Last night, I lay down in my bed who is talking to me. I think he is telling me to lean my back to him and shut my eyes ’till tomorrow morning. But then, my electronic tablet is also telling me something else. He is reminding me of our daily conversations — to either write a journal in a Diaro app or write a blog post. I’m not a bed whisperer. My tablet doesn’t have any talking apps. I just imagined them longing for someone to talk to. Or maybe it’s me who is longing.
Please don’t panic on me. I don’t have a Van Gogh syndrome, as named from a famous painter. Vincent Van Gogh was also known for cutting off his ear to give to a prostitute. Creative people were bound to be misunderstood. If this is true (which probably is because of his painting “Self-Portrait With Bandaged Ear”), then I’m not creative enough to understand this act except that he has a mental illness. I suggest we should just remember him more for being an incredibly creative artist than a self-mutilating schizophrenic (yep, I checked the spelling).
I decided to ignore my bed to please my tablet and start blogging. I resolved my two-step authentication issue with WordPress so I can finally use the mobile app version. I start pointing my fingers on a touch screen. Then my eyelids get heavier. And heavier. And heavier. Until they were too heavy I was able to lift them up again at six in the morning.
Haist, my bed is easier to please.
Instead of feeding myself with guilt, I prayed the Holy Rosary five minutes after I woke up. It took me five minutes because my bed is still so demanding and hard to refuse. Then I drank a cup of tea, did some chores, ate our lunch and watched a movie on someone’s iPhone. Now, at one in the afternoon, I’m continuing to write this blog post.
In Saudi Arabia, living in an apartment with six other Filipinos is both exciting and frightening. Most of us were complete strangers until we lived in one roof. This is another experience to learn to be interested in other people’s lives and not just with my own preferences. I don’t want just to know them, but to understand them as well. We are all aware of our own boundaries. We get to enjoy each others’ company. I won’t deny though conflicts still occur as part of having our unique differences.
The seven of us have their own ways of battling the sadness of being away from our beloved home country. Some watch movies, some play apps, some video-chat, some tell stories, some exercise, some are singing, some are dancing, some tell jokes, some cook and some eat a lot. I also do some of these mentions especially eating a lot (and not gaining a pound).
Up to now, at least in here, I’m the only one who finds joy in writing his thoughts. Sometimes being the only one has the feeling that you are the wrong one. Either we intend them or not, doing different things attract attentions. It also attracts supporters and detractors. Following the majority is easy and comfortable because the voice of the people is the voice of god. Is it? Is following the culture the right way to live? Is the crowd always right?
You’ll Get Lost in the Crowd
I got a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Six months after the graduation march, I passed the National Board Exam. I was entitled as a Licensed Electrical Engineer. This is not to brag, but to tell you that I was surprised actually. With my attitude during that time, I really don’t expect that I would graduate from college, much more be a licensed engineer. Not that I am a rebel student, actually it was the opposite, I was a behave student. Too behave my existence is hard to notice.
For five years in college, I think 98% of the time I tried my best to avoid human contact. And if ever I encounter a human being, I tried my best to please him for being the higher species. I rarely argue to these higher forms of intelligence. I thought that whatever they’re saying is more important than whatever I have to say. I always bow my head down. I’m content with my inferiority.
Every time I heard people talking, I also imagine they are talking about me. I was paranoid that they are saying negative things. I think that way either I’m at school or not. Woah! My imaginations were full of darkness and selfishness. I’m a celebrity in my own confined world.
I tried to be perfect in everybody’s eyes to protect my fragile-as-thin-glass ego. I forgot even Superman has at least one weakness, Kryptonite. Everybody has their own Kryptonite. The word “perfect” is subjective. Perfect is an illusion.
“A pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life” ~Proverbs 13:7
Can you imagine that? I’m one of the most insecure people this universe had ever encountered — obviously, this was just an exaggeration. My point is following the crowd with wrong intentions is like being a needle in a haystack. You won’t find yourself there. I hope that this simple story of mine goes deep enough to your consciousness of how terrible it is to get lost in the jungle of people’s opinions.
You’ll Find Yourself in a Community
I got lost from my pretentiousness. Pleasing everybody is a losing game. Most of my past crowds were impossible to handle. My self-worth was almost gone.
So don’t follow the crowd? Not really.
The crowd can also direct your life. I might sound inconsistent, but the crowd is not always bad for you. Just take my mother’s words: “Always choose your crowd.”
Yes, we can choose them. Years after I graduated from college, I got so depressed, I was desperate to find another crowd. This time not to please a bunch of folks but to claim my lost self-worth. I found one called “Singles For Christ,” a Catholic group of unmarried boys and girls most with the age of more than twenty. I fall in love with the group because I felt a deep sense of belonging. It was from this group that I slowly learned to genuinely care for others through prayers and fellowship. Being still in the process and had a lot to learn, I really did regain my self-worth with the help of this crowd. A Christ-centered crowd.
I was not fortunate enough to find a Catholic group in this Islamic country. I guessed there’s not a single Catholic church in this country with a priest celebrating Holy Mass. Thanks to the internet, I could still get some updates from Singles For Christ members — my brothers and sisters in Christ.
When I’m still in the Philippines, I also joined an online community called “My 500 Words.” I got encouragements to write at least 500 words a day. I don’t have to publish it in a blog. It can be part of a novel or a journal. And we don’t need to be profound with our words. Just write 500 words a day to hone our skills and find our own voices as writers. So I promised myself to write 500 words a day. I broke this promise many times to count. Anyway, I just need to get back on my feet and not let the guilt take me further away from writing. Another point I want to tell is with the power of the online connections, the crowd is not a group of people at a specific location anymore. It could also be a group of people with the same specific interest. These groups were rather called communities.
A crowd is generally disorganized. A community has a mission and a vision. It serves a purpose.
I’m not calling you to be a Christian (or be more of a Christian) though that would be great. That is not the message of this blog post, maybe some other time. Besides, I’m still an infant in my spiritual journey. I’m not also persuading you to be a writer. I have been through a lot of mind games (I think this will continue as long as I’m breathing) to just continue writing. We all have different passions, just pursue one that you think your most called for.
I’m praying that more people would choose a crowd (or community) that adds value to their lives. Yeah, obey my mother.