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. 

Love is Not a Thinking Thing; Love is a Feeling Thing – and This is What it Felt Like

My Symphonies:

  • It’s Only / ODESZA (feat. Zyra)
  • Veins / Palace
  • Drifting / ON AN ON

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“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” –  Thích Nhất Hạnh

I need to say this to you now, before the storm becomes so brutal that it breaks everything apart. I need to say this to you now, before we both turn into the exact people we once swore we would never be, before we spit at each other’s red face with potent fists all embraced with pulsating nerves, before you call me a demon and before I call you the devil, before the bags are packed and before the doors are slammed shut, before our smiles turn to straight lips and before our glowing eyes become darker than our own shadows. I need to say this to you now, before we hate each other so much to the point of violence, to the point of indifference, to the point of eternal condemnation. And I need to say this to you now, before the day comes that we no longer even have anything to say to each other.

You always told me that in life, it is better to expect the worst from people, to carefully take into consideration the most tragic possibility before enjoying yourself the benefits of the good times. You were admittedly the pessimistic one, and you never hid that from me or from anyone. And I secretly liked it. I secretly liked the contrast we’ve both created the second our paths crossed. I am air and you are water, and would the ocean even be that beautiful if either one was absent?

I was never rational, though, to the point of madness. If there’s someone who can be a perfect epitome of the saying “love is for the fools”, that would be me. Without a doubt or any hint of hesitation. I’d gladly walk right up the stage and get my trophy as this generation’s number one fool. You see, love is different from relationship. You can love someone without being in a relationship with that person, but you cannot have a meaningful relationship without at least a dose of love; otherwise, it would just be like a casual business agreement.

As much as I hate saying this, I don’t think I am the relationship type of guy. But I do believe (very strongly) that I am the love type of guy. I mean, how could I not be?

How could I not be when I have loved every second of our first kiss? How could I not be when my heart always exploded with misery each time we had a fight, or when you were far away? How could I not be when I have explored every inch of you that there was to explore, even the darkest shades of gray and the maroonest shades of yellow? How could I not be when every time I thought of something to do or some place to go, you were always the first person, the first name, the first face that came to my mind, even when my mind was always a crib of a rainbow chaos? How could I not be when each time I held your hand I would see the universe as a perfect place again? And how could I not be, when all of the romantic comedies I saw in the past all of a sudden became pointless when I met you?

Because it was real, you know. It was never a rom-com. It was never some kind of a perfect story with a promising ending, but it was definitely a story nonetheless. A story, where neither you nor I plays the part of the protagonist. We were, if anything, the cover of the book. I, the front page with the title – flashy, bold, loud, eye-catching, but incomplete. You, the back page with the price tag, synopsis and all the reviews – detailed, keen, mysterious, informational, but written in very small font sizes, barely even readable. We both make up this exhilirating story of two individuals, but the story isn’t about us – it’s about someone else, some other couple who existed at an unidentifiable period of time in the history of human existence.

Because a day will come, my love, when I won’t even recognize you and you won’t even recognize me. We will become so different from who we are now that we will solidly question each other’s existence. A day will come when this little fort we built together crumbles down, leaving no signs of human touch. A day will come when those road trips, those summer vacations, those dinners, those lunches, those nights out, those parties, those friends and those songs that we had when we were still the you and I we met, just disappear into thin air, making the ultra convincing illusion that we were only nothing but mannequins – well-dressed, but lifeless. 

I had a dream, once, where I was being forcefully pulled away from you and I was holding on for dear life. There was just this sort of faceless void that was sucking me in and away from you. I was bawling my eyes out, legitimately fearing the possibility of having to face the world without you by my side. It’s crazy how real dreams can get, right? You’re a semi-expert in dream interpretations, so I know you know what I mean. And that dream, it happened so fast, so abruptly. I didn’t even have the chance to talk to you in that dream, and say the things that I wanted to say to you, in case the void was gonna be successful in pulling me away from you. The surprising part? That dream didn’t have an ending.  I didn’t get to stay asleep and dreaming long enough to find out if I was indeed pulled away from you. I didn’t get to see if you even did anything to stop the void from pulling me away, or if you were just sort of standing there, looking at me sweat and scream, just trying to keep close to you.

And that’s what gets me about dreams – you never really find out, most of the time. It’s like this very climactic scene is presented to you in incredible detail, but you never get to know how it ends, or even how the next scene looks like. But I have a theory here. What if our dreams are trying to tell us something? No, I don’t mean each of our dreams specifically, but the way all of our dreams generally come to us. Dreams come to us when we least expect them to, and then they end all of a sudden, without giving us a proper conclusion. But what if that’s the point? What if there doesn’t have to be any conclusion? What if, afterall, in that dream of mine, the ending is exactly just that – an image of me holding on to the edges of your shirt, while the faceless void was brutally sucking me in and you were sanding there, almost expressionless? What if the ending of our story is the climax itself?

I never believed in endings, though. That’s why no matter how much of an artist I am, I am always just semi-impressed with most of the films I watch and most of the books I read. I mean, there is probably only one fiction film that has ever been created (and that I’ve seen) that has convinced and impressed me with its incredible amount of realism. If you’ve seen the film called “Like Crazy” (starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones), then you probably know what I am talking about. It’s a great film, for me at least. It’s this story about an international student in the United States who fell in love with this American guy just several weeks before her student visa expires. And then there’s this video montage of the couple having so much fun and being so in love with each other, and it was also a very realistically cheesy montage – with shots of go-kart rides, walking along the city streets hand in hand, strolling at the beach, looking into each other’s eyes with a blush and an un-hideable smile on their faces (because, I mean, couples do this shit in real life, especially during the honeymoon stage). And then shit happens right when it’s time for it to happen, and complications with the immigration prevent the two from being together, so they have to be in a long-distance relationship. So let’s skip all the drama, the crying, the challenges and the brief appearance of Jennifer Lawrence in the movie and get to the part where they actually were able to find a solution to their immigration problem (yep, it involves a wedding). So, this brings us to the last three minutes of the movie, where Felicity Jones’ character finally gets to take a shower with Anton Yelchin and they finally get to be together. In the shower, the couple are neither sad nor happy, they are just there, alive. And then they both have flashbacks of all the times and moments they’ve shared together, right from the day they met until they got married. They both smile, and then they frown, and then they semi-smile, and then they semi-frown. And then THE END. Roll credits!

Yep. That’s how WTF-ish the ending of this movie is. But in real life, endings are always WTF-ish, and the reason for this WTF-ishery is that real endings are not glossy or pretty or even anything close to smashing doors, or parting clouds, or setting suns, or aerial shots of the city with the protagonist walking his “ending walk” towards god-knows-where. Endings are abrupt, and they are often cryptic because they happen without you even knowing it. Hell, endings can even happen right when you think you are on cloud nine. Because the reality is, endings aren’t defined as the last part of the story – in real life, endings can be just as calm, boring, so-so and noneventful as the day-to-day life of a fucking house cat.

My love, just like everyone else on this planet, I do not know what the future looks like. But I am doing this now – taking my time to appreciate you in my own literary world, and think of you – because you taught me to expect the worst. And if what you’ve been telling me all this time is true – if you and I really aren’t meant for each other – then know this:

I have loved you, and it has felt amazing.

To My Next One

My Symphony: Amsterdam by Coldplay 

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(photo source)

There you are. Wiping the sweat off your forehead after another long and torturous day of wondering where I am.

There you are, just sitting there with your signature poker face. You are holding that Humans of New York book that you’ve read from cover to cover for about seven times now. In front of you is a wine glass full of orange juice. You’re not gonna be getting drunk tonight. You’re not gonna be in the club dancing with sixty other strangers and contemplating each soul that’s potentially breathing inside every person in that room whom you find cute. Because tonight, you’re staying in and cooking your own dinner. Tonight, only for tonight, there is no time for any interaction aside from that which you are having with yourself. You’ve decided to just sit there, in front of your overcooked salmon and lukewarm orange juice, and think.

So there you are. Thinking. Not the kind of thinking that you normally do when you answer your major exams, or the thinking that’s required in planning those summer vacations you go to with your friends in spring; it is rather the thinking that you do when you think about love.

There you are. Beautiful as the sunrise. I don’t even understand how someone can be as stunning as you are. I mean I didn’t even know it was possible, but there you are – a breathing, shining proof that somewhere out there lives a higher power. Something that is way larger than any of us earthlings can imagine; something that’s ethereal, superhuman.

There you are. You have said you’ve been single your whole life because none of your past relationships seemed right. There are days when you wonder what love feels like, looks like, smells like. Does it feel the same way the palm trees feel the ocean-catapulted breeze? Does it look like the view of the city from the rooftop of your apartment building? Does it smell anything like green tea and vanilla extract? You do not know. But you wish you did.

There you are. You have gone to at least eight different countries by the age of twenty-four. What are you looking for out there? Nothing, maybe. Maybe you’re just sort of walking around this entire time, subconsciously hoping to finally bump into me. You have spent a significant amount of time with your friends. And they’ve been really good friends to you. They’ve laughed at your jokes, smiled at your happiness and waved at your moments of randomness. They’ve been with you on all those long walks, all those food trips, concerts, live theater performances and sometimes even on Valentine’s Day. And tonight is no different. They’re still the ones that fill your phone inbox. They’re still the ones that flood your Facebook timeline. They’re still the ones that witness your life as it unfolds dramatically. The only difference is that tonight, the unsatisfied longing for the presence of that one person – that one person whom you will love with all your heart – has definitely hit the deadline. You want love, just as much as I do. But the universe has had a funny way of creating two like-minded individuals who are a perfect match, and then putting them so far away from each other.

There you are. Where have you been? It’s actually quite funny. I’m impatiently asking you this when you have every right to ask me the same question. So where have been?

I’ve been here. Not sitting like you are right now, but floating. I’ve been dreaming a lot and sleeping a lot. I’ve been here and there, and I’ve looked for you too many times in too many places. I’ve been in this dozy tourist village that is my bedroom just writing about you, reading about you and thinking about you.

And now here I am. Jaded after all the rollercoaster rides in my life so far. I am bruised and scarred but smiling. Just like you, I had spent the whole day somehow hoping that our paths would finally cross.

Here I am, visualizing the numerous awesome moments we will be making.

Inside my head, here we are. I’ve never felt this special with anyone in my life. I adore the dimples that form on your cheeks each time I smile at you. I adore that. I adore the fact that I can be certain you will always smile back. Because when you smile, your eyes somehow disappear but your joy doesn’t. And I adore that. I adore that we can be foolish and intelligent with each other without having to apologize for anything. I adore that we are so the same yet so different. I adore that you like dogs, Katy Perry and dim lighting. I adore that everytime the wind brushes through your hair, it dances just enough to create the illusion of us hovering above the ground. And everytime I hold your hand, I adore that it fits perfectly. When you’re far away and I see you, it doesn’t take you long to see me; we don’t yell or wave, and sometimes we don’t even smile – we just look at each other as we approach the center point. There’s all this percolating love and passion underneath the calmness. I adore that. I adore that because all those years of trials and errors have led the two of us to this point. And there’s so much inside of us that we can just explode at any given second. But I adore that. I adore the idea that we are now standing face to face like two active volcanoes ready to erupt. And I adore that the eruption would be an eruption of love.

But here I am. And there you are. No amount of thinking and visualizing can realistically put us right next to each other any time soon.

I like to believe that you are out there, Next One. And if you are, I hope that at the very right moment, you will finish that orange juice of yours and take a walk along the beach.

I will be there. And I swear, you will be the Last One.

Addressing Ares and Constantine

My Symphonies: Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It by Stars 
Open by Rhye

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“You smile and the world goes away.” –  Cliff, The Woolgatherer 

For those of you who do not know (which I guess is pretty much everybody), I have two imaginary friends. Well, they aren’t exactly my friends, but they’re more like my alter egos. And in line of my being a Gemini, I’ve always treated these two as twins, mainly because they look very alike in my head anyway. One is basically the evil twin, and the other one is the cherub. And as I went through all those processes of self-search and self-creation, I found that I am in fact the sum of both characters. It is almost like I am both Ares (the abrasive, vindictive twin) and Constantine (the gentle, more open twin), and as I keep on reading the two of them, it’s starting to sound like I am talking to myself – my full self; my conscious self. We are looking at two very dissimilar beings here. One, the dreamer who has chosen to make love to his imagination and fantasy, in what is non-existent, because he has lost faith in reality, and the other, the realist who acts tough but also knows in his guts that he is lonely and is also in need of love—a real one. However, in all their differences comes this one thing I am sure is common about the two of them: they’ve both been hurt big time. It’s just that one grew miserable and desperate and the other grew cold and bitter. I find it very interesting, how these two characters within me throw sentiments of love and grief at each other but at the same time conceal what it is that they both seem to really want. It is undeniable, the dramatic amount of intellectual tension and emotional desire between them throughout this entire existence so far. And today, I have decided to actually talk to the twins in my head in a form of a letter.

First, for my old friend Ares…

Dear Ares,

I dream. I know it’s probably quite bizarre. Kenn has dreams? Yes, I can feel the skepticism from you right there. But seriously, I do have dreams. I have always dreamed of actually being in university (specifically Yale), getting a degree in Literature, getting a job as a junior editor for a Lifestyle magazine right after graduation while working on my first novel, and then working my way up the social ladder, finally achieving my secret dream of becoming a best-selling author. You know, the “right path”, as they say. But everything turned out very differently now. None of those things were even close to happening on the first place. And so I guess it’s safe to say that those “dreams” have drastically turned into fantasies—the hardcore ones—the ones I know deep in my guts I will never ever get the chance to experience in reality. However, this hasn’t stopped me from dreaming once and for all. No, I haven’t achieved any of those things in the “right path”, but I don’t blame anybody for that. It was a choice—my choice. And so I continue to dream every time I travel for long hours across the country. As the sun’s warm rays hit the train’s glass windows every morning, and as the fresh breeze of air brush through my hair and into every corner of the vehicle’s interior, and as flocks of birds grace the skies in all their free glory as they disappear from my point of view, I begin to fantasize about having the most romantic dinner date of my life—the one I’ve been dreaming of since I started admiring people, which was probably when I was nine or ten. See, I dream of an epic moment on a yacht on a warm Saturday afternoon, just as the sun begins to set. And I have organized everything for this perfect moment to actually turn out perfect. There is a dinner table set for two, an ice sculpture that says “Kenn+whatever the lucky guy’s name is”, an acoustic local band I hired to play songs by Angus Stone, Radiohead and Edwin McCain, and a cute little kitten that wears a locket that contains a picture of me and ‘the lucky guy’ around its neck. And the only dominant colors are white and red, except for my suit, which is black, and except for the kitten which is beach blond, and except for the guy who plays the harmonica, who wears a beige sort of vest and a blue tie, and except for the sun, whose orangeness has touched the ocean’s innocent shade of gray and dark blue, as its rays caress the still water, creating an illusion of glittering, shining bubbles and sparkles which, after a moment, begin to appear like countless of golden floating lanterns spread generously all over the massive body of water upon which the yacht floats. And then there’s this familiar sound: the sound of Calvin Klein leather shoes nearing, and then a blurry image of a guy in a red-and-white suit appears. And then I look away for a second and a half to see the sunset at its most colourful, and then I look at the image again and it is now clear: the boy I love, in his most beautiful, and me, in my most romantic. The two of us sit beside each other, looking into the sea, as dinner is being prepared and as the band serenades us. I sit right next to him, with my hand on his knee, as we fall in love all over again.

See? I dream. And I know that I told you before that I don’t believe in commitment? Well, that hasn’t changed. I just said I dream of that perfect date, with someone I love. And it can last longer or it can end the very second after the band played Creep by Radiohead. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I love. And even if I lose, so what? It’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

And now, for the loving Constantine – the less of the two evils…

Dear Constantine,

You’ve always been there. Even on those times when I built walls around my heart, you were there. You chose to sit against those brick walls and patiently wait for them to crumble. You’ve just always wanted to be free, to just get everything over with so you can dance in the air like you dreamed of. But dear, what does being free mean? What does it really mean? I live in a world where there are limits, boundaries, rules. How can I ever be free? No matter how hipster-ass I try to be, there will always be that stinging gut feeling that I haven’t done everything I wanted to do in life. That something is lacking. And then I realize: it’s love. It’s the factor that’s lacking in all of my freedom-filled life. I think that love is what will set me free. And I know that I’ve been quite skeptical about the notion of true love, but that’s only because I’ve been hurt too! I’ve had my heart broken just like everybody else. I just can’t believe he wouldn’t stop bitching about how he could bleed to death if he got cut. Hell, I’ve been cut and I’m still living. Because I still have hope that someday, somehow, someone out there will find me. And we will find each other. And the moment we do, we won’t lose each other ever again. And we don’t have to possess each other. We just have to love. Freely. The way that you love birds, and his sweaters, and the way we love the sunset, and the long drive along the coast, and the way we love the sky, and the ocean, and the breeze of fresh air. And we don’t even have to be together forever. Forever doesn’t exist. But this moment does. This very second. And that’s what matters. A reason to trust in love again.

Hugs, kisses and axe kicks to you both,
From your master

Pre-graduation Thoughts

My Symphonies:  “Svefn-g-englar” by Sigur Ros; “Girl Out West” by Speck Mountain

PicMonkey Collage

You know, those stars up there, they might not even exist. I mean, it takes so long for the light to travel here that the stars themselves, they could be gone by now. You know? It´s just weird, but they are like a message from back in time. The universe is bigger than we can imagine. I guess it just kind of puts things in perspective. All the stuff that we think is so important when in reality, it’s not. It’s nothing. Our planet, nevermind, our species, you and me, we´re nothing. We´re like a blip in time. We can´t worry. We just have to lie back and enjoy the ride.

– Jasper Herman, 90210

I can’t seem to unwrap my mind around the fact that graduation is in one month, exactly. I’ve been going back and forth with the list every pre-graduating student mentally makes when he’s nearing the end of a tunnel. Although, I think the list I have come up with so far isn’t entirely helping me clear up my mind about the big future plan— that blueprint for the brighter tomorrow, as some put it. Instead, my list ended up as a thread of reminiscence, rhetorical questions, apostrophes, metaphors, realizations and declarations.

It would be a baloney for me to deny the fact that I am stressing out. Because it is true. I’ve been pulling my hair out and punching myself in the throat over the past fourteen weeks (figuratively speaking, of course). It’s actually painful to constantly analyze my life and my emotions in the context of  pre-graduation blues. Wait, did I just say “blues”? Okay so yes, I did. I mean, that’s me. The last month in each chapter of my student life is always dreadful. Yes, I get all giddy and excited about moving on to the next step along with my unicorn friends and octopus fathers-in-law (reference to my make-believe companions in life). But at the same time, I tend to turn into this massive tumbleweed of extreme emotions: I begin to detach myself from my classmates, hate everybody, hold my middle finger up even to the innocent inhabitants of the earth and cry without any conscious reason.

I’m used to this, though. I just keep my focus on the good things that come with my hormonal student-life hostility. What are these good things, you may ask. Well, these are the priceless things in my list. My very own pre-graduation list:

Kenn’s Pre-grad List:

1. People in the city are simply richer, smarter, busier and fancier- but not necessarily happier. Three weeks ago, I decided to have a long walk on both Burrard and Robson. Now I love this place not because I am a Starbucks-addicted young tycoon who thinks the restaurants and boutiques on these streets are “beyond comparison”. No. That’s not the case. I love Burrard and Robson streets because of the distinct unforgettable memories I made there last summer. I was telling one of my classmates, Audrey, that sometimes I miss those streets so much I can hardly stand it. Her response? “Then go be there.” Sounded quite reasonable to me, so I ecstatically hopped in the train towards Burrard station. It was a sunny little winter day. I was there standing inside the vehicle, listening to “Cold Dessert” by Kings of Leon, ready to revisit a fresh past on downtown’s streets. When the ride was over, something cinematic happened. The moment I got off the train, everything literally became a blur of fast-moving black-and-gray images. More than a hundred people crowded the station– some getting in and some getting out of the train. I found myself feeling light-headed and out of balance as I marched towards the escalator. I took a deep breath, removed my earphones and let my eyes flutter open. I saw a little boy wearing a turquoise jacket getting dragged by his mom up the stairs. I looked around to see dozens and dozens of people mostly in suits, blazers and work uniforms- all in a rush, many on their phones discussing matters that sounded urgent. Not a single smile from any one of them. Not even a glimmer of content. I looked down and saw the little boy in turquoise again and I saw the only colorful thing in the entire motion picture, holding tightly on the hands of his mother as they get overtaken by the soldiers of the city. In that moment, I felt so strongly, that this isn’t who I am. This isn’t even who I want to be. Marching with a hundred people who are so used to such life, who are so conditioned to the society and who are all going somewhere to be productive? It made me feel so alone. I was the only one, apart from the boy, who had nowhere specific to go. I was the only one without a calculated purpose that day, the only one without a homework to submit, or a project to finish, or a deal to close. I was the only one in that march who wasn’t marching. I was instead gliding, floating and dreaming– fascinated once again by the humans of my time.

PicMonkey Collage1

2. I have 921, 758 deaths and only five lives. Sometimes I just stare at the blank tv screen and I see a meditated photograph of the ocean. I would then look out the window and realize how much I miss feeling alive. Truthfully, I feel most alive when and only when 1. I am having a walk on the beach with the view of the sunset, 2. I am laughing hysterically with friends and family, 3. I am gazing at the night sky on a starry night, 4. I am bonding with my pet cat and 5. I am sitting on an old tree’s branch eating fresh mangoes right next to someone special. I know these moments so well because these moments contribute greatly to the person I am today. These are the moments that shape me and continue to nourish me through my years. These are the moments that remind me of what’s important to me, of what I love the most about breathing. These moments are my lifetime vaccines against futility, convolution and adversity. These moments are what I am made of.

3. Are we humans, or are we dancers? I say I’m both. Everytime  a teacher or a classmate tells me I am hardworking, my insides manage a skeptical grin. Some tell me I can’t seem to relax, slow down, lay back and breathe. It has even been an issue brought up in my Singing and Voice classes. And it’s true in the literal sense, too. I mean I do have a verbal diarrhea every now and again, and I constantly feel grumpy and stressed out. But if you could read my mind, you’d know that my internal struggle towards a bigger energy is so disturbing and so indescribable that my dour appearance is but a poor mirror of it. I choose not to open up about my real thoughts in class simply because I do not trust myself with them. I am scared of my own thoughts, yet at the same time I embrace them; so much so that I am not willing to share them to people I know are less likely to understand. Sometimes, when I say in class, “I can’t seem to slow down”, it actually means I can’t seem to stop deliberately over-analyzing life in general and whether or not I will have the courage to fight against the conventional standards and live the simple life I know I want and need. My speech is quick, my facial reactions unplanned, my emotions rushed and my visible presence aloof and indifferent. This is why I write. It is only in writing that I am able to entertain my thoughts one at a time. More importantly, it is only through this medium of communication that I get to encounter life at a fairly rational level- the rest is chaos. It is official. Writing is the only thing that keeps me sane.

4. I am a man of no plans. Contrary to popular belief, the story of my life is written in real time. I have no concrete agenda when it comes to “success” as viewed by the society. Questions like “So what are you doing after graduation?”, “Got any work yet?”, “What kind of actor do you want to be?”, “Are you moving downtown by then?”, “So you’re saying you will work here for eight months. Where will you go after?”, “Are you planning to be a part of a web series or something? Like, what’s your strategy?” are all laughable to me. Not in an insulting way. It’s just that a big part of me finds humor in my lack of direction in life. I know that it is crucial to at least know what you want. But I already know that. And I know who I am. And if life takes me on a different spin tomorrow or thirty years from now, there will be no regrets. I may be a giant ball of question mark, but I get to know the world in a way I never would had I been born to live and die as a sturdy period or a loud exclamation point.

5. Life is a free verse prose-narrative written by a three-year old starfish with a brain tumor. Why are some people white, and some black? Why do some people believe in God while others in the Big Bang Theory? Why are some people so easy to get along with while there are some who are so intensely annoying you just want to grab them by their nipples and give them axe kicks? Why are there people who were born rich and famous while others have to technically excrete blood and sweat to get on even just a slightly higher ground? Why are there people with ten fingers while some with eleven, or nine? Why are there class valedictorians who end up waiting tables and dumb high school slutbags who now own a villa somewhere in Greece? Why are there people who haven’t smoked a single cigarette in their lives who have lung cancer, and others who do all sorts of smoking and drug abuse and manage to live without complications until the age of 92? Why are there so many innocents stuck in jail cells and so many criminals planning on their next dirty deed as we speak? Why does the six-month old baby die? Why does Burundi suffer so much financially while Dubai just carefreely throws itself away at 828-meter tall buildings and dancing fountains with camels on parade on a year-round sunny season? Why is the earth so big only five percent of its total oceanic area is explored? Why do some people dislike beer while others drink it eight times a day like water? Why are gummy bears so freaking irresistible? Why are there deserving people who have empty hands and lazy-ass hipsters who are given so much in one way or another? Why are there no stars in Surrey? Why do birds suddenly appear? — It is obvious. Life has no rhyme nor reason to it. We desperately turn to Religion, Science, Literature, Government Laws and Societal standards to try and make sense of the universe, but that’s the thing the majority do not understand. The universe is way bigger than we can imagine. Yes, you may be able to explain why birds suddenly appear or why there are black and white people through Physics and Anthropology, but you will never be able to rationalize the why’s in the full sense of the word. Why as in “how come?”, why as in “to what extent?”, why as in “for what possible reason?” Why?.. as in “WTF?!”

6. Even the stars die. I have been and always will be in awe at the massiveness of life both in the visible and the invisible sense. I am 19 years old, Filipino, unemployed, still living with parents and brothers, a writer with a recurring existential crisis, passive-aggressive, a self-confessed literary activist, and one the most unstable human beings you’ll ever meet. This is me. I can say a million other things about me in here, but that’s not the point. My living condition, my financial status, my emotional progress and my favorite past time are nothing compared to the dangers and beauty of the universe. I do not live each day towards a bigger goal. I do not wake up each morning to build a tower I can stand on so I can look down on those whose towers had crumbled down, or those who haven’t built one yet. I do not breathe to have a better tomorrow. I instead live each day with literally millions of wonders, as I lay down on the sand facing the ocean, knowing that right now is the better tomorrow. Just me. And the universe. Together as one.

The Fault In The Make-Believe

My Symphony: Give A Man A Home by Ben Harper

And Hansel said to Gretel, “Let us drop these breadcrumbs so that together we find our way home because losing our way would be the most cruel of things.”

As I am sitting here in front of my laptop computer, I find myself bewildered by the fact that I haven’t written in this online journal for almost a month now despite the fact that I’ve come to terms with the reality that I am at the most important stage of my life so far. I used to think that this is just another common irony of life. I mean, I used to think that maybe I haven’t been writing that much anymore because I am too busy with what’s going on in “the real life” that I don’t have time to encapsulate my stories through journalism. But now, I think I finally understand what’s really going on…

The truth of the matter is, I am lost. I have been lost.

Nobody can ever know how much courage it took me to admit that to myself. I never really looked at myself as a lost soul nor have I thought that feeling empty as a human being was ever possible. But the things that have been taking place in my life lately change everything I knew about the world I live in and of who I am. Before I came to Canada, I had everything I ever needed: a comfortable house with a roof top, family and relatives I could rely on at any time, groups of friends I could call my “crew”, a city in which I knew every corner and every turn and an 18-year old life that was founded with meaningful stories and unforgettable experiences. I was like a cute little baby plant showered with fresh water and comforted with warm sun rays and with occasional dose of pesticides on a daily basis. But most importantly, back then, I had an identity. 

This isn’t another lash-out session about how cold and boring I find this country to be. In fact, this isn’t about anything or anyone else at all. This is about me– I lost my way. And I lost it in a really scary way: I lost it upon an intimately melodramatic encounter with another lost soul. But I will not talk about this person here because again, this is about me. There’s no one else to point fingers to. I am at war with myself, and that leaves me to see how I’ve changed so drastically over the course of a year.  And I’m scared. I’m scared that I may have lost my faith, my light, my passion… the very core of my being. I’m scared that I may have lost my belief in love, art, beauty and The Afterlife. I’m scared that I may have lost every single thing that I both had and didn’t. But the scariest thing of all is I may never find those things ever again; that I might have to continue living the rest of my life feeling like I’ve never really been able to breathe at all, that I’ve never really been alive to begin with. The lost soul I have encountered simply added to the intensity of the wind that blew off my light. It isn’t his fault. Because really, my light had already started to flicker and lose luminance way before I met him. It’s just when I started investing time, effort and compassion in him that I realized I didn’t really have anything to offer. I was empty all along.

The kind of connection I lost cannot be considered minor. I look at it as something which is as tragic as a man losing his home, and who consequently has to spend the remaining slumbers of his life in the dusty streets of downtown. He wakes up every morning and the first thing he does is hold up a sign that says “Hungry”. On the flip side, it says “Thirsty”. On mid-day, he walks around the city begging for alms, and people look at him like he’s some kind of a disease. I do not know what it’s really like to be that man, but I certainly know how it feels like to not have a home, emotionally (which I honestly think is just as bad as being literally homeless). Somehow I feel like I am not attached to anything anymore. Not my family, not my friends, not the world, not even myself. I feel so detached to everything and everyone that I’m starting to figuratively live inside my head. All of this is just as blurry to me as it is to the people who have noticed my lack of touch with reality. I wake up every morning, live the day, go back home and do what I’ve been doing best lately: sleep. I mean, the way things are unfolding in my life lately, it makes me love sleep even more. This will sound odd and incredibly weird to “normal people”, but I feel like it is in my sleep that I get to know myself more, and the world even better. It is in my dreams that my heart and my mind force me to embrace all the lies that realize the truth.

I can sleep forever. And I can listen to melodramatic music all day long, or read as many novels as I can in a week. But there’s one thing that I cannot do, and that is to neglect the visible world. Yes, I am generally a dreamer– a romanticist-idealist who spends most of his time in what’s not really there. But I do know. I know that at some point, I would have to leave the books at home, pull off my earphones, take a pause from writing… and just live.

What’s Real Is What’s Not

My Symphony: Into The Great Unknown by Signal Hill Transmission

A monologue… of lies, truth, and whatever it is that’s in between. 

For Inch

Yes, it’s all just in my mind. But it’s also kind of realistic, you know? I mean, even if we are many, many miles away from each other, and even if the reality is that he will forever be just some sort of an irrevocable chimera and that to him I will, for the rest of his life, remain just the “little brother” of his bestfriend who was eccentric enough to write him 24 letters and pretty much depend 90% of his happiness on him, I don’t really care. I don’t care at all. I mean, who cares about reality anyway? I don’t like the real world. It’s quite convoluted, you know. I mean every morning you sort of force yourself to get out of bed, you take a shower, you get ready and then you hit the door; then you go to school, or work. Your day might either be “good” or “bad”, and then you go home, do your homework or whatever, and then jump in to bed knowing deep in your guts that you aren’t genuinely happy. Tragic. That’s what reality is: it’s tragic, and dark, and vague, and miserable, and cold, and complicated and full of shit and, and… and I know that is why I am no longer the person I was. This world I live in… it changed me. And it continues to change me every day. As each second passes, I begin to lose faith in humanity—in what’s real and tangible. I, I… I like… fiction. It’s funny coz when I when I was in 6th Grade I read this quote written in pencil on the very first page of a Biology book which was sitting on a dusty chair in the library. It went like this: “Fantasy love is so much better than reality love. Never really doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.” The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet. How beautiful is that? Very beautiful. You know, you sit in the dark corner of your room after a bad day, and then you remember someone. Someone you’ve loved for six years but never really been in an actual relationship with, and the only interesting thing you know about him is that he likes eating ice cubes and biting cartons whenever he’s drunk. And then you sort of take that one interesting thing in your imagination and then you get a myriad of different reasons why you have fallen for that person. And then all of a sudden you notice that you are not alone anymore. You love someone, and you know that it just doesn’t matter if he loves you back because you know… you know that loving isn’t owning. It’s never asking for anything in return. That’s true love. And that’s bliss. And for the rest of you… who are “normal”… you may call it a fabrication… or a myth, a delusional fairytale with no real ending… whatever. I don’t need what’s real to be happy. All I need is the air that I breathe, and my imagination. I am happy.