Chris McCandless Into the Wild

I have not been touched by a movie lately as that of the true life story of a young man called Chris McCandless. The movie was based on a novel, I think, by his younger sister. Anyway, except for the images I checked on google, I didn’t want to read any criticism about the life story, else my perception might be affected. There was, I think a proposition not to talk about Chris any longer.

But why not?

I was able to relate with Chris.

Chris was a man in search of his self, his being. He yearned to feel joy and happiness that couldn’t be gratified by the existence he was in.

Chris comes from a rich family. He went to college and graduated. He was an adorable lad, someone you would like for a son, someone you would like for a brother, someone you would like for a boyfriend.

Somewhere in his childhood though, he realized that he has two warring parents. Somewhere in his adolescence, he discovered he has an older brother whom his father never acknowledged as his son by another woman.

Chris breezed through life the protective brother, the ideal student, the traveler. He loved going on adventures.

Right after graduation from college, he did just that. He turned down the gift of a new car, gave his law school money to charity, and disappeared into the highways and byways by a different name: Alexander Supertrump.

Destination: Alaska. A rover wandering in search of a meaning.

Along the way, Chris met a few people. He was the congenial, most likely a gregarious company one would love to spend hours working with or just have a conversation with, or just keep quiet with.

He enjoyed the experiences as if he was born to be free, not trapped in a rich family, business or politics. Those things he resent, without offending anyone.

And when he reached Alaska, the wild area, he found a rusty bus that he turned into his shelter, his abode. And he discovered his happiness. He was overjoyed by the view of the majestic scenes on the horizon, overwhelmed by his becoming a hunter. It was the hermit existence. And he loved it. He was born for it.

And one thing with Chris, he reads and writes.

He loved Leo Tolstoi and Jack London. Perhaps that was the reason. He felt his self fed up with society’s hypocrisy. He felt his self invited into the wild. None most satisfying. To be free.

Did it occur to him that solitary existence could be fatal? Yes. But it was a life’s adventure to take that risk.

In the end, Chris died of starvation, because he couldn’t cross back the river, and he couldn’t hunt for food. Even the berries that he ate turned out poisonous.

A tragic story of a brave soul. Given the strength and vivaciousness, I would probably device my own adventure. For what could be more compelling to know that one could be attuned with the great creation, in the brightest of days, the darkest and coldest of nights,to admire the beauty of snow caps, smell the freshness of the trees, hear the music of the wilds, the sound of silence, and inhale the marvelous scents and exhales into the greatness of the earth and the heavens.

If Chris survived, he could have put into words a story of love. But it was not meant to be. Chris story is a lesson for us, to be true with our selves, to find beauty and joy and happiness. It was his regret, because albeit he felt happiness, it would have been real if he had shared it.

Find your peace, Chris, you already have shared your happiness. My turn to say Thank you, you are worth knowing.

What we truly celebrate on the first of January.

For our 2017 New Year’s Mass, we trooped to the Shrine of the Divine Word. As blessed as I felt, thankful enough for being in the company of my daughters this New Year’s Day, I did receive a most wondrous of homilies from a missionary priest.

He said that there was a common factor among the Archbishops of New York, Archbishop of Chicago, and Archbishop of Los Angeles, they all in agreement that the Filipino is the new chosen people set to bring our faith into the corners of the world. Why? Because the Filipino fill the churches come Mass time.

Once, when this same priest was studying French, he was summoned by his teacher who resided on the third floor of a building. He was made to witness an empty promenade, vacant for many decades, until the Filipino set foot in France, and filled the cobblestones with devotees wanting to hear Mass.

Yes, the faith of the Filipino is formidable as a rock. Sent on a diaspora to many corners of the world, the Filipino, specifically the Filipino mothers, or the women who worked, initially as domestic helps and caregivers, nurses or entertainers, artists, etcetera, when faced with hardship and trouble, turn to faith and cling to that hope, that God will ease the difficulties that beset their situations. Thus, the churches filled with black-haired Filipinos.

Further, what is most unusual in the Filipino is their utmost devotion to the Blessed Mother. How the Filipino pay Her with most high regard, calling Her Mama Mary, like She is their very own Mother.

Yes, the Filipino is a chosen race, chosen to bring to the world the love of family, the devotion to mother, and the deep faith that transcends trials.

Then the missionary priest asked us to kneel, to give honor to that Mother called Mary and Her Child Jesus, with Joseph by Their side, because They set the example of FAMILY, that which binds the Filipino, that which the Filipino lives for.

The missionary priest said that after the Mass, he would have to make his own journey home, because his own mother makes a head count, and the priest is always late, for her Mano Po, Inay blessing.

That is what we celebrate today, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

Of course, this blog is a short summation of that doctrinal homily, I just hope that we know why we celebrate today.

For my own Mommy, I miss you. And Lola Naty and Lola Oda, too.

Christmas Music

We get lost with the wonderful lights and decorations, the hustle and bustle, the shallow exchange of recycled gifts.

I feel bad about it, too.

But whenever I hear Christmas music, the Carol of the Bells, the jingling and giddy-yap of all merry a gentlemen come ships a sailing, a drummer boy drumming, all on a quiet, silent night, one holy night, for a Babe born in a little town of Bethlehem, oh, I do feel all warm and wonderful,

Today, though, my daughter sang and played on the piano Hallelujah, Hmmm. Pretty intense. And how mind-boggling on a Christmas Day.

Then she played “I wanna build a snowman” and said it’s on Disney’s Christmas playlist. Okay.

Nothing to this post Just enjoying the Christmas music.

Cracked.

Advent is a season for reflection, the time one reviews one’s self, not simply as preparation for Christmas, but this time and age, when millennials race for their dreams and ambitions their techie/selfie way, this is the one moment they stop to think about their wish lists and their resolutions.

It’s a juvenile thing that I didn’t expect to find my self into. I have had my life and lived it, and I am grateful for the simple and yet stress-laden life. Whose life isn’t, any way?

My meditation though springs not from more desires but from the misgivings friendships has disillusioned me with. I have deleted friends from my life, friends I shared my secrets and my passion with, friends I went running and swimming with, friends I spent hours on the jurassic telephone with, trading tips on this and that, friends I sat on recitals with and shared moments of fun and laughter over dinner tables, pricey or otherwise.

Who would think that someone you trust your life with could be jealous or envious or sour with you, when all the time, you believe that love abounds in that friendship. Exactly how I felt when a friend told me she didn’t like my daughter. Wow. I didn’t know how to take that. Another told me that I must not narrate stories about my daughter not unless she is boarded a plane to jet set the world. I was shocked. Another friend estimated my daughter’s future pay, which she believes will be totally super in comparison to her own child’s pay. How we got fast forward into the future, I didn’t know, but I was fine with the today’s meals, no matter how humble.

And when someone calls me best friend for life but does not return my calls nor messages, comes to me only when she needs me, I think I have to redefine the acronym BFF. It doesn’t sound right.

I am cracked. Honestly, when I decided to end the friendships. there was a pain that pinched my heart. I allowed a few tears to roll down my cheeks. It was for the sadness over the loss of people I thought loved me back. Hu Hu

So, in my melancholic state, I have resolved to start friendships again, with fresh faces from the strangers I meet. There is the newspaper peddler who was surprised I sat beside him for a chat, the grocery cashiers and baggers, the disers. the guards, the mendicant children who got ecstatic over a loaf of bread or the value-pack meals I give them from 7-11.

For a time, I didn’t think of these lowly people as friends. They were just there at the moment. But when I see them again. they become ecstatic, delighted to see me and strike another quick chat about anything under the sun. I indulge them, of course, I realized that I have so much time to pour in a thought or two to people who genuinely listen. These ordinary people are so true, grateful for the little time I was with them, and wish me safe and all right when I say good-bye.

I don’t think I am cracked any more.

What to write in my own Bucket List…

Some people I know have crossed out items in their Bucket Lists, and are down to just a few items more, and yet I have to write mine.

I have learned about the Bucket List sometime ago, when I noticed a friend on facebook forever adding places to visit in her own Bucket List. And it seemed to me her list will have no ending, for there is as much more exciting place some corner of this earth that will be good to visit.

Anyway, after a few attempts to watch the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman starred movie entitled The Bucket List, I finally got to finish the movie today. And what a heart opening movie it is.

The story revolves around two  completely different strangers who went to see the world, instead of lying down in the hospital for treatments of their terminal illnesses. in the process of living out the adventures of their lifetime, they get to fulfill their simple but very meaningful wishes in the Bucket List.

The Bucket List is actually a list of things one desires to fulfill while one awaits death.

But why wait when one is ill or old? We can make our Bucket Lists early on, and see if we could cross out some of the items we have done.

Mine is difficult to make, because I still have to search my heart about my dearest desires. But here’s a start. (for editing later, pending more wishes) Not necessarily in the order of importance.

  1. Watch people sip coffee while reading books in my own library.
  2. Sign an autograph on any of my blogs.
  3. Ride a jet. (Far flung)
  4. Adopt a child.
  5. See the Northern Lights.
  6. Walk the slopes of Ireland and dance in a tavern.
  7. Take care of my own grandchildren.
  8. Read the Bible cover to cover, one more time.
  9. Find a best friend.
  10. Embrace my family who lives in Los Angeles.

For all the imperfect people.

The homily from a young visiting priest we had yesterday was funny. The priest talked about his vocation, as the Gospel was on the calling of the apostles.

The priest said that there was nothing earthshaking about his calling, his was just a simple response to a call he heard. But his family and friends have different opinions about his vocation, and continue to be bewildered by his being a priest. And, as gladly. he allows himself to be the butt of jokes come reunion time, as loved ones swipe their hands on him as if he is a holy icon. Ha ha ha. To them, he is the same guy, nothing super special.

But that is precisely the point. He is not super special. He is not the perfect guy. He has faults. That is why he was called.

God actually called on the imperfect ones to do the job for Him. Abraham is low-key, Noah a little dumb, Moses a coward, Jacob a deceiver, Joseph vengeful, David a wife stealer, Jonas an evader, Samson proud,

The new testament has quite an amazing list, too. Zacharias has a wobbly faith Joseph the carpenter had called feet, John the Baptist a loud hot-head, Magdalene a prostitute. Simon boastful, James has temperament, Zacchaeus a usurer, and Saul a persecutor, or killer of Christians.

These are not exactly the men, or woman, we would want to idolize. And yet, God picked them from many a perfect ones. But when they responded, they delivered.

So, it is not that you and I, imperfect as we are, that God has not chosen us. He has called us already, actually. It is our turn to make the response.

Have you?

If you haven’t, then, what are you waiting for? Time is of the essence, brother,

What Bucket List?

I call my sister every dawn, Manila time. That is sometime in the afternoon, I suppose, LA time. We talk about this and that, mostly about our family, the every day thing.

This morning though, she told me that the cross stitch she worked on after our Mommy passed away was in her Bucket List. Although I have an idea that the list is supposed to be about the things that one likes to do, or as one friend puts it on facebook, about the places one wants to visit, I really have no idea why it is called a Bucket List.

So, Google shows me Bucket List is a Morgan Freeman/Jack Nicholson movie, the two on my long list of credible actors. Why did I miss this 2007 movie? I don’t know. In 2007, if I remember right, was the last time I saw and hugged my parents. It was also the year my Jean graduated from High School, the year she entered college, and the year the termites crept inside my ceiling.

Just the same, I took a sneak preview of Bucket List. I have not found a complete copy of the movie.

It is sad, I suppose. And it is about people dying, whatever the cause is, and these people are undergoing some sort of introspection about their lives. And these people are left with some wishes they would like to do, with the little time left for them to live.

I am not qualified yet to write my Bucket List. I am not dying yet. But this sure makes me meditate about some things I have probably not done. Oh no, I do not have a grand ambition of walking the Great Wall. nor get myself in a predicament of how to get down from the tip top of the Great Pyramids, lest one gets stuck in the tomb forever, but this sure gets me thinking, what are the things I still want to do at this point in my life.

Good advice, Ate Grace. I will come up with a long one, I think. Somewhere on top of that list is to visit you guys. For there is nothing like family.

 

 

Regarding the Bible…

The Bible never hurts. The Bible is an anthology of the greatest books ever written, and that includes the greatest story ever told, the supreme sacrifice our Lord has offered to save us.

Indeed, the Bible is the history of our salvation, the salvation from the original sin, from which also sprung the first sin on earth, brother killing brother. The Bible is a story of one hurt after another, and it shows how greed and envy, gluttony and lust, anger, sloth and pride consume us. 

Our stories are nothing compared to the intensity of grief experienced by the characters in the Bible. That means, we only have to read and know their stories, and we can discern and make good decisions for our own lives.

Problem is, people put down reading the Bible: one, because of its immensity, and two, many others boast about having read it and sort of condescend others who have not, making the others feel insecure.

i suggest, for those who have not read the Bible, to open to the books of the familiar stories, such as Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel, Abraham, Noah, Moses, David and Goliath, David and Jonathan, David and Saul, Ruth, Esther, Susanna, Judith, and just read on. It is easy to get hooked. I will postpone reading Job for a later time, because of the intensity of pain in the story. Get to Daniel and the Lions, Samson and Delilah, Jonas and the Whale, and the Jericho story, and Gideon. Breeze through the Proverbs and learn much about maxims of life, you can memorize them if you like.

Then go to the Gospel, which we actually know already, because we hear it all the time. I will begin reading with the gospel according to St. Luke, because he presented to gospel like a telenovela. And he wrote the Acts of the Apostles, a continuation of the telenovela.

Have fun reading. The Bible is not a scary stuff. The Bible does not mean to make you feel like a sinner in repentance all the time. The Bible is God’s stories for us, and we must enjoy reading His stories.

My Resolution 2014

What is your New Year’s Resolution? I have one.

Resolution, according to Google, means “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”

In school, every end of the year, or the beginning of a new year, the composition teachers would ask the students, as if there is no other interesting topic in the world, to write a formal theme about personal resolutions. Most often, the writing instructions are phrased in the negative, like, what, in your person, would you like to change. The students are given examples such as: I will study harder, I will not cheat anymore, I will obey my parents from now on, I will not drink colas or the strong stuff anymore, I will not smoke anymore, I will not party too much anymore.

It is as if the students are not studying enough, or are always cheating, disobedient to their parents, drink a lot of prohibited liquid, smoke cigarettes, and party more than school. In the minds of the students, they have to find their faults. In the minds of the students, they have to identify the bad in them, and thereby make resolutions.

I did despise those moments when I have to search the bad in me. I would have liked, instead, to find the good in me, and resolve to make better for another year. If I was a basketball player, I would practice more, so my team could become champs. If I was good in academics, I’d make an extra effort to help a classmate who is behind in Math. If I was a singer, I’d serenade someone who needs cheering up each day.

Resolutions are meant to enhance one’s person. Resolutions are meant to make yet a better person out of the old one.

I am not too old for resolutions. And this 2014, I’d like to look for a downtrodden each day and liven him or her up with a gracious compliment. A stranger to talk to each day, my way of loving my neighbor, my way of loving my self, too.

I’ve been crying!

My daughters call me the Drama Queen, because this past couple of years, the tears easily roll down my cheeks, over something I think I care about. Nope, the soft cries were never triggered by telenovelas, I don’t potato couch for overly scripted melodrama.

The heavens make me cry, or the rainbow that hovered over my home for an hour, the green leaves and the fascinating flowers, and tiny bugs that hide in the bushes, or even the classical music that keep me company while driving.

Something must have snapped inside, for I believe I had been a toughie since after college, when, as I went through the crossroads of life, I found my voice, and had become a fighter and a defender of everything good under the sun. I realized that we are all intertwined in this intricate battle of good and evil. Of course, I was wounded many times, and have scars to prove it, some of them jagged and deep.

Or perhaps, this past two years, my daughters have become adults, that perhaps there is this consciousness, that I can afford not to be as wary anymore, for my girls can handle situations on their own.

But yesterday, on my way home from bringing younger daughter to school, I tuned in to DZRH, for news about the aftermath of Typhoon Labuyo. I listened to Governor Bong (if I got the name of the lady right), as she narrated the missing fisher folks that set off to the high ocean even before the warning about the storm was announced. Fifty fishermen left, and six , all in one boat, did not make it back. One of the six actually texted his family that they will be home in two hours. The town folks waited four hours, considering that the lost boat must have battled the rough waves, but after that, the search and rescue was deployed, the waiting began.

The news made my tears roll down my cheeks again, and for reasons I can now imagine. Those fishermen only wanted to bring home fish for their family, and they lost their lives. These are simple people, with simple dreams, with simple lives, never ever dreamed of gift-wrapping a Porsche, never ever thought of coveting their neighbors’ money. Just some food for the family, after a long day at sea.

And the governor loved her people, perhaps Labuyo lashed her Catanduanes, so that we could hear her tell the story of her people.

Another reason I cried, because I heard a politician speak from her heart.

Perhaps my prayers had finally been answered. With all the unraveling of the Napoles greed, we are presented with a juxtaposition of two images, a rich woman who lived the easy and wealthy life by stealing the people’s money and that of a people who never asked so much for themselves but to live lives fearing God and the ocean.

I cried because finally, I wouldn’t have to fight anymore. Justice is being served. And I could get back to listening to the sonatas and the concertos, and watch the heavens unfold.

Aside

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