One thing I am sure of when it comes to most people: they will not hesistate to lend a helping hand when needed. We all want to feel needed in some way. Because that makes us feel powerful. Not the kind that is ego-centric, but the kind of power that can affect and impact others. Everyone is needed in some way therefore we all possess that power. Most people don’t know how powerful they in affecting others. Imagine a world where all people tap into their power. The possibilities are limitless.
written on my journal – January 17, 2017 at Coffeebean
2 days ago, a good friend sent me a long but worthwhile read about Solitude and Leadership. The author talked about how solitude, though seemingly contradictory to the qualities essential to good leadership, is in fact, elemental. I would go further to say that solitude is both urgent and necessary for the follower as much as the leader. Everyone should find time for it.
Solitude allows us to grow fully into oneself and to realize one’s essence. It is in the laboratory of solitude where one formulates one’s thoughts, questions, develops one’s skills and talents, and strengthens one’s core values. Shutting the noise and external distractions that surround us allows us to be fully present with ourselves. I say this as though it were simple, but to be fully present to oneself is often a difficult task. Many people can be alone, but do not know how to be with themselves. We often look for distractions, like our phones, gadgets, social media, games, TV and such technologies prevalent in our everyday lives. (I am guilty of this!) These are all essential most especially because they connect us to the world beyond our spheres, but this becomes a problem when the very things that connect us to the world are the ones creating the disconnect to the people around us and, unconsciously, from ourselves. The paradox is, while these technologies offer distractions from our monotonous life, through solitude, we find that life becomes less humdrum.
Solitude offers us an awareness of our thoughts, which then leads us to be more deliberate and purposeful in our actions. We become thinkers, avoiding the mechanical auto-pilot mode which we are naturally accustomed to doing. We learn to question authority, systems, and rules. We develop the inner strength and character to swim against the current. Solitude allows us to reflect whether our external world is aligned with our inner one, thereby enabling us to become a powerful springboard of change.
These days, with daily current issues that picture the loss of humanity, it is not hard to be desensitized by what we see. As compassion is easily thrown to wind and the sense of moral obligation dissipating, all the more we need to relieve ourselves from the noise and current, and find solid ground once more in solitude.
“Ma, do you think you were able to fulfil your life’s purpose?”, I asked my mom.
Without any hesitation, she answered, “Yes. Our purpose in life is to be.”
“You know what I’m saying.”, I rolled my eyes.
“Why? Our purpose in life is to be – to be what you were made to do. Which is to love. It’s really simple. Why do you make it complicated?”, she replied.
I got her, but I suppose I associated purpose with doing great things for the world. I’m not really sure what answer I expected, but it certainly wasn’t that. Something more specific perhaps.
To love….how easy and yet so difficult. How ambiguous yet ever so certain. So attainable yet seemingly elusive.
Hmmm…Ive realized that my question is both simple and complex , depending on our own stages of life, where priorities and dreams vary. I know for sure that things get simpler when one has experienced much of life. But knowing is the shallow end of being. One needs to experience life. To experience its borders is to be well acquainted with our own sense of mortality, and this ultimately unfolds a deeper understanding of our raison d’etre. As any gem of wisdom is to be attained, I have yet to live life further and fully. Maybe I should just take the words of my mother and simple BE. Easier said than done. (I will need the assistance of meditation and yoga. Oooommmmmm….Lol!)
On a serious note, as someone who constantly asks and questions if I am in fact fulfilling my life’s purpose, I have found temporal peace through this quote:
“They say: ‘Find a purpose in your life and live it.’ But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind.”― Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
Sometimes, finding one’s purpose is as unanticipated as my mother’s response. And as unanticipated as an act of kindness. And maybe, it’s all really as simple as love, unfolded in many a form.
La La Land struck chords with aching familiarity and I’m pretty sure it hit home for many of the audiences as well. After having watched it, it came to no surprise it won 7 Golden Globes, among other nominations and international awards. What was surprising however, was the atypical ending of the movie that caught us all off guard. It’s a film supposedly patterned after the Golden Age of Hollywood where boy meets girl, love conquers all, and audiences get exactly what they paid to see.
What makes this film so good is it revives 1940’s and 50’s film elements such as the set, singing, tap dancing, jazz music and style, but infused modern storytelling elements that veered away from thematic cliches ever so present in old Hollywood movies. While some movies offer an escape from our mundane lives, this one brought us right back to the core of some of life’s realities. For those who have watched it, you know what I’m talking about. That. Friggin. Epilogue. 5 years after.
At first, it shattered me. What was the point of having all those recurring universe-conspired encounters of Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and ultimately changing the course of each other’s lives? What a let down to find that 5 years after their parting, after having succeeded in their chosen careers, Mia is happily married to another man, now raising a child. Mia and Seb were supposed to be destined for each other. Earlier scenes foreshadowed a happy ending. By that part, in my mind, I was still hoping for some pixie dust to change this unfamiliar scenario. But story gets even more tense. Right just when the universe conspired again for them to see each other at Sebastian’s successful jazz club, Seb nostalgically plays their theme on the piano and the scene shifts to an alternate perfect life path flashed before us. At this point, I was hoping for some magical realism to change the ending (Like the scene in 13 Going on 30. Haha.) to what should have been. The alternative recap ends, reality sinks in as we are thrown back to the jazz club with Seb onstage, finishing his last note. Mia and her husband stand up to leave, but upon reaching the door, she stops and glances back at Seb with a peaceful smile. Seb returns a bittersweet one.
Right then, I knew it just had to end that way. I could not think of a better ending. I understand why many felt betrayed, but here’s why I wasn’t anymore:
The Golden Age of Hollywood typically depicts two lovers that surmount all kinds of struggles in the name of love, however impractical and crazy it may be. La La Land deviated from the usual plot. In fact, I would say the story was not even about Mia and Sebastian’s romance. It’s about the winding journey we face as we set to follow our dreams.
La La Land overthrows the notion that only that one true romantic love can give happiness and satisfaction to our lives. The movie is also very representative of our time where women can now freely choose and find satisfaction in pursuing careers first over, say, romance, or having children and nurturing a family.
“But they could have worked it out long distance! They didn’t have to give up on their love.”, my friend, Macy, whimpered.
I know right?! But his brings me to my second point: unlike the old movies before where the primary focus were relationships itself, the film emphasizes and makes us appreciate the beauty that is brought about by relationships. Some relationships, no matter how destined they may seem to be, are simply not meant to be. Yet, we are reminded that we would not be where or who we are without them. Mia and Seb’s smile exchange at the end comforts and reminds us to not to regret anything that has in someway, touched and changed our lives.
In the alternative ending, everything went smoothly, not a tear shed, ending on a high note where they live happily ever after. As my friend, Imma, pointed out, that scene was the real “La La Land.” The alternate life path flash was representative of the “perfect world” we otherwise would have wanted for the characters, and for ourselves (that’s why it was so painful to watch! Huhu). But we do not live in a perfect world. Even Hollywood stars, with all their beauty, fame and fortune, even as we envision as demigods on pedestals, are not exempt from the struggles of being human. We make plans, relationships, big dreams – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Such are the pains and gains of the journey.
What I truly loved about La La Land is that is was real and wasn’t cloaked in romanticizing failed but good relationships. This brings me to question, did the relationship fail or was it successful in the sense that it served its purpose?
I appreciate that it ended on a bittersweet and hopeful tone, giving us the space to imagine happy separate lives for both of them. We may not live in a perfect world, and uncertainties of life may lead us to the most unexpected places, but we can always be hopeful and may I add, joyful, that things will turn out for the best, and the mess will make sense in the end. Here’s to the ones that dream, here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make!
are strong, stubby, smooth and soft.
It touched my forehead
When a fever burned
Massaged my back when I could not sleep
While white ladies floated in my imagination.
It gently caressed me when something hurt,
From a stomach ache,
To a wounded knee from a daring fall
from rollerblading a downward slope.
When I was a little girl
my eyes gazed at her fingers
gracefully scribbling her signature at the cashier counter
watched her draw smiling faces and trees and houses and mountains
observed her cut apple peels
And knead dough for apple pies
Her hands knew everything
For everything her hands touched
Was perfect and polished
Incomparable to the works of my tiny, incapable hands.
Until I learned script at 3rd grade
My drawings turned from sticks to shades and shadows
My fingers learned to strum the guitar at 13
And by college
It could tinker scales and arpeggios on the piano
– eyes closed.
My hands shook President Obama’s
It has traveled far and wide
Packing and unpacking suitcases
From place to place,
(searching for fingers that could intertwine with mine)
It now knows where to go
And which finger to raise
For specific and special occasions.
But many times
My own hands betray me
They have played the wrong notes
wrote terrible poems
Shook hands with politicians
That were not good for me
And made a terrible mess of myself.
It has learned how to cover my face
Rub my eyes
And wipe my own tears.
Cold and clammy,
My hands shake from anxiety
Of the future
Of not knowing what to do,
what to build
Or who and what to keep.
I turn to my mother’s hands
Imperfect hands that
made its own mistakes
And cleaned up
Much of life’s dirt.
Yet still massages my back
On sleepless nights
When demons start to dance in my mind;
Opens the door for me
When I come home at 2am,
Drained and tired, heartbroken
And holds my hands together
When I have lost faith.
My mothers hands
Are stubby, smooth and soft
A little bit wrinkled now, yes
But still with unyielding strength and beauty
I take her palm and trace the lines and curves
That tell the story of her fate
Somewhere in her palms,
I look up to an invisible Almighty,
I’ve been given such honor
To be written in her destiny.
We are all not seeing something
For we are only looking through a spec of this existence
Impossibly attempting to piece puzzles together
To make sense of the things
Specially those beyond our control
Until we discover the illusion
that, not only some things
But everything, is beyond our hands
For even our own hands
Were made not merely for ourselves
But for lifting the world a step higher