What It’s Like To Be Inside Looking Out

My Symphony: “Always” / Panama 

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If this was high school, I’d be the perkiest, coolest, most popular kid to ever grace the corridors and hallways of my Alma Mater.

But nope.

This ain’t high school. This is the real world. I am 22 years old, and the only thing I am gracing isn’t the hallways of a school but the streets of this small town, as I try to look for a job that will support me and my lifestyle choices.

At this point, it is safe to say that I am not living the dream. In fact, I feel like I am living the nightmare. My very own version of nightmare. You might say that I am being a little too dramatic about this, but I am not. This is actually the bold, bulging truth. I am happy, yes. But I am not living. 

You see, my whole life, I’ve never been the type who conforms to what anyone else tells me to do. I’ve never been fond of career goals, business plans, 401K’s or the idea of spending close-to-a-decade amount of time in Med school. To state the obvious, I’ve never really been a follower of the whole “Right Path To Success” platform. That’s not to say I am a dreamless bastard, though. In fact, I have this huge dream, this glittery, flowy, almost ethereal dream that has perpetuated within me for many years. And this is the purpose of my writing here today. I need to get this one out, because when the American poet Maya Angelou said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”, she probably wasn’t fucking around.

So here I go…

People usually wonder what it’s like to be “in”. It’s just how it typically goes. Ever since we were  little kids, we were being unconsciously bombarded with elements and factors that contribute to the whole obsession with fitting in, with getting there, with making it. We were encouraged to excel at school, to make as many friends as we could, or to be a part of as many activities and clubs as possible. Not everyone will admit this, but once upon a time in Kindergarten World, we had wished we had the same lunchbox as our seatmate Elizabeth, or that we owned a pair of shoes that looked exactly like what our super gross rich classmate Harry Campbell wore. Sometimes, being seven and clueless, we would take an accidental glance at the neighbor’s kid named Sarah McDowell and wonder (very deliberately) why she always carried with her a cute little shiny handbag while all we had was the same old backpack that aunt Debrah bought us for our third birthday.

It was stressful.

And then we grow up thinking that it will get better, but it doesn’t. Sometimes it does, for sure. But most of the time, it actually gets worse.

We are faced with expectations (lots of them, especially when you are in your 20’s). There are college applications and then, right after you’re done with college, you are faced with career expectations. Inject throughout both those scenarios the cruelty of relationship expectations and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a 20-something’s psychological and spiritual downfall.

Unfortunately for us, we do live in a material world. Most of us don’t mind it, because most of us don’t even notice it, but it’s true: all that surrounds us (and I’m talking about people who live in the city in particular) is an insistent visual reminder of what we should be doing. Every way we turn and every sight we see, we are being reminded that if we do not accomplish this or that by the time we turn x years old, we will be deemed failures. Society and that Pumpkin Spice Latte drinking office girl sitting in the corner of Starbucks will frown at us and maybe even choke upon the sight of us.

So, yes. It is stressful, I figure. But you know what else is stressful? Wanting the exact opposite. 

My whole life, I didn’t feel like someone on the outside looking in. I’ve been the exact opposite. I’ve been  inside looking out

I have always had inside of me this incompressible yearning to be elsewhere. Just… elsewhere. Anywhere but here. Something like that.

I’ve always had in me this powerful longing to escape, to break through walls, smash through roofs and fly over mountains. It’s this sort of constant itching to go on the wildest adventure of my life, of dropping everything and just going somewhere nice. Somewhere warmer, open-er, livelier. Maybe even somewhere nobody else has been. And I don’t know what exactly this inside-looking-out personality of mine has coagulated from, but I know that this has been me for the longest time that I can remember. It’s usually more difficult for most people, but determining whether or not a life of conformity was for me has been very easy. I just had to ask myself these ten super simple questions:

  1. Do I really have to have a six-digit income, compromising my time for money?
  2. Do I really need to have a triumphant coming out as the Entrepreneur magazine’s youngest tycoon in year 2018?
  3. Do I really want whatever materialistic things everyone else has?
  4. Am I gonna die if I do not marry and have kids at 25?
  5. Will it hurt my soul so bad if I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Indonesia or Thailand instead of buying the newest iPhone and the newest Jeep?
  6. Say I decided to work as a cashier at Walmart; will that really mean I have failed as a human being because I do not sit for 8-9 hours a day behind a mahogany desk on the 36th floor of Manhattan’s busiest commercial building?
  7. Would I really be happier if I owned more? If I had more? If had earned more?
  8. Does being alive mean making ends meet and making sure I pay all my bills?
  9. Do I really have the capacity to envision myself working for a corporation for the rest of my life?
  10. And, most importantly, will I ever be ready to trade all of my time and my energy for a dream that, somewhere down the road, may turn out to be not mine but someone else’s?

And the answer to all of these questions is a big, fat, poutine-devouring, cholesterol-obsessing, obese-looking NO.

At the end of the day, I refuse to obsess over society-dictated goals because I have my own mind, my own will and my own person. I do not have to trace out the edges of my life against some carefully carved out model designed by someone else. If you come to think of it, almost everyone is on to some grand master plan for the future – go to school, get a job, pay the bills, find the man, have kids (make them go through the same cycle), be happy. It is this vicious cycle where your freedom and right to a life of your own are being taken away from you without you even knowing it.

There has got to be something bigger than just schooling, or working, or buying a house and making money. There has got to be something more to life than just surviving, or financially thriving. Sometimes, I even ask myself the question, “Would I rather be rich and die not knowing who I really am, or would I rather be so-so (meaning roof on top of my head, food in my mouth three times a day, clean water in my stomach and a few good real friends and family), and die not only knowing who I am, but also die knowing that I have gotten to know the world that I once lived in, that I once breathed in?” 

This has been said before (a billion times) but I will say it again: life is fucking short. We are all here right now, but a time will come when we won’t be. We won’t be here anymore. Hell, even our planet Earth will one day collapse! The sun will explode and everything that we know right now will be non-existent. Where will your riches take you? How will your 13-million dollar condo unit in LA save you from feeling already dead even minutes before you actually die? Will you be laying in your death bed remembering all the hours you worked in the office? Or will you be laying there remembering the few moments in which you truly felt alive?

I personally would rather invest in actual life experiences rather than tangible materialistic possessions because at the end of the day, I have been through enough in life to realize that things are just things. Money is just money. When it comes down to it, life is meant to be lived and experienced (not owned and achieved). It is already there! Our lives, in front of us. This is it. The clock is ticking and we only get this one run to experience love, laughter, friendship and even crazy-ass adventures that will always keep us human.

There is a reason we do not have wires attached to us. We are not electric appliances or robots that were made to conform and follow a specific program. We are allowed to make our own goals, our own plans. There is so much out there to see, so many people to meet, so many highs and lows to go through, and so many oceans to swim in!

So, I guess, it really is time for me to act on this. It’s been 22 years. If I do not start working on my dreams now, when will I?

I am determined to live. 

The World According To Kenn Tenorio and 77 Pieces of Advice On Life, Love and Everything in Between, Coming From the Old People

My Symphonies:

  • Drag / Day Wave
  • Nothing At All /Day Wave
  • Lanterns / Birds of Tokyo
  • Taking Over / Joe Goddard

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We are here, you and me, right now, in this wonderful and chaotic place called Earth. And there are so many of us. Sooo many. So far, the general approximation is 7.2 billion and counting. Can you imagine that? There are more than 7 billion people breathing in this oblate spheroid at the moment. And each day, an average of 353,000 babies are born into this world to join our humanity. On the other hand, roughly 160,000 people die everyday. Every.Day. Isn’t that crazy? The statistics alone are enough to disturb us, scare us and maybe move us in some way, whether positively or negatively.

But lucky for us, we aren’t just here to make up those statistics. We are alive, and each of us has his own story to tell. We aren’t just here so that one day we can either give birth or pass away in order for the statistics to remain interesting. We are here for a reason, regardless of what that reason really is, or if you even believe there is one.

So 7.2 billion. To me, that’s a lot. I mean, I go to SM City Bacolod (which is a relatively tiny mall in my tiny hometown) and I go ballistic over the number of people that make up the crowd there, especially on Sundays. I literally sometimes get excessively infuriated by crowds. There are just times when you’re like “What in the eff is happening right now? Like WHY ARE THERE SOOO MANY PEOPLE?!?!!” And usually I just rush to run whatever errands I need to run in that mall and then I go for the nearest exit. And it really fascinates me how I can be so overwhelmed and stressed out sometimes by the number of people strolling in a nearby local mall, but when I take a look at the bigger picture, it’s nothing compared to the total of people that comprise the human race at the moment… 7.2 billion people.

… 7.2 billion people, yet we are so far away. So far away from each other, so far away from other people’s lives, other people’s cultures, other people’s griefs and joys. But when you think about it, we are one. We are one yet we are separated, scattered. We have gotten so used to life being a cycle that can be lived by following some rules and standards. We have become so accustomed to this process of waking up and surviving each day, trying to make ends meet, or trying to become better than we were yesterday, or competing with others, or gearing towards being successful. Life has become more of a marathon – a race – where money and success is what globally matters. We pass by people on the streets never really acknowledging that they, too, are humans just like us. That they, too, have lives and stories and friends and lovers and bittersweet pasts. For me, it is safe to say that we are the most selfish generation to date. And there are so many things that serve as distractions and deception these days. Technology hasn’t been a big help, either. I mean, don’t get me wrong – technology is great. It really is. I think it’s fetch. Super fetch. But technology has gotten to a point where it is so much of a convenience that it is becoming an inconvenience. I think you know what I mean. If not, here’s a basic example: Ever felt the need to sleep but you just find yourself at 4AM still scrolling away at your Facebook or Instagram feed? Exactly.

We are so caught up in our own little world that we forget to live. We are all just so busy. Gosh, do you even see how busy people are these days? And the most depressing part about being busy for me is that it is actually being globally viewed as a form of an asset, or an appealing attribute. Busy people wear their busy-ness like a golden medal even on their off-day. As if being busy makes you better than someone who lives a less hectic lifestyle. You greet someone and ask how they’ve been, and then he or she instantly feels the need to say things like “I’ve been so busy lately, it’s driving me crazy. But, you know, I’ve been well”. I know I already talked deeply about this back in 2012 in my article called We Are Very Busy People, but I just have to say something just to reiterate the general idea: being so busy is absolutely unnecessary. People think it’s necessary, but it isn’t. It isn’t even attractive, for me at least.

I am just feeling so strongly about this because I know that when it comes to the way the world works and the way that society operates, the numbers are not in my favor. I sit on the minority side of this topic. Even my closest friends and family know this. But they are exactly the reason why I always feel so compelled to share my insights to the world and to a lot of people. The more I grow up, the more I realize that I will never be understood and accepted the way that I truly need to be understood and accepted. And the more I realize that I will never be understood and accepted enough, the more I am empowered to keep on living this life the way that I know I want to.

People have called me a lot of things: a spoiled brat, a directionless immature slut, a lost puppy, a loose air, an un-contained chaos and a disaster waiting to happen. And I’m not angry at anyone for calling me any of those names. Had I been in their shoes and had I grown up with their thinking, I would call me those things too. But see, I’m not them. I am me. And in this world full of outside factors just wanting you to do what everyone else is doing, I know how important it is for me to keep it real. To wake up each day reminding myself of who I am, so I can consciously stay that way.

So life is pretty much a battle for me these days, simply because it is a constant struggle between following my heart and following what is “normal”, “right” and “rational”. To be completely honest, I am very solid in my ultimate life goal of becoming a ‘beach bum’ one day. It really is my only goal in life. I can write a whole book about this, but the basic, most straightforward explanation behind this is this: I love the beach, and I love sunsets, and I love tropical drinks and people whose best talents include meaningful conversations and appreciating the little things in life. I just love it. So why would I wanna live a life that I do not love?

But it’s not that simple. Contrary to popular belief, living the simple life is actually the toughest goal to achieve, especially if you come from a middle or upper-class family. Upper-class children are born into wealth and are therefore used to luxury and excess and most of them don’t even have an idea of what “simple” really means. Middle-class children, on the other hand, are mostly the most driven children on this planet. They aren’t poor, but they don’t have a lot of riches, either. So the general notion is that they wonder what it’s like to be on the greener side of the fence, to be rich, to have it all – they wonder what it’s like to have unlimited credit cards and unlimited yacht parties somewhere in France or Italy every summer. But that’s the thing: Middle-class people always wonder what it’s like to be “up there”, but they never wonder what it’s like to be “down there”. To live simply. To wake up not to jobs and a list of people to impress, but simply to wake up to the sunrise, the clouds, the birds and the trees. To breathe the fresh air in and look up to be reminded that you are whole no matter what.

That being said, becoming a beach bum requires a lot of work from me. But hey, I’m on it. Every single day that I affirm to myself that I am still the me that I know, gets me one step closer to my goal. I’ll be honest, I wanna leave everything behind sometimes. Just drop everything and continue on to the life that I want to live. For my own. For myself alone. If it were just completely up to me right now, I would literally pack my things right now and go on a really cheap tour to nowhere and let life happen to me. I think that’s where most people go wrong. They always feel like they should do things – a lot of things – so that their lives can matter. But what they don’t realize is that your life DOES matter. And it always will, whether or not you kill yourself over the obligations and goal-chasing that you think you need. You don’t need shit. You don’t always have to be the one that makes the waves. Sometimes you just gotta ride the waves and take time to enjoy the beauty that is our planet. Nature. Love. Poetry.

So why am I still here somehow trying to do some of the things that are expected of me? Simple. I love my friends and I love my family. When it comes down to it, their presence in my life matters to me. And even though they do not exactly share the same perspective on life, I love them to bits and pieces, and I just don’t want them to think that they failed as a parent, or a brother, or a friend to me just because I have life goals that to them seem silly. I need to take this process slowly because not everyone has the instant capability to connect with me about this on a soul-level. The general assumption would be that I am a hipster, which is what I am most irked by. Just because I love the beach and hate society doesn’t mean I’m a hipster. Ok, people? But if you really are THAT obsessed with labels, knock yourselves out. Call me whatever.

So in the mean time, while I’m waiting for that perfect time and that adequate amount of strength to reach my ultimate life goal, I’ve decided to do a research on old people. There’s really something about old people that has always intrigued me. If there’s a specific group of people that I openly label under some category, it would be the elderly. And nope, it’s so not under a derogatory light in any way, whatsoever. Here’s the deal. I love old people. If you come to think of it, they are the only ones around here that have lived long enough to know shit that we don’t. That’s just the most basic logic. With age comes wisdom. Generally speaking. And in one way or another, I do believe that old people are the most trustworthy of all of the age groups. Both them and little children.

So I’ve been reading a lot of articles and watching a lot of interviews about the elderly, specifically about their thoughts on life, love and the way that our world works. I happened to come across really interesting findings, so I decided to compile herein quotes I’ve gotten from my research. Fellas, I now present to you… The Top 77 Pieces of Life Advice From The Elderly:

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77  Pieces of Advice On Life, Love and Everything in Between

(from the elderly’s point of view)

1.“Invest in moments and experiences, not in things or properties. It’s not like you can be in your death bed someday and go “why is my condo unit in The Century not here with me right now?! I need it. I’m dying”. Invest in moments and experiences. Because moments and experiences become memories. And memories will never leave you, even when you’re old or dying. It’s the one thing that will be with you until your last second of consciousness, I believe.”

2.“Don’t look at the calendar. Just keep celebrating every day.”

3.“I make myself go out every day, even if it’s only to walk around the block. The key to staying young is to keep moving. Besides, later on in life, you will only wish you went out and moved more often”.

4. “Exercise, to me, is totally unnecessary. I think it’s mostly overrated. Stay active, and try to do it through experiences that you will remember someday, not some workout routine that you’ve memorized like the back of your hands.”

5. Have as many sex as possible. When you grow old, it is your sex drive and sexual capability that leave you, so take advantage of it while it’s still yours to have.”

6. “Fall in love, get married. Sex is to be encouraged.”

7.“Even if you feel hatred, keep it to yourself. Don’t hurt other people for any reason.”

8.“Don’t ever give up on love.”

9. “Nobody else controls you.”

10.”Travel while you’re young and able. Don’t worry about the money, just make it work. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be.”

11.“If you are embarrassed to be dating someone, you should not be dating them.”

12.“Do one thing each day that is just for you.”

13.“Forgive.”

14.“Find your passion and live it.”

15.“Most time things will figure themselves out.”

16.“Have a pet. Life gets lonely sometimes. Pets are reminders of how we’re all living things.”

17.“Take time to mourn what you’ve lost.”

18.“Keep going and never give up.”

19.“Life is fun. It’s all up to the person. Be satisfied. You don’t have to be ‘happy’ all the time, you need to be satisfied.”

20.“Love people. Find something to like about the person—it’s there—because we’re all just people.”

21.“Get a great education. That is something that no one can take away from you.”

22.“If you’re positive you can get through it OK. When you think negatively, you’re putting poison on your body. Just smile. They say laughter is the best medicine there is.”

23.“For years I would not take any medicines at all. I don’t think they do much, and lots of times the doctor is using you as a guinea pig.”

24.“Just go ahead and do your thing no matter what.”

25.“Have lots of people in the house and lots of different kinds of people—young, old, black, white, people from all over the world. People have always energized me.”

26.“I attribute my longevity to a great extent to walking, not being in the back of the car strapped down.”

27.“We all remember how as children, when we were having fun, we often forgot to eat or sleep. I believe that we can keep that attitude as adults, too. It’s best not to tire the body with too many rules such as lunchtime and bedtime.”

28.“My inspiration is Robert Browning’s poem ‘Abt Vogler.’ My father used to read it to me. It encourages us to make big art, not small scribbles. It says to try to draw a circle so huge that there is no way we can finish it while we are alive. All we see is an arch; the rest is beyond our vision but it is there in the distance.”

29.“Pain is mysterious, and having fun is the best way to forget it.”

30.“Science alone can’t help or cure people.”

31.“This is some advice for the ladies. Don’t marry an older man, marry a younger one.”

32.“I try not to worry. I just try to live.”

33.“I don’t eat very much, but I always eat a fruit, a vegetable, and a little meat, and always make sure that I get sardine and salmon at least once or twice a week.”

34.“Try not to eat anything that’s healthy. It’s true. I eat whatever I want. The secret to longevity is ice cream.”

35.“Quit while you’re ahead.”

36.“[Humor is] a life force, a way of surviving the difficulties of living.”

37.“When you laugh at yourself, you prevent others from laughing at you.”

38.“I think [people] have to be curious. They have to be interested in life outside their little aches and pains. They have to be excited about seeing new things, meeting new people, watching a new play—just passionate about life.”

39.“I don’t care what you’re passionate about: maybe saving Dixie cup covers. But if you do it passionately, you’re alive.”

40.“Age is not a disease.”

41.“Keep an open mind, and things seem less strange.”

42.“Always listen to the other person. You’ll learn something. Try to sit back, because you will learn a lot more listening to others than telling them what you know.”

43.“You have to love what you do. if you find a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.”

44.“Take naps every day.”

45.“You get one family, so stick with them. But it depends if these hardships are financial or emotional or other types. Stick it out. Some days are worse than others, and you have to be ok with that. The night is darkest before dawn.”

46.“I try to take the time to look at and appreciate the smaller things that make this life beautiful. When I do that, time slows.”

47.“Do something interesting every day; otherwise you disintegrate.”

48.“Learning new things makes you happy and keeps your mind active.”

49.“Sleep well, try not to worry, and enjoy good dreams.”

50.“Be lovable. I’ve lived a long life because there are so many people who love me.”

51.“I take a drink of Scotch every day. And I feel great afterward.”

52. “I don’t like stress. I can’t stand arguing. If anybody is fussing, I’m gone. I like to be around positive people, people who lift you up not bring you down.”

53.“Mind your own business, and don’t eat junk food.”

54.“Laughter keeps you healthy. You can survive by seeing the humor in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness; turn the tables on tragedy. You can’t laugh and be angry, you can’t laugh and feel sad, you can’t laugh and feel envious.”

55.“Have a good wife, two scotches a night, and be easygoing.”

56.“It is very important to have a widespread curiosity about life.”

57.“Take one day at a time, and go along with the tide.”

58.“You have to be lucky, but I made the best of things when bad things happened. I also ate prunes every single day.”

59.“Do what you have to do. Don’t analyze it, just do it.”

60. “Take it easy, enjoy life, what will be will be. Sleep well, have a Bailey’s Irish Cream before bed if you have a cold—you will wake up fine the next morning.”

61. “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying.”

62. “In relationships, sweat the small stuff. how you respond if your partner interrupts you while you’re doing something is very diagnostic of how good the relationship’s going to be. If you’re actively involved in reading the paper or doing something, and your partner wants to show you something of interest to him or her, whether you respond dismissively or you briefly stop what you’re doing and engage with your partner is very diagnostic of positivity in the relationship.”

63. “People who share core values typically have better marriages.”

64. “Communicate with your partner as often as possible.”

65. “Towards the end of life, what’s really important to people is to be able to see how their life mattered, how it was meaningful, how there was a story to it that wraps up in a good way.”

66.”Your life is not as serious as you think it is”

67.”When you meet someone for the first time, realise that you know nothing about them. You see race, gender, age, clothes. Forget it. You know nothing. Those biased assumptions that pop into your head because of the way your brain likes categories, are limiting your life, and others’ lives.”

68.”Remember that life is like a bank account: You don’t want to spend everything you have right away, but you don’t want to be a miser and save every penny. Yes, you’re only young once, but, with any luck, you’ll also be old at some point. Plan on a career, but don’t let it overcome the rest of your life. Take care of yourself, but don’t make it an obsession. Focus on your kids, but leave room in your life for yourself. Save enough money so that you’ll have enough for the future and for emergencies, but spend enough now to avoid looking back with regret.”

69.”Books. Read them. All the cliches apply (sunblock, flossing, travel). But don’t stop reading books, lots and lots and lots of books. Crappy ones, disturbing ones, difficult ones, fun ones. You can only live your one tiny life, but with books, you can live thousands more”

70.”Don’t marry young. Live your life. Go places. Do things. If you have the means or not. Pack a bag and go wherever you can afford to go. While you have no dependants, don’t buy stuff. Any stuff. See the world. Look through travel magazines and pick a spot. GO!” 

71.”Don’t chase with your hormones. Attractive people, because of their attractiveness, are seriously overrated. Choose the woman or man for your life by the quality of their character, the warmth of their heart, the kindness in their soul. Really, even if she or he is not the hottest, seek the company of others whose company you really enjoy. The person you marry may be the person who keeps you out of a nursing home. Bodies age and fade, but a deep and abiding love lasts a lifetime”

72.”People will always remember how you made them feel”

73.”Stuff is just stuff. Hoard time instead”

74.”Floss regularly, dental problems are awful”

75.”Collect experiences. I don’t have many regrets, but I do wish I would have travelled more when I was younger”

76.”A friend will come running if you call them at 2am; everyone else is an acquaintance”

77. “Work less. And try to live more.”