the subtle art of listening

What does it really mean to listen? Like most of you I am guilty- guilty of not paying attention every once in awhile (maybe more, I couldn’t really say. I wasn’t exactly paying attention remember?).

If on that day I have much on my mind then it most likely drifts aimlessly to those seemingly important things. Sometimes I have too much to say that I forget you too may need to be heard or I might think that you’ve said your piece just so many damn times, I’d rather not be reminded of it for the nth time. It’s selfish, I know. In all those instances ‘I’ is probably the most overused pronoun.

photo from didiondoll.tumblr.com

You’re not the only person in the conversation and if what you wanna say is interesting or if you believe your opinion to be important then you should give the other person the benefit of being heard and actually considered. He too might say something as interesting if not more. Yapping on and on about your worries, thoughts or achievements without giving so much as a thought or acknowledgement that the other exists is not just rude, it’s actually pretty offensive.

If you’re Ms. Busy and have too much on your plate to be in a conversation then politely tell  whoever is talking to you exactly that. They deserve to know that you’re not in the mood to listen before they start pouring their heart out to you. However if the problem is that you too have something bothering you or are just really excited to relay something that means a lot to you then have the decency to let the other finish. Don’t brush off whatever he just said because you’re in a hurry to get to your topic next. That kind of attitude will guarantee you resentment. If you’re too damn mighty and shucking insensitive then why should anybody listen to what you have to say in the first place. KARMA’S A BITCH and it will not discriminate. Sooner or later, whoever you are, the disrespect (or in some cases, the disregard) for other’s feelings will garner you the same treatment and to be quite honest, you absolutely deserve it.

The last possible reason for brushing someone off and not listening to things they’re saying is that they’ve said it too many times before, you can basically say it back to them. Trust me when I say, I know how that feels. My mind starts drifting the moment that happens and I have to consciously pull myself back to reality and remind myself to pay the least bit attention. If that happens, you have to ask yourself why these words are repated to you ever so often. Do you ever take them seriously? Because the repeatition might be due to your inability to heed them. If on the ther hand, that’s not the case or you don’t agree with that advice then say something because chances are, if you’re tired hearing it, they are also exhausted saying it. No one wants to sound like a broken record- at least, no NORMAL PERSON I know.

Of all my peeves, having someone not pay attention or talk over you is probably one of the worse. TO me it’s not just plain insensitivity, it says a lot about what I mean to you and how our relationship is- what it’s founded on. If you have the audacity to do that and not even flinch then that means I may not matter to you as much as I hoped and our relationship, whatever it is, is as unimportant to you as what I have to say.

I know I might not be the best person to be blogging about this since there are times when I violate the same advices I gave but trust me, on the occasions that I stick to them, everything works out fine. For the other times that I don’t, I’m so sorry- temporary lapse in character. I’m working hard to rid myself of that nasty habit. I hope you will too. 🙂

 

***

And I really just need to add this. If you are with someone, especially if you’re in the middle of a conversation, KEEP YOUR BLOODY PHONE IN YOUR POCKET AND STOP STARING AT IT EVERY 5 SECONDS. You’re busy I get it but it does make me feel like you’d rather not be here. If that’s the case though, then tell me. I at the very least deserve to know that right?

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such a thing as too personal

Lately I’ve noticed more and more people warming up to the idea of affection. Hugging someone or kissing someone on the cheeks are more acceptable now than it was 5 to 10 years ago- which, in my opinion, is good because I love hugs. BUT for some people it just isn’t as welcome so this entry is all about drawing the line between what’s invasive of another’s personal space- physical or otherwise- and what isn’t.

photo from whenyoureallyliveinvarna.tumblr.com

A few weeks ago I was sitting on a train, minding my own business when this middle-aged woman bursts into a full on confrontation about how close to her I was sitting. To be honest, I don’t know what she means. It’s a friggin’ public transport for  Pete’s sake. Does she want me to jump off the train? How far really is ‘not too close’? If there’s one thing I learned though about confrontational and irritable people, it’s never to engage them on a petty matter. The trouble you’ll get into is much worse than the gratification you’ll earn for telling them off so this little lady marched herself a few meters away from her and stood for the next 3 stops.

It did get me to thinking though. How do you really qualify personal space? Physically, does it mean you can’t stand a feet from another person? How about in lines then or public transports or concerts, do you still have to follow that rule? If yes then that is a really impractical way to live and quite frankly, a bit sad. If not, then is it solely based on context then? There are places where you have to keep your distance and there are those where you don’t have to. There are situations, moods even, when you can allow a hug or a greeting and there are situations where you just randomly tell someone sitting right beside you on the train off.

I think the latter makes more sense because majority of people understand that human contact is inevitable in a populated world which means that Ms. Give-Me-My-Personal space  must be a having a meltdown to snap at me like that. So here’s my advice if ever this happens to you, calm down and let it go. Trust me, she knows she was being silly but even if she never realizes it, a seat beside someone who can go off like that is never worth it. *wink*

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deleting comments

Posting online takes a lot of bravery.

Granted we are protected by a veil of anonymity and very few if not none will be able to tell who we really are when we decide to hide behind the masks of our online names but it doesn’t make us any less vulnerable to judgements  made by our fellow netizens. The pang of anger and hurt we feel when we read derogatory comments about our posts, what we stand for or, much worse, who we are as people is not diminished by the fact that they don’t personally know who we are and that they’re not saying it to our face. It’s equally painful.

Yesterday I was posing a question towards a stance a blogger had on gun control. It wasn’t anything personal nor argumentative. It was a simple query regarding the logic of his parallelism. He then responded with a full on tirade about how I must be black or an immigrant of some sort who wishes to reek hell on US. At first I thought he was joking. It really did not make much sense how he attacked my character and how he stereotyped non-white races as pro destruction or violence. Although I found it extremely offensive, I wasn’t going to let him turn me into some conflict crazy monster who argues with everyone who has a different view so I simply told him that there was no need to feel attacked but he just wouldn’t stop. He then deleted all my comments and the comments of those who also had a different view.

It’s a blogger’s right to moderate the comments on his page especially if it hampers the image or the goal of his site. However, I hope that we’re all responsible enough to understand that presenting our readers with a skewed version of the truth lessens our credibility as bloggers. Just because you quoted a Harvard Study out of context, it doesn’t mean you’re handed the authority bastardize the dignity of discourse. Disrespecting those who have different views or are of a different race or culture under the guise of a pen name or an online profile is barbaric. Let’s not make the web an avenue for bullying, promoting irrationality and creating racial divide.

And by the way dear Sir, erasing my comments and the comments of all those other people on your page only proves that you think they have merit and you’re a little scared your readers will think the same. Let’s be dignified netizens and respect the influence we’ve been awarded.

gay and great

Disclaimer: This is a repost from one of my best friend’s blog. He was my first debate partner and one of my closest confidants in college. His post was disturbing and frankly, I just wanted more people to be aware of his struggles. For those who have been (or are) in the same shoes, my support and prayers go to you. Trust me when I say I know it’s tough. I hope this cheers you up or at least leads you on.

I am GAY, and that is not wrong.

Yesterday I have heard the greatest insult I have had in my entire existence – all because I am gay.  And to make things worse, it was from a woman whose professed faith seem to have the monopoly of truth and right. (nothing against those who come from her dominion, it was just the impression made yesterday)
I was asked this, Brent, alam mo nman diba ang tama sa mali? (Brent, you do know the difference between right and wrong)
It was asked after a friend and I talked about my current ‘dating’ status. As you know, I am dating a gay guy, a university teacher, a performer, a Catholic – basically a decent member of the society. Both of us don’t cross dress, both of us have decent lives to live, both of us are educated in catholic institutions. Both of us are choosing to be honest – and true.
The question alone was not offensive, but what followed after was way below the belt. Considering she did simply bat in, in our conversation. In a nutshell, she was telling me that I was born a man, thus I have a ROLE to ASSUME. She further continued that a relationship between two men is a sin, and that we should be punished – by death. That was quoted from Leviticus.
As a writer, I do know subtext. And with what she said, she nullified my very existence. That as if, all of me, all because I am gay, is wrong. That my very ‘being’ is as if a dirt bag. Mali ang buhay ko (My entire life is a mistake), to put things in perspective.
Ouch. F*ck Yeah!
It was uncalled for, and it was insulting.
But I shut up, all because I know better about RESPECT.
But it disturbed me so much I decided to share my piece here.
I am GAY, and that is not wrong.
Let’s put it this way. Following her line of thought that man is made in the image and likeness of GOD, it is therefore innate in man the ability to LOVE and to be (and do) good. In such premise, is it wrong then to HURT after falling for a man and realize that he is not in love with you? In the context of love, if I love someone (and granted I do not do anything all because it is ‘wrong’) but my heart feels pain because it is suppressed, it is hurt; WHY THEN DOES IT FEEL AFFECTION, for the first place?
 

God has made every being in his image and likeness, thus, by nature we tend to choose what is RIGHT and GOOD. The society, granted the biases that culture and practiced religion have imposed upon it, has a notion of what is right. BUT GOD KNOWS BETTER. HE gave us a heart – for which we can listen to, when in doubt.

I have served, during my Ateneo years as a head for my organization’s personal spirituality formation. And I did pick up something from there. That our relationship with GOD is within, that it is a personal relationship. Though there exists structured religion, it is not the foundation of truth, nor is the bible (which was written and construed by man). TRUTH is within us. It equates peace and contentment, and it is found after journeying within. I felt so insulted when she said those things because she did not even recognize my formation, my personal discernment, my personal relationship with GOD. She talked liked it was way apparent that I was wrong – and she was right.
Lastly, I would like to stress that no one person in this world has the right to know what is right for you. Guided by whoever you conceive your creator to be, HE(she) would never let you go on a wrong path. There is so much the world tells us, but for those who know better, society is never a perfect structure – and so is religion. So there are no definite ROLES that one being should assume to. Being a man, a woman, or gay (bi, transgender or what have you) is something that we are called to be. And no one has the right to tell another who he should be.Society is flawed; take for example those that dictate that women ought to be owned by men. Religion is flawed, talk about those faiths that promise the monopoly of salvation. These can be used as guides though – but there is one thing that our creator has had given us. It is something that, no matter your race, your religious affiliation, your educational attainment or spiritual formation, remains untainted by evil. GOD gave us our hearts, the foundation of our freewill and rights, it feels pain when wronged and delighted when listened to, thus it is through which we may know RIGHT and the TRUTH.
My heart tells me that I am wonderful, that I am beautiful – and yes, that I am a sinner, that I am flawed and imperfect. But it tells me that GOD loves me – and it is okay to be gay.
 
I just hope though that others could afford every gay guy the respect he deserves; that since not one in this world is perfect enough, may we find peace in our own hearts that there is a greater reason behind why we are the person that we are.

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This was my comment to Brent’s post.

It is not wrong or selfish to seek affirmation and respect from others because we are social beings and we value relationships and image. However, I know (because I’ve seen it) that you are stronger than your worst critics. You know you’re great. You know the people who love you, love you regardless of your orientation. It matters less what she thinks, I love you B. Gay or not, you are an amazing person. In the words of Carrie, “If being gay is you then it must be good because YOU ARE GOOD.”

PS To the girl who clings to the principles of the old world, know when to change. Understand your compass to right and wrong then get back to me. 🙂

here’s to GAY RIGHTS

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Ad by Stonewall, a gay rights campaign group

I am not shy nor reluctant about my stand on gay rights. I believe that respect is due to this sector as they pursue and demand for the rights they so rightfully deserve.

Most critics would say that destruction of traditional morals start when we accept changes that do not agree with the norm. I do think, however, that we, as rational human beings, should be capable of assessing which of these beliefs are worth keeping and which are fossilized errors worth reviewing. Once, women were accorded with much lesser rights than men. This fosters the then accepted patriarchal idealism. Men are better. Men rule. Men are important therefore we women have no say in matters that are as important as men. We can’t vote, have political inclinations, be sexually satisfied or be powerful in the workplace as these offend the rights and in my opinion the ego  of pre-gender equality men.

Gay rights are human rights.

Today, we support feminism and its consequences like affirmative action in the workplace and shared responsibilities at home. Society accepts that although men and women have different niches and functions in the society, they are to be considered equal and therefore, awarded the same rights and ability to pursue them. The errors of the past were corrected by a more progressive and open-minded community of individuals who are not afraid of deviating from a set of accepted norms to find better ways of looking at things, ones which are fairer and more respectful of our shared humanity.

The same principle applies to offering the same level of respect for the orientation of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. Beliefs and traditions are time-bound and should continue to progress as the humanity that abides by it also progresses. Although I do not wish to offend the traditional moral institutions and lobbyist groups which believe in eternal damnation for this sector, I hope that you recognize that the respect you require of us in terms of honoring tradition is the same respect required of you for the change in society that supports gay rights.

We have seen the effects of bullying gays into becoming something else, not respecting them and stripping them of their rights to be with their partners. It’s never going to get better. The mudslinging and hate will continue unless the we decide that it ends now, unless we promise to foster respect despite our opposing beliefs. We can agree to disagree, refuse each others belief without the hate and obvious disregard for the other’s dignity.

Some people are gay.Get over it. 

As for the population of this world who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and everything in between, hang in there. Change comes with opposing views, thesis and anti thesis. Sooner than later, more people will realize that you guys, like women, also deserve to be treated respectfully, equally and humanely. Until that time, know that you have at least one supporter right here who promises to press on and support you.