Monday, September 30, 2013

Moreish Mondays

You know what I hate about Mondays? Mondays. You know what I like about Mondays? They're trying to win me over! Two of my favorite shows (US) premiered on the 29th, and are therefore available to me today, the 30th. So right now I'm downloading Once Upon A Time, Bob's Burgers had just finished, and I've got that to look forward to when I come home tomorrow morning! This'll happen every Monday from here on out.

Life isn't so bad.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Song Meditation: "Empty Your Hands" by The Weepies

I've been listening to The Weepies since 2009, and because of how consistently great their music is, there is not just a handful that stands out. It's more like their whole discography stands out among most music that I've ever saved on my computer.

I decided to look up the lyrics of one particular song today and found the lyrics so compelling that I decided to write about it. Maybe I should do this more when I come across songs with interesting lyrics.

Empty Your Hands

16 balloons against the blue, 
they're red,they're red like a dream come true 
Sure it was enough to give them to you 
to watch you let them go, let them go 

Empty your hands 
of overheard conversations 
Empty your hands 
static from the big bang 
and dinosaur radio stations 
Empty your hands 
genocides in foreign nations 
Empty your hands and look up 

His eyes are wide and beautiful, 
my own feel dull and old 
They can't recall some buoyancy, 
they’ve had too much to hold, let them go 

Floating past a daytime moon 
transparent as a shell 
Rubies in a well, sixteen apples on a tree 
we never would have seen 
if his fingers weren’t so free 

Our baby learned to run today 
in circles on the grass 
His joyful face it radiates 
These moments go so fast, let them go


This song, as I take it, is a picture of a moment, or moments with loved ones*, and the central theme is not attaching oneself to any particular thing in one's mind or in the past, but the beauty and the love that radiates within those precious moments. This becomes increasingly hard to do as we grow older, for we tend to get stuck on our stock of acquired default reactions and impressions to things. Deb and Steve look at the eyes of their child and feel old in comparison, because a child experiences everything as fresh, new, untainted.

The way they go from using "you" in the first verse to the chorus makes me think that they are also wishing this for their child, almost like a parent's prayer, wishing that their child will grow up staying light and free as he is in his present young age.

There may be times in life where thinking and analyzing things have their place, but once every little while, we need to step back and just submit to the present moment in order to enjoy the good things that are abundant in our lives if we only made it a point to take notice. The song beautifully describes the act of letting go of balloons, releasing them to the sky through the eyes of an imaginative child, and this simple act that can even be considered as wasteful if done by accident, becomes almost like magic, and invites metaphors involving apples and rubies.

Let them go, buuuuuuddy..
I don't think they mean to say that we should ignore the bad in the world everyday and stay ignorant of things to be happy, I just think that this song is about zooming in on a moment with a child, having a break from things that weigh us down to enjoy it, for we also will inevitably need to let the good moments go. So instead of holding on to the bad stuff, keeping them with you, letting them get in the way of you enjoying the present like children do, you let go. Like a sponge, you squeeze out all of the muck keeping you heavy. And then you get to soak in every new moment fully, deeply, as if you were new.

*Edit: I forgot to mention that it strikes me that in the story the child mistakenly lets go of the balloons that he was supposed to hold, and instead of seeing this as a bad thing, these awesome adults looked at the beauty of the moment and attributed beautiful accidents to the willingness of a child to let go... and wrote a beautiful song about it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

being where i'm from

     I gave a lot of thought about how I feel about my country today. Before I go into it any further, let these points be laid out for context:

I've always said that I don't see the point in nationalism. I think I still don't. At least the kind that is superficial. I believe in wanting change, real change. Not change in the form of people wearing shirts or expensive jackets that have the Philippine flag embroidered on them, or songs about how being Filipino is awesome. I believe in having a richer music and art culture in the country, without it deliberately being about the country. I believe in being able to feed the Filipino poor, I believe in the common working Filipino getting adequate compensation for day-to-day living. I believe in community development, in progressive morals, separation of church and state, in equality, and things like that. 

That being said, I never felt the need to stay here for the rest of my life, and I never believed in feeling like a person owes his country anything. I was more than ready to, if life lead me to need to, go away and never look back.

...But lately I'm starting to change my mind on the "looking back" part.

I've always been observing and noting what makes other countries able to run themselves better. This used to be a cause of head-shaking desperation, and sometimes even embarrassment, whenever I looked around me, at my own country. But lately the feeling caused by this activity is more hopeful. Instead of looking like glaring evidence of how fucked up this place is, the comparisons I make are starting to look like spaces for improvement. I guess, the clearer the details become, the easier it is to see patterns in the causes, and you're not completely lost as to how to make the results different. The way is still long and hard (*chortle*), and I'm prepared to float around thinking of what to do for a bit of time more.

I always thought I'd like a boring but comfortable, happy life instead of a challenging and tumultuous one, where you grow a lot as a person, but end up leaving all the relishing of your life's work to the people who are to revere you when you're dead. This is still true for the most part. But today I was reminded by a conversation I had with my best friends. An observation had been made about serial killers and how they usually come from well-developed countries where they don't really worry about not being able to eat everyday. The implication was that people have the tendency to create their own danger when they don't need to exercise their survival instincts, or something like that. When people aren't physically ill or in danger, they get mental booboos or disorders or whatever things. Of course this correlation is speculative at best, and in no way am I trying to state it as fact, hence the decidedly silly language I just used to describe it (it's my blogpost version way of pushing a crowd of people with questions away while screaming "I'M NOT A DOCTOR!"). But it made me change my feelings about being where I'm from. Specifically, in contributing to making the country better. 

I will probably never do anything that will merit having a street named after me, my plans for myself aren't that big. But I also want to live for more than just myself and my future family. I want to be part of the little steps that are already changing the face of how my country does things, and I mean right now! I know they are already happening, there is more awareness about ethical business, and a creative scene that is blooming and growing, and it's wonderful, and I want to take it all in. At the very least I want to witness it, to talk about it, to share it, even if I can't create things of my own yet (but I promise I'll always be working on that)... I'm the least noble person to be honest, but I realise that it doesn't have to be about choosing to be where the challenge is. It can be about actively trying to help make bad things good, and to make good things better. I want to help lift the mainstream cultural attitude of the common filipino from wounded, defensive and superficial to rich, substantial, ethical and distinctive.

Big words for a little potato, but we do what we can to make life fun.