Quiet considerations and musings
3277 words

Last day of the year

On this day last year, I was also writing an entry with a similar theme of summing up what the year meant for me. I remember being hopeful of the uncertainties that 2020 would bring, clueless of how enormously life-changing this year would be for everyone. A ton of fuck-ups have challenged us both collectively and personally, and I can't speak for everyone for sure, but as with anything I experience, I still always try to find even a tiny glimpse of grace even at the worst moments of my life.

Looking back, 2020 might haven't gone the way I thought it would be, but it certainly revealed truths that I have been unconsciously sweeping under the rug for a long time. My then-boyfriend and I weren't actually compatible to begin with. My supposed dream job isn't that ideal after all. Social media and the supposed instant connectivity brought upon by the modern Internet has made me more anxious. These truths were painful to digest because it has challenged me to rethink of the things that I was quite certain & secured of during the first few months of the year. Why worry about my ex and I back then when we weren't "toxic" with each other when we argue? What's there to question if my job pays me with an above-average salary? What's wrong with social media if you get to share to each other your lives, read the news, and entertain yourself with memes all in one app?

Just until a few days back, my ex and I kept going in cycles of messaging each other and unknowingly fading out weeks after as if nothing happened. This went on for months after our break-up, and admittedly I always liked the attention I was being given despite being aware that this is a pattern between us and how I was only being given crumbs. Maybe it was me attempting to rewrite the past, wishfully thinking that maybe this time it would be different. Maybe this time we could actually go back to where we were. But I figured I can't just rely on these chances & potential futures of us being together. They are not real. And I deserve better. Funnily enough, right after I ultimately decided for myself that I would stop this cycle, I chanced upon this TikTok video of them listing out signs that you've outgrown someone. One of the signs listed is: "interactions flow less and feel more forced," and this summed up the energy of our messages in these cycles. I took this as an affirmation that I am ready to move past this.

Career-wise I have always known that I am not someone who would devote myself into climbing the ladder of success, and would more than happily settle with being a graphic designer with a salary that helps me get by and fund my hobbies. I find myself lucky that I have a job that helped me get through the pandemic. My salary wasn't cut off and I am always thankful to have bosses who are receptive and compassionate. Lately, there have been many projects on my plate and have been deeply keeping it to myself that even I am unaware of how stressed I am. Before our Christmas break started, I finally confronted my boss about how overwhelmed I am and how I might not be a great candidate for the role I am in. It was a great relief on my part to have openly said this not only because I have communicated it to my boss, but also because it is an admission that I have my limits as well and the job I have isn't the ideal one I have in my head. I still am grappling with this but I am happy that I took a step towards being more open to my colleagues about my state.

During the Christmas break, I have also released myself from social media to see how this would affect me personally, hoping that my anxiety would alleviate. And it actually did. I deleted my main social media apps on my phone, and at first I had this urge of logging in just to check what I missed out, but it quickly faded out when I actively searched for new ways to enjoy my break. I painted using the watercolors my sister gave me for Christmas, read manhwas, watched comforting romcom series, played Horizon, and practiced tarot reading throughout. I thought that by dissociating myself from social media, I get to see how much time I have to learn and explore new ways to live if that makes sense. And so, before 2021 starts, I removed my Twitter account and my Instagram to follow suit (since they only allow you to disable your account once a week) as a commitment to myself to start anew.

By acknowledging and taking action to digest these truths, I get to breathe easier knowing that these actually point me toward a better direction for myself, thus a better direction as well for next year. I believe I am now more grounded by my reality and am the most honest to myself that I have ever been for the longest time, and I am always grateful that my family and my closest friends have been supportive throughout. Together with them, I am facing another great unknown that is 2021 but this time with my feet on ground and my heart stronger—and that I believe is the grace that I found this year.

Short notes

I'm sorry i'm sorry
I'm sorry that im not the expanse you're seeking
Not the fire
but the water


What is identity? What is self without the external? What makes one's self without the external's influence?
I don't think we are ever lonely. Be alone, yes. To feel lonely, yes. But /be/ lonely?
I think our identity, our personality is with the collective. With the universe.
Our thoughts, with the universe.

Thoughts, with the universe. Thoughts with the universe.


I dreamt of Mama and Papa
of how in her sleep, my Mama talks to herself
of how at work, my Papa assists me.
Love and Life, I started to doubt you
Love and Life, Mama and Papa
gave me.
A note in the refrigerator's door.


A tarot reader last night on Youtube told me that this isn't the right connection to be in.
Why bother what was already dead?
Too cold to escape.
Too hot to leave.

Discoveries

I have learned that the act of discovering, whether by myself or through good friends, is a part of what's keeping me grounded in life. Maybe it's because I get to experience and explore a new space, and whenever I dig deeper and find these small details I like about it, my body responds with this rush of joy and this appreciation of life's reminder of how larger it is than what it seems. To be in awe, and the desire to extend this space to others. Below is a list of finds I had this past week, hoping that in these little spaces you can find a temporary shelter to sit and ponder upon.

Fiona Apple and Alan Watts

I was listening to Fiona Apple's latest album while I was cleaning our house, and when "I Want You to Love Me" played its second verse:

I move with the trees in the breeze
I know that time is elastic
And I know when I go
All my particles disband and disperse
And I'll be back in the pulse
And I know none of this will matter in the long run
But I know a sound is still a sound around no one
And while I'm in this body
I want somebody to want
And I want what I want and I want

I somehow found a connection to a particular paragraph in Alan Watt's "The Wisdom of Insecurity":

Where do I begin and end in space? I have relations to the sun and air which are just as vital parts of my existence as my heart. The movement in which I am a pattern or convolution began incalculable ages before the (conventionally isolated) event called birth, and will continue long after the event called death. Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.

I loved how both acknowledged our temporary stay here on earth, and how we are interconnected with everyone and everything around us. This pandemic we are in has probably put this reminder in the forefront, but on a personal level, this has given me more respect and appreciation to the vessel that is my body.

Central Park

When I got a new phone a few months back, it came with a free subscription to Apple TV+. Scrolling through its catalog then, I remembered being unimpressed, so I seldom opened the app after. But last week, I thought that I didn't want the subscription to go to waste, and so gave it a try again. I found that they added new shows and what really piqued my interest was "Central Park," an animated musical series about Central Park's manager and his family's adventures.

Central Park has the right amount of comedy and warmth brought by the family's support for each other as the went through their own individual journey. The musical tracks are catchy, too!

NTS.live

My friend told me that he seldom discovers tracks through Apple Music or Spotify lately, and relies to this radio site instead. I am so glad that he shared this site because it offers a lot of radio stations you can listen to, and you can pick based on the very particular list genres and sub-genres that the site has provided. As I am writing this, I am listening to this radio episode of SONGS 4 GIRLS under the Modern Classical and Ambient Jazz sub-genres.

There is no future

Last weekend, I read a very humbling book by Alan Watts titled "The Wisdom of Insecurity." I found this in an interview of Sevdaliza wherein she recommended this book. It was probably the word "insecurity" in the title that piqued my interest that I had to buy and read the book immediately, because I, too, like everyone else, am dealing with a great deal of insecurity in my life. This book has changed my perspective about that word.

From my previous understanding, "insecurities" are to be rid of as they're obstacles into fulfilling a greater love for myself & for my present surroundings. I have always felt shame for my body's imperfections and my past that it has always prevented me from interacting with the world & people fully. To deal with them is to get rid of them. Alan Watts has challenged this perspective of mine in his book by saying that "insecurity", the "present," and "change" are all of the same meaning. That to rid or to escape my insecurities is to escape my present & to resist change—which is indeed futile.

I am an overthinker, which is to say I always think of the "outcome" or the future of an action I will do in the present, or think that the feeling I am feeling in the present won't be the same in the coming days as they are fleeting. My present spoiled. I then feel anxious, heart beating fast, and attempt to make everything "worthwhile" in the present in hopes that the coming days will feel more secure. Do you feel this at times as well? I have learned from Watts that this happens when our mind (the "I" or the "ego") divides itself from the body and the present, and thinks ahead of a future that does not exist. Yes, feelings in the present are fleeting, as our present is always changing. But the feelings/ideas we have about the incoming days are nothing but just "ideas" as well in our minds, informed by our past and present. They are not real. They are not guaranteed. We might not be as "happy" in the coming days, but we might not be as "sad" as we think we would be as well.

The only real thing is our present body and surroundings. I might be thinking of the sad thought of there will be work again tomorrow, but I am learning to call myself out by saying: one, it is not real that work tomorrow means you will be filled with sadness and contempt tomorrow, and two, that you are not in work now. I might be thinking that my past and my body imperfections are hindrances for me to find someone who can accept me for who I am in the future, but I am slowly learning to accept that these are not to be rid of, as these are marks of experiences I have garnered to be where I am now in the present. That to deal with them is to not get rid of them, but to embrace and learn from them in the present.

One more radical idea I got from the book is that although the idea of the present being ever-changing might be scary, it is also humbling in a sense that we die and are birthed every millisecond of our existence here in our present. I find this humbling because it implies that not everything that comes to us are often good, and they are not often bad. Not often exciting, not often boring. Death of a feeling or a thought or an experience in our bodies allows a birth of a new one. That "new" one, as mysterious as it may seem, if we open ourselves to it, allows us to learn from them.

I guess what I am trying to say is that there is an abundance of things to learn and act on in the now that thinking about the future can't offer us. Our idea of a secure future version of ourselves betrays us from this. It is often we forget that this version of ourselves isn't guaranteed to come even if we take all the necessary steps in the present.

I would be a liar when I say that I don't disconnect from my reality whenever it gets overwhelming. I still do, which is more tempting especially with what's happening with the world. But it's in the awareness of these thoughts from Alan Watts that I find courage and trust in the present. I am learning to trust my body's signals. Learning to trust that answers aren't always sought, but they are also brought by my present reality. Learning to trust that they are sought and brought at the right time.

After all, in restrospect, these thoughts from Watts were brought to me by an interview I read in a time I have felt tangled and lost.

Interocept

A poem I wrote when I was fresh off my break-up.

i.
Pleasantness
is what my body told me
when the bus arrived
carrying you to
the stop where we
first met that midnight

ii.
“Unpleasant,”
my chest whispered
when you kept asking me
to untangle the thread
of letters you sewn
before in benevolence

iii.
Arousal
when I have
finally
put up the curtains
closed the door
informing you
that untangling you
& your sewn
letters
is not
of my ministry

iv.
Calmness
is my body
switching the lights on
returning home
with hands liberated
with the bus
carrying you
away

Untangling

2020 hasn't been merciful to us. This pandemic we're in has left us in a confusing and frustrating state as we witness the virus spread and affect several people, hoping in the confines of our home that we won't be the next. It is an understatement to say that my mental health has been bruised up. Although I am eternally thankful to still have a job and to be at home with my family, I guess denying myself of my spiraling won't do me or anyone a favor.

The past months have been nothing but a huge blur. My then-boyfriend and I decided to part ways through a text message. The client work that I thought wasn't pushing through came back at a time when I felt lost. Stalled that client work. Stalled household chores. Work was nonstop and hasn't been the healthiest environment. Felt restless, felt breaking down in the middle of the day would help me get by. All of these overlapped with each other and I felt like that I can't untangle myself from the mess that I have unknowingly created. Every morning I felt guilt and have wished to prolong my sleep, to escape.

I knew I was at the bottom of the pit, and I wanted to get out, but I was scared. Maybe because it entailed a lot of work that needed to be done, and I felt really weak. Maybe because sleeping them off was more convenient.

When my boss at work called me a few weeks back to see how I was doing, I couldn't help myself to admit to him my state. And when I was granted a week-long leave from work last week, I knew that this was an opportunity to untangle. To escape.

If you believe in astrology (as most of the twenty somethings probably are now), you would know it's Virgo season—the season of productivity; season of getting your shit done. Nudged by the leave I was granted, I have felt this energy shift in myself. How I wanted to get my life back up together and to actually do something to pull myself from the seemingly perpetual dread that I've been in for the past few months.

I started by cleaning our house's terrace, followed by cleaning the rags and curtains. Went to the grocery to stock up our food supplies and the hardware store to buy a replacement for our faulty lock and garden hose. Finally bid goodbye to hair's annoying length by going to the barber. Made a great amount of progress to the client work and have made a promise to myself to communicate better so that the project will be completed earlier. And took my time to actually let my body and mind rest by watching and finishing a Korean drama (When the Camellia Blooms* if you're curious!), and creating personal artwork which I really missed doing.

By doing these handful of tasks, it has really helped me clear my worries of the small things that piled up to a creature bigger than me. Have I untangled myself off the mess? Not fully as there's still work that need to be done. What I wish for myself is that I keep this sense of determination as I continue working on untangling (with consideration to my well-being, of course).

In a somehow tangential note, my ex messaged me a week ago and we have been in touch since. I am lying to myself and to you if I say that my feelings for him are completely gone and can talk to him as if nothing happened. That is not the case, especially for the Piscean that I am. Hence, I might not be cut out for the "friends-with-an-ex" situation. If anything, the questions you have are the questions I have for myself as well: what will you get out of this? What value does he add to your present? Why are you trying to put yourself in a situation where there's a ninety chance you'll be hurt?

So much for untangling haha!