Nostalgia for Summer Breaks

I am particularly sad today because most of the people I know are already taking their final exams and are only a few days away from the highly-anticipated summer break. Meanwhile, my schoolmates and I are still doomed to academic stress for two months more before having the official chance to go back to our hometowns and rest our brains from the almost impossible demands of the university. I tried suppressing my feelings of melancholy and nostalgia by concentrating on reading the book of feminist theories but the sadness from my intestines keeps bothering me. This is supposed to be the week of our final exams. Hours ago I expelled some of my liver stones and gallstones (3rd attempt) so I should be happy yet I feel terribly sad. Terribly, terribly sad.

I am especially nostalgic about my memories from when I was still a freshman. You’d never imagine how much hatred and gossips people had about me (that was probably my theme for the year 2012), but I got over it by focusing on improving myself and keeping my distance from people. My bed was near the window, so I’d always look out the window whenever I feel the desire to go home. And when the time of my departure came, no one could surpass my happiness. I was the last one among my roommates to go home, so I had the chance to feel the whole room and thank it for helping me become who I was then. I had a transformation from being a Plain Jane – and that was very important for me because I’ve noticed that people bully you more when they see you as ugly (and therefore inferior). When I went back to Palawan, people received me with so much affection and compliments that I felt like a celebrity – not a celebrity seen as highly as Britney Spears, but just someone who had people’s respect and affection. And most of the time, I had so much good time in my summer breaks the moment I got to college.

However, I’m not so sure about my summer break this time. I guess I still have lots of internal conflicts to solve before I have a good time. My recent Christmas break was not so great because I was suppressing my dormant self-esteem issues that are coming into the surface. Because the way I see it, getting back together with your high school classmates feels like a contest of showing off your improvements. I don’t really know. My mind is a mess right now. And despite of working on my health and spirituality from the start of this year, I still have lots of issues cropping up into the surface. My idea of a summer break is the breeze, nature, and 2002 hit songs (like Westlife songs) playing in the background. And although it was my decision to be alone this semester so as to avoid being hurt again, never in my life have I felt so much alone. I feel like I need my family and the trees in our home right now.

I feel so nostalgic about my summer breaks for the past two years, but will it still be the same? Probably not. I’m never the same person each time I go back. I change – either positively or negatively. When I think about it, maybe I still need two more months to transform and get into a better state to face these people. But I’m feeling a need to get back to my former state; because before I got a boyfriend, I was treated like a star in my hometown. I felt like I was always connected to my higher self during summer breaks because there was never a moment where I wasn’t happy – except perhaps for family issues. And while I am writing this, I just had an intense and burning desire for actions towards better change and a happy summer break. Now I suddenly had a purpose for exercising, taking baths, writing, and studying. 

Empty Rooms

I found myself
in an empty room –
unfamiliar, strange
and full of ghosts
of people who dwelled here before me.

I dreamt about
the last room I was in:
A temporary refuge
from a chaotic abode,
tainted with my smell, energy, and sweat
Yet eventually it became
a stranger to me now.

I dreamt about
my room last year:
Creeping inside,
I got devoured by the coldness
which is the ruthless kind brought
by friends that evaporated into the air;
It is where my old books are trapped
and I cannot rescue them anymore.

I dreamt about
my room three years ago:
It reeked very little
of vile and green-eyed snakes
yet it had so much of my essence.
Still many have slept
here after me
that it got flooded with new memories.

I dreamt about
my room in my hometown:
All pink and flowery
with stuffed toys and dusty books
but eventually it gets smaller
and smaller
that I cannot breathe anymore.

And when I see myself now
in an empty big room
I ask myself,

“What have I become?”
The room won’t respond;
but it engulfed me in warmth
that almost says,
“I will nurture
what is yet
to become of you.”

-- A. C.

Small Creator (Ekphrasis)

Child with a Drawing by Sir Edwin Landseer

Small Creator
by Anthea Cabrestante

This child that is yet to learn oodles
from the nurturing earth
walks by
with her own amateur doodle

And engrossed in an ancient book
with better illustrations
yet unabashed
with how her own looks.

Her limbs and locks are yet to grow
and lengthen
as her knowledge –
but little did she know
in her smallness
what a great creator
she already is.

Perks of Having a Chaotic Life

I’m an NPA. I have no permanent address. I always find myself joining certain groups then leaving eventually. I always find myself living in a certain place then hopping onto another place later. I am always away from my family and loved ones. I am always away from my true friends. I learned in life that I do not have to be physically present in a group, an organization, or a house to be happy. Of course all people need a sense of belonging – but I guess I’m a bit past that insecurity. But most of the time, I leave because I do not get the treatment that I deserve. When people around me aren’t already treating me well but instead feed me with lots of negative energy that it already kills me, that’s when I know that it’s already time to leave. There is no state of permanence anyway, and uncertainty is the only certain thing in the world.

It’s good to be very open to changes and not fear it, because it would be very bad to get stuck to people who are basically living in the shadows and do not do us any good. Before, I used to fear change. I did not trust my own ability to thrive and survive without the support of the people whom I was very used to seeing. It isn’t really easy for me to be out on my own, but the universe kind of forces me to, through the situations that I keep getting into. When I’m stuck in a situation, place, or a group that is already becoming detrimental to my being, the universe eventually gets me into a really bad situation (which is a blessing in disguise) wherein people will finally try to destroy me so I’d get really really angry (I’m normally very patient and tolerant), so I’d be forced to remove myself or move away from the source of chaos so as to save myself from being utterly destroyed. Normally these situations make me curse the universe for what it is doing to me, but there would be no other way.

But I realized later on that it is essential to trust the universe whatever happens. As I have said before, I am an NPA. But I benefit from it. Normally, I move away from people when I’ve already had enough of their gossips, criticisms, and jealousy. And basically, when I move to another place, my reality is already different. I am also always changing depending on what I feed my senses through the environment that I am in. Through time, I’ve had enough of changing places and always being away from everyone that I used to know – giving me an opportunity to know other people and to experience new things. And so after a few years, when my heart has already healed enough to face these people again, they usually notice a tangible transformation while I usually don’t notice it in them. Some people do change, but I think that most of these people always avoid pain so they change so little. And it’s very beneficial for me, for I feed on those compliments. I love getting encouraged and the comments on how much I have changed for the better give me enough confidence that my parents weren’t able to give me when I was a child.

It is only now that I have realized what a blessing it is to have a chaotic life through relationships with other people than to have a “stable” life with almost nothing controversial going on. I think it’s better to fall down many times and stand up on your own feeling empowered every time than have a rather “peaceful” life which doesn’t enforce any growth. We know how it sucks when we’re in the middle of a crisis, but overcoming it gives us the best feeling ever. Through it, the universe acts as a parent and encourages us to just live on and not give up. And for the people who are reading this who believe that they are living a chaotic life, maybe you really opted for that kind of life because it would benefit your pre-birth intention. Through your problems, you are forced to look around you and search for solutions; that way you’ll learn more about the universe and yourself. These problems are warning signals that we need to have upgrades as if we are software. And after overcoming so much, when you look back on your life, no matter how hard it was for you, you’ll definitely say, “My life is a masterpiece.”

Liver Flush: Inner and Outer Beauty

I have just finished my 2nd liver flush and I am glad to release lots of stones. LOTS. Compared to my first attempt where I have apparently only released dozens of stones, today I saw many of them – probably hundreds – in all shapes and sizes. But they were all emerald green in color. I just didn’t collect them because it’s already my second time doing it. During my first attempt, I only went to the toilet twice – but this time I did it four times. I was also amazed at how big some of the stones were. If it would still take approximately six to eight flushes to really get rid of all the stones, and I already released so many, then just imagine how unhealthy my liver is!

According to Teal Swan (on her video How to Cure Acne), this method is for people who are really desperate, especially those who have chronic illnesses – because it had to be continuously done or else you may suffer from more severe complications. But for people like me who are concerned with having a healthy lifestyle and purified bodies, it definitely feels really good to tangibly see the waste products that attract more toxins and misfortune to the body, i.e. the stones that obstruct the liver. I am not obese, I am not an alcoholic, I do not smoke and I do not overeat, yet I have these numerous gallstones that obstruct the natural flow of energy within my body. So how unhealthy would people who have worse lifestyles than me be?

As I read Moritz’s book entitled “The Amazing Liver Cleanse,” there was one section that really struck me, because I was always aiming for physical beauty and I have already tried lots of ways – most of which were commercial beauty products only applied to the external parts of our bodies. So I would like to share this very beautiful excerpt to all of you:

Inner and Outer Beauty 
The results of steadily improving cell metabolism will affect the way you feel about your inner self as much as it will show on the outside. Older people look radiant and youthful when they are truly healthy. Young people can look quite old if their bodies are toxic and tired. Naturally, if you want to achieve outer beauty you must develop inner beauty first. 
 If your body has accumulated lots of waste material it is not capable of imbuing you with a sense of beauty and worthiness. There are still groups of indigenous people living in the most remote parts of the world who enjoy perfect health and vitality. They regularly purge their liver, kidneys and intestines with oils, herbs and liquids. These practices have become lost to modern societies where the main emphasis is on improving the superficial physical appearance and, in the case of an illness, fixing its symptoms rather than removing the cause.
 Those who have done a series of liver cleanses report that they feel much better about their body, their life and their environment. In many cases, the person’s self-esteem and ability to appreciate others improves as the body becomes increasingly purified. The liver cleanse can greatly contribute towards developing vitality and inner beauty. This will not only slow or reverse the aging process but also make you feel more youthful and attractive, regardless of your age. 
-       Andreas Moritz, The Amazing Liver Cleanse

People say that “beauty is skin-deep,” but it’s not (in a literal sense). Beauty is something deeper than our skins. Beauty comes first from our minds, then to our internal organs, and it radiates through our pores. Rather than being completely dependent on commercialized beauty products, most of which have harmful side effects, it is very important to save our bodies first and bring them back to a perfect state of health, then trust them to do their jobs of keeping us happy, healthy, and beautiful. It is a two-way process: our bodies wouldn’t work well without our initiatives of taking care of them. So yes, a person who doesn’t look good may be rotting internally, thanks to lack of self-love and hatred and bad emotions. Bad things planted on the inside do radiate a horrible kind of aura and appearance. Likewise, when a person does cultivate self-love and takes care of his/her body well, then beauty and signs of health would be very visible and overpowering in the energy being put out by that person. To sum up, I’d like to say an original quote of mine (or so I believe, although the idea is not that original lol):

“Beauty is synonymous to health.”

The Grasshopper

A happy
gets cut by a grasscutter.

It wriggles
and tries to hop --
then loses its breath

and embraces the earth.

Modernity, Technology, and Oneness with Nature

With modernity, have humans completely isolated themselves from their natural environment?

Indeed with the booming of technology in this modern age, we have become “separate” from our natural environment – or so it seems. Lots of invented gadgets and appliances surely made our lives easier, which is a great improvement compared to centuries or millennia ago when people on earth (e.g. cavemen) were really living at the mercy of nature. But now less and less children are found frolicking outside their houses, running and screaming and always coming home with dirty clothes. And when we have unlimited access to the internet in our homes or dormitories, we’d definitely prefer facing our laptops instead and being happy in our own bubbles than socializing with other human beings or even just going outside to inhale fresh air. But still, our planet’s transition to a modern or “technological” age is not a hindrance for us to be completely isolated from our natural environment.

One of the truths in this universe is our “oneness” with all that is. Everything came from one Source, which most people call “God.” We are extensions of God, as much as our writings and our paintings are extensions of ourselves. Everything that we see around us is an extension of that Source only manifested differently in a physical way. Even these “man-made” things are still extensions of that Source because they also came from the raw materials which we always associate with nature. Furniture came from trees or metals; cars came from metals; jewellery came from the minerals under the earth; perfumes came from plants and flowers – and even makeup, books, pens, and so on. And can we say that the wave is not the ocean? It surely is – that particular wave is just an expression within that ocean. Same with everything that inhabits the earth: we are all indivisible from that which we call God or Source. Therefore, we cannot really separate ourselves from our natural environment.

Also, as a part of the ecosystem, we cannot deny that without plants, animals, or even our appliances and laptops, we cannot afford to survive or live properly in this planet. Everything in existence is interdependent with each other. We need animals and plants to survive, yet we continue on exploiting them as if humans are all that matter on this earth. We act as if the earth was made especially for one species only – the human beings – when actually we are one of the most vulnerable and helpless species. Lions, crocodiles, and wolves were endowed with sharp fangs and strong physiques to eat their prey, while humans are completely defenceless. Animal cubs have a chance for surviving when left alone while human babies don’t. Let’s admit it – we don’t really have enough respect for other species. Yet we are entirely dependent on them. So can we say that the humans are the most advanced species ever made in this earth? No. Even our actions toward nature reveal that we aren’t. We are not less than or greater than any other inhabitants of this planet. The Earth is very wonderful and powerful; and if we liken it to an animal, it would be a very beautiful and healthy dog but its ticks or parasites would be humans. We keep on destroying it – we’re too ungrateful to this beautiful earth.

Still, we can’t help but “exploit” our natural resources now that we are overpopulated and the agricultural products are sometimes not enough to feed all of us. But many poets advocate environmentalism, lots of beneficial organizations (e.g. Greenpeace) have popped up like daisies, people upload environmental videos on Youtube, and schoolchildren are being educated about environmental science. Bit by bit, the people on earth are coming into the awareness about their oneness with the environment. As we all came from one Source which we are indivisible from, then the things we do would affect everything. The things we do to others also affect us. For example, you cursed and shouted at your father. Of course you’d feel bad as much as your father would. And although complete “physical” isolation from our natural environment is possible (like Rapunzel being locked up in a tower), there is no way we can get separated from our natural environment because all organisms are interdependent with each other within a balanced ecosystem. 

Hands of the Wind

I adored a friend since one breezy spring
Until we fell ill from the cold winter's sting
For when apples turned sour, and cherries turned bland,
She left me in the hands of the wind.

-- A. C. 

Masculinity and Patriarchy seen in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”

The most dominant thing or concept that I have noticed in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” is the excessive valuing of the African tribes of masculinity which also had lead to extreme patriarchy. The subject of feminism is also notable regarding this novel, but I think we have already had enough of feminism and radical resistance to patriarchy that we now have to understand men and masculinity – despite centuries or millennia of oppressing Eve’s descendants. And what I have noticed is that the African tribes have been enslaving each other for thousands of years that they have become a match to other races (particularly the whites, or Europeans) enslaving their whole African race.

Our idea of masculinity was so bad that we only often associated it with its shadow aspects like being a jerk, testosterone-driven, competitive egomaniacs. I think it’s only because men themselves over the centuries understood that being a man means to be strong, proud, competitive, and dominant to the point that they’ve become assholes and that they reject everything that’s feminine or effeminate. Unfortunately I had no brothers to observe, but I’ve noticed in my own father that he subtly rejects femininity that he sees (through the form of scornful jokes) because he himself rejects his own feminine aspects for the fear of being seen as effeminate and weak. Men’s own perceptions of masculinity is so distorted that the world only knows its negative aspects. Contrary to what we believe that they are strong and courageous, men are actually usually driven by fear that’s why they resort to oppressing women and other weak-looking people or animals in order to feel good about themselves. This fear is shown in an excerpt from the novel:

“Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo’s fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father. Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title. And so Okonkwo was ruled by one passion – to hate everything that his father Unoka had loved. One of those things was gentleness and another was idleness.”

As I was pointing earlier, men, for centuries, had an unhealthy concept of their own masculinity. The difference between male and female energies is that the female energy is creative and random while the male energy is focused and driven. So between the two, the males are more likely to assert their leadership. But one disadvantage of this is that the dark side of masculinity perpetuated vertical thinking or comparative thinking, wherein there is always someone less than or better than us. It created the idea of competitive hierarchy, where than can be only one person on top. From the patriarchy inside the home wherein the father is thought to be the head of the house, this idea basically spread in communities, societies, and nations – and therefore propagated feudalism during the medieval times wherein the societal hierarchy was so harsh. And afterwards came colonialism which is not a surprise because for centuries, people had been living thinking that there’s someone always “less” or “better” than them.

Men’s idea of masculinity is having control and power. Oftentimes their victims are whom they oppress to assert their leadership. It was shown in this particular excerpt of the novel:

“He wanted him to be a prosperous man, having enough in his barn to feed the ancestors with regular sacrifices. And so he was always happy when he heard him grumbling about women. That showed that in time he would be able to control his women-folk. No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man. He was like the man in the song who had ten and one wives and not enough soup for his foo-foo.”

And because of the perpetuated “vertical” or “feudal” thinking brought by patriarchy, it is sad that men associate weakness with women, and that when a man is called a “woman,” it is considered a grave insult. Okonkwo especially loved to label weak men as women, and hated everything that’s considered feminine. What’s really wrong in this kind of thinking is that we point who’s the strong one and who’s the weak one, when in fact all are equal despite our differences. The yin and yang are equally powerful and need each other naturally. However, throughout the centuries, our ancestors have instilled the idea that men are higher than women and therefore women have no right to assert themselves. Yin and yang should work equally or there would be an imbalance. This imbalance of the yin and yang in the planet can be seen through the series of world wars that we had. Those were the horrible times of aggression and violence because the masculine energy of the world was imbalanced and out of control.

Another mistake that most people conceptualize when it comes to masculinity is that they oftentimes associate it with aggression and violence. We have lots of sports nowadays that promote violence like boxing and wrestling. And as we have read in Achebe’s novel, the African tribes were fond of wresting – and the winners of these contests receive high praise from the society and can even get a high status in their community. Sometimes this association of aggression and violence with masculinity also leads to rape and domestic abuse. No wonder men are always unfairly seen as assholes and troublemakers. There are excerpts in the novel that show this:

“So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi, and he told them stories of the land – masculine stories of violence and bloodshed. Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell, and which she no doubt still told to her younger children – the stories of the tortoise and his wily ways, and of the bird eneke-nti-oba who challenged the whole world to a wrestling contest and was fully thrown by the cat.”

“Worthy men are no more,” Okonkwo sighed as he remembered those days. “Isike will never forget how we slaughtered them in that war. We killed twelve of their men and they killed only two of ours. Before the end of the fourth market week they were suing for peace. Those were days when men were men.”

Men use aggression and violence to prove their strength because through the centuries, strength is also highly associated with masculinity. Hercules is the kind of guy that women would undoubtedly desire – because of his muscles, strength, and being a demigod. There were also popular tales of damsels in distress saved by knights during the Middle Ages, and until now women still like that idea of being saved. But men wanted to show strength so much that they usually suppress their emotions. They see emotions, especially crying, as a sign of weakness – and are only appropriate to be seen in women. This suppression of emotions is very unhealthy, so being a man must be hard.

“Even Okonkwo himself was fond of the boy – inwardly or course. Okonkwo never showed emotion openly, unless it be the emotion of anger. To show affection was a sign of weakness – the only thing worth demonstrating was strength. He therefore treated Ikemefuna as he treated everybody else – with a heavy hand.”

However, women are not attracted to violent men. We actually adore masculinity in its highest form: being a provider, in action, in control, on the move, responsible, strong, focused, abundant, intelligent, and having authority (in a good way). Women want men who are able to love and take care of them, so it’s ironic why for centuries men went on dominating, abusing, and oppressing women when it’s the opposite of what women want. For thousands of years, we know that patriarchy has dominated our cultures yet it is obvious that masculinity, or men in general, have not yet come into their full power. Why? Because they keep on kicking down women as if they are constantly threatened of them. But I guess that’s just how the world works right now. The African tribes and the western colonizers actually don’t have many differences except perhaps their skin colors because these two races have been already practicing living in a hierarchy for centuries. There is just no good outcome in hierarchical thinking, as we have observed in the novel and in our own world history.
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