Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Night comes. Night, that dreadful hour when you're by yourself, that dreadful hour when you are forced to face the hollowness that's inside you.

It creeps up to you out of its hiding place, an ugly lair in the recesses of your heart, and strikes out when your guard is down. A gossamer of daily routines weaved out of threadbare material with you at its center, feeling safe and well protected.

But see, there goes one thread - SNAP! - and it sees an opportunity and snaps at you. Like a hermetic tank with one tiny crack, it floods out and drowns you, slowly, surely, and painfully.

The pyramid collapses with one little act of negligence. The whole magnificent architecture you spent an eternity to erect comes tumbling down.

Night comes, lighting the sky with small dots of stars, leaving you all by yourself to fend yourself from your own thoughts.

Jittery. Fidgety. Things aren't right.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reflection: Creation in Silence and Solitude

When silence knocks at your door in your deep-sea solitude, will you answer it and let it enter and seep into the core of your being? Or will you thrash about and spurn the terrifying loneliness that it brings to your solitude? “For the memories themselves are not important,” writes Rilke, “Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.”

Memories. Do they not constitute the material with which we mold ourselves and create something out of ourselves? And is it not the breadth of experience that defines the scope of our lives and gives us that rich depth from which we draw our inspiration? Why, then, am I shut up in this small apartment, far from life and all its inexhaustible experiences, and dwelling among the dead, in the imaginary realities of poets and writers? Why are you not plunging yourself into the swift current of life? Why are you not— living? Or are you gazing down into yourself, probing what has just happened in your life, and trying to make sense of it all – all, that is, of a mere 22 years?

But listen to the wise man: “Present experience has,” Nietzsche writes, “always found us ‘absent-minded’: we cannot give our hearts to it – not even our ears! Rather, as one divinely preoccupied and immersed in himself into whose ear the bell has just boomed with all its strength the twelve beats of noon suddenly starts up and asks himself: ‘what really was that which just struck?’ so we sometimes rub our ears afterward and ask, utterly surprised and disconcerted, ‘what really was that which we have just experienced?’ and moreover: ‘who are we really?’ and, afterward as aforesaid, count the twelve trembling bell-strokes of our experience, our life, our being – and alas! miscount them. – So we are necessarily strangers to ourselves, we do not comprehend ourselves, we have to misunderstand ourselves, for us the law ‘Each is farthest from himself’ applies to all eternity – we are not ‘men of knowledge with respect to ourselves.”

Yes, so who am I really? Is that what am I asking and seeking? My “Self”? Let me reflect back to the time when I was still callous and immature, arrogant and clueless, and think – in retrospect – who I was. And who was I, other than what those four telling words reveal? No, self-search is not the point, not the point at all.

Rather, I am engaged in creating something out of all that past, setting aside for the moment if this act would “justify” that heap of memories, that pulp of experience. Creation requires attention and concentration; it requires, moreover, sacrifice, or more precisely the sacrifice of everything present and ordinary.

The budding and burgeoning of this little plant I am nourishing with my past requires my turning-in and turning-to the future (which amounts to my turning-away from the present) is known and understood by so many artists. What I impart in this plant whose flowers and fruit remain hidden from me, is the cry of loneliness, that species of human experience that echoes back throughout the history of art. And it is this cry that seeps out of the text and leaps up to the minds of the readers. An emptiness. Do I feel it? That whatever is permeating through your work and your life amounts to nothing? That your work is only – no, not even – a tiny molecule in the sea of creativity? I do feel it – or think I do – just underneath my soles, throbbing with menacing pulse. If someone were to push me ever gently, I’d fall into this abyss of nothingness. I stand on a fragile and dangerous ground – so thin, so tiny, so high.

Carve out that part of your experience that calls you to take it up in your hands. Carve it out and lay it in front of your eyes – can you do that? Comb through your past, sift it, shake it, and see if you can find any gems glittering in the dirt. Can you find them? Those diamonds of your experience, buried deep inside the mantle of your existence, exposed to the pressure of all that past. Can you find them, cut them, and polish them into round brilliant cut?

Death be not proud

Let me gut out all the feelings I have and see them splatter on the page in blotches of awkward sentences. My brush is ready to be dipped into the cans of roiling emotions; I pick the colors from the palette of my experience. Where is this going?

The first stroke sweeps across the canvass like an arc that could have been smooth with slightly more paint, with slightly more feeling. Nothing occurs on the canvass. The paint dribbles down in spidery lines - a thought lost and abandoned in an over-elaborate analogy.

Life is sometimes difficult even when it isn't. Even when everything is going well, we choose to interpret it otherwise based on pale comparisons. Akihabara happened because he couldn't see other unfortunate people on the brink of death. People commit suicide for insignificant events - when seen from a larger perspective.

We become too small to see things, to see the world in any other way but in the way dictated by our emotions. Life thus becomes difficult when it's not. This is our weakness, our fatal flaw.

Ending one's life has its appeal. I've felt it; it's strange. So strange that I'm baffled when it comes from nowhere and takes over me. It really does, this ghost of an emotion, this gaping hole that sucks everything out of you in slow bleeding.

What am I talking about?

The death wish.

I said it.

All of a sudden the world transforms itself. A veritable metamorphosis takes place. Now, obliterating your own being seems like the most natural thing to do. It just makes perfect sense.

Life loses its vitality; soul loses its brilliance. The world becomes GRAY.

There is no sense of vertigo or violent sea of emotions. There's just this calm, single nutshell of a feeling that sinks deeper and deeper. Deeper and deeper. Half falling, half sleeping, half listless, half everything.


Liminality of being.

Imbalance of forces.

The ground is shifting underneath, ready to swallow you in.

And all you need to do seems to just end it, right there and then. Yet, despite this seemingly unhealthy, insane mode of being, you have before you-- a perfect calmness.


Blue and gray.

More gray than anything else.

But it's there, sitting, sinking, falling, rising all at once, like a particle out of the quantum world.

Maybe it is so. Maybe it comes from that odd part of the universe. A particle of feeling escaped from it and wandered into my world, into consciousness without rhyme or reason.

Without meaning.

And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Missing Piece

We're looking for missing pieces in our lives.

Usually, it takes the form of another human being: the ideal lover, the soul mate, the one, the love-at-first-sight.

Sometimes, though, you meet them in the middle of the night, in the folds of your dreams.

Fragments of a dream stayed in my mind like a familiar flagrance from long ago.

I remember: a girl waiting - for me.

I walk in with her into a store where her father owns and runs. He spreads open his arms to greet her but as soon as he sees me, he clamps his mouth shut. It’s obvious that he doesn’t like me. She tries to appease him. I’m with her and I’m her lover.

I disappear and come back to find her all alone sitting outside, waiting for me. A moment later, she is surrounded by her friends – her guy friends – who watch over her and make sure she’s OK. She’s wearing a white, fluffy woolen jacket, asleep with her head resting on the armrest of the wooden chair she’s sitting in.

I walk up to her slowly and stop next to her. Then I gently touch her neck. She stirs and look up at me.

She smiles. I smile. A moment of happiness.

When I woke up, I wanted to go back to the dream and live it and continue seeing her, whoever she was. I wanted to stay in my dream where I was comfortable and happy with this girl who was waiting for me until she fell asleep.

Everyone wants to be loved - by a great person.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reflection: Death Comes Knocking at the Door of Loneliness

For some reason, I really like this post; it resonates with my mood in a way. This was when I said fuck you to the world and wrote and read in solitude for 11 straight months. Looking back, it was a fun time - I got to do what I really wanted to do, although the whole sedentary existence in seclusion got to me at times.

I need to write something. Do you ever get that feeling? You don't want to do anything. You feel distracted. You can't focus. You feel agitated. What you've been doing all along looks pale and gray, dull and almost insignificant. It's not really boredom, but simple restlessness. And it sometimes helps to spell it out though I'm afraid when it's done, it comes out wrong.

Have you read Rilke? If you haven't, please do. Read this line for example: "We don't know our feelings' contour, only what shapes it from outside. Who hasn't sat anxiously before his heart's curtain?" It's just right. To me, right now, that is. You have to be in that particular mood to read poetry - those condensed constellations of words sparkling with feelings and moments.

What do I want to tell you? I want to tell you that I'm agitated, and nothing else. What can I say? I'm a lonely man. And when you're alone for a long, long time, it starts to get to you, and you start to bleed from your heart. Not many people know this, because they haven't been alone for that long, haven't steeped themselves deep in their own solitude. And what's the point? Nothing, when all's said and done. It's just an experience available to anyone - not special, just rare, because no one wants to be alone for a prolonged period of time. But all this is boring for you, isn't it? So I'll stop talking.

Like a puff of air, it comes out and dissipates into the vastness of nothingness. And like a sigh, it wafts away unheard by anyone.

But that's not what I wanted to say. No, not at all, really. Get to the point, will you? Okay.

It came knocking at the door, softly, very softly, inviting me to go over and open the door for it. Why should I? It invites me to go out with it, never to come back again. But why should I? It comes once in a while. Only once in a while in the loneliest loneliness, and whispers into my heart. It comes from nowhere, beckoning me, enticing me, wheedling me to break it, end it, shatter it. It's not a violent calling - no, by no means - but a gentle murmur almost inaudible, rippling through the emptiness I feel inside and I don't know what to do with it but to hear it, hear it and scream it out just to keep myself sane, knowing full well that it always comes out as a whimper no matter how hard I try to scratch and rip my throat with it. It comes at night, usually, and is gone by morning. The hardest part is to hold the restless emptiness in your arms and sleep with it.

What am I talking about? The unnameable: it shows everything in dull colors and beckons you to disappear.

The Experience of Being Alive

Today, I came across a quote by Joseph Campbell:

"People say what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we are seeking is an experience of being alive"

That gave me a sudden jolt while I was stretching on the gym's matted area after an intense hour of working out (Yes, Taka is getting big). It's amazing how sometimes you come across these moments when things fall in place and the world starts to look differently. Then out of this jolt, from the depths of my being came a roar of liberation:

Fuck being a lawyer!

Am I going to spend a few months re-studying that meaningless and frustrating test called the LSATs just so that I can get into a law school and spend three years studying something that I'm not wholly interested in just so that I can slave away and wallow in the tedium of legal agreements and proofreading and wrangle over legal niceties all to pay off student loans?

Yeah, but listen Taka, you'll have a law degree! You can do anything with it! And you'll be free to do whatever you want after you pay off your debt. Let's be realistic. It's a backup plan. Plan B. Safety net when you fall! Ain't that great? I mean what happens when you don't succeed at whatever you decide to do? You'll be poor, miserable, unhappy, and people will look down at you! Get a stable job, play safe, man.

Fuck you. I will do what I want. Hear me? I will do what I want to do and live my life the way I want. Fuck 9 to 5, fuck playing safe, fuck socially respectable jobs, fuck doing something you don't enjoy, fuck comfort, fuck the "Money = Success" mentality, fuck crowding out your days with meaningless routines whose SOLE purpose is to make you forget about the experience of being alive. Fuck all that. I will do what I want and I will have everything I want in my life. I will not compromise. I will be relentless.

Life is a challenge. Not a comfortable car to get a ride in. Life is a fucking mudflow of challenges. To weather through it, all you need is a bit of courage to step off that deadly treadmill of 9 to forever of the daily grind and eternal procrastination that gets you NOWHERE because all it does is produce NOTHING BUT INCORRIGIBLE INERTIA.

You live your life once.


Are you gonna get off that treadmill? Or stay and regret not having seized the day when you retire and find yourself without anything to do?

Nothing great can be achieved without taking risks.

We're all risk-averse. Every educated person knows this. But knowing/thinking is WORLDS apart from actually doing.

I've done enough thinking in college (yeah, philosophy and paralysis of analysis). It's about time that I acted. I'm gonna be a doer and enjoy the experience of being alive. I will double my life experience and have a blast.

I will enjoy my life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Principles of Social Intelligence

I recommend everyone to read Dale Carnegie's old classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It's amazing.

Granted, the book delineates very commonsensical principles to apply in social situations. But. That's an emphatic but. People don't use these fundamental principles in their daily lives. Why? Probably out of laziness. Or in other words, they understand the principles intellectually, but have not internalized them.

This is crucial.

Understanding and doing are totally different modi operandi. You can understand how to swing a tennis racket or spin on your head, but it's a whole 'nother story to be able to actually do them.

So with that caveat in mind, let's keep the following fundamental imperatives in mind and actually put them to use in our daily lives:

1. Don't criticize, condemn, or complain (or in a positive statement, "Be hearty in approbation and lavish in praise.")

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation

3. Arouse in the other person an eager want

Then comes six ways to make people like you:

1. Become genuinely interested in people
2. Smile
3. Remember that one's name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language
4. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves
5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest
6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

The fourth imperative follows from the first. The fifth principle is KEY and neglected by so many people. Understanding and seeing the world through the point of view of another person is really, really, really crucial in influencing people.

Then the author goes on to describe twelve ways to winning people to your own way, but I think the most important of them are:

1. Avoid arguments, show respect for the other person's opinion, and never tell them they're wrong.
2. Let the other person do the talking
3. Let the other person feel the idea is theirs
4. Appeal to noble motives
5. Throw down a challenge
6. Start with questions the other person will answer yes to

As you can see, all of these are "common sense." But be careful. You might dismiss them as just that and not make any initiatives in internalizing them until you find yourself in a heated argument with your significant other and realize that you don't know jack.