The Writer and The Physicist: The Meaning of Courage

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Once, there was a teenager who wished to escape puberty by the time the first twin pimples popped out near his nostrils, and he hated the fact that the silly idea of removing them with the sharp ends of the nail cutter was something he could not accomplish, because, local aged men told him that if one tries to remove those pimples, the person most likely will face love misfortunes.

The teenager did not believe that, of course, because he thought that the beliefs of these men belong to that of the medieval ages.

In short and honestly, I am that teenager.

However, my mentor, John, a British old man (he’ll be turning 76 next January, but his memory is sharper than my own), long-time quantum physicist and retired professor, is an exception to the rule, because unlike any other people who existed in my life, he was, I think, the most open-minded of them all, which led me to considering him not only just a wise mentor, but also as a grandfather.

When I revealed to him that I wanted to be a writer, he was the first one to laugh horribly, because, at that time, I was at my peak of mathematical learning (he calls me “genius”, by the way, and I do not know why). Anyway, since he cannot do anything to alter my dream, after each of our sessions, he would find a little to share to me some of his vocabulary skills and his knowledge in essay writing.

A year ago, I thought of writing a novel, and I wished to find inspiration to write one. I came up to his room and asked him about courage.

“Courage is best exalted as one conquers the roaring waves when he may choose to pass the serene seas.” I said.
“I disagree.” the John said. “Courage is waiting for the storm to end and for the waves to reveal their silence.” he continued. His cough was terrible lately, I noticed.

“That is patience, Sir.” I affirmed.

“Oh! Have I told you that I already finished?” he said. Then, in a jiffies of staring at each other’s eyes, we burst out in laughter.

Then he slouched his back again against the new black chair we bought that morning. he took deep breaths as he glanced at the window. “Because whenever there’s a storm, you have to muster lots of courage to stand the cold during the evening and the uncertainty of sun shining by tomorrow or not.” he said. When I thought that he was right and I could not add anything up to his argument, he dozed off to sleep. Meaning, our conversation is finally over.

Someone Who Understands the Most

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As I am typing this, I knew by heart that my mind earlier had been surged with the thoughts of flooding requirements, of prospects of failing, and of anxiety over uncertainties. My friends and colleagues, and even my previous teachers beforehand knew that I can prevail over academic stress, but sometimes, I blame myself for entering a prestigious university, in fact, the best in our country in terms of academics. I blame myself for choosing the wrong degree program, for my undying weakness in economics. But despite that, I felt motivated and challenged, because once and for all I did not only come to the university just to get A+ in my transcript of records, but also to learn about new things, aside from those I had already mastered, such as mathematics.

During this semester, I am bothered with the enlargement of my eye-bags, perhaps, because of staying late at night to study lessons. But during midnight, I go upstairs, to our house’s rooftop, and try to watch the stars, and how they twinkle after a few seconds. And in doing so, I remember my late bestfriend, Paul, who was once there with me, on the same rooftop, and having conversations about our dreams.

Last night, I don’t know why, but I felt that he was with me, as I rambled about my incompetency, of my recent failures. Years ago, when I felt that my elder brother had set his distance from me, he stood up for me just like my own brother.

“You know what? Since the day you were gone, I feel that I am always failing.” I said, gasping, while finding the moon over a cloud of stars.

But of course, I found no answer.

“But my friend, listen to my ramblings for a while. I know that you are someone who understands the most …”

From that moment, I whispered and shouted to the wind all my problems in school, in friendship, and in family. And when I was done talking, the stars appeared to be apparently twinkling several times, and a shooting star crossed the sky, almost only for a second. Though I acted childish, I made lots of wishes.

After which, I went back to my bed, and read the pointers for tomorrow’s exams, and slept with contentment and with overwhelming peace. 

Self-Forgiveness

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I had this heartfelt conversation with someone two months ago in which he apologized for a bad thing he did years back. I answered: I had already forgiven you, long before you have asked for forgiveness.

The conversation took a bit longer when he finally said, “Why do you forgive someone so easily? My sin towards you is a large debt.” I replied this since I didn’t have anything to say further, “[because] love never departs from a humble and forgiving heart.”

This morning I read the entirety of our conversation recorded in my chatbox and in the end of it was an intriguing question which I did not answer, “How about you? When will you start forgiving yourself?” The question was not anymore new, in fact, some of the closest people in my life had already asked me such for once, or maybe twice.

Today, I had realized that forgiving someone could be either the easiest or the toughest thing to do. Forgiving my own self for my mistakes in the past is indeed the most difficult challenge I had encountered as a young human.

Lastly, I scanned through the short stories I had kept in my computer files and suddenly I read a quotation I had written in a persona of a traveler:

“A person who forgives others without any condition is blessed and is worthy of love. But a person who can’t forgive himself will always journey carrying a great burden in his heart.”

To Humans

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Photo from my.salvos.org.au

Photo from my.salvos.org.au

We oftentimes forget how beautiful it is to live in a world where we dwell as humans who can experience love as the end of itself, sacrifice for the sake of loving, joy after depressing scenarios, mustered strength and courage amidst growth of inner despair, and most of all, how fortunate we are for having a chance to live. Maybe one day your feet are still firmly standing on the ground but perhaps tomorrow your feet will be placed straightly on a big coffin or be burned in a crematorium. Even if you can say that you are physically strong today, probably tomorrow or the day after you might meet an accident down the road. Perhaps, the medical doctor who gave you piece of news that you only have a few months to live will be the one to die first before you. It is because the culprit we also know as Death and Hades will never give a single notice if he will knock through the doors and, God has the sole right of letting us live or not.

This is only non-stop, tireless reminder. However, I wish that someday I could witness that all humans will love each other, because love is the main reason of our prevalent existence. If you love someone, tell him your true feelings. To your beloved, let them know that you love them and that they are your loved ones. If a friend rings your house’s doorbell and asks for your help or advice, open your house for him even though you have tons of things to do on that night. Stop working on academics for a while, and learn with the lives of the poor and the marginalized. Strive and dream big, and in case you die unexpectedly, who knows, someone out there is willing to continue your unfinished goals and dreams. Never waste your time in searching for the right answers to the questions that baffle you, because in our lives, in reality, there is no right or wrong answers; only the process of turning wrong answers into right, proper solutions exists.

Hear the music of the simultaneous rainfalls, of the chirping of birds every morning, of the silent gale of the wind. Stop for a while to receive the glorious heat of the sun. And maybe one day, we won’t anymore circulate to the words “I still want to live,” instead, it is sweeter to our ears to hear “I may now die peacefully, for I know I had a life well-spent.”

Am I afraid of death? No, but I am afraid of uncertainty that it may bring. But if one day he knocks to my door and lends me his hand, let me leave. I don’t want to keep my friend waiting.

 

Sueju Takeshi 武

Will I ever be?

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Sometimes I ask myself, “Will I ever run as fast as my childhood friends had commented on my superb skill before?” or “Will I ever be able to capture photographs again?”
Yesterday, our professor in Humanities II (Art, Man, and Society) asked us to show an example of what bad art is according to our individual aesthetic taste. My turn to stand up and show an artwork to the class arrived, and when I stood in front of that cold classroom I explained to them what, for me, an art is.
“I regard a photo as an art,” I said, “And I think this art, is not only bad art, but the worst I had seen in my entire life.”
I continued, “I think this is somehow bad because the photographer focused more on the effects rather than the meaning. For me, for a thing to be considered art, it should create a deep meaning into the eyes of the observer.”
The professor was baffled. “Who took the photo then?”
“Me. I was once a photographer.” my shameful reply.
The class became noisy, saying touching words like “Wow! You are a great photographer!” “Awesome!” “The photo is cute!”
“You have photography skills. When did you stop?” the professor asked.
“After heartbreak.” I ended.

The photograph I had shown at the entire Humanities II class.

The photograph I had shown at the entire Humanities II class.

I asked myself again when I finally sat on the place. “Will I ever run as fast as my childhood friends had commented on my superb skill before?” or “Will I ever be able to capture photographs again?” Maybe yes to photography, maybe no to running. I promised the people closest to me that I will capture photos when I fall in love again. But I won’t anymore be into running, since it is now impossible, and my doctors forbade me from doing so.
Sometimes I thought that life will never be as colorful as it once seemed solely because probably one day, I won’t anymore be able to do the things that are equated to my happiness or simply complete my day. I felt that I lost my own identity and my dreams were like bubbles bursting into oblivion. But later on, after that class and when I was traveling back home, I realized that there are other things that we are capable of doing other than those that are used to govern our world, and such discovery will happen along with the long process of the healing of deep wounds.
And finally I realized that not all scars will remind us of the pain we suffered before, but a friendly reminder that we will undergo much more series of hardships and pain, for this reminder is an assurance that you are breathing and alive and that you are still capable of enduring and carrying-on until our own, personal journeys come to an end.
So here I am, blogging, and my discovered prowess is writing. My parents also witnessed that I can cook great tasting food. I excelled more in academics. And now, I have settled into my new happiness and keep living as simple as possible.

 

Sueju Takeshi 武

A Lecturer’s Joy

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The photo contains their messages to me which I had selected (because they made me smile tonight) and cropped and fitted into a single photo.

This week, I’ve conducted my review lecture series for college admission exams despite the exhaustion that the enrollment in UP has given me and the fact that it requires staying late at night for reviewing. I went from one institution to another, which includes my high school alma mater. From the very beginning, I had already accepted the idea that review lectures are mostly boring and that they only cause brain hemorrhage among students, which of course may be rooted from their hatred towards mathematics or towards their maths teacher, or simply, from my ineffectivity as a lecturer.

But today ― and unfortunately the last ― was entirely different from the previous ones.
When I entered the venue, I was welcomed with an awkward atmosphere. I didn’t personally know any of the organizers or the mixture of students from different schools, and the latter were typically afraid or shy of someone standing in front of them. But there was an abrupt change in the mood, as if Harry Potter entered the room and had cast a powerful spell to change a torture chamber into a fun-filled classroom.

For a quarter of an hour after my ‘red carpet’ entrance, together in that congested room, we began laughing as we shared maths jokes. I saw their eyes twinkling in amazement as we answered tricky and difficult problems; some had even challenged me to answer questions which at first they didn’t have a pinch of idea on how to solve them, and I stood there, wielding a whiteboard marker and mustered courage, and shared the solutions to others. They raised their hands and called for my attention whenever they were not able to understand a thing and if possible, I did it slowly or step by step, not minding the time we had to consume, the time which they should had been used for going out with friends and families, school activities and other more important things.

When I was about to about to dismiss the class, I felt forlorn and wished that I could extend for one more hour. The reality I had to face was that we had to wave each other’s goodbyes (and what’s more depressing was I remembered only few names). I didn’t tell them a single tip, except for that before they take an entrance exam, they must first pray to God and never give up after experiencing failures.

Yes, this is the reason why I consider my day greatly accomplished. This is one of a lecturer’s joys ― a moment that I will surely cherish forever. Once again, thank you guys!

 

Remembering You

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cropped-cropped-945051_576969178990030_6706747_n1.jpgI remember you. I remember every time you put your feet on the wheels of your bicycle while I was at your back, scared that I might fall and meet an accident down the road. I remember the popular songs we sing together, how you tried to teach me to dance along with the tune. I remember that night when you helped me climb my way to your house’s roof, and as we count all the stars, you told me your dream to be a pilot and your first flight, and though things are uncertain, I started dreaming about mine too. I was ten years old back then, and you were two years older than me. You were the first one to know my deepest, unearthed secrets. Until now, you are like a big bro to me, and that fact resonates in my heart and my mind everyday.

But sadly and unfortunately, you laid your own body inside a coffin and gave up your own flight.
At first, remembering you was indeed uneasy, and I found myself agitated as your face flashes into my vision. I felt anger and kept my silence about your very existence, about our friendship.

But now, my friend, I’m deliberately understanding the words you instilled in me. Now, whenever I remember you, whenever I cherish those moments, I feel sudden joy, even for just a few seconds, each time I feel down. I had promised to you before that when I fall in love for the first time and if that person reciprocates my love, we will scatter your ashes along the seashore, which is the fulfillment of your dream. I am truly sorry for not being able to fulfill such solely because the second requirement of my promise wasn’t even attained.

I will not be a pilot, just like you wanted to be for yourself. Like what I said to you before: we have our own paths to follow. I’ll be making my own flight towards my dream — a dangerous yet an adventurous one. Just like pilots, before commanding an airplane, who undergo training, a person who wants to be someone else in the future needs exposure and experience.

And that is what I’m doing. I wanted to be a writer, a medical doctor, a mathematician or a scientist, and I don’t care where these paths will lead me. But even though your breath don’t anymore contribute to the endless cycle of nature, I swear that I will continue your flight by directing mine.

I remember you. I feel your presence as I see a bike going down the dirty streets and as I get scratches and wounds whenever I try to learn how to run its pedals. I still sing those songs we sing in the kitchen or on the rooftop, and it was like I am traveling back in time, singing high notes of our favorite Boyband’s songs and even that of Michael Jackson’s. Warmth embraces me whenever I watch stars twinkle during a long night, remembering your dream, your first flight, and different possibilities.

Thanks for being my bestfriend. Thanks for letting me take over your plane. Enjoy the ride and be my passenger for a while.

 

Memoir Madness