Category Archives: Musings

The fear of God

My family has never been a religious one. For as long as I can remember, my family has never celebrated anything religion-oriented, not even Christmas (their annual business-gathering-disguised-as-a-Christmas-party notwithstanding). Maybe that was why, at the age of twelve, I decided to become a Roman Catholic, so that I would have some form of belief system. For the first five years after being Confirmed, I attended Mass every single Sunday, took Communion, went for probably more Confessions than were appropriate for someone my age, and read the Bible in both English and Latin. Then when I was 17, my father opened his first restaurant (perfectly timed, no doubt, to begin right after I was done with high school), and I was enslaved to the business, which marked the end of Mass and my days as a good Catholic.

I’ve never really considered myself a ‘religious’ person, but I’ve always harbored the childish notion that God really is watching and listening to everyone, whether they deserve it or not. It is perhaps this notion that lies behind the meaning of ‘the fear of God’. We may want something, but if we want it for the wrong reasons, God would choose not to give it to us. If we get what we want by the wrong means, God would let us have it for a while, and then take it away from us the same way we took it for ourselves. And if we’re waiting for something, but decide to give up waiting because we think we’ve waited long enough, God might decide that we don’t deserve it because we simply lacked the patience and faith.

What is it that keeps us hanging on and holding out for something? Is it our absolute determination to have it, and our unswerving faith that if we are patient enough, it will come to us? Even when we know it’s a lost cause, do we hold on for dear life in the hope that it will all eventually work out for us? Or are we just afraid that God will observe how we handle ourselves during these hard times, and then make the final decision as to who deserves what?

A decade ago, my very first tattoo artist told me, “I’ve learned in my old age that if something doesn’t happen now, it just means that there’s something greater out there waiting to happen soon.” If that were true, then would we still be hanging around to see if what we’ve been waiting for all these months would ever happen to us, or would we just let it go in pursuit of that ‘something greater’? Wouldn’t God then decide that we are undeserving of either one and in the end leave us with nothing? Do we continue, then, to float along in this limbo that we’ve created for ourselves, too afraid to go back, and yet too uncertain to move forward?

Cleaning out my life

Some things (and people) just need taking down a peg or four

Two weeks ago, I officially moved back into my own house. By ‘officially’ I mean I went back to living in my house full-time, as opposed to living in Dani’s apartment while still maintaining my own residence. And after three and a half years of shuttling back and forth between two houses, it was quite the task consolidating my entire life back under just one roof.

One problem was the matter of stuff. I hadn’t realized just how many things, especially clothes, I had acquired in three and a half years, and just kept in my closet in Dani’s apartment because that was where I was most of the time. So when it came time to move all of it back to my own house, I realized I was going to have to do some serious spring-cleaning in order to fit all of it in.

So in my first week of living in my house again, I finally found it in myself to get rid of the clothes I wore when I held a corporate job, clothes I’ve had since I was 18, clothes that I had been holding onto for no other reason I can think of than that I was thinking I might one day have to wear them again. Everything went into the big blue Ikea bags, to be given away to my maid and to my mother’s nurses, and the more I cleared out, the more I wanted to get rid of.

One week later, I had given away everything I knew I would never wear again. I then moved on to putting in storage the clothes I knew I wouldn’t need anytime soon: all my evening gowns and heavy winter coats went into vacuum-seal bags. And by the end of it, I had my whole life back in one place.

Today, I put all my handbags back into their respective dustbags, set aside the ones I would give away, as well as the ‘serious adult’ bags that will go to my mother because I will probably not need them in the near future. When I was finished, the feeling of seeing my closet emptier and more organized now was one of liberation. I had literally removed my baggage.

It’s something I’ve been struggling with ever since the year began. In the last quarter of 2016, I had come to terms with the drastic, but inevitable, shift in my life that would lead to my isolation. I knew, perhaps all along, that there would always be one part of my life that was not meant to last, mainly because I had entered it much too late in life, and it was not something that I had ever really gotten used to. I had spent the formative years of my adolescence moving from one country to another, staying in each one long enough to make friends, but not long enough to learn how to keep them. So it was that I entered adulthood never having learnt to form any kind of emotional attachment to people, hence the one hand-full of people whom I can still call my friends today.

This change has become easier to deal with over the past three or four months, especially with the impending prospect of finally leaving this country. It may have something to do with my growing intolerance for so many things that are wrong with this country and its society, or it may just be that I realized that life — the life filled with events and parties and fashion shows and group photos taken for the sake of showing off on Instagram — may not really be for me. Whatever the reason, I’ve retreated back into my shell ever since Dani left to begin building our new life, and I’ve never been more content to sit in my own bubble until it comes time for me to join him.

Tomorrow I will start on the shoes. For someone who’s always loved her shoes, that’s just one more step towards my freedom.

Days in the sun

Beauty and the Beast

I could sing of the pain these dark days bring
The spell we’re under
Still it’s the wonder of us I sing of tonight

Days in the sun will return
We must believe, as lovers do
That days in the sun will come shining through

Like most people my age, I watched the live-action Beauty and the Beast during its opening weekend in my country. Even though it premiered here a good two weeks after the worldwide release, for reasons so insignificant you wouldn’t know it until they had passed, Eza and I caught it on the second day of screenings (mainly because I couldn’t make it on the first day).

Going by the assumption that most of my readers would either have seen it or not be interested in seeing it, I won’t attempt to review the film here (not that it needs it). Suffice to say, I’ve watched it twice in the theaters, many times online — because I’m Asian and I know that there is nothing that can’t be bootlegged these days — and listened to the (legally downloaded) soundtrack every single moment that I’ve been alone, and all in just the last 10 days.

Also like most people my age,¬†I’ve watched the animated Beauty and the Beast more times than I can remember since its release back in 1991, and as recently as this February, after learning of the live-action remake’s release date. The animated film has always stuck with me because it came out when I was old enough to have read the original Villeneuve¬†fairy tale, understand the story and appreciate the music. But watching the live-action film has struck a new chord in my being, and almost obliterated every feeling I’ve ever had for the 1991 cartoon.

I think what made this new version resonate in me is one of the new songs written for the film, Days In The Sun. Its lyrics on keeping the faith and staying hopeful amidst all the sadness and despair have stayed with me ever since I heard it the first time, and it is this song alone that epitomizes the spirit of the entire film. It also makes me think of the times we live in now, and how important, no matter how difficult, it is to remain hopeful that one day, we will find our way out of these dark times, and stand in the sun again.