Sem Ender. Life. Lessons. And Impact.

Yey. This is it. The official “fist day” of my vacation. I finished the last of my examinations yesterday and now it’s V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N – te-te-te-ten – in the summer time! (Sing with me now!)

More like partial vacation though. There isn’t any real break, cuti, or bakasyon for us postgraduate students. There’s still the research, the research, and – wait for it – the research to consider. Yep. Summer time is the perfect time to make sure this “thing” gets done. I had to laugh when I saw this strip from Piled Higher and Deeper the other day:

I’ve got to get moving and start finding those companies! I will not end up like mister-nameless-guy-in-the-glasses over there. I will have something to show my supervisor and something excellent at that as well.

Anyway. I’m supposed to be creating a sem ender, talking about the sem that was, like I usually do at the conclusion of every semester. You know. Just to wrap things up. So wrap it up I will.

The sem that was. In all honesty, I feel like everything went by in a blur. A blur of papers, examinations, and projects. A friend of mine commented last night, “Parang ang bilis.Ang bilis nga. Was it just a few months ago that I was agonizing over the fact that I’m doing classes by day, papers by night, living on coffee and simply getting a full dose of what I signed up for while everyone else is out there enjoying the sunlight? (Oh. Airconditioned rooms for my dear professional friends.) Yeah, that was just some one-hundred-twenty-something days ago. But cepat (fast) as those days were, I’m thankful I got some lessons to go with them as well.

Lessons, lessons, lessons. What lessons did I get from these four-something months? Well, I learned that coffee tastes good black. And that eating Malaysian food before studying knocks me out before I could even manage to open up a book. And that chocolate keeps me awake, but like I said before, sugar is disastrous to both my wallet and waistline. But kidding aside, I learned a couple of serious things as well.

I’ve learned that doing homework every week pays off during the final examinations. I’ve learned that Google Scholar is a friend and not a fiend.  I’ve learned how important it is to read and study the instructions and to never forget to give your paper a title before submitting it to your beloved professor. I’ve learned that there are some classmates who would try to take advantage of you but then again, there are still those who’d turn out to be real friends and comrades as well.

I’ve learned that it’s never too late to get that second wind (even when you sometimes get to thinking that the race is already as good as over) because hey – that’s where the second wind comes in – when the race is almost over.

Still the kid sitting prim and proper but sporting the nonconformist hairstyle, nonetheless.

And since my life isn’t really all about acads, I’ve learned a couple of non-acad related things as well. I’ve learned the importance of family, the sweetness of being able to discover and re-discover your roots, the awesomeness of being able to connect – kahit sa FB, chat, WordPress o Blogspot man yan – with those whose blood flows through your veins.  I’ve learned how funny it is that those whom you call family are still the first to post birthday greetings in your FB wall (even though you’ve already changed the birthday settings in your FB profile to perhaps fool people into thinking that your birthday is still a couple of months away).

I’ve learned (and still am learning) to just keep on giving love even though at times you don’t seem to get back any love in return. I’ve learned that love comes in many forms and knocks through many doors, but yeah, the coloured pieces of paper still put the biggest smile on my face.

I’ve learned to step out, to keep on stepping out, and to be consistent in being consistent. To simply refuse to be bogged down by anything threatening to keep you down. (I’m still learning this now.)

I’ve learned to live an unoffended life, to smile, to laugh, to love no matter what the situation or circumstance may dictate. Because the situation should never dictate how you live. It is you who dictates and determines the situation.

And I’ve learned that when it feels as if I haven’t learned anything at all – I’ll just go back to the presence of the best Teacher and simply ask to be taught once again, over and over again.

Impact, impact, impact. I’ve learned so many lessons but now the question is, was I able to make a difference? Now that I’ve stepped out of the doorways of my classrooms, did I even leave a mark? Was I able to show forth the excellencies of my God and King?

I remember how Nichole Nordeman sang it out in Legacy – “Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering, a child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically… and leave that kind of legacy.”

I would like to believe that I did, but I can’t really gauge it at this point.

Of course it’s still April (hey, on Saturday it will be May!). And I’ll have plenty of time to leave that sort of impact. But it would bring me such great joy to know that the first four months did not just pass without me leaving some sort of legacy.

So now with the month of May opening up, and with summer “vacation” underway – well, I’m believing for greater lessons and for a greater impact. More treasures to learn, to live out and to share. More lives to know and to touch. More opportunities to love and to give. More. Just more.

Yey.

I’m excited find out what the next months have in store. And like India Arie sings out – “I wonder how life will surprise me today?”

I wonder how life will surprise me today.

Cheers. Here’s to the months that were and the months that are still to come!

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Quantum Leap

Dearest Quantum-dear,

I’m posting this ‘thing’ a whole day before your actual date of Graduation because I’d like you to be able to read it as soon as you are able to. Like, before you will sleep tonight or something. Or when you get up tomorrow morning. Or… I don’t know. Basta.

I want you to be smiling the whole day. I’d like it that when you go up on stage to take that diploma, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear, happy because your whole family is rejoicing with you. :)

Anyway. There was this time that one of your orgmates asked for some messages for your grad presentation and I thought of reposting mom and dad’s messages here. And maybe I’ll add my own as well.

To my brother’s friends who’ll happen to drop by this little-ol-blog (and to my friends as well) — I hope that as you read this, you’ll be able to have a glimpse of  ‘Balong’ as we see him, ‘Nini’, as he is to us.

Balong, here are our simple messages for you on your graduation day. :)

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QUANTUM

Mama

When you were in my womb, your father said your movements were like quantum particles. And that’s how you got your unique name, “Quantum Yuri” from Quantum Theory.

When you were growing up as a child, you lived up to your name. Such a bundle of energy, so restless (especially, when you were brought to a warmer place like Cebu when we had our vacation), only stopping to move around when you are fully “discharged”. Your father and I  almost decided to have you nicknamed “Pacifico” to calm you down a bit.

The first day you went to pre-school, you didn’t want to be left there. Teacher Nora had to hold you to keep you running after your Papy and me. “I don’t want to go to school!” you screamed and kicked hard.

But that screaming and kicking child has become an enthusiastic young man who became Salutatorian in pre-school, a Valedictorian in both the Elementary level and the High School level in the Science Curriculum, and an Honor graduate in his BS Physics course (Cum Laude?).

Quantum seems to do things effortlessly, that’s why he often surprises us with his quantum leaps. The first time he joined the regional Press Conference in grade school, my heart sank in sadness when the all the  awards were almost given out (starting from the 5th placer to the 1st placer) , saying to myself the 5th place would be enough as long as Quantum will have some award so he wouldn’t feel so bad. I cried in half-disbelief and half-amazement when Quantum emerged as the first  placer! My heart burst with pride as he marched nonchalantly to receive his award.

When he was in third year high school, he asked for a Sony Playstation II as his birthday/Christmas gift. It was quite an expensive gift and I thought if we would ask something from him that is quite difficult to achieve as a condition for us to buy him the Playstation, he might be dissuaded. So, the condition was, for him to become First Honor in his class. However, he surprised us again when his grades improved and he was already leading in his class in the 2nd to the last grading period. Yes, he did get the Playstation II as his prize!

In his 4th year in high school, he still graduated as Valedictorian despite spending much time watching wrestling in the TV and playing Playstation.

Now, in college, friendsters, facebook, farmvilles and basketball games did not distract him from his studies, though we did worry that they would.

And Quantum would be graduating in his BS Physics course very soon and what I could say to him as his mom? WELL DONE, MY DEAR SON! YOU’VE ALWAYS MADE US PROUD! WE LOVE YOU! MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!

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Dear S-O-N

– Papa


Dear S-O-N,

Congratulations on the occasion of your graduation! It is good that you opted to take up BS Physics. Otherwise, you might have to consider a name change later (e.g., Integer B. Lubrica, if BS Math; or Pacifico B. Lubrica, if BS GeoSciences, …)

You have been a ‘quantum’ – a bundle of energy – even before birth. Continue being energetic, especially in relation to the spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional aspects of life. Maintain your culture of ‘putting the rainbow in your work’ (i.e., excellence).

Your graduation, with honors at that, makes me a very proud father, and as I have read, makes your mom very proud, too.

Your mom and I wish you all the best. Our prayers are with you.

Love,

Papa

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BALONG

– Ate Mari

Balong,

O siya, tama na ang kadramahan na ‘to. Jokelang. :)

Yey. I really, really wish that I could be there for your graduation. I still remember how the Lubrica compound travelled all the way to Elbi two years ago just to hear me get called up three times on stage. Oh no. I hope you won’t get called up three times on stage as well.

You have your own legacy. Your own story. And I hope you know that I believe in you and that I am so very much proud of you. I remember our talk at the Trinoma Coffee Bean last year. Tsk, tsk, tsk. I wish we could have had more talks like that. On the other hand, I also remember the talk (err, chat) that we had the other night. Haha! Your lips are so sealed, right? : )

Anyway, this is as far as I can go as graduation gifts are concerned.

Watch as the next chapter in your life unfolds. Greater things are yet in store for you. I believe in God’s great plan for you.

I love you. :)

Love,

Ate Mari

(Mushy)

Mr. A-Z who’s got the Remedy

I can’t take it anymore. After 12 something hours of going through the History of Multimedia, of going over Hypermedia and the World Wide Web, at this point my brain is now reduced to ooey-gooey-mush.

So please. Allow me to release and regroup my brain cells once more before I hit the sack.

Sigh. In all honesty, doing the whole ‘studying-alone’ thing is somewhat tiring. It can be mentally draining and emotionally draining as well. I mean, come on. I’m stuck in the room looking at nothing but my notes and – my notes. Care to define ‘lonely’, anyone?

Buti nalang nandyan si Lord. At least I know that Someone’s standing by me, giving me strength, wisdom, and joy even as I plough through all my lecturer’s Powerpoint slides.

Buti nalang din nandyan sina Kari, Leeland, India, Jason at kung sinu-sino pa. Ahh. Worshippers, artists, singers and songwriters who keep me pumped up and awake, who keep me rooted on my desk chair and away from my bed. Voices who keep me alive, convincing me that studying is still fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I owe my heartfelt gratitude to all of you.

Haha. I’m laughing at my playlist right now. It’s funny how its contents can easily shift from Kelly Warren to Kelly Clarkson, from Jonathan David Hesler to David Archuleta, from Jason Upton to Jason Mraz.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not falling to any sort of ‘darkside’ or what. I’m just realizing how diverse my taste in music really is. I guess I am like my brother who goes from Queen, to Hale, to Josh Groban. And anyway I’m simply appreciating good music. And awesome artists as well.

Awesome artists. Uhh, like Mr. A-Z? Call me crazy, call me weird – but I’m seriously (or is it not-so-seriously?) crushing on this guy right here. Haha! I think the last time I got this way was when Mel and I saw the footage of Chris Quilala singing “Your Love is Everything”.

The Wizard of Ohhs and Ahhs and Fa-la-las (www.pop-zap.com)

Sigh. Mr. A-Z who’s got the Remedy. The Wizard of Ohhs and Ahhs and Fa-la-las who’s got me swooning over his Wordplay and laughing over his crazy Dynamo of Volition. Uhh, okay Mari, you can start regaining your sanity now.

But in all fairness to Mr. Jason Mraz – bakit ngayon lang kita nakilala??? Yeah, I remember how “The Remedy” sparked my interest way back in high school and how “I’m Yours” and “Lucky” came across to me as nice and easy tunes – but gosh, oh, gosh – why is it only now that I’m appreciating you and your crazy, crazy music??? Why, oh why, oh why?

Gosh. I’m only just beginning to see how awesome Mr. A-Z is with his mad sound and wild play of words. I mean, you just have to love how his brain works. The wit. The creativity. See how “Mr. A-Z” is actually a play on his family name?

Swoon. If I were to refer to my list describing my “dream guy”, if I were to check to see if Mraz would make the cut – let me tell you, he would. I kid you not. He’s got most of the characteristics in the list covered.

Well, except for the top three most important ones. The ones about his depth (not that he isn’t deep, but I’m talking about another kind of deepness here), his call and – oops, I’m giving too much away. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Aww. Sayang. Pwede na sana.

Sigh. Oh well.

But hey. Mr. Curbside Prophet, you can still invade my playlist and drop by anytime during my somewhat lonely study hours.

Okay. Enough of this insanity. It’s time to call it a night.

G’nite everyone. : )

Check out Mr. A-Z's website. Haha. He's got some cool blog entries too.

Just Got to Laugh out Loud

I go for the "or code to compile" clause. "Or installation to finish." :D

Hahahaha! I just got to laugh out really loud. Last night, I was looking for images to use for some promotional materials and I stumbled upon a couple of images from Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD). I’ve already seen some of the strips scattered all around the web (I think I first saw them somewhere in Ate Mian’s blog) and around the FTSM hallways, but — intrigued and in need of some de-stressing — I took a peek at the PhD website. I got a total kick going through the crazy stuff posted there.

I’ve got to say that laughter is the best medicine. I’m so thankful though that nobody can see me laughing way over here —! (Yeah, I’m laughing alone but I am not unwell)!

At least I’m laughing, right? At least I’m not crying all over my lappy’s keyboard. And at least I’m not banging my head on my desk, because for some crazy reason, the Python code won’t compile.

Speaking of compiling…

I can so identify! See why I’m loving this strip? Though the creators of the website so warns the readers — “WARNING! Reading the entire archive can be hazardous to your research. Proceed with caution and use only in moderation.”

I know, I know. The whole thing is dangerous if you get too caught up with it and get too overwhelmed by the “power of procrastination”. In addition to that, going through Piled Higher and Deeper is also fatal if you’re not set on finishing your post-grad studies with all excellence. Be warned. http://www.phdcomics.com is not for the faint-hearted.

Hahahaha! That’s me just a couple of minutes ago! But now I’ve found another bug that I have yet to crush and squish with another ten-ton hammer. Hopefully it won’t take me till twilight to get those bugs out of the system because…

I do not want to end up that way! After I squish this bug (and eventually all the other bugs that I have a feeling are following close behind it), I’ve got to work out on the written report. Strength, courage, and wisdom — come to me right now!

I can’t wait till I do that victory dance, though. True, after this project is done, I’ve still got those final examinations to face. And after the final exams — The Thesis. But hey. I’m taking it one step at a time. Enjoying the process. Stopping to smell the roses every now and again. Enjoying life. Enjoying grad school life for that matter.

I chose this path because this is one mountain that I’d like to conquer. I’m laughing, but at the same time, my heart is releasing that battlecry once again.

So who’s with me?

Think: The Matrix. :D

Let's just edit out the final scene, shall we? :D And make that two years. :D

P.S. Just a post-birthday wishlist — a Piled Higher and Deeper book would probably make some good summer reading, eh?

To Love or Not To Love?


To love or not to love? To give or not to give? To receive or not to receive? Who to love, how to love, when to love and – why on earth even bother with the word itself?

heart

Why am I even typing away about this strange, strange, strange thing called love? Mengapa, mengapa, mengapa? Bakit, bakit, bakit? Why, oh why, oh why?

Sigh. I feel as if my heart’s about to burst because of all the love that it wants to give and because of all the love that it wishes to receive and contain.

Do I sound like some lovesick girl in dire need of a love doctor? Haha. Fooled you. I’m not talking about that kind of love here. I’m talking about a different kind of love – a love that I get to experience every moment of every day, a love that I know that I will cherish forever and ever.

I’m talking about “love from all over”.

I wish I could call up Mr. Webster and tell him to include that phrase in the dictionary. I wish I could phone the guys at Google as well, telling them to regard the entire thing as a single noun-slash-verb (instead of treating it as that weird phrase enclosed in those two strange double quotes). But since I can do neither, I’ll just have to make do with a semi-make-believe “word” for a while.

Yes, the “word” is semi-make-believe. But the emotions, the heart, and the truth behind that “word” are anything but. Because this “love from all over” thing is just so, so real to me right now. And because of that realness, today, on my 22nd birthday, I would just like to thank all of you for giving truth to that “word”. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone for giving meaning to this “love from all over”.

I am so tempted to keep this entry short because I’m afraid that I might bore and eventually lose you. But you know what? I’m chucking the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) principle for a while (kelan ko ba sinunod yon? Lol) and let my fingers dance on this keyboard for as long as they want to, letting my heart and emotions go as far as they wish to. I shall thank and appreciate all whom I can thank and appreciate, without bounds and without limits. (Haha. I think I can hear a few “uh-oh’s” from the other side of the computer screen).

But hey. It’s my day, okay? So allow me to start things off with my beloved family.

My Beloved Family. Ma, Pa, Quantum – you have no idea how precious you all are to me. I have a feeling that everyone around me already knows about you all as well. Who hasn’t heard of my corny, intellectual, yet oh-so-loving parents? Who hasn’t come across the name of my odd, melancholic, yet quirkily sweet brother? I am just so, so blessed to have you all. God knows how deeply your simple (and crazy) calls, messages, and comments touch me – how they encourage me and how they lift me up during some of the lowest points of my stay here. I am proud, honoured, and blessed to be called “daughter” and to be called “sister” as well. I miss you. From the kid whom you fondly call Anggolik.

The Entire Lubrica Clan. Yey. Here’s to my cousins who I grew up playing house, skul-skulan, tagu-taguan, and yes – baril-barilan with. Here’s to the households downstairs with the awesome collection of books, references, hand-me-down-school-uniforms, VCDs, Sony Playstation games and PS cheatsheets. Here’s to the kiddos whose sunburns are proofs of our family outings at the beach and Asin resorts. Here’s to my all star aunts and uncles whose borders and influence now reach different parts of the globe. Here’s to our family at the States whose FB, blog comments, and posts are all great encouragements to that girl called “Madi.” And here’s to my Lola who is still as active – and of course – as loving as ever. “Madishu” sends out her love.

Balberan Peeps. The Pacific and some other seas and oceans may separate us all, but your love has never failed to reach our humble abode. As a kid, I would always go gaga over the balikbayan boxes that you faithfully post to Betag. Thank you for the unending supply of clothes, toys, chocolates, gadgets, and of course – love, love, love, love. I wish I could visit you all again someday. Anjeli says thank you to you all. : )

Highschool Friends. “As we go on, we remember all the times we’ve spent together” (Graduation by Vitamin C). How is everyone? I’m sorry for being so out of touch these past seasons – but know that you all are still in my very heart of hearts. Congratulations to all the wedded ones, to the employed ones and to all those in-between – haha, what was I saying? We’ve grown a lot from those kids who bagged those jingle awards, from those guys and girls who made the student teachers cry. I miss our turon and toknene days. I miss rolling my eyes at the befine boys as well. I hope that we can all catch up with one another soon. But my deepest gratitude goes out to you all who made high school life the best for me. : )

ICS Dudes and Dudettes. We can change the world! Yey! “Turn off your monitors. Bring out one fourth sheet of paper.” I so miss saying those words out loud. I so miss my room at C-117, going to Tita Flor and Tita Au’s room to get my printouts, going up the PCLABS, and manoeuvring  through the often crowded ICS hallways. To my ex-teachers-turned-ex-co-teachers, to my classmates, to my students, to the ICS staff, to my adviser and to the heads of the departments – much thanks for all the lessons that I got from you both as a student and as a teacher. Thank you for making my UP stay truly worthwhile.

Destiny Family. Whenever I talk about home, I would always have to explain that I have my hometown but that I have a place which I consider as my second home in the Philippines. All because of you people. SOD, Professionals, Teens and Kids – can I just mention all the sectors here? Can I mention all the names of the people who fill up the seats of the MaGym centre and upload all the pictures of every precious, precious “kapamilya”? You have all played a big, big, big part of my life. You still do. You have helped me in my growth as a person, as a princess of the King. It’s funny how I can truly call people whom I am not related to by blood “family”. Thank you for leading me, for guiding me, for supporting me, for releasing me, for believing in me. Thank you for inspiring me, for pushing me, for encouraging me, and for simply loving me. My heart goes out to all of you. : )

The Original Cell. It does sound like a buko pie! Cell’s and The Original combined. : D But you all know who you are. Gosh. Time flies so fast! And yey! It’s a joy to see how we are all flying to wherever God is taking us. Ate Jez, I’m going to give you a special mention here – I know God is preparing you for something great, great, and great. I owe you my most heartfelt gratitude, because if you had not “chased” after Marian and me (oh-so-discreetly, yes) – who knows where I might be right now? Baka nasa kabundukan na ako. Or something. Thank you. And to the cell, especially to Nanay Patty – I love you all. : )

My Girls. God knows how seeing each one of you grow in Him brings such joy and encouragement to my heart. Ask my batchmates what made me cry at the Baguio-Anda outing and they’ll tell you that it was the mere thought of leaving you girls behind. I’m so proud of each one of you, at your “accomplishments” whether big or small, demonstrated on stage or done in secret. I wish I could have been there in your productions, in your SP defences, in your project presentations, during those times that you simply needed a hug or a shoulder to cry on – but I hope you know that I’m still here. A chat or a letter away. I miss you, dearests. I thank God for bringing you girls to me. : )

Mentors, Leaders, and Friends. Those three words do go together. Mentors-leaders-and-friends.

No words could express how much I honour each one of you – every leader, every mentor who has pushed, prodded, and inspired me to grow up, to be released, and to simply fly.

And I thank God because I have also found friends in each one of you. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for raising your ceiling so high so that our – my floor – is sky-high as well. I honour you all. Thank you so, so much.

Covenant Peeps. Gusto ko man kayong isa-isahin dito, pero kumusta naman tayo diba? I’ll end up with an entry that’s at least 10 pages long. But I believe you’ve already had enough blog stardom in my “Ode[s] to Friendship”, in my “Granny Moments a.ka. Memorable Moments with my Batchmates”, and in that “Growing up” thing – so this small section will have to do for now. : ) You already get enough of me from those letters that I send you guys every now and again, anyway.

But that just goes to show how special you all are and how truly special you all make me feel. Yeah, all of you – in your own crazy and unique ways – do have that effect on me. Let’s do something fun shall we? Say this to yourself: “I, *insert name here*, am special in my own crazy and unique way to Miss Mari Anjeli B. Lubrica.” *Muse on a memorable moment with me while you say this aloud. ;D*

Full force parin, right? I love you all. : )

My Home away from Home. I think I’m just going to cry a bucketful of tears at this point. No, not because of sadness, but because of extreme gratitude. What can I say? Thank you. Terima kasih banyak-banyak. Maraming maraming salamat. I am grateful for the people who spent the night at the Sungai Buloh hospital waiting for the arrival of a person who was actually already there, for the folks who supported an “illegal” girl through her passport and visa episodes, for the bunch who laughed through the lost gal’s bus ride escapades, for the crazy peeps who continually tease the bunso to death. I am grateful, grateful, grateful to be part of this family. I look forward to sharing more memories with you. I do. : )

Kawan-kawan saya. Kepada kawan-kawan saya sini Malaysia – that’s about as far as my BM can take me and I’m not even sure if my sentence construction is right. Tapi, saya nak cakap that I am just so grateful that your hearts are wide enough to let this strange Filipino girl in. Terima kasih for the makan-makan sessions around the campus or wherever. I hope to be able to spend more time with you and that I’d be able to see more of this country through your eyes. Boleh? ‘Ma Kasih. : )

Him who is my Everything. How can I not thank the One who is the greatest source of Love?  My greatest source of Love? Lord… God… Father… Here I am. Just your daughter. Just your child. Ready to receive more of Your love. And ready to just simply overflow. I simply live for You. From You, through You, and for You. I love You.

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Thus ends this long discourse. Thank you, if you have gotten this far. I know that I am sometimes limited in my loving – I used to have intimacy issues, sidestepping away at the slightest hint of true nearness – but I know God is changing me. I extend my deepest apologies to all those whom I have hurt intentionally or unintentionally along the way. Minta maafkan.

And so, once again, from the deepest, deepest, deepest part of my heart – Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Thank you for giving me this “love from all over”. Thank you for making my 22 years in planet earth oh-so-worthwhile.

Blessings,

Coloured Pieces of Paper

Rain down.

It’s raining paper. Coloured pieces of paper. Folded in half, coming down in torrents of pinks, yellows, blues, and neon greens. Face turned upward, arms outstretched, I allow myself to be lost in the colourful, colourful stream.

The pieces of paper are actually notes. I love notes. Words have a powerful impact on me and, written down, they are something that I can go back to, hold close to my heart, and read over and over and over again.

During one crazy “dating game” where I unwittingly found myself as the “searcher”, I was asked what kind of gift would make me go gaga. I simply said, “Anything. As long as there’s a note.” Notes – may they be novels or simple one liners – indicate that some thought has been put into the gift. I don’t care much about a gift’s monetary value. What matters to me is the heart value.

So on the cold night that the picture of the rain of coloured notes came to me, it is needless to say that I was so, so, so hopelessly messed up. (Messed up in a good, good way, of course.) To me, a shower of notes is synonymous to a shower of love.

I saw the folded pieces of paper coming down like confetti in a wide open field. I saw myself in the middle of the field, receiving the notes, being overwhelmed, stopping every now and then to read and meditate. One note read, “You are valuable.” Another read, “You are precious.” And another, “You are the apple of My eyes.” There were about a million or more of them in that field.

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them, they outnumber the grains of sand!” (Psalm 139:17-18, NLT)

God’s thoughts for me are like the grains of sand – uncountable.

And His thoughts for me are like the coloured paper raining down on that open field. Numerous, generous, and so, so precious.

Now freely I receive, freely I will also give.

It is still raining paper. Coloured pieces of paper.

Second Wind

Muddy shoes. (Image taken from http://www.corbisimages.com)

I used to play soccer for my school way back in high school. During the peak months of the season, we would do our weekly trainings at the often muddy BSU Oval (“soccer season” was synonymous to “rainy season”). We’d end up with abused hamstrings, soaked jerseys, browned socks, and caked cleats.

If the team captain was lax during our practice hour, we’d dive straight into doing drills and scrimmages. If she felt that it was time to give us a real workout, or if Sir Frael was there to see if she was keeping our team in shape, she’d make us run a couple of laps around the oval first.

I remember those laps well. We’d form two lines and start jogging off with energetic zeal. We’d do well through the quarter mark, the halfway point, and until we’d cover three quarters of the 400-something-meter oval. However, by the time we’d start the second lap, some would already relax into a walk but would hurriedly break off into doing a semi-slow-mo version of a jog once the captain would start barking and throwing commands again.

We’d usually do just two laps but if enthusiasm would overtake the captain, she’d add to that, making us do three, and sometimes four. Note that we had a pretty big oval. How my lungs and my legs held up during those warm-up sessions is beyond me. (Yes, those laps were just warm-up sessions.)

The breath-robbing laps would explain my familiarity with the term “second wind”. Good-ol-wikipedia defines it as “a phenomenon … whereby an athlete who is too out of breath and tired to continue [running] suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion.” Yeah, I experienced a lot of second winds during those days, alright. Just when I thought my legs were going to give way, the sight of the finish line would always send me running at top speed again.

I’ll be needing a big barrel of that second wind this week. Make that this month. UPeans and other holiday goers probably won’t be able to identify with me anymore at this point (yey for summer holidays!). But UKM studes would understand.

I started this semester off with a passionate note. But now, with deadlines and examinations lined up, with papers publically criticised (with the best of intentions of course) by well meaning professors, and with other equally important stuff in life to deal with – ayyy, my mind, my strength, and my heart feel like they’re already about to give way. And so I need a second wind.

I can feel it already rushing in though. The sight of the Finish line is giving me strength. It is renewing my almost drained passion, making me go, go, go – push a little bit harder, run a little bit faster.

To the rest of the drained and the weary – I’m with you. But now let’s all take that second wind and push through.

Go, go, go!

Piano Keys

Piano keys. Blacks, whites, minors and majors.

I do not know what to do with them. They all look the same to me, but I know each key produces a unique sound, a sound that I know corresponds to some note in some piece of sheet music.

A sheet music. There is one sitting in front of me. But the notes, the rests, the bars, and the time signatures all appear to me to be just an undecipherable jumble of lines and code. How I wish I could decrypt everything written there and just translate everything into beautiful, beautiful music.

I try to hit a key. Dongk. Blech. What a horrible, horrible sound. I try to hit another. Dungk. That’s even worse. Dongk-dungk-ungk-langk-tengk-mongk. Jungk. That last key just about summarizes my whole attempt at music making. Junk.

The keys are blurry and my eyes can no longer make out the piece of paper that they term as a sheet music. Music? How could anyone make music from such a cryptic thing?

A tear falls. I wipe it away.

But then another one escapes my eyes, and soon there is a cascade of them falling down my cheeks. If I’m not careful, they will soak, seep through, and possibly destroy the fragile piano keys.

Let them destroy it. I don’t care. I will cry my heart out and my frustration away.

“Child? Are you okay?”

I can hear the voice of my Father. I do not answer. I don’t want him to know how incredibly frustrated I am right now.

“Child? Would you like to tell me what’s the matter?”

He is persistent. I pretend that I do not hear him still.

“Child, I’d like to help you out, if that’s alright with you.”

His voice is soft and patient. And right now, it is just a simple whisper, but I can hear him clearly. He has already sat down beside me and now he is looking at me intently.

“I’d like to help you out, dearest.”

Carefully, he starts playing a beautiful melody. My tears begin to subside and I steal a glance at him and his fingers which are gracefully dancing over the blacks and whites of the piano keys.

“It’s simple really, my dear.”

He takes both of my hands and places them over his. He starts playing again. With my hands on top of his, he plays a sweet, sweet melody. My fingers dance along with his and I feel like I’m playing the melody too.

As the melody is played out, he starts to sing as well. “Tears in your eyes, questions in your mind – how many times do I have to tell you? That I am for you, I know what you’re going through? Know that I’ll never leave you nor forsake you. I’m with you, I’ll see you through.”

I know that song. “And together we will soar high above every storm… my wings shall hold you, my strength, sustain you… my love shall carry you through… and we will soar…”

The music continues to play. He and I continue to sing. The blacks and whites of the piano no longer seem so hateful. And I can now see the sheet music clearly. I realize that the song that we are singing is the one written on that piece of paper.

The music gently fades away and makes room for another.

My Father looks at me, smiles gently, and says, “We’ll do this together, my child.”

We’ll do this together.

And with my fingers still over his, we play some more.