The Wiseman

“What is happiness?”

I replied with a grin, “Happiness is when you make other people smile. Actually, it’s when you see them smiling and enjoy it, even if you’re not the reason behind it.

Happiness is helping someone, directly or indirectly, and seeing that person’s mood change to the better after you’ve helped.

Happiness is knowing your hard work paid off, knowing that you have people in your life who’ll always have your back, knowing that God is with you, always.”

– “What is love?”

To that I replied, “Love is a powerful thing. Love stretches over any distance. Love is when you put other people’s happiness before yours, when you’re ready to sacrifice something without hesitating, when you feel the need to give your all to someone.

Love is that little fire that ignited inside the hearts of a man and a woman when they first met, and when they saw their baby child for the first time.

Love is when you feel like you have to check up on a friend or a family member who is sick, when you feel like calling someone because you miss that person and you need to hear his/her voice.”

– “What is passion?”

“Passion is when you’re ready to do something you love and give it your ultimate best. You love that thing so much you feel like you always have to improve to be the best. And the greatest thing about passion is that, even if the path to excellence is long and bumpy, you’re always happy while taking that path because you’ve got passion.”

– “What is sadness?”

I lowered my eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Sadness, my boy, is that bitter feeling you get when you lose something you love. You remember when grandpa passed away? Remember how much I cried?”

– Yes, Baba.

“Do you know why I cried? I cried because I was filled with sadness. But sadness comes in different kinds. There’s that little sadness you feel when you get a bad grade, or when your favorite football team loses an important game. There’s the sadness that lasts a little longer and that tries to inhabit your heart, but fortunately fails to do so. This kind of sadness mostly comes to you when you lose a loved one. And lastly, there’s agony. Agony is that ultimate level of sadness that inhabits your heart and somehow refuses to go away. It stays there, fighting for refuge in your heart.”

– “How to avoid agony, Baba?”

“Well, son, agony settles in your heart once you let it in. But I think the only way to keep agony away is by trying to be a good person. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the nicest people secretly live in agony.  But, son, take my advice and choose something that makes you happy and pursue it. Find people who bring out the best in you, and who push you to try new -safe- things. Find your passion in life. Love more, smile more, help more, accept remarks, challenge yourself to improve…and if you fail – once, twice, or even 10 times – you keep trying. Never tell yourself that you’re a failure. You are incredible. You know what they say…”

My son looked at me, smiled, and screamed, “When there is a will, there is a way!”

My little man was growing up.

– “Thank you, Baba. I can kick agony’s behind now, I’m going to be a happy boy!”

“I sure hope all the best for you, son. Give your old pops a hug.”

He hugged me and went to play with his friends.

My wife came in the room, patted my shoulder, and said to me, “I heard everything. I love you and that beautiful mind of yours. You’re teaching him well.”

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Civil War

I joined the army because I thought that was what real men were supposed to do. Real men protect and serve. Real men defend their nation. Real men fight for their women and children. Real men don’t get hurt. Real men die and are remembered as martyrs.

Wrong.

I stepped into the base. I noticed the macho guys doing their push-ups, climbing, crawling, escaping barbed wires, and behaving like “real men”. I could feel them looking at me, mocking my skinny physique, judging me. A few seconds later, I looked forward and saw nothing else but a mountain in front of me. That mountain was known as the Sergeant. He was around 6 feet tall, with a body perhaps a hundred times more muscular than mine, if not more.

He introduced himself as Sergeant Morris. He yelled instead of speaking normally, and he spat in our faces. He had a Crucifix tattooed on this upper arm, and he repeatedly roared, “WE FIGHT IN THE NAME OF THE POWERFUL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and spat a little more with ever yell.

“You,” he pointed at me, “Introduce yourself, beanstalk.”

I stepped forward and opened my mouth, but couldn’t even say my name. A shivering voice finally came out, “Roger Matthews, Sir.”

He grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around, and pushed me back to where I was first standing. The other men laughed.

I had troubles climbing the ropes, breaking free from traps, or doing anything that required physical strength. Every night I would lie in bed, bruised and scarred, praying to God and asking Him if I made the right choice. I got no answers from Him, just a remark from one of the guys in the bunk telling me to shut up. And when I whispered my prayers, I would receive a pillow as hard as concrete to the face. Last night, one of the guys undressed me while I was asleep. I can hardly figure out how he knew I was a very heavy sleeper, but he knew. I woke up the next day, without any pants on and shirtless. I shrieked. They started telling me that I was sleepwalking, and other crap of the sort. They belittled me, spat in my face, threw their dirty clothes at me, turned me into their doormat. I was despised.

I trained harder every day, cursing every second I spent in this hell, and finding new ways to run away from being “accidentally” punched in the face by one of the guys. I eventually was able to climb the rope and jump from the top of the cement wall, but I still had to master the art of holding a weapon. I hesitated at first, because I’ve always been a pacifist, you might say, but Sergeant Morris threatened to make my life even more miserable than it was at first if I don’t shoot at the target.

“WE FIGHT IN THE NAME OF THE POWERFUL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” he shouted again.

I shot clumsily but somehow the bullet struck the center of the target, exactly. The sergeant lifted me, suffocating me a little, called it a congratulations hug, and said that I have evolved well. He patted my shoulder. It hurt for three days.

The weeks passed by and that was when we were told that the times of safety were over. Our opponents had trespassed all of the borders. It’s time to confront the enemy.

“Roger! Leopold! Francis! Get your weapons ready!”

We ran to the tank. I didn’t know what to feel. Now began the moment of survival.

The tank was moving quickly, and all of us soldiers were being thrown from side to side inside it. None of us was able to sit still, we were all worried. The tank stopped and we all got off.

“Run for your life,” I told myself. “They hate you. I guess it’s every man for himself.” I was running madly, trying to breathe with every step I took. I found this huge rock I could hide behind, and luckily avoided being shot in the leg.

“Great, not only am I probably going to die today, but I also nearly lost a leg. It was close, Matthews. Really close,” I thought.

I ran.

I hid behind an abandoned house and tried catching my breath. That was when I saw the enemy. Without noticing, Leopold stood next to me. “What are you doing?” he said, “Shoot!” he barked in my ear.

“I can’t kill, Leopold. I just can’t!”

“Do you want to come out alive, or do you want to perish?! Shoot!”

Leopold grabbed my arm, put his hand on top of mine, and made my finger pull the trigger. The soldier was shot in the back. I couldn’t believe it…I had just killed a man. I witnessed his blood pouring out. I saw his last movement; he moved a finger. The man was dead. I had just killed a man.

Leopold carried me back to the tank, shouted something about me to Sergeant Morris, and joined the battlefield again. Sergeant Morris reprehended me, but I didn’t listen; I was traumatized. I had just killed a man who, like me, was in the army to defend his nation, to be a real man.

We fought for months, barely making it out alive every day. As the war came to an end, it was clear that few were the men who remained alive. I was running recklessly, but the enemy shot me. I was shot in the head. The last thing I saw was Leopold crying.

Look, God. The war is over, but he didn’t taste victory. He fought for his country. He protected and served. He could have helped his country by becoming a writer, but no. He died during the war but, sadly, he was not really remembered.

Hey, America, is he a real man to you?

 

Inspired by the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

The Forgotten

There’s something strange and disturbing about the sorrow growing in my heart.

What’s strange is that the sorrow is delightful. I don’t know. Oddly, I don’t mind it.

Perhaps it’s because I know the reason behind it. I looked at my phone, no messages. Of course. Who needs me anyway?

That’s the problem with people nowadays; you could spend days waiting for that message, but you end up facing the biggest disappointment ever.

That’s the thing about us humans. We expect too much from people. We become delusional. We expect them to talk to us first, to remember us, to remember the tiniest of details, to call us just to say they miss us, to surprise us with trips to the Caribbean, to love us without betrayal, to always be honest with us. The even funnier part of the story is that we always create the drama because people forget us, or because we think people don’t care.

My problem, however, is that I expect too much, I care too much, and I love too much.

-Definitions-

Love: an intense feeling of deep affection.
Care: the provision of what is necessary for the protection of someone or something.

Love and Care. The two most beautiful things in the world, yet the two most awful pains. I remember how much I cared, how much I loved, how happy I was by the compassion I displayed, as well as remember every thorn that was planted in my heart in return.

“I’m done with this crap,” I said to myself, about a billion times. I fall in the trap every time.

The worst thing is finding out people ignore us on purpose, or forget to send a message saying they couldn’t talk at the moment.

Admit it. People like you and me are born to be the forgotten. The ones who aren’t invited to concerts, or to parties, or to gatherings or whatever. The ones whose phones are believed to be dysfunctional because their sound is never heard. The ones who cry themselves to sleep because they think it’s their fault for caring.

Remember what I said? That sorrow was delightful? Well, it’s because I got used to it.

Remember your very first cigarette? How awful it tasted? Do you hate it now? That’s what I thought. You got used to its taste, so you find pleasure in it. My sadness is the same thing. Was atrocious at first, but now that it’s been growing on me like a vine, it’s part of me from now on. I find it delightful.

 

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“I checked my phone: I had no messages. That’s what cell-phones are used for; realizing no one thinks about you. Before, we could always dream that someone wanted to find a way to contact us, to talk to us, to love us. Today we live with that object that materializes our solitude.” – David Foenkinos.

Enfeeblement

I feel weak most of the time, and that mortifies me.

Death? Is it time?

I smoked one cigarette the other day, and felt a stab right in the chest.

I looked at the fireplace. The flames were dancing recklessly. I remember when I used to dance like that; without a single care. Now, I guess it’s over.

I laid down on the sofa, looking at the cracked paint that was torn apart from the ceiling. I tremble after every little step. What is left?

The memories. The adrenaline rushes. The disputes. The reconciliations. The laughs. The sorrows. The regrets. The accomplishments. Gone.

I’d give a friend a call, but I can’t hold my phone without shuddering anymore.

I’m terrified. Why me?

The questions continued to revolve in my head as I grabbed another cigarette. I puffed out a cloud of smoke. No regrets. Always so good.

Now, where was I?

Oh, right. My reminiscence. My misery. My upcoming demise. My future remaining ashes. My current remaining ounces of hope.

Nick.  My…friend?

What I don’t understand is why are my feelings for my best friend so strong? What is happening to me?

I puffed out smoke again.

I stood up. I twirled around. If I was going to die, might as well die having done what I loved. I spun faster and faster, but I was too frail. I fell and my face hit the ground. I could feel the cold parquet against my cheek. I shivered.

It took me around five minutes to stand back up, and at that moment, I ran towards the door.

That was it. I had to talk to Nick. I ran through the building corridor, between the worn out walls and the shredded curtains, tripping quite often. Yes, I was that feeble. But I had to run. Never in my life had I run so madly. You could say it was almost an insane rush.

I arrived at the bottom of nick’s house down the street, and I found him standing outside. At 2AM.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I needed a hug. I’m tired. Why are you out?”

“It doesn’t matter. Come here,” he said.

He hugged me and added, “If you’re so tired, then why don’t you sleep? It’s 2AM.”

“No, you don’t understand. I am…anyway, I’m just glad you’re with me. Thank you.”

“Thank you? I didn’t do anything special.”

“You did more than you think. I don’t feel so tired anymore.”

A Thought or Many

There I was. Water was pouring heavily all over my body. I wish it were able to clean more than just my outer shell.

I was alone with just my thoughts. And so it all began.

Water droplets streamed racing down my back as I thought. I sat there, head between my knees, and that’s when things struck. The voice inside my head whispered:

You are no good. Everyone is doing and performing better than you are. Everyone is smarter than you are. Everyone is prettier than you are. Everyone is loved more than you are. They all laugh at you. Ha! Ha! HA! 

“STOP IT!” I screamed. But it didn’t do me any good.

You suck, man. 

The water kept drizzling.

The longer I sat there, the more I thought about how useless my existence was.

Will I ever be happy and at ease with myself? Will I ever stop comparing myself to others and craving what I don’t have? Is this the dark part of me that had always existed?

The power went off.

I stopped the water, and all I could hear was the sound of the droplets dripping from my hair. Drip. My heart pounded faster as a result of the rhythmic dripping. And the voice was directly back.

Quit telling yourself that you’ll one day shine like the rest of them. Might as well get used to living miserably in everyone’s shadow.

“Go away!” I screamed again.

I immediately dried myself up, and rushed to my room as soon as the power went back on.

They say that your best thoughts come to you when you take a shower.

They lied.

I sat there, in my cold and abandoned room, all wrapped in my worn out bathing robe, and I looked around. Everything was so ugly. Man-made creations were ugly. Kind of like myself. And not just on the outside. Everything was laughing at me.

Oh my God, that’s it! Stop!

The power went off, again. I couldn’t see anything around me, and I oddly felt better. Relieved. It was actually kind of comforting to not see the horrific objects pointing their imaginary fingers at me. I couldn’t see my reflection in the mirror either. My poor and frail reflection was gone. My bad thoughts had disappeared.

Wait. The voice. Even the voice was gone!

The strangest part of all of this situation was that even if the power wasn’t restored yet, I enjoyed the darkness.

I wondered. Who knew…that obscurity could turn into your safe haven?

Tuesdays with Morrie.

A pure masterpiece.

A book that teaches you about life values, love, sacrifice, family, relationships, how to deal with death, how not to surrender to the love of money, how to view life from a new, better, perspective and much more…

Morrie, a professor in the field of sociology and diagnosed with ALS, teaches each and every single reader a valuable lesson: how to live happily. Morrie is going to die, and he knows that he’s going to die, and he keeps reminding others that he’s going to die, but he never lost a single taste of happiness. Throughout the story, Morrie teaches Mitch, his ex-student, many valuable and inspirational lessons, including how to love endlessly, and most important thing of all, how to be human.

I cannot describe how powerful the impact that this book had on me was. It is by far the most touching and amazing book I have ever read. If you don’t end up crying, then this book did not move you enough, I can guarantee you that.

To the author of Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom, you are a pure genius, and I respect you as both an author and as a person.

Here are very few of the many — many — memorable passages found in the book.

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It’s Alright.

It’s alright to feel this way.

Listen to me.

It’s alright to feel like crying for no reason.
It’s alright to get all pissed off at something that might seem stupid to others.
It’s alright to feel in need of compassion when you’re feeling down.

After all, you are a human. You have feelings. Your emotions do take roller coasters. It’s completely human.

It’s alright to feel confused when it comes to choosing your future.
It’s alright to feel in need for advice.
It’s alright to have problems that you can’t seem to solve.

After all, you are human. You have full rights to ask for help. Life is there to put obstacles, but you can definitely ask for counceling. It’s completely human.

It’s alright if you face your insecurities at some point.
It’s alright if you feel the need to have a perfect nose, body, or hair.
It’s alright if you have moments when you feel confident, but then have others when you feel like crap.

After all, you are human. It’s normal to feel that you must have what you don’t have. So it’s normal for you to want to change yourself, as well as hate yourself at a certain moment. It’s completely human.

Listen to me. It’s alright. You are a freaking human being. You were born with feelings. Things can go from good to bad to worst in a glimpse of a second. It’s natural to feel uncomfortable, or unhappy, or even excited at some points in life. You know why? Because you were gifted with feelings. If you are feeling unhappy today, and feel the need to cry, because it seems like it’s your only option to let the sadness out, then cry. It’s alright. If you are put under extreme pressure, which makes you even more confused than you already are, seek help. It’s alright. Help is never wrong.

Just know, it’s okay not to be okay. And know that time heals.

It’s just an unhappy day, and it will pass. There will come better days, I promise.