Archives for the month of: April, 2013

If I remember correctly, the opening scenes of Gone With The Wind includes a shot of the text “Do not waste time for that is the stuff life is made of.” And it is not more true than it is now. Time is running out for all of us but we are not usually mindful of it until we have life experiences which jar us to our senses.

My dear friend’s condition is already pretty grave and it pains me to realise that each moment we share or each conversation we have might be our last. Even though my friend is still functional and does not appear to be dying, the results of the medical tests are not encouraging and I’m hoping against hope that some miracle would happen but I’m trying to be pragmatic with the facts and possibilities at hand.

I am not ready to let go of the friendship and relinquish the bond we have but the choice is not up to either of us when it would be terminated. This uncertainty manifests as an aching pain in my heart which accompanies me through the day and I am unable to share my concerns with others due to respect for my friend’s explicit request for privacy.

Each moment in which we can to interact even remotely through chat or SMS is priceless and there is no way to be fully prepared to lose someone we genuinely love but we must attempt to be prepared for the eventuality which may result from the seeming randomness of life.

It’s not an easy path or navigate and yet we must treasure each priceless moment and appreciate the poignancy of gradually being able to let go and say goodbye while making each moment count.

(c) Niconica 2013

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I have not managed to write my regular daily posts but I will make up for it in the number of posts I write instead. I’m still reeling from the shock and the pain of my valued friend’s HIV diagnosis. It could just as easily have been another terminal illness such as Cancer, the anguish and the devastation would be the same.

It’s too late to point fingers now because it doesn’t change the facts which are quite bitter pills to swallow. The challenge is to be able to recover from the shock and be able to help my friend deal with his predicament and be able to maximize the cards he has been dealt with.

Intellectually knowing the facts does not take away the gnawing pain inside my heart–I feel that it is breaking. Last year has been an unfortunate year of medical emergencies and losses, and this year, this situation is something new to struggle with. Undoubtedly this would be an opportunity for growth because if we do not adjust and evolve, we will not be able to survive unwanted changes, and yet an understanding of these facts do not take away the dull ache in my chest.

On one hand, I want to cheer up my friend and try to pretend that the situation is non-existent or not as serious but on the other hand, the alarming and severe symptoms exhibited does not allow me to escape from the thought that the remaining time from now are fraught with gravity of saying goodbye in not so many words but in actions and interactions which are so poignant because they might be the last few memories we have before time runs out because having a compromised immune system is nothing to joke a about–anything can come in and screw up the precarious equilibrium.

I have written a about preparing for death in one of my past posts but it was in the context of my grandparent who is already an octogenarian and has advanced stages of a degenerative at the twilight of a very long and full life or a relative who is already a senior citizen who suffered a debilitating illness. In both cases, it can be said that death can more easily be viewed as a more acceptable eventuality because they have managed to live long and full lives free from disease until these years.

It is an altogether different matter to be faced with the possible demise of someone yet in the prime of their life and the ticking clock announces the pressure of cramming as many meaningful moments into the limited time remaining. The ghosts of what could have been will haunt us while we attempt to enjoy the company of the ill person and we cannot help but feel anguish at that tragic turn of events.

I am unsure how I will be able to negotiate this new jagged emotional terrain. It is definitely a work in progress where we just have to do the best that we can to prevail despite discouraging and painful circumstances because no matter how badly we feel, we must not fail to appreciate that the person who is in the predicament would likely be feeling infinitely worse and our own selfish concerns and worries pale in comparison to theirs. We must then set aside our own misery, and attend to them while we have the opportunity to do so. There will be enough time to grieve and deal with our own pain in the future. Meanwhile, the present time should be devoted to them.

(c) Niconica 2013

Just like that, everything can change in an instant when we find out that a cherished friend has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. There’s a sense of disbelief that all this is actually occurring and there is a resistance to the events unfolding…

It’s a sobering wake up call that we never really have full control over our lives and we must do the best with the cards we are dealt with. Our lives are all finite and yet we live as through we are indestructible and being diagnosed with a terminal illness simply reminds us of the fact that we will all die.

It is not apt to assume that a terminally ill person will surely die before people who are not terminally ill since the causes for an abbreviated life can come in many forms for so-called healthy individuals. Yet we must be aware that the diagnosis signifies that there is no more time to waste and we must cherish the present moments with the person and make the most out of it.

Having death looming at the door is sobering and yet there is a clarity that dawns upon those he awaits–about which things really matter the most and which things are merely peripheral and it is with this perspective that a dying person manages to squeeze the most out of life–choosing not to waste any moment. This is what we can and should all learn, because in one sense, we are all dying as each day, month, and year heralds advancing age and eventual deteriorating health.

Having our lives prematurely cut when we are not ready is not a welcome circumstance by any chance, and yet when the situation is already existing, we must endeavor to be pragmatic and endeavor to live each day to the fullest because we don’t know which breath may be our last–and this advice would hold true for every human being.

(c) Niconica 2013

It cannot be denied that life is increasingly more intricate and complex now than it has been before. Inasmuch as we enjoy the benefits of the connectivity of social media and the quick information access on the Internet, it has become that much harder to thrive in a dynamic and complicated world. It would be narcissistic to assume that we can survive and excel individually in our careers.

One cannot possess all the necessary skill sets to excel in every facet of our endeavour and it would greatly benefit is to be humble enough to recognise this truth and consider collaborating with different experts in their fields. Contrary to the previous beliefs that collaboration might take away the integrity or our creations or take away the spotlight from us… True collaboration can only make everything richer–that is if we fortunately find like minded and compatible individuals or groups to collaborate with.

There is a delicate balance between standing our own ground and being able to relinquish control where it is required and it is this skill which we must learn to develop in order to experience the richness of being able to benefit and enjoy other’s perspectives together with our own. The growth this experience provides for our souls is amazing if we dare give it a try.

(c) Niconica 2013

I have not been able to post for the past two days but I’ll strive to make up for it. One of the most painful truths which the Buddha has taught is the everything is impermanent and subject to change. We are aware on it on an intellectual and theoretical level but the reality is harder to grasp because we are creatures of habit and change is difficult to accept especially when it catches us by surprise.

It is then when we must remind ourselves that life is unpredictable and everything is impermanent and any attempt to hold onto something or someone is likely to eventually lead to sorrow or disappointment not because it is wrong to be attached to certain things or people but merely because the inherent nature of anything which exists is that it is subject to change at any time and for any reason possible.

We must overcome our grasping at permanence because we don’t know when the changes will come and we must not erroneously assume that anything will last forever just simply because we desire it to be so. We must learn to detach and go through the changes and learn to adapt, because as Charles Darwin has observed, those who do not adapt, perish.

(c) Niconica 2013

Whether we like it or not, who we choose to surround ourselves with reflect who we are. People who can stay long within each other’s energy fields usually have similar or compatible energy. This applies to people whom we keep company with in both our personal and work life.

Judging the quality of whom we are with should not be based on external attributes such as good looks or wealth but on something more substantial–character and integrity. After a period of time, their beliefs and outlook in life will influence or affect is and this must not be taken lightly because it would affect the person we will become, the choices we will make, and the future we will mold through our decisions.

We must endeavour to surround ourselves with good and kind people who transforming us into someone better and we must avoid people who weigh on us and are a detriment to our psychological and emotional wellbeing. This applies to even family members and long time friends.

If we are in the company of dishonest people long enough, lies start becoming more and more acceptable or at lead tolerable and eventually we find our moral compass being compromised. It does not happen drastically so we may not be able to tell exactly when we start finding less than ethical behaviour tolerable but it will happen if we stay within the energy fields of such characters.

The next time we find ourselves criticising the company we keep, must must examine whether their flaws are something which we will be pleased to exhibit as well because such character deficiencies are contagious over time and we might wish to distance ourselves from such people in order to preserve our sanity and moral character.

The next time you start badmounthing your closest friends, be aware that sooner or later these characteristics will rub off on you. Can you live with it? If not, try to seek better company. Be in the vicinity of people who are truly kind, compassionate, and generous and you might even learn a thing or two–and hopefully move closer to bettering the world and if not, at least not causing harm to it.

(c) Niconica 2013

Societal expectations honed by historical or traditional beliefs may not be quite apt for present circumstances. It has always been assumes that the chief purpose of marriage is to create a family through procreation. It would seem that simply being a married couple does not suffice in the long run through society’s eyes unless children are added onto the equation and it is by virtue of having offspring that a couple then can say that they now have a family. However this notion is quisling and should be reexamined.

I believe that a couple can be considered to be a family too–though people would prefer to label it as “a childless family” if we were to insist that the childless couple is a family. It is unfair for people to arbitrarily designate such labels based on the ability or willingness to procreate.

When we marry someone, we invite them to be our family and it in itself should be valued for what it is–a sacred partnership without the additional pressure of requiring them to procreate for the sake of being considered “normal” or “acceptable” because the ability to mate and conceive should not be the defining factor of a couple in a permanent partnership.

The world is sorely overpopulated and it would be refreshing if people honestly assessed the ecological effects of yet bringing another being into the world as well as the sacrifices and responsibilities which come with it. And if a couple is unable to or do not want to have children, their eco-friendly decision should be respected.

It occurs to me that abortion is abhorred by religious disciplines because it is seen as akin to mirder and that mere human beings should not be the ones to decide the snuff out a human life but on the other hand, artificially creating life through test tube babies and in-vitro fertilization is widely accepted or even encouraged. If it is the province of God to create or destroy life, and by this respect. We are strongly discouraged from playing God through taking away a life whether it be via murder, suicide, or abortion. Yet it is strange that we feel that it is acceptable to play God and create life artificially.

It is al all well and good if a couple decide to have children and are able to conceive their own or alternatively adopt children yet this should not be what a couple is judged by or expected to do. There is and should be more to marriage than simply raising children and ensuring the continuity of one’s own gene pool. It should not be the case that simply because people possess reproductive organs that they should be compelled to use it to to create.

There should be room for respecting different view points and ways of life and couples who choose not to procreate or adopt should not be made to feel that there is something wrong with them. It is better that they are self-aware of their preference and love happy lives rather than giving into societal pressure and creating children towards whom they might not be worthy parents.

(c) Niconica 2013

When I was in my teen years I always marveled at the penchant of “adults” in their thirties for sticking to the tried and tested and I did not understand why they wanted to play it safe. Now that in one of those “adults”, I look at young people and marvel at how they still have the courage to take chances and try new things.

It’s funny how a bit more than a decade changes our perspective and the decisions that we make. Sometimes I wish that I had that sense if wonder, idealism, and enthusiasm again but far too many life events will prevent that from easily occurring. I realize that playing it safe is not necessarily our of fear but out of a justified sense of cautioning that impulsive decisions can be costly in the long run and one’s health and stamina might not be as ample as in the teen years to recover from expected and unexpected setbacks.

I felt sorry for the older people when I was younger I felt they were boring and missing out on life. I didn’t realize that perhaps with more years under their belt, they appear that way because they know better. Popular culture extols youth but while I may feel some nostalgia, I am grateful for the polishing that the years have offered and I realize that what is not apparent with the aging bodies is the wisdom and insight acquired through experience and that is even more beautiful because character and depth are more ensuring qualities than external attributes.

Perhaps the younger generation see us and feel sorry for how we seem to be dowdy or too responsible, but I see it as being further down the road in the quest to gain more wisdom. As with many things, what is most valuable is not apparent to the eye and this is why snap surface judgements are usually discouraged.

(c) Niconica 2013

Being described as or describing oneself as ‘single’ past a certain age can certainly sound like an epithet in a society where romantic love, coupledom, and marriage are blatantly touted as the way to go. Not having someone else to validate our existence or uniqueness in any way shape or form, within this context, would be considered incredibly unappealing and might be construed as a statement on our very being–that we are unworthy of being loved or that we are not special. This is rubbish.

To say that being single is less desirable than being in a relationship is like saying that air is better than water, or that pineapples are better than grapes… or that having two people in the car is better than having one person in the car. It is not a matter of comparison–of one being better than the other, it is simply a state of being which is neither right nor wrong.

“Why are you single?” uttered from unthinking people’s lips often sound like a challenge to one’s worth or being, and thus automatically places single people on the defensive, when there is really nothing to defend. One could just as easily say, “Well, why are you married?” but unfortunately, our culture does not dictate that being married is unsightly, and therefore people who are married or coupled up are hardly questioned in such a manner/tone, which is a pity because if we actually go around and pertinently ask the question and compare the answers, it might happen that there would be more stupid reason for getting married than staying single.

In this age of moral degradation and increasing impermanence, it would be more prudent to accept being single as the default state–with marriage or other partnerships as an option, only if this option would provide more benefits than otherwise.  The estate of marriage used to serve patriarchal interests since they treated women as chattel and as vessels for procreation, they cut off any means for women to be self-sufficient and thus leave no room for women to be independent.

Now that women are allowed to vote, live alone, and earn their own living, marriage does not seem to be as necessary for survival as it was before.  Furthermore, overpopulation in the world and ecological concerns over global warming and over-consumption of the earth’s resources do not make procreation necessary for the survival of the human race–in fact, quite the opposite is true… Less procreation would probably save the human race from using up all the earth’s resources, spreading disease, poverty, and moral degradation due to difficult economic climate and scarcity of resources.

With these factors in mind, being single is not such a disaster as it was before and it does not immediately indicate some personal flaw or personal failure and furthermore, neither does choosing not to have children.  It probably would indicate being self-aware of one’s options, and the strength to make one’s own decision as well as a laudable responsibility for the ecological future of the earth.

History and tradition serve their purpose to remind us of our roots but the passage of time and present context must also be considered in choosing to keep age-old tradition as well as in wisely deciding to revise outdated beliefs accordingly.

(c) Niconica 2013

 

Someone who is serially unable to be contacted via mobile phone, landline, social media, or carrier pigeons would not be ideal candidates for a relationship, much less a fruitful career-related venture. The typical excuse is that “creative” typed are flighty, moody, and unreliable. This is not an acceptable excuse because it undercuts the reliable creative professionals.

Creativity should not be used as a crutch or an excuse for being unprofessional. In fact, it should be the opposite–that they have to be more reliable and reachable to be able to reach the goals they are aspiring. No matter how talented and artistic a person is, they sell themselves short when they are unpredictable and unreachable and fall under the radar, especially when there is a deadline due.

The appreciation for the work or relationship delivered is depreciated every time resentment builds over being unable to contact the person to make plans or to even coordinate simple matters. The only times when being flaky may be excused would be if there were an emergency, an accident, or a grave illness.

A person should return messages within the same day just to show respect for the partner or the colleague one is dealing with. If the same old excuses come up and the person falls under the radar too often, unable to be traced, it would mar one’s credibility whether in a personal or business relationship and eventually trust would erode and the “creative” type would be labelled as the boy who cried wolf and eventually not be taken seriously by their partner or colleagues who would learn to not consider the flaky person when making plans anymore and eventually it would get to the point where one would know better and avoid the unreliable person altogether.

As a creative type, one would be considered as good as one’s latest creation and if one eventually loses the trust of colleagues or one’s partner, and lose the opportunity to showcase pne’s creations, talents, or goodwill altogether. In this case, what would being a “moody” artistic genius achieve except to effectively be isolated from people who know better not to take the creative person’s word anymore.

(c) Niconica 2013