#SuicideAwarenessDay

That moment when you’re so eager to write about something you feel so strongly about that a million words are begging to burst out and be written but at the same time as the pen hovers over the paper, nothing comes out- not a single word, well I’m having one such moment. I’m just unsure of how to begin this. Do I start with statistics or quotes or pictures or my own experience or someone else’s that has helped shape my own? Something compelling enough to interest you but honest still that it remains as meaningful as it should. Let me start with this:

Suspend your judgments. Suicide isn’t just about statistics, it’s about stories.

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Some of you will judge this entry the same way you judge every person who committed suicide or have tried to, with extreme prejudice and I ask for the sake of this day and this discussion that you open your mind to opinions other than your own. The fault of this bunch, which I don’t find a fault at all but many will, is how we see things. You see them at eye level, for what it is. We see them from overhead, standing on a table and seeing ourselves in comparison to others, in association with things we don’t have or the person we can never be, happy.

I will not generalize the neigh sayers, they come from different backgrounds and varied beliefs, nor will I stereotype those who have had this problem. Trust me they’re not always the guy with the heavy eyeliner make up and a blade pendant secured around his neck. It’s not as plain and black and white as that. Sometimes it’s the town’s golden girl who maintains straight As and is quietly drowning in the pressure of perfection or maybe the quiet kid who sits at the back of the class who is invisible to everyone but the restroom mirror where he spends his lunch dismantling a sharpener.

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To them suicide is a way out, not selfish but reasonable. To stay in a cycle where you’re constantly unhappy and alone, feeling either like a huge disappointment or anonymous is not worth living over every single day. That thought consumes you and dulls every form of happiness most people savor. TELLING US TO GET IT TOGETHER AND DISMISSING OUR WORRIES WON’T HELP BECAUSE REALLY WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE BRUSHING US OFF. Were you even listening or were you too busy judging us and labeling our problem  non existent because it’s not cancer or ebola virus?

I am in no way advocating for suicide, not because it’s cowardly but because YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE. Trust me when I say that no matter how bleak and dark your life is right now, I need you to hang in there. YOU ARE WORTH EVERYDAY YOU FIGHT FOR. YOU WILL FIND HAPPINESS ONE DAY AND IT WILL BE EVEN MORE WORTH IT BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW HARD YOU FOUGHT FOR IT. I’m sorry you had to in the first place but trust that your strong enough to overcome this and know that wherever you are, no matter how alone you feel, you never are. 

And to those whose made it and are now happier and better, I am so proud of you. You deserve every praise for deciding to stay and choosing to stick with it every single day since. I wish you the happiest of days, you deserve no less for the courage and strength you’ve shown. There may still be rough patches ahead but find comfort in the fact that the enemy you fought already lost a few times before and you have the upper hand because you’re stronger than all you demons.

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My friend mentioned a few days ago how pointless suicide hotlines are because if you really wanna kill yourself, why would you want someone to stop you? She has a good point actually and I’ve considered coming up with alternatives. Although I’d like to think that it’s because most of them, deep down just want a reason to stay. Here’s one:

Everyone is worth saving. YOU ARE WORTH SAVING.

So be it on #SuicideAwarenessDay or any other day of the year, if you ever feel like throwing in the towel, talk to someone. Sometimes we only need reminding of how much we’re worth. There’s no shame in that.

And to everyone else reading this post, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to be nicer, more open-minded and understanding of people whose circumstances may be far from your own. Give that shy guy beside you a chance. Talk to the girl who consciously fiddles with her shorts at gym class. Avoid stereotyping the abrasive jock loitering the hallway. Tweet someone you’ve never talked to words encouragement when she seems down and ask about her day. Get to know to know them and give them more reasons to love the lives the they have and the people that they are. A simple act of care and kindness will go a long way especially to someone who doubts he’ll ever get any.

You matter.

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choices

CHOICE

It’s probably one of the most overused words in the English dictionary. Often we don’t even know the gravity of the word when we make them. We hurry with our lives making one choice after another unaware of many who cannot exercise them or are too afraid to while the other half overuse and manipulate them without fear or caution because they can and we’re too oblivious or apathetic to notice.

Personally choices scare me, not that ‘what should I order’ or ‘is this pink enough’ kind but the ‘do I know where my life is going’ kind. That fear that wakes you up at 3 AM and leaves you sleepless until the light seeps through your shades. I lay there, staring at the ceiling asking myself if all the choices I made up to this point are those that I can live with, much more be happy with. I play different scenarios in my head. What if I went to a different uni? What if I majored in something else? What if I never met my best friends? What if I followed my heart more times that I followed my logic? Where would I be? Would I happier?

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Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverge in a yellow road. I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” Doesn’t it get lonely though? Looking at the path few took, seeing only your track marks. Knowing full well that each time you look back or to your side, you won’t see anyone. You took the road less traveled by.

You know in your heart you SHOULD be happy because you made the good choice but there are days and more nights when you think there was a BETTER choice. Maybe you didn’t have to give up so much to get to where you are or where you wanna be.

I guess we all doubt our choices sometimes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 5 year old deliberating on another cookie before dinner or a dad setting aside money for his daughter’s college fund instead of spending in on booze in the pub with his work friends. There are days when you’ll wallow in the ‘what ifs’. There’s no shame in that. Find comfort in the fact that it’s human nature to wonder especially when we’re given reasons to.

I’ve made a lot of screwed up decisions in my life and I’m sure I’ll make a few more. To be honest, there are times when I want a do over, a reboot, another shot at the opportunities I missed or trade for those I took but then I look at those people I’ve met, things I accomplished and who I’ve become, I feel a bit better. That’s not to say my demons are always silent, they still claw at me some days and make me feel like an utter failure.

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I guess I want tell you that if you ever feel stupid or annoyed or defeated about the bad choices you’ve made, don’t beat yourself up further. You’re allowed to make them and you can feel bad for them. You can hang around under a dark cloud for a bit and think about why it didn’t work out. You don’t have to move on in an instant as people expect you too. YOU CAN FEEL, YOU’RE ALLOWED THAT MUCH.

Of the hundreds of choices we make in a day, at least one is bound to be wrong. That’s okay. Just remind yourself that there’s always a takeaway in every choice, bad or good. Savor the good and learn from the bad and hope that you’ll make not just better choices but CHOICES THAT ARE BETTER FOR YOU.

the MAZE RUNNER trilogy

Allow the inner book-beast in me to rejoice in finally finding the time to finish the Mazerunner trilogy written by James Dashner. I recommended the first book to you guys a few weeks back along with a few other must-reads with the highest praises and yes, with the slight disappointment that it’s just 3 books.

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I knew from the first 10 pages it was gonna be an interesting read. You could say it’s a personal prejudice of mine since I’ve always openly said that I LOVE DYSTOPIAN NOVELS (let the caps be a guage as to how much) and the reviews have described it as such but to be quite honest, I don’t think you’ll realize that it belongs to that genre until much later, much much later (as in last-few-chapters later).

Personally, the complexity of logic behind the story presented in the simplest, most relatable but exhilirating manner allowed me to empathize with characters (Thomas, Minho and the Chancellor Paige especially) and understand the plot as if it was happening to me. I believe that to be a difficult feat particularly in futuristic books where the scenarios are often exaggerated and unimaginable.

The trilogy reminds me of George Orwell’s 1984 and Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go only targeted to a different demographic, much younger. That allowed the plot to zoom in on responses of teens to extreme situations which would normally make you question the significance of a moral high ground. Also being relatively young, you do ask, ‘What would I have done in their position?’

photo from insidemovies.ew.com

*A word of warning: the indented text is a rough retelling of the trilogy (Mazerunner, Scorch Trials and Death Cure)

It follows the life of Thomas who woke up aboard a lift, memory swiped and purpose unclear to a group of around 50 boys living in what they call the ‘Glades’. He soon discovers that the high walls surrounding the Glades doesn’t just keep the people in but keep Grievers, advanced technological killing machines, out. As he fights to regain his memory, make friends and find a way out, he realizes the biggest problem yet- they’re trapped in a maze and the only hope of freedom is to brave running through the moving walls, past the grievers and into the exit they’re yet to find.

When the first girl, Teresa, was sent to the Glades only a day after Thomas came, she triggers a set of forces that make their home unlivable- no sun, walls to protect them or food supplies to get them through. They’re forced to escape the Glades once and for all. After an ordeal of an escape and many lives lost, they finally thought they were safe only to find out that Phase 2 begins after just a long night’s rest.

They were soon told that they were expected to journey 100 miles north to the Safe Haven, through the abnormally excruciating  heat, across a city filled with incurable, disease-infected and crazed inhabitants  the world calls cranks to obtain a promised cure to the now well-spread pandemic that wiped out most the population and turned the rest paranoid. All these, they’ll later on find out is but an experiment implemented by WICKED to find a cure to the very disease most of the Gladers are immune to.

In a world victimized by the Sun’s angry outbursts, where governments have fallen, the only hope of humanity is riddled with questionable morals, every city is quarantined and cranks crawl every unprotected structure, how would anybody cope?

Again, sorry for the few spoilers. I managed to avoid the names, some crucial details and the actual ending of the last book but I hope you do get a relatively clear picture of the plot and the intent of the author.

Trust me when I say that it’s one of the best dystopian novels out and available but even if that’s not you’re kind of read, you’ll love the wit and sarcasm of the characters balanced out by their humanity in an obviously inhumane situation.

Happy reading! Good that.

commas and periods (a tribute to the How I Met Your Mother Finale)

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t watched the final episode of How I Met Your Mother Season 9 yet then reading this entry is probably not the best idea but if you don’t mind spoilers at all or have fallen victim to other spoilers  (like what my twitter followers did to me) then go right ahead. 

First things first.

WE DO KNOW WHO THE MOTHER IS and yes, Ted married the mother after some years and 2 kids. Barney and Robin got divorced, tried to stay friends but ended up following their own pre-wedding patterns. Barney wrote his second Playbook and Robin became an international news anchor. Although Lily tried to keep the gang together, their meet- ups got rarer and rarer which was expected for most friends with families, careers and responsibilities. Barney’s old ways finally caught up with him when he got someone pregnant. He was quite apprehensive at first but then we saw the Barney that Robin fell inlove with when he finally saw his daughter for the first time.  

And then after some blissful time together, Tracy got sick and passed away. In the end, Ted is shown finally concluding his 9 season long story about how he met the mother to his 2 kids. His kids point out that although he labeled the story to be about the mother, it was really about how he has kept his feelings for Robin all these years. They’ve always had some sort of a spark and the kids, well now teens, are okay with that and they give him their blessing to go after Robin finally.

Now what does that story have to do with commas and periods? Don’t worry this entry isn’t just an excuse to vent out my frustration about match airing fails and spoilers. I know there are some readers here who aren’t fans of the show but I’ve been following that HIMYM since I was a freshman in high school. It was always funny but more than that it has a way of introducing life lessons that’s subtle but isn’t lost in translation. 

So here’s my take on it.

You know how period is always the goal of the sentence and commas, although they’re important, they’re just marks that come before it all ultimately ends with a period. I always thought that the mother, when she was introduced would be Ted’s period. She will be the answer to his 9 seasons-worth of mishaps, insane women and thank-goodness-it’s-over experiences. For awhile it seemed like she was. All the mysteries in all the 10 years it has aired led to their meeting  by the train stop. It makes sense because the way they built her character, she was really what he thought he’d end up with but never met. They were happy and it seemed like she was the period to his messy but definitely interesting sentence.

Then…

Tracy died and Ted finds his way back to Robin. The mother, the character to which his entire story was leading towards, isn’t the period after all. She was just one of the commas along the way, granted maybe a more important and a more strategically placed comma but a comma nevertheless. It seems that Robin was ALWAYS the love of Ted’s life and although I have been a supporter of their relationship from the start, it got me to thinking.

Is the comma okay with being just another step towards the period?

Because to be quite honest, even if I’m not sure I even have a romantic bone in my body, I’d like to believe that I deserve to be a period in someone’s life too. I deserve to be a Robin to a lucky Ted. 

 

why fortune cookies make so much sense

Who here loves Chinese food? *raises hand eagerly and flings it back and forth* Well, I live for them. I find them very comforting, probably because my parents have this favorite Chinese place we’d always go to when I was growing up. Their food is mouth-watering good and they’re not even that expensive.

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Like in most Chinese restos, you get a fortune cookie after the meal (in this resto’s a case, a fortune cupcake- you might remember an entry I wrote about it awhile back) and they’re filled with some Chinese wisdom that, according to the waiters, is especially suited for you. Somehow the kitchen gods guide their chefs to put just the right message for the right person- they say.

Is it the cookie or me?

It got me to thinking. Do we really get the perfect fortunes for us or do we make it fit perfectly? Like when we ask for signs, do we really wait religiously for something to manifest proving that the universe wills us to make a decision or do we interpret random, uncoordinated events as more than they are- just events that happen from time a to time b?

I think that when we want our fortunes to make sense, it does and often when we want to act all skeptical, it doesn’t. We can blame the fates for most of it but partly we too play a role in those fortunes. We interpret them, weave them into our lives so it makes sense or it doesn’t. Maybe that’s why a lot of people believe in fortunes because secretly and maybe subconsciously, they actually know what they want that note to read. A note that says, ‘stay strong’ may mean a million different things to a million different people, probably so far from what it means to you but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Fortune cookies make sense because we allow them to.

There is a reason why fortune-telling, mediums and the like is a million dollar industry. We love filling in the blanks. We almost can’t help but respond to random thoughts and make it our own. Does this mean that fortune cookies are of no sense? Does it mean we have to believe messages sent to us by the universe are all a figment of our creative minds? Depends, on you that is. I know I’ll still be very happy to get my free fortune cookies at any resto and I’ll probably still frequent temples to get my palms read

but…

I’m also reminded that in the end I have the power to interpret those fortunes. I can make them into anything I want them to mean. It’s true for everything else that happens in life. You can blame it on fate but how you weave it to your life, that’s on you.

life happens

Lately I’ve been thinking about cosmic events and connections. Oh you know what I mean, those seemingly random things that happen to you that later on in life you realize are are actually turning points. They’re more important than you first thought they’d be.

5 years ago, I was sitting on my own right outside our classroom when one of my blockmates (that means we’re taking the same major) sat beside me and told me one of those WTH-were-you-thinking jokes. You have to understand we’ve met only a week or so before and we’ve never actually had one decent conversation. He sat beside me, told me his joke (a little to eagerly), said thanks then left. I mean, ‘WHAT?!’ Random right? Later on I found out that his brother suggested that cracking a joke is good way to gain a friend and so he did.  I didn’t really think much of that night until later, very later on, when he became one of my best friends.

And I laughed, not at the joke but how he came up to me just to say it. photo from coadygallantphoto.tumblr.com

So I’m thinking, would we have been friends had I gone home early that evening? Would we still have been friends if I walked out on him and his utterly strange way of making friends? Would I have been comfortable opening up to him about my problems  later on that week had he not made a silly move first? If the answer is YES to all those, then are there truly any significant moments that turn the wheel for everything else? Or if not, then would we have remained awkward acquaintances all throughout college? I’d like to think that the answer is the latter, partly because it’s more interesting that way but mostly because I’ve always believed in the Law of Interaction (yes Newton’s for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction).  When he decided to break the ice and when I decided to go with the flow that night, we set into motion a friendship that’s built on comfort and acceptance of each others quirks.

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I really really hope I’m right about this one (fingers crossed and all) because just the other day I think one of those might have happened again as I decided to walk under the heat of the sun rather than hail a cab. An old friend, one I haven’t seen in years came up to me and offered to share his umbrella. Talk about random!

an act of random kindness

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This made me feel uncomfortable in the best possible way. I’m not sure if I can ever make that big of an impact on anyone but I sure could try. You can never really tell whose life you can change by one random act of kindness so make a habit of it.