakness. Once someone admits fault, he or she becomes vulnerable to attacks on all ends. But if a society does not learn to be humble, pride will cause them to self-destruct and devour each other from the inside out.

Bus Ride Home

I’m writing this while listening to Stan by Eminem on a bus ride home. It’s quite therapeutic to be on a bus where I don’t have to worry about traffic or driving, especially after work. It’s bright, warm, and surprisingly comfortable. There’s a slight drizzle outside. Fits well with the song. Adds to the ambiance. I look up from my phone and see an elderly lady in the front with a colorful striped beanie and a lime green jacket. What’s her story? Where is she going? Does she do this every day? Will I see her tomorrow?

I look around. There’s  a guy with headphones waiting to get off the bus. Another middle age girl walks in and sits behind me. I hear her talking in Spanish through my ear buds.
I wonder if she sees me typing about her… I shift my body to the left, lower my phone, and take my left ear bud out. She’s talking quite rapidly in Spanish with pauses here and there. I’m still worried that she’s reading this. She seems angry…

 

 

 

I leave this blank space so she won’t be able to read what’s above. I put the music back to my left ear. Piano, voices, drums, and pencil scribbles replace the bus noise.

Almost my stop. The elderly lady with the colorful hoodie gets up. Same with a balding guy with a skateboard. Soon I’ll be like them; traveling through the cold dark air. Hopefully back to a home with people to talk to instead of isolated strangers on a bus. One can only hope.

I walk now. I see four to five people in the distance. I remove the guitar solo from my right ear just in case they say something. As they get closer I realize it’s only two people. Two Asians, one holding the other one by the arm, guiding him through the sidewalk. They’re both pretty young… brothers maybe? The one being guided has pajamas on with a bowl-ish haircut, and clear rim glasses. Some things off with the way he walks, but I can’t figure it out.  I smile and say a muffled “hello” as I walk passed them. I think they do the same.

I’m home now. I wonder if people would read this. How dull is a post about a bus ride, especially a bus ride where nothing happens? I guess this depends on the perspective we choose to take.

For me, this bus ride was filled with something enlightening and beautiful that compelled me to write this. This 30-minute ride took me on a journey away from idolizing after fast cars or billboards advertising strip clubs and fast food. It placed me inside an illuminated rectangle box that moved through the darkness of night. Strangers in every corner.  Eye contact never made. Yet something about this environment sparked a curiosity within me for my fellow bus riders that I couldn’t quite figure out until now.

My mom comes in dressed in a contraption of yarn, string and old clothes. It’s a complete mess! She asks me a hundred illogical questions that I half-listen to. I respond with a “yes”, but she continues talking. I lose my temper.

The epiphany is this: We are all lost strangers in this cold dark world searching for someone to hear and record our stories. The bus ride illuminated the souls of these strangers that would have otherwise been hidden in the darkness… My mom comes back in my room, still dressed in an apron of yarn. She reminds me of the two Asians I saw while walking home. One guiding the other by the arm across the artificially bright night. It’s somewhat sad, yet beautiful at the same time.

Oh, how great is this longing and how very few are willing to satisfy it, let alone give notice to it! And how deprived am I that I cannot give the very thing that I write and long for…

But how fortunate are we to have a guide, an example, a teacher, a savior that is driving this bus of life. Life doesn’t end at our stop, it keeps going. Every day, every hour, every place we end up going. It illuminates us with real light that shines not from artificial lamp posts, but from the source Himself. We must take hold of this light because so many people need it.

It’s been two hours since I was on that bus. I’m at home now. This building is illuminated by two lamps. In it, there are three strangers.

 

 

 

Insecurities

Yep, I’m going to write about this.

This feeling of insecurity that so many of us have but rarely talk about. Instead, we project these insecurities onto objects that so many of us have and can’t stop talking about. We all know what they are, and for many of us, it is our most intimate and familiar companion.

I’m writing all this while I contemplate my own insecurities. The words that are edited out or left on here are a reflection of this contemplation. This post is my attempt to understand the edifice of insecurity that I’ve built up to secure the fragile complexities of my own life. This edifice that is meant to be a large imposing stronghold that projects a firm understanding of life, contains a neglected and emaciated spirit.

These metaphors that I use confuse me. It’s difficult to stay consistent with them. But I use them because I realize this is essentially a reflection humanity. The things we wear, post, buy, drive, etc. are mere representations of ourselves that we want to show others.  We objectify ourselves! But this is isn’t something to be always ashamed of. It’s just life. Our objects and creations are a symbol of humanity.

We are essentially weak, fragile, lost and broken creatures, navigating the infinity of this world. The only reason why we’re here today is because of what we create. Our objects, laws, and social structures, give us the confidence to sail vast oceans, stabilize societies, and preserve our lives.

But let us not forget who created what! We made this laptop. We made our phones. We write these stories. We are intelligent creatures with limitless possibilities! So let us have confidence in our ability to create, rather than putting our confidence in our creation that thieves can rob and moth can destroy.

But most importantly, let us not forget who created us! If you believe in a God, then you believe that every fabric of your being, every invention, intelligent thought, and every step we take is given to us. Everything that we create is because of who created us. If this is true, then humility should overflow from our creation. It’s like a renowned architect father giving his son a lego set to build. It would be arrogance for the son elevate his lego creation over his dad’s buildings. It would be the worst kind of pride to elevate the lego creation over the father himself. Rather, the child should be humbled by the gift of life and the ability to create.

So maybe it’s time that we see edifices that we’ve erected as effigies to be burned down in protest of what we have allowed ourselves to become. Once we’ve burned down the idols that we’ve spent hours polishing and refining, then we can start cleaning, feeding, and showing attention to the creator of the idols, and ultimately the Creator of all things.

Freedom from our creation allows us to freely create our lives.

(I recognize that this might be an abstract and impersonal analysis of insecurities. Depending on the feedback I get, I may post more about this topic, but only if I feel secure about what I write….haha)

A Post About Mental Health

Humans are fascinating beings with the capacity to accomplish extraordinary tasks. Our complex brains can allow us to paint beautiful canvases and abstract pictures. It can allow us to create thousand word masterpieces in literature or create life-changing technology or medicine. It allows us to appreciate the universe we dwell in; from its unrestrained beauty of nature to the life-giving virtues and love that we have can show to one another.

Whether we’re created from intelligent design, or evolved from millions of years of life, it is without a doubt that we are vessels with astonishing capabilities. However, with the immense complexities of our human nature, comes a painful darkness that always shadows us wherever we go. The gift of reason, intelligence, and awareness that we’re bestowed with is paired with the responsibility to keep it properly nurtured and healthy. When this goes ignored, un-nurtured, abandoned, or abused, a darkness arises in us that suffocates our gifts. It suffocates the fire in us that burns to accomplish and experience the great things that our gift of life allows us. It doesn’t matter if the fire’s a modest spark or an ardent flame, the dark storms in our mind can quench even the strongest of flames.

This is a pretty dragged on introduction to the topic of mental health that I want to talk about in this post. I do this to emphasize the brilliance of human life in relation to our surroundings and the amount of potential for discovery, experiences, and love that we as humans really have. But it’s also to emphasize how our mental health can blind us from this potential and paralyze us from moving forward. So much can be gained from the way we think, but so much can be lost from it too.

Mental health and disorders have been deeply ingrained in my life for as long as I remember. As a kid, I grew up with a bi-polar mom and an “Asian dad” that constantly fought with each other. I’m not saying that an “Asian Dad” is a disorder or anything, but for those who know the stoic, unemotional, conflicting-cultured Asian dad, understands the emotional and mental toll that it can cause on a child. This lack of parental guidance caused struggles that I was ignorant of as a kid. It only confused and frustrated me. It contributed to my low grades and fears. However, I was protected by something that kept me from a consuming darkness that I see many of my peers fall into. We all know the awkward, stand-offish kid in grade school, the loner, the anti-social. We also know the temptation to cut, to drink, or do drugs  For some reason, I was given a quiet persistence that allowed me to persevere passed it.

As I grew older, these struggles manifested itself into anxiety and depression that still persists in different degrees. These manifestations of past struggles are paralyzing and debilitating and have dulled my vision many times.  But I continued to navigate through the dense forests of my life and I began to realize my strengths and weaknesses that sparked interests in several things. I also realized how blessed I am to have the support and love that I received from my friends and family. Without them (you), I don’t think I’d be here today. But, I also realized how many of my peers suffer from a wide range of mental and emotional struggles that are just as painful and debilitating as mine and don’t have the support.

This post is for these people. I confess my depression and mental issues here, in hopes that this is an investment in the most valuable thing on this earth; humans. Too many brilliant, unique, and lovely people have been chained too long by the fetters of doubt, insecurities, fear, depression, loneliness, anxiety, OCD, and countless more, without a means of help or hope of freedom. For those that can relate to this, I urge you to stay strong and persistent. Know that there are people struggling with you. Also, know that you’re valuable and loved. Don’t take life for granted, rather life live to the fullest. There are books to read, places to go, people to love, voices to be heard, and peace awaiting for you.

For those who have strength and clarity of mind to navigate this world, this is a call to invest in your peers who are struggling. To be salt and light in a very cold and dark world. To be quick to listen and slow to speak. To use your gifts and talents for each other. To love your neighbor as oneself, with love that is patient and kind. A love that does not dishonor others,  is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs.

 

Consider this.

Voices in our heads tell us to give in to the world

It tells us to use this format,

To think this way and do this and that

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in truth, morals and values.

Yet our longing for absolutes for things that deserves to be weighed,

With utmost patience and understanding, is overriding our need for

Our God given reason, heart and more.

 

Does not your heart mourn for the homeless, the refugees?

Does it not fall into despair for ones without love?

And ones that are restricted to love?

Kids learn to “walk two moons in someone’s shoes”

Yet adults cannot bear to see themselves lose

Because they feel mocked

To be in someone’s moccasins

To walk

To talk

As if others were shocked

That their choices in life

Is not a wife

But a man

 

So I say to those who

Don’t understand why people do

Certain things that go beyond what they know

To be moral and not a hoe

 

To consider the following

That we are not to follow

Our pride

Of being right

In the sight

Of others around us

But rather

To give ourselves as living sacrifices

Instead of giving into our vices

We pay the prices

For others who can not

Because of the one who came and sought

The very ones who are lost

 

Yes, we are to fight for what’s moral,

And what is true

It is not as they say “what is true for you

Is not true for me”

No, we must stay firm in our beliefs

And the commandments given on these sheets

 

In James chapter 2 verse one three (13)

You and me

Are to do deeds

In humility

Not in  jealousy

So people can see

That the acts are for He

Who lives in glory

So let us sow in peace

So that we can reap

The fruit of righteousness which we so dearly need

In our complete and utter depravity