Today, I Turn Twenty-four

My Symphonies: Home / Day Wave

Wasting Time / Day Wave

Semi-rocking the guybun in 2016 (*Not a recent photo, thank god!).

So today, I turn twenty-four. 

I remember typing out almost the exact same words back in May 2013, when I wrote Today, I Turn Twenty. This time is different, though. When I turned 20, I felt a lot of uncertainty and discomfort towards aging. In fact, I used to be a self-proclaimed ageist. The mere thought of being a year older always made me feel nauseous and quite anxious. Every year, when I “celebrated” my birthday, I would always try to hide how upset I was with the fact that humans have to naturally age. I hated the concept of getting old.

But this year is different. For the first time, I actually feel very at peace with turning a year older. And not just that; I also feel very at peace with the fact that every year, everything and everyone else turns a year older. It is finally safe to say that I have come to terms with the way the world works – Things and people age; there’s nothing we can do about it.

I am writing today not just because it’s my birthday, but also because I want to acknowledge change. Change, who comes when it’s time for it to come. Change, who is the master of beauty and tragedy. Change, who is the initiator of bliss and chaos. And Change, who so effortlessly comes with aging.

When I think of my life from the beginning leading up to this point, I see it in chapters. And what’s great about chapters is that they tell us that apart from the end and the beginning of every book, there are tiny little ends and beginnings in between. And these little ends and little beginnings create something beautiful – something worth reading, worth telling and worth living. This has been my life:

The Childhood Years, when I first learned to take life one step at a time (literally); when I played in playgrounds and scratched my knee like every kid did; when I looked at grown-ups around me and wondered if I, one day, was also gonna be as big and as complex and as successful as they were; when life was a never-ending cycle of naps, tantrums, school, lunch boxes and Cartoon Network…

The High School Years, when I tackled so many things for the first time without much knowledge about life and the world I lived in; when I fell in love for the first time, got my heart broken for the first time, failed an exam for the first time, topped the class in something for the first time, made great friends and mortal enemies for the first time, and played in the field of teenage angst, romance, betrayal and overall drama for the first time; The High School Years was that one chapter that gave the first definite shape of my personality…

The University of the Philippines Years, which gets a special chapter due to the silent but steady impact it had on me. This chapter was when I learned that I can handle change (a major change) for the first time. I learned that simplicity doesn’t have to mean boring, and that modesty doesn’t have to mean defeat. I learned to take matters into my own hands, stand up for myself and carry on through the tough days without having to cry for help. This chapter was when I started to really genuinely appreciate sunsets, deep meaningful conversations and the importance of getting to know people outside of my shiny little bubble…

The Great Move, the chapter that tells of my move to Canada with my family. This, more than anything by far, has been the greatest teacher. This chapter was when I found myself in a world so different from where I grew up in. I learned so many things about other cultures especially when I was in Vancouver Film School. I learned so much about the sad realities of life, and how we all have a choice to bounce back from them. This was the chapter when I went through depression triggered by an unrequited love, and later on realized it was all just a lack of love for myself. I would say that without this chapter, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next…

The Dark Ages, was a chapter that started out so magnificent, and so daring, and so adventure-filled and exciting. But I give it its chapter title due to the overall draining energy that surrounded it from the beginning, and more so towards the end. I fell in love with a guy that was ready to give me the world, but wasn’t ready to love me for who I am. I experienced physical abuse, verbal violence and worst of all, emotional manipulation. I learned that love isn’t enough – a relationship has to have friendship, compromises, acceptance and most importantly, respect. I learned that I am resilient, and that no matter what life was gonna throw my way after this chapter, I can absolutely handle it…

The Renaissance, cheesy, I know, but whoever said “There is light at the end of the tunnel” is hands down a genius. It’s true! Now I find myself in a place happier and brighter than anywhere I have ever been. I can definitely say that I am right where I am supposed to be in life right now, feeling exactly what I am supposed to be feeling at the moment, and being with the people whom I am most precisely supposed to be with at this chapter in my life. I am grateful for the genuine love I’ve found, blissful for the friends and family I have been blessed with, and ecstatic to take on the coming months and years of this journey called life…

I look at where I am today, and I realize that I should be happy about turning a year older. Turning a year older means I am still alive right now. I can still do whatever I want to do with my life, and go places, see new things, meet new people. Turning a year older means I have survived all the years before this; that I have embraced change time and time again, and that I have triumphed over obstacles and challenges that went my way.

Chapters. That word is subtly synonymous to “hope”, to “life”, to “change”. And today, I would like to celebrate turning a year older by thanking everyone in my life (literally EVERYONE, including those who are no longer a part of it in the present) for making me who and what I am today.

Because, girl, I’m slaying. ❤ ❤ ❤

The 10 Most Successful Men On Earth

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Photo credit: Dwin Formaran | IG: @thedwinformaran

When we think of success, we often think of larger, wider, brighter things that are constantly seemingly out of reach. We envision stack after stack of dollar bills, glossy skyscrapers, mansions with heated pools, hundreds of paparazzi and a seven-digit pool of Instagram followers. More and more, the ways in which we measure success have been close to society’s norms but far from the truth. We have been blindly programmed to keep on dreaming with our eyes instead of dreaming with our hearts. And aren’t dreams an occurrence that takes place after we close our eyes, anyways?

If you Google “The most successful man on earth”, the first result will be a bulleted enumeration of names that are familiar to almost everyone: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Walt Disney. Below you will find a link that invites you to see more of the article from which the enumeration was taken from. You will then be redirected to a page where you will see a larger list of people with their full names, their birth-death years and a brief description of their achievements, all cataloged under the area of industry or expertise they are/were best known for.

Now, don’t get me wrong; these people are undeniably notable, and they have achieved and invented a lot of things which have helped the world and a lot of people in many ways. This isn’t a hate mail addressed to them. They do deserve recognition, and they do deserve applause. But where it becomes worrisome is when we live our lives with the superconscious attempt to achieve as much as they have achieved, or to get as close as we can get to wherever they got to. Where it becomes ugly is when we start to view success as something that we need to work really, really hard for — when we begin to spend our days feeling somehow empty and defeated just because we do not look anything like Mark Zuckerberg’s chequing account or Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat stories.

Life is not a race, and it is definitely not a contest. Sometimes, the small things are actually the big ones, and the best things in life aren’t even things. So if you think you are not successful, have a look at this rather unorthodox list of the ten most successful men on earth…

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Photo credit: Alfred Marcial | IG: @alfredmarcial

  1. The Man Who Has Loved

It is one of the oldest stories in the world, and probably too old that it has transformed into a succinct cliche: “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. It’s true! If you, at any point in your existence in this world, have felt that warm, cozy, almost-indescribable feeling in your chest when you look at someone deeply in the eyes, then consider yourself not just lucky, but successful. When we were younger, fairytales and rom-coms made us all believe that falling in love was easy. And then we grow up and learn that it doesn’t happen to everyone. True love takes courage, trust and, most importantly, friendship, and it only happens a couple of times throughout a lifetime. If you’ve ever experienced it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Appreciates Nature

The more you live, the sooner you realize that there’s no better place to be than right next to nature. Sunsets are more than just about days slipping into nights; they are a reminder. Blue skies are more than just nice sunny days; they are an enlightenment. Waterfalls and oceans aren’t just liquid grazing solid; they are an awakening. If you are someone who can sit still in peace as you appreciate a magnificent view of mountains, beaches, canyons and fields, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Truly Knows His Value

The modern world dictates that we need to do this and that because if we don’t, we are deemed failures. We as a society have become restless – always looking for ways to please people, always obsessing over more Likes, more Followers, more Retweets. Life has become less about genuine connection and more about virtual recognition. Most people nowadays turn to social media for affirmation, for attention and for valuation. If you are someone who is confident and mature enough to know your own value in this world without seeking validation in all the superficial corners of the Internet, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Literally)

There’s a reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: because we are human beings. And as humans, we are capable of change. We are allowed to grow, to get to know ourselves in our own ways, and to take on new life challenges that will later on help us become better individuals. We are not meant to stagnate in the same space for the rest of our lives. We are adaptable, versatile beings who are biologically designed to overcome struggles, drastic changes and overwhelming circumstances. If you are someone who welcomes change and challenges with brave and open arms, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Figuratively)

Another reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: we aren’t robots. We are allowed to feel. We are allowed to cry, to laugh, to smile, to frown, to feel like we’re on top of the world one minute and in the deepest, darkest depths of hell the next. We are emotionally mobile creatures. If you are someone who can encounter a piece of art (a painting, a film, a writing, a song, et cetera) and be greatly moved by it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Knows Kindness

It is absolutely scary to think that kindness is fast becoming a sort of an “endangered” virtue. It is also something that people think can be translated to a couple of nickels and dimes given to a street beggar every other week. Kindness is more than just the act of giving someone something of your possession; it is about empathy and compassion. When somebody is down, miserable and lonely, and you (despite your hectic schedule) decide to be there for them to comfort them, support them and encourage them? That’s kindness. If you’ve ever been there for someone during tough times, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Is Present

These days, it is too common to see people everywhere looking down at their smartphones and tablets that in the mega rare instance that you see someone who’s not, you think apocalypse just arrived and you have less than ten seconds to have your final look at everything around you before you vanish into the vast unknown. It’s nuts! Genuine eye-to-eye conversations have now turned into mouths speaking to each other with eyes staring directly down at separate screens. Most people just aren’t present in the present anymore. They are somewhere else all the time, scrolling, sharing, liking and commenting. If you are someone who knows the value of a moment enough to put your phone away and see someone clearly in front of you as you speak, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Isn’t Friendless

Friendship is one of those words that have gained traction but lost meaning. In reality, friendship, just like love, is a rare thing. Companionship happens a lot, and so does affiliation. But real, long-lasting friendships are rare. Friends are the people whom you can count on especially in times of emotional distress, and they are also whom you can count on in times of complete fun and randomness. Friends offer a type of love and care that you cannot feel from other people, and they are often the people who have seen you in your best and your worst. So if you have a solid circle of people whom you call friends (regardless of how big or small that circle is), congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Does What He Loves

Life is too short to do something that you do not enjoy doing. However, life is also not that simple. There are bills to pay, and not everyone gets the chance or the opportunity to do exactly what they love to do in a professional setting. A lot of people who love dancing work in banks; some who are passionate about painting work in sawmills; others who are very talented at singing work in hotels as housekeeping attendants. The list goes on. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the guy who changes from slacks to sweatpants to join dance rehearsals after his 5-PM end-of-shift at the bank. Let us appreciate the girl who vacuums floors and washes sheets at hotels so she can afford singing lessons. Let us appreciate the people who keep on painting despite their already-tired hands from working so hard in sawmills. If you are someone who may not be loving what you’re doing professionally but still finds ways to do what you love, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Has Connected To Another Man (Or Woman) In A Genuine, Penetrating, Effervescent Way

This is probably one of the greatest successes one can experience in his lifetime: to feel a great connection between you and somebody else. If you come to think about it, this life we live is full of complications. There are more than seven billion people on this planet, and we are all just trying to live our lives the way we know how to live them. And we do get moments of joy and clarity, but there will always be nights when we hit our beds after a long day at school or at work and feel that something is missing; that something isn’t right. So when we happen to cross paths with someone who just “gets us”, someone who lights up our day just by existing, someone who literally finishes our sentences and someone who speaks to us without saying a word, we hold on to them. Because we know that genuine connections don’t happen everyday. If you are someone who knows somebody whom you feel that electric chemistry with, CONGRATULATIONS!

Pre-Birthday Thoughts

My Symphony: Gucci Bag / Reema Major 

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Almost 23.

At this point, it is safe to say that I have reached the equilibrium of my post-adolescent years (a.k.a. my early 20’s). I think that for the longest time, life for me was an unnecessary emotional struggle (90% of which was self-inflicted). I don’t know, maybe it is kind of normal for a pubescent creature to be melodramatic and somehow masochistic. But I feel like I’ve gone through enough bullshit in my life that now I am almost immune to it. Needless to say, life has been easier for me lately simply because I have managed to develop a mental process where I eliminate toxic people, excess things and rotten thoughts slash memories from my entire system. It’s been great!

I don’t believe that people change. People never change. You are who you are, and that’s probably who you’ve always been and who you always will be. That is my main belief system. And looking at myself right now, I am proud to say that I am still the direction-less kiddo you all knew from college. The truth is, I do not know what I want (generally speaking). And I am happy about that. Not knowing everything that you want only means being open to possibilities. Larger, wider, brighter possibilities. Not knowing comes with a sense of calmness. It comes with a pinch of excitement and mystery. It is quite beautiful, actually.

I grew up in an environment where everyone around me seemed to know every specific detail of what they wanted from life. At some point, I was also kind of pressured to know what the fuck I wanted to do with my life after college, and “stressful” is not a good enough adjective to describe what I went through with all that. But, see, the thing is, I have always been this way. I’ve always never known what I want from life, from the world, from the people around me. I rely more on my feelings and my gut instinct when it comes to my short-term decision-making (because I only ever really make decisions for the short term). The minute I consult my brain about what to do, I get into this repetitive tip-toeing from one thought to another, and it is never productive. This is why I thrive more on taking life one day at a time as opposed to carefully planning out every single detail five, ten or twenty years too early. That’s just not how I roll.

When I turned 22 last year, I was bulldozed with a lot of overwhelming questions about my grand plan for my future. And I know at least half of those people were probably genuinely concerned about me and my well-being, but I mean, let’s be real here: the other half just wanted to make me feel like shit. And they tried to make me feel that way! But they failed (hashtag LOL). To everyone who was so aggressive towards me on my birthday last year, and asked so many personal questions that didn’t need to be asked whatsoever (and also to anyone who is planning to sit me down and give me another pep talk about the great mother effing future this year), here is a piece of my mind regarding the matter:

Ladies and gentlemen, the biggest deception of life in the modern society is the greatness of the future and the fleetingness of our youth. Because the reality is, the future isn’t that great. Maybe it is kind of peachy, but it can never be as good, and as fabulous, and as spectacular as the here and now.  Why, you ask? Simple. Because it isn’t even here yet. It may or may not happen. That’s why it’s called the future. NO ONE KNOWS. And our youth? It is not at all fleeting. It is actually decently lengthy, and the only reason it doesn’t feel that way is because you jamokes have decided that for some reason, turning twenty means you have to go out there and start “adult-ing”. And I’m just sitting here eating my fries thinking Nah-uh! Adult-ing is so overrated and so overhyped. There is absolutely nothing special, impressive or even remotely satisfying about it. In modern day terminology, adult-ing refers to relatively young people complainingly taking on tasks that are supposed to be deemed “adult-like”, “responsible” and “mature”. But the fact of the matter is that, just because you are paying a couple of bills and not living with your parents, doesn’t mean you need to consciously label yourself as an adult. It honestly just metaphorically makes your youth go by faster. It’s a not-so-healthy state of mind which you blindly put yourself in. I swear to god, this world will judge you for being 22 and not successful. But that is a whole ‘nother blog entry because first of all, success is different for every single person. And second of all, screw society. So, for the love of perky coconut trees in the Bahamas and Mary Kate Olsen’s luscious locks, enjoy your youth and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Youth is not the one that’s fleeting, but your resistance to society’s pointless yiddie yaddah yaddah’s. 

Amen.

I’m Going Home

My Symphony: Home by Daughtry
I don’t regret this life I chose for me,
But these places and these faces are getting old…

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Maybe that’s the best part of going away for a vacation – coming home again. ― Madeleine L’Engle, Meet the Austins

This is it. In less than 24 hours, I’ll be on a plane back home. 

Damn. Typing that out just literally sent chills down my spine. There is something about the word “home” that is very powerful in a comforting way. And that’s what I am feeling right now – this almost indescribable feeling of danger and safety. It’s been a long time coming, and now here I am. My bags are all packed, and I am more than ready to go.

The weeks and the months that have led me to this moment hadn’t been smooth-sailing, though. There was a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety, a lot of reckless daydreaming and a lot of uphill battles with the people around me and with myself. But I have to say it was all worth it. We take every experience, big or small, and learn from it tremendously.

When I left the Philippines two and a half years ago, I left with one goal in mind: to find whatever it was that I was always looking for. Halfway through high school, I developed this irrepressible longing to leave – leave the city I’m in, leave the people I’m with, leave the life I live. My “past life” (for a lack of a better term) was byzantine, to say the least. I made a lot of mistakes, disappointed loved ones, broke my friends’ trust, caused a lot of emotional trouble and took for granted all the things and moments I now wish I could have back. And instead of facing the world and trying to repair the damaged, I decided to walk away and leave everything behind. And I did that because that’s what I had been wanting to do all along; I wanted to start over, strongly believing that there was another place out there for me which I could call home.

I was wrong. 

I think everybody should leave his or her hometown and go somewhere far at least once in his or her life. Not only is there a myriad of things and life lessons to learn Out There, Out There also makes you appreciate In Here, in a way no other place can. And to me, it’s been an exhilarating ride so far.

Everytime a friend or a family member asks me ,”So when are you visiting the Philippines?” or “Hey Kenn, are you going back here in Bacolod for a vacation soon?”, there’s always this part of me that cringes for some reason. It’s like my heart turns gray and my entire upper body shrinks, and all I want to do is run away screaming like a lunatic. I don’t know, I guess up until now I’ve never really accommodated “visiting the Philippines” as an acceptable oxymoron. Phrases like visit home and vacation in Bacolod sound disturbingly self-contradictory to me. So let us make one thing clear:

I’m not “going on a vacation”; I’m going home.

It’s as simple and as truthful and as accurate as that.

I look at Vancouver and the world that I’ve somehow built here for myself. I look at the bed I’ve been sleeping in for many months; I can see its edges and its weight take up a portion of the wooden floor. I look at our kitchen and then I look inside the refrigerator; I see a dozen eggs with one that’s broken, along with my brother’s sliced cheese which he always reminds us is expensive. I look at the living room; I look at the ceiling, my mom’s new carpet, the big red cushions and the television, which has started to look noticeably old despite its newness. I look inside my closet; I look at the big black bag in which I carefully stuffed all of my notes and physical memories from college. I look at my cat, Dunkley; I see him in the biggest and fattest he’s ever been; I see him groggily walk towards his favorite spot on one of our red-and-white dining chairs, and I see him yawn, stretch, stare devilishly into the air and lull himself back to sleep. And then I look at my pile of luggage sitting tall and proud in one corner of my room. For the first time in a long time, I feel like myself again.

This is why this chapter is very important to me. The farther I’ve been from home, the closer I’ve felt to it. And at these times when I often feel lost and unsure of who I’ve become, I find it crucial to go back to my roots and refresh things a little bit. The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had here have all been climactic, and I can never be grateful enough for the opportunity to get to know life and the world around me from such a different perspective. But the time has come. For at least the next two months, I will be in my hometown, the small city of Bacolod. For at least the next two months, I will be breathing a familiar air under a familiar sky. For at least the next two months, I will be storing my clothes and my books in a room inside a house which my feet and my heart have known since I was little. And for at least the next two months, I will be not here, but there.

And there is waiting.

See you soon. 

This is a Hate Rant

My Symphony: The Way Home by Sleep Dealer

love_hate_by_Notokhelena

Taken from my personal journal, dated Sept. 11th, 2012

I walk along the road right in front of my house every morning, and I see little kids playing, sledding, running and laughing, and they all look like they have life all figured out. They all look like they don’t have any problems or any greater wants and needs other than fun, love and friendship. And so everyday, I would take a moment to observe these kids and I would think to myself, “These kids will grow up someday. And someday, these kids will have the same problems that I have now. They will get hurt, and they will change, and they will go their separate ways, and they will have their hearts broken.”

I always thought life was so much simpler and easier when I was little. Probably the biggest problem I had as a kid was the fact that I didn’t really have a lot of playmates. But that wasn’t really that big of a problem. I would just sit alone in my room and talk to my toys, or lie in my bed and pretend that I was floating through great numbers of clouds. But growing up? Growing up has made things a whole lot convoluted – growing up has fucked me over. It has scared the living daylights out of me.

The last time I remember I was genuinely happy was when I was ten and playing with sand and stones at a construction site. I was just this pure, genuine, blissful entity. I didn’t know much about politics, the government, society and all that comes with it. But I was always smiling.

I don’t know what happened. Oh, I remember! Life happened.

I look at myself in the mirror and each time, I am just disgusted of who I’ve become. But no, not really. I actually think that I am a way better person now than I was for the past 18 years.

If I could tell my young self one thing, it is to “go fuck yourself!” Every time I remember the awful things I’ve done to my friends, my family and my lovers, I just can’t help but regret how evil and shallow I was. I regret being a disloyal, self-absorbed friend. I regret breaking so many people’s trust and friendship. I regret the fact that I’ve never really been genuinely in love with anyone in my past, but acted like I was. I regret not being appreciative of the love and the care that my friends and family gave me. I just do. I regret all of it. Because now? Now I know what it’s like to be taken for granted. I know what it’s like to hurt so much that I can’t even sleep at night without having thoughts of how I’m so worthless and of how I deserve every bit of heartache that I’m feeling right now. Shit!

So… hate. What is it that I hate?

I hate people who come and go just like that! I hate how you can talk to someone for hours and the next thing you know he’s just ignoring you like you’re an insignificant piece of shit. I hate people who are so caught up in their past that the people in their present suffer because of it. I hate people who don’t think they deserve to be loved. Like, seriously, what is that?! I think that’s bullshit! It’s bullshit because there are actually people, like me, who believe in you! People who actually care about you. And you just shrug us all off your shoulders because you think no one can be trusted? Because you think we’re all the same? Because you think people are temporary? Well let me tell you one thing – you’re the one who’s temporary! Gawd, I just hate this. I hate people who are selfish about their feelings – people who just can’t seem to let anyone love them, and just love them back. I hate it because it sucks! It sucks that you feel so connected to someone but then all of a sudden fear, and ego, and society, and whatever crap it is, come into the picture and destroy what could’ve been a genuine human-to-human relationship.

I think that the way the majority view life is simply disgusting. People always say “Oh! That’s life. It’s normal. People leave, new ones come. And you move on!” Well I think that’s just ridiculous. Because I know that I am someone who actually learned to value people – friends and family, especially. I have learned that true love and true friendship don’t happen everyday. They’re rare. And I learned all this the hard way.

Now I know why people are so sad and lonely. People are sad and lonely because they are a bunch of cowards! They are alone because they are so focused on money, career, success, fame, or that feeling of being “cool and awesome and accomplished”. But fuck that! Even if I die young and unaccomplished, I will die happy because I at least managed to actually be honest to myself and to people about my feelings and of who I am.

I am convinced that this is me – this is who I am. I write a lot, I read a lot, I think a lot. I am moody, I am emotional, I am melodramatic. I have a messy, un-styled wavy black hair, I don’t do sports, I don’t have ripped muscles, I don’t like action movies, I indulge in a lot of over-feeling and over-analyzing, I drink too much coffee in the morning, I don’t own a mansion by the ocean, I tend to come across as weird and quirky but in a creepy way, I despise the taste of beer, I am erratic, restless and yes, maybe I care about things and people a little too much and too often. And I can be many other different things, but I do know what I’m not: I am not numb, and I am not insensitive. And I may not be everything, but at least when I tell someone I’m a friend I actually mean it. And if you think that that’s not enough – that I’m not enough – then that’s just too damn bad for you.

I was that person before, and I hated him. As a matter of fact I still do.

So to all the people whom I’ve considered friends but decided that I’m just another speck of dust on the floor, I don’t know where you are, or what’s going through your minds right now, but I think that you should be ashamed of yourselves. You really should.

Life’s too short for me to waste my time with selfish little self-absorbed assholes.

Twenty-one Love Letters

My Symphony: Dead End Kids by Joe Purdy

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I missed that last Voice class. You know, the one where you all sat in a circle and took some time to think of the great things about each other, and to say your brief yet meaningful thank you’s to the people you’ve been with through this journey. Sheila sent me an e-mail containing the S’s messages to me. I read them just now, and I can’t help but be in a state of bliss.

That we have gotten to know each other in a way nobody else has is what makes that one year so special. I know that this isn’t the end, but I also know that things will never be the same again after graduation. So this is it: A parade of gratitude to each of you.

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride. I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
– Pablo Neruda

Twenty-one Love Letters

Dear Travis,
Thank you for the poem, for every single smile. Somewhere along the momentary highs, lows, cynicism and introspection, you made me feel not alone.

Dear Simon,
Moments of rage, moments of bleakness, of chaos, pain and lethargy—that’s when I think of you and everything I feel just changes. Thank you for your generosity and your kindness, and for never failing to bring love into any room you walk into.

Dear Aaron,
Gone are the days of wondering if someone so pure and so warm-hearted exists out there. The knowledge that you’re right there, seeing the same stars I do at night, makes this world so much safer than when I first found it.

Dear Daniel,
I know you. No, I don’t mean you on your Friday nights, or the way you like your steak, or how you react to the sight of a snake. I do not know the specifics. But I know your energy, I know your passion, I know your genuine kindness, your goodness. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

Dear Arochi,
The wisdom, the laughter and the warm embraces will always be remembered. I’m glad you are the way you are. There’s no other way better than that.

Dear Emma,
Sometimes I see myself in you; how you are always on top of a precipice, letting the wind move you gently to and fro as the dark clouds delight in your inner pain. And then you smile.

Dear Yuji,
What you are had always been wonderful, but it wasn’t until I’ve discovered who you are that I saw something beautiful.

Dear Navshin,
You are an inspiration. I will forever be grateful that the universe has been formed and created. I know you will always be a part of it. We are one.

Dear Jesse,
You, sir, are a leader. Thank you for your dedication, your fearlessness and your undying hunger for what it is you want to achieve. You have brought to those sixteen months a kind of a showcase—an exhibition of guts and glory.

Dear Janine,
You are a walking book of compelling stories, a woman who can never be aware enough of her sparkle, her gift, her strength, and the tantalizing truth that she has to hold on to that fairytale dream—that one true love she truly deserves.

Dear Riley,
Thank you for those small talks that momentarily brought up jolts of clarity and misery. Getting to know you to a degree has given me an experience of life, love and everything in between. I know you will keep radiating.

Dear Toni,
I think I know the reason for my recurring dreams. I can never thank you enough for the nostalgia, the danger and the pain. You showed me what it’s like in the other side… how it is to soldier on… what it is to burn.

Dear Rodrigo,
Your free spirit never fails to fascinate me. Teach me how to see the world in Technicolor, to brave the days without remorse and perplexity. You are amazing.

Dear Richard,
I look at you and I see someone I can potentially fly kites with. Thank you for your generosity and honesty; for those times the whole of you was screaming, “Freedom!”

Dear Liam,
You saw me when I was invisible. There is this vitality in you which I hope will never wither. You are the rock upon which the bravest soldier stands. Throughout those twelve months, you have become multidimensional in my eyes.

Dear Travis,
That hug could’ve lasted a second longer, but I just had to break free from it so I could see the sensitive, loving gentleman that you are. You are worth it.

Dear Julia,
I can never thank you enough for being one of those flowers that bloom in adversity. You are someone I always wanted to meet in the visible world, and I finally did.

Dear Graeme,
The last time I looked into your eyes, I saw a little boy in pyjamas and a valiant man holding a gladius. You are a riveting ball of love, hope and dexterity. I cannot express enough the joy I found in getting to know even just a fraction of you.

Dear Mallory,
I do not know how someone can be so delicate and vigorous at the same time, and how in all of this fallen world’s woe and entropy she finds a quiet place of happiness. Your authenticity and compassion are undeniable.

Dear Audrey,
Maybe it was that pink shirt, or because I am nineteen. We somehow found our way down memory lane and laughed at what once felt like the end of the world for me. I found a big sister in you. You are a firework. I miss your light already.

Dear Carlos,
Anyone who has gotten to see you is so lucky. Since day one, I’ve seen in you a man who can thrive and not just survive. You are a friend, a brother, a student and a mentor. But most of all, you are ray of sun, giving warmth, lending light, keeping me company through this journey.

You are all special. Thank you for the rollercoaster ride. It has been the best one yet.

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For Giveness

My Symphony: Iron Doors by The Lighthouse and the Whaler

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When I was 13, the shallow, naive, vapid person that I was, I would get myself in heated fights and arguments and I would always say, “I don’t forgive and I don’t forget, so don’t fuck with me”. I don’t really know what I was thinking, except that I wasn’t really thinking. Who am I to be so cold and bitter? Who am I to be so mad at the world and the people in it that have disappointed me? Who am I to live a life of hatred, anger and coldness? I am nobody. And for this, I forgive.

I forgive my brother for being utterly annoying and self-righteous.

I forgive the people back home who haven’t made it to my present life – I forgive them for being a thing from the past.

I forgive my English teacher in Eleventh Grade for not buying me the lunch that she promised me, and for not returning my favorite Greek Mythology book that I let her borrow.

I forgive all of the fucked-up drug addicts in this world. I know it is not entirely their fault. What happened to them and to their lives could have happened to anyone of us.

I forgive Nicholas Sparks for writing novels that have caused millions of people to get confused about the real nature of love and its naked identity.

I forgive my Mom for not being in my life physically for the past twelve years. I forgive her for not being around when I had my first zit, or when I flunked a test in Elementary School for the first time, or when I had my first crush, or when my voice started to get a little deeper. I forgive her for being away from me all the time. I forgive her; I do. Because she’s my mother. And at the end of the day, she’s the one person I love the most.

I forgive my Dad, too. I forgive him for being so thrifty. He wouldn’t even consider a three-dollar cup of coffee cheap. I forgive him for his dishonesty and his being secretive and closed off. I forgive him for thinking that I am too weak and too prissy to be his nail boy when he was building that tree house when I was six. Because I do know how to use hammers and nails! But I forgive him for believing otherwise. I forgive him because he’s my dad. And at the end of the day, he’s the first guy in my life. He was the one who made me stand on his wide, strong palms and carried me around the house and the streets, making me feel like I was the best thing that has ever happened to him and mom.

Lastly, I forgive  myself.

Kenn, I forgive you for being such a disaster right now. You are like, I don’t know, Magnitude 8.6 earthquake, but I forgive you. I forgive you for feeling totally alone, lost, scared and vulnerable. I forgive your non-stop drama, and the way that you see the world. I forgive you for not being so proud of yourself these days, and for not having a backbone ninety percent of the time. I forgive your flaws, and your heartaches, and your romantic-idealistic take on life. I forgive you for the way you handle your emotions. I forgive you for almost killing yourself because at one moment you felt like life was not worth living. I forgive you for your weaknesses and for feeling like you’re never going to be good enough. I forgive all of your mistakes and your shenanigans. I forgive you if sometimes all you want to do is to just run out of the room in the middle of the class and go to the Sea Wall and watch the birds do their thing as the sky falls in closer and closer to you.

I forgive you. I do. Because at the end of the day, it is what it is. At the end of the day all of this is your life. Nothing more, but definitely nothing less.