Facebook

Pooh, bless that toy bear, is smart.

Last night (or early this morning – can’t remember – depends on the time zone), I decided to deactivate my Facebook. Mainly because I just wanted to be alone.

WRONG MOVE. I can’t play my games and apps the whole day! So think. Think. Think. Remember the teachings of Pooh.

Or if you’re a Buddhist: Meditate. Meditate. Meditate.

Or if you’re my friend: Chill. Chill. Chill.

Or if you’re my cousin: Don’t be stupid.

Totally useless deactivation. Well not really. Knowing I did not have my Facebook helped me practiced my piano. It’s just that the realisation of Facebook ruling my life is a bit… sad.

Eff “Sign in with Facebook”. You know?

Facebook

Manila, My Manila

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I was talking to Mandy last Saturday, just hanging out really, like what we used to do as eight year olds. She was telling me how this boy is making her life hell. I was there to listen to her but somehow, the conversation turned to Manila.

“I always go home to my hometown to chill with my friends; it’s just… not good here,” she said.

“Yeah, Manila can be a very lonely place.”

Manila is a lonely place. Any big city, I think is. The irony of having millions in it yet feeling alone is a bit daunting if you’re new. I like it sometimes, I thrive being alone, but as time goes, I get cranky. It’s shitty. I GET CRANKY!

You know how nature affects your overall aura or whatever? I believe that. I seek nice environs and unfortunately (or fortunately), Manila is not my thing. I need to escape. You know how Scarlett copes in Lost in Translation? Yeah. That. Tsk, I know.

Smog is pretty at sundown though.

Manila, My Manila

Easter Post (or an open letter to myself)

You know easter is all about bunnies, right? Hell no. Last year I remember sitting in an assembly (or they call it worship back in Brent) that talked about easter. For the first time, it made sense to me. I know I’m a bit of a retard: 23 (back then) and she doesn’t know what easter stood for.

Change. Resurrection. Molting. Whatever nature calls it, I call it waking up.

Past days, weeks were too… manic. Too tight. I blame it on Manila, mainly because it’s not the best place to be (more on this later), but who the hell am I kidding? I can be in Subic and still be like… Okay, no. It’s the place. If I were on the beach, or near the sea, it would differ. But really? Am I that shallow?

I refuse to believe so.

I am a control freak, sure, maybe we’re alike. If I don’t get the things the way I like it, I get disappointed, which is pointless, really. It’s like arguing with reality. Imagine getting mad at the sun because it’s too hot. That’s crazy. The sun is just doing its job.

Me getting mad or paranoid about small things – pointless. I wasn’t like this before. But I know I have it in me, the glint of positivity. Actually, today, I know I’m bringing me back. The normal, logical, happy me. Thanks to these guys here:

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Yup. Acrobats. There was this kid there, probably 8 years old. Frail. Stick thin. He’s working on his summer holiday instead of playing; working for kids like him, doing death-defying stunts to keep other 8 year olds happy. Measly pay too. Is he happy? Yeah. I can see it in his face. Perfect.
Me? I have my own space, get paid decently, a stable job, a decent internet connection;

A loving boyfriend, a supportive family, crazy friends — all of them putting up with my shit. Bless them.

SO WHY THE HELL AM I COMPLAINING?

If you don’t need it, man, chuck it. I don’t need this negative shit. I want to be awesome.

Today, April 17, is my Easter Wednesday. I’m baaaaaaack.

Theme song: Let Go

Word of the day: Chill.

I love you guys. Signing out.

Ella

Easter Post (or an open letter to myself)

Instant Gratification and Me

Lately, I have been having trouble with control. That has always been my weakness. Anyway, I read this article from a magazine I brought from my parents’ house. I just had to post it to remind myself that I need to learn how to wait.

Image And be a Jedi. Not a Simpson.

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The Tweeting, Yelping, Flickring, Foursquaring, TripAdvising Mentality

MICHAEL A. STUSSER on the wildly overstimulated brain.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me one of those smartypants TED videos featuring some brainiac who babbles over a slide show for eighteen minutes or less on how he or she is more accomplished in a field  of expertise than I’ll ever be. Case in point: Louie Schwartzberg. Lou is an award-winning cinematographer who has spent the last thirty years shooting time-lapse photography in rain forests all over the world. The clips in his presentation were breathtaking. You know the scene: dewdrops slide down flower petals in the mist, monarch butterflies softly land on mossy pads, and the sunlight glimmers through the clouds floating past the canopy overhead, completing the circle of life.

After viewing this slo-mo masterpiece, did I contemplate for a moment the stunning splendor of science? Did I join Earth First! and begin to defend our precious and limited resources? Did I make a pledge to kick-start my own artistic acumen and bring it to the ignorant masses? No. Instead, I closed the YouTube  window, saw a red circle with the number four on my inbox, clicked that icon, and moved on to  the next thing. The impulse running through my wildly overstimulated brain was simply, “What’s next?”

This Louie character had wallowed in a muddy Peruvian bog for three decades to bring me closer to God or creation or nature or enlightenment, and I had left his vision behind for a cat video. And not Cat Stevens, either. (That would have almost justified the jump…) A blind cat flailing at a hair dryer. What’s NEXT ? How ’bout a straitjacket?

Today’s Tweeting, Yelping, Flickring, Foursquaring, TripAdvising mentality generates such a carnivorous hunger for stimulation and instant gratification that, no matter how much storytelling, love, humor, philosophy, music, contemplative content, 3-D imagery, or wisdom we shove into our systems, it still leaves us wanting.

Posts and links and apps and texts—ew—and memes and mashups and tweets and tags and viral vids and blogs—eww—and pics and FAILs and eVites—ewww—are flying at us so fast we no longer give them the due respect they might very well deserve. It’s been called Digital Distraction or Modern Multitasking Madness, but a better moniker might be Frenzied Facebooking Feed Fragmentation. It’s one thing to get momentarily distracted from your tea leaves by a hummingbird at the window. Angry Birds on your lap while driving the minivan and perusing your network posts is a far more dangerous endeavor.

Our perennial Googling is like an insane speed round in the game show of existence. “Tammy, for a grand prize of one billion dollars, tell me the first thing that pops into your head, and relate that thing to five other completely random things—and you win!” There’s nothing wrong with instant access to entire volumes of work. It’s very cool, in fact, that the entire Library of Congress is at our fingertips. But just because you can download War and Peace onto your Kindle in four seconds doesn’t mean you should only spend five minutes reading it. We need to stretch—to explore deep concepts, as well as kitty porn. Yet not only do we demand instant access, we also insist that every resulting experience be three minutes or less.

Forget listening to Martin Luther King’s entire “I Have a Dream” speech. We’ve got no time for that! Luckily, we can just fast-forward to the twenty-two-minute mark where MLK says the famous catchphrase. And speaking of famous heroes reduced to soundbites, the History Channel has compiled mini-clips from the twenty-five best biography movies ever. Who is not going to waste five and a half minutes on that?

Sadly, our smartphones, laptops, and tablets have weakened our natural intelligence (and sense of direction) and, worse, left us with no stamina. My recent history lesson on the Middle East can easily be found in my search history. It began with a Google search of “Arab Spring,” then it jumped to women and the Arab Spring and to a few pictures I’m not proud of. After that it went to an amazing 9/11-conspiracy video, holiday-shopping ideas on Amazon, and the Qaddafi death video. Lesson complete! I’ve consumed and then dismissed so many links, posts, videos,  and songs in the last few years that I’ve become numb to the true experience of the artist, the artistic process, or how to absorb information and knowledge into my life. Watching a DVD of the Dalai Lama’s teachings, I actually paused during his opening remarks to skip to the bonus scenes in the menu! What the hell was I looking for? A gag reel? I guess the “chapters” on enlightenment, emptiness, and compassion didn’t hold anything for me, which is exactly the point!

There’s a movement afoot to “get lost.” People are going to extreme measures just to get out of cell-tower distance and/or remove themselves from the web—taking up sailing or outermost hiking or going on NLS (No Longer Surfing) retreats. Running away from civilization seems a bit extreme when it might be easier to simply turn off your PDA for a few hours. But either way, it takes discipline—every day—to put down the iPhone and step away from the data, even for just a while. Another way into mindfulness is to absorb yourself fully in to a particular topic (i.e., single-tasking)—Sanskrit or yoga or scrapbooking or making shortbread cookies—and then, instead of moving on to the next thing, stay with the moment at hand. 

Last week I interviewed a lovely singer/songwriter named Star Anna on a podcast I co-host in Seattle. Star chatted about her inspirations, her struggles, and her day job (at a doggy daycare), and then sang a few songs from her new album. That afternoon I went home, bought her album on iTunes, and cranked the thing nonstop. (The band rocks like T. P. and the Heartbreakers on steroids!) The next day I decided to support my local indie record store and got her second CD, and then I downloaded her debut album. Within three days, I’d gone through her entire body of work and, once again, paused only long enough to ask myself the question: What’s next?

This young woman had spent the last decade painstakingly mining nuggets from her life, crafting songs, blistering fingers, developing a unique style of music, sleeping in crappy motels, and playing coffeehouses and dive bars to support herself. In forty-eight hours, I’d consumed her entire catalog, devoured the contents, and, still ravenous, wanted more.What’s next? How about taking five minutes to read the lyrics?

For those of you who are not geriatric (i.e., you were born after 1964), I will now regale you with a tale from 1977. There was once a very original and highly anticipated movie called Star Wars. It blew audiences away with its futuristic vision, Zen philosophy, fast action, and damn fine acting. After breaking every box office record, fans of the film (and that was pretty much everyone on the planet at the time) waited three years for the sequel. Three long years. No one demanded Tweets from the director, behind-the-scenes teasers, or videoblogs from stars on set. After The Empire Strikes Back smashed more box office records, we waited another three years for the final chapter in this epic trilogy! And it was FUN to wait! As the anticipation grew, people shared their hopes for their favorite characters, brainstormed upcoming plotlines, and rehashed all the great scenes from the previous films. Point being, patience is a virtue! Good things do come to those who wait! Nine-hundred-year-old Yoda said it best: “Control, control. You must learn control.” 

 
Michael A. Stusser is a co-creator of several board games, including Hear Me Out, which was launched at Starbucks. He’s also the author of The Dead Guy Interviews: Conversations with 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious, and Deceased Personalities in History.

From the September 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine. Click here to browse the entire issue online.

Instant Gratification and Me

Hold Hands and Never Let Go

My cousin wrote this in her blog:

Forever. Does it exist? Or did we just watch it in movies and heard it in songs? Seriously?! What the f*ck is FOREVER?!

I like to believe that forever is saying “Hey! You still here?!” every single day. We are all worried that our partner will leave us, on both parts, but then you wake up next to the person everyday and you’ll never run out of surprises even if you’ve been together 50 years, every morning saying “Hey! You still here?!” (not leaving me after 100 months of fighting, debates, disagreements, failed surprises, a bouquet of roses, flop movies and stargazing).

So what is forever to me? It’s a verb. A verb that you will not realize you are doing as long as you’re with someone you love. “Hey! You still here?!”

Yeah, what is forever?

For me it is, never letting go. Forever is never giving up: you can pause but don’t give up. Forever is unlimited, therefore everything is possible in forever: ups and downs and messy bedsides with broken glasses, and still being there.

Being there and never giving up on what you have. Not much of a task if you’re bathed in love. And yes, that entails a surprise that says “You still here?!” despite all our idiosyncrasies and faults.

And yes, it is a verb. It is an action word. Action, which means, you don’t sit on your ass waiting for it to happen. You make it happen.

“You still here?!”

Hold Hands and Never Let Go