I Refuse

I refuse to live in fear.

The culture I live in has created–out of its own faults and its own greatness–something that can so easily lead to a fearful life, a cynical life, a life in which the only hope is seemingly from escape.

But I will refuse that.

Some of you will bicker endlessly, refusing to listen to one another, refusing to even consider for one second that someone else’s point-of-view may be valid (maybe not 100% correct, but valid and with good points), refusing to think that maybe your truth and her truth and his truth are all true and real–albeit different.

Each of us lives a different life. Each of us has a different reality. And each of us can use a bit of “walking a mile in their shoes.”

Why don’t we band together this summer (and from here on out) to make this a life of love? To recognize the humanity in one another, no matter how difficult and heart-wrenching that may be in some situations. You will never understand fully “what it is like,” but that doesn’t need to stop you from practicing compassion, empathy, and genuine care.

Many of us have joined in on nutrition challenges, fitness challenges, challenges of all sorts. I think–taking a cue from a friend–it’s time to challenge ourselves towards a summer of love.

What say you?

There Are Some Evenings

There are some evenings where I cannot find the words to capture my own thoughts and feelings. There are some evenings where my current state consists of confusion and calm, happiness and anxiety, love and the fear of being alone. There are some evenings where transitions catch up with me and keep me up, contemplating things for which I have no words.

There are some evenings when all I know is that what I want does not exist in my own words yet, but there are those who have already captured it in theirs.

So tonight, here is a Pablo Neruda poem. Linger with these words for just a bit, okay?

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Goodnight, friends.

Hope and Offerings

I could tell you about how today, I had my six-month review and am a permanent employee at my job.

I could share that today’s workout was a challenge, and that I have an incredibly long way to go before I reach my goals.

I could also let you all know that my mom made it to the Philippines this weekend, safe and sound, albeit with a flight delay that condensed her layover time in Tokyo to 40 minutes after arriving from Seattle.

To be fair, I just did tell you all that. However, as Monday draws to a close, what really must be shared is hope and positive thoughts for the East Coast. To my family and friends, you may not read this until the power comes back on and your phones have a charge again, but just know I am keeping you in my thoughts.

Stay dry. Stay strong.

Human.

That’s which political party I actually belong to.

I hate election season because it’s a testament to the entitled, short-sighted, instant-gratification culture the USA seems to coddle. (And don’t try to pretend like the two rich political parties don’t play to the same crowd. They do. Different words.) How many “I grew up in a wooden shack and now own tons of businesses!” stories did the RNC share? Is that the only measure of success in this country anymore? Owning stuff? Being in charge? Power??

Why does it seem that everything but becoming a politician or being an entrepreneur or owning businesses deemed unacceptable or a waste of time? Isn’t the glory of the “American way” that we’re all allowed to be different? And pursue happiness in our unique ways?

Why do we have to shun collectiveness as weakness, when it’s just a cultural norm for so many? Especially considering we’re a country of so many different cultures. Wouldn’t it make sense that some of us are more collective than others?

I consider myself fiercely independent, but I see no contradiction that I also see myself as collective. I take accountability for my actions, but I want my overall purpose to be to enrich whichever community or communities I belong to. I don’t care to run or own my own business. What I do care to do is change people’s lives. I don’t need to build a business from the ground up to feel accomplished; what I need to do is research and present and share and have conversations. What I need to do is travel and learn from others within and beyond my hometown, my state, my region, my country.

And I want to give others the opportunity to change the world in their own unique and positive ways.

I don’t need to be rich. I want to, in the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, lead a rich life. And I want others to have that opportunity, too, without telling me that who I am and what I am is wrong according to their own personal philosophies.

My personal philosophy is and always has been multi-faceted. It’s “what’s best for me isn’t always best for you.” It’s putting myself in others’ shoes and leaving judgement at the door as much as possible. The bottom line is that I want to live in a world where humanity overcomes its lust for power and lives in a harmonious and appreciative manner.

It means accepting that no matter what I believe–and if I were a lawmaker, no matter what I decide–I cannot achieve perfection. It means compromising when it’s needed–but expecting that others will compromise and meet me halfway.

The polarization of the country makes me sick. What is it that we all truly want? Security? Happiness? Freedom to believe or not believe in a higher power? Freedom to live our own lives in mutually beneficial and respectful ways? And why can’t we find the words to express what we want without resorting to degrading one another, pretending that our neighbors are scum?

I believe that the greatest thing we can do is not to harm one another. Maybe I don’t agree with you, but if we can treat our differences as positives and understand how perhaps those differences complement one another, instead of acting like the Presidential Election is the Super Bowl–well, maybe we’d be on to something.

What I hate the most about putting these thoughts out there is that someone snide will take this viewpoint as weak, un-American, un-patriotic, sissy, feminine, without value or merit. They’ll attack me as a person and treat me like an object.

And you know what? I used to rely on the ad hoc attacks, too. It’s easy. It ignites people’s passions. But when the fate of communities across the country are at stake, it makes no sense to attack others. Speak eloquently about your issues. Acknowledge the validity of another viewpoint. Show others that you know your viewpoint’s not the only one. Explain why it is you feel the way you do.

And listeners? Respect the speaker. Respect the differences, as long as those differences do not take living, breathing people’s* lives.

We are human. We are not always bound by the laws of biology. We built societies, but we built them in our image: imperfect. But we are a species with so much potential. When will we stop warring with one another and learn to see each other for who we all are?

Just. Human.

*For sake of argument, I’m talking about out-of-the-womb people. Abortion is one of those issues for which I wouldn’t seek one for myself (except in very grave circumstances, as determined by me), but an issue in which I know my views will not change actions. Do it safely clinically, by all means. But I want to see better sex education and better, loving values taught to children (“I know you may not be perfect,” instead of threatening to kick them out of they go against their promise ring, etc.). I want my children to be taught values of love and care, meaning they respect difference and embrace it.

It Counts as Friday

I participated in Oregon State’s Relay for Life last night/this morning. From 5PM on Friday ’til roughly 6:30AM this morning, I hung out with my team and other Relay teams on the MU quad for a good cause.

Over the course of the night/morning, I walked [only] about 7 miles–not much, but about as much as my poor knees and hips can handle. One of my teammates walked for a solid nine hours, stopping only when told to join teams up at the stage for a ceremony.

I don’t want to diminish the emotional weight of the Relay’s message. But as I chatted with some teammates, I joked about how participating on our hall’s team is directly related to my degree and my job. It’s student involvement. It’s community-building. It’s community service. And it was powerful to learn about why my teammates were relaying.

Along the track, illuminated bags–luminaria–lined the path. As the coordinators said, each bag represented a person, lives lost, and lives won. Each bag was created by someone else who cared for these other people.

It’s humbling to remember that a disease like cancer can affect anyone at any time. But it’s inspiring to know there are people that look beyond their own lives toward a greater purpose and meaning.
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Now, it’s not to say the Relay was only crying and emotion–it was also about individuals enjoying the company of friends working toward a common goal. Laughter is the best medicine, right?

So… enjoy the photo of the team that donned Pac-Man costumes for several laps.

image

Wait Another Day

I will wait to love you
I will wait another day…
I will waste
another dream on you.

I am an impatient little lady.

With my world in chaos, I just want to crawl into a set of strong arms, and bury my little face in a broad chest. I want to feel tiny yet safe, vulnerable yet protected.

I know I’m not alone during this time. I have the best support networks possible–my mom, my extended family, my friends, my cohort, my supervisors, even my university. I’ll venture to say I even have myself. I have stories and memories that make me smile.

What’s missing is that stable rock. That foundation that’s going to look me in the eyes and not give a damn that I’ve been snotting all over his favorite sweatshirt because I’ve been crying for the past billion years. It’s not a “need,” though–just a “want.” I will get through this stage of life with who I have right now.

So, I will wait.
I will wait for you. Patiently.

And I will wait to love you, whoever “you” may be.