“It’s not too late” said the Rose

It’s funny, despite my fascination with Fire, and my male stereotypical love for destruction of things, I really like gardening.

Today, I spontaneously did some gardening, pulling out weeds mostly, but I liked how I was finger-deep in soil, wrapping my hands around weeds and pulling them out without breaking the roots, and then moving on to the next one.

My actual garden looks pretty horrible, due to various reasons that drain my energy enough to brush off gardening on my list of chores. Yet, despite the lack of good keeping on my part, when I was gardening, it felt as if nothing changed, nothing has changed since I last tended to these plants, obviously the plants have aged, and withered a bit, so there’s nothing but stems, but the energy in these plants seemed… dormant. Within a few days of watering, a very beautiful and large yellow rose bloomed, and now there’s more coming. I thought it was fast, to go from nothing but stems to a full blooming Rose.

So as I spend some time this morning pulling out weeds, I was thinking about the plants themselves, I’m a firm believer in the concept that Trees and plants, spend all of their energy in prayer to God and that’s is their only purpose, to grow in both Life and in Faith constantly reaching for the Heaven, which explains why we often associate plants like flowers and roses to Christ. But it’s metaphorical to reflect upon in comparison to one’s life, a plant doesn’t question Heaven why it’s leaves turn red, brown, and orange, it merely lets go of the parts of the tree that it once held on to, for it was time. It braves the winds of the Fall and the cold of Winter, and yet it remains standing, knowing that at its roots, it is stronger than the seasons, stronger than the changes, stronger despite the sacrifices.

And it’s reward? Spring time. When the snow melts and the clouds part and the sun rises high in the sky bring life, the trees reveal the results of their bravery: leaves, strong bark, a solid body, and it still reaches for the sky, for Heaven, for God, not to say, “Why?” but to say, “Thank you.”

And I believe this is true for all plant-life, so when I was gardening, I was thinking to myself that I was, in some small part, helping these plants get closer to the God that loves them so.

So if this is true for plants, what does that mean for me? What does the Tree tell us? Or what words are spoken with the voice of the Vine? When we smell the Rose, what is its reply?

Hope.

All plants tell us that we must keep going, despite our losses and sacrifices, we must press on. There will always be cold, harsh winters,  changes that seem to come out of nowhere, just when everything was nice and peaceful, change always comes right around the corner and sometimes it takes something with it, but none of it can stop you from reaching. Weathering every storm without breaking from who you are is how you can truly bloom in this life, even if no one cared for a very long time, it is never too late to start over and try again, there will always be roots to grow from, and with enough care and effort, you’ll blossom all the more beautifully.

Hope will always continue to grow, so long as you keep reaching with all your heart, through the good times and the bad, with the gains and the sacrifices, with the roots and the leaves.

Hope is the flower that blooms in our souls when we’re faced with the bleak. It is the unmitigated sign that we’ve endured and have not withered. People can always smell the fragrance of a flower, and like a flower, people can sense the hope that lies within one’s heart, hope that encourages them to be who they are, fight their fight, and strive to achieve their goals. It’s intoxicating to those who have sensed it, they, themselves, feel something stirring within them, inspiring them to one end or another, simply because they’ve ‘smelt’ this ‘flower’ that’s near them, the fragrance of Hope fills their senses and they are moved by it, as if smelling the perfume of a tulip.

Maybe, that’s why I like gardening so much, because it lets me interact with God’s examples of what it means to be Faithful, to have Hope in my heart and to show me how to brave storms like they do, all the while, still reaching towards Heaven.

A Fish’s Ability To Climb

Heh, Today we were moving my mom from her room to my brother’s house so that she can get the carpet removed from her room. Her health being so fragile, she can’t even be in the house with any changes on the house, hence her temporary stay at my brother’s.

Well, it’s JP, Greg, and myself. We’re hoping that with the 3 of us, the heavy lifting would be easier, since they’re both larger than I am, containing more muscle mass than I do, making the heavy furniture easier to lift. The Result? It was Greg and myself sweating to bring the stuff down, with JP watching. The man’s twice my size and he‘s watching me take down the heavy things. He starts moving things, without telling anyone, unplugs Mom’s oxygen machine without turning it off, the machine makes loud beeping sounds, and when we tell him to plug it back in, he will literally stop in the process of plugging it back in, depriving my mom of her much needed oxygen, to look at whoever is telling him to put it back in and take the time to say “Relax I know what I’m doing.” Sigh… It was SO aggravating!!

I’ve been living with this man for years and while lots of people will, and have told me that “he doesn’t know better”, or that “he’s just expressing himself”, it only adds to my frustration! Not due to the repetition of this, but for the fact that… They’re right. Today simply reminded me of how less-than-useful, he is, and yet, I wasn’t surprized, but I was a bit frustrated, we were starting to pack things in the car, and rather than offer his assistance he simply sits down and buckles himself up, while Greg and I make several trips back and forth. I make a quick stop to the store to pick up groceries for them to cook and eat for the whole week, and he was wondering around looking at random things that interested only him, free samples and so on.

Needless to say, all these events and many similar to this, are what my memories of my dear brother, JP, are full of, memories of selfishness, apathy, and frustration and this was all relived in one day.

Tienes que tener paciencia con su hermano” (“You need to have patience with your brother”)my mom tells me, when she hears my sighs of aggravation, she’s fully aware of it too, being the mother of my brother, and then, I felt something…

Somehow the thought of the measurement of intelligence metaphor came to mind.

“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll spend its whole life believing that it’s stupid.” -Albert Einstein

I may have a lot of bad memories of my brother, but he does have his qualities. For one thing, he’d put a mule to shame in the Stubborn contest, despite his pride and mental capacity, he’s rather close to getting an Associate’s, jumped for joy when he got his High School Diploma, and so far, he’s going to schools in different areas trying to improve his education, this tells me that the man is determined above all things.

Despite his lack of respect for the other forms of authority, both familial and ethical, he does have a strong sense of Charity, and really involves himself in the Knights of Columbus, whenever he can.

He doesn’t have much going for him, but he’s got Heart. Heh, it had to be Heart, my dreams of being a Cardiologist, and I have a brother who’s nothing but the wrong extreme of Heart. I’ve known the definitions and examples of Heartlessness, but I was never aware of the other extreme: Raw, unguided, prideful passion. The Man in constant need of self-fulfillment, in a sense, self-recognition, the physical manifestation of the old adage, “One’s reach is always beyond one’s grasp” He’s constantly striving, yet he refuses to accept help from those who can help him, that is to say, from us, his immediate family, who can help him, he’ll happily accept help from a stranger, he’s got no problems with accepting help from a random person, but when it comes to someone he knows with experience, he’ll refuse.

So what do I do with a fish who not only tries to climb, but will refuse to believe anyone who tells him that he cannot climb? So far, all I’ve gotten is something I’ve read in the Bible,

“And whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” – Matthew 10:14

My resources are at my brother’s disposal, if he so wishes… and asks politely. Yet based on the manner that we have been treated, when he leaves, I will think twice about helping him. I won’t simply refuse him outright, but he better have good reasons for asking me for help, because frankly, history tells me otherwise.

Sigh… But the man is my brother, blood brother, to be exact. Despite my views on the description of the word, and its lack of fulfillment, I cannot really just cast him out in the cold/dark/past/abandon him. It’s literally against my blood, heritage-wise, Mexicans don’t have old people homes, we stick to our families through thick and thin, regardless of how they are or what they do.

I am tied to the fish, and even though it’s only a matter of time before the fish casts me to the wayside, my mind and my consciousness will not allow me to do the same. I will not be the man who will be the one who discards my bonds to others.

“Fear Profits Man Nothing”

This is a quote from the movie The Thirteenth Warrior, one of my favorite movies, old now by today’s standard. It’s stars Antonio Banderas as an Arab Poet who’s banished to the Northern parts of the world and comes across Norsemen, and according to the Oracle, when a messenger from a far off land, requests some help, 13 warriors are chosen, 12 are Norsemen, and the 13th is supposed to be one that is not a Norseman, hence Antonio Banderas, was reluctantly recruited. Throughout the movie he’s tested, cultured, and eventually leaves the Norsemen. The bonds, scars, and wisdom he’s learned from a very simple people, according to him, change him into a better man.

One of the things I love about the culture of the Norseman, is the simplicity of their philosophy: A man scared is no man, your fate’s already determined, might as well face life head on! For one’s honor, for one’s name, for one’s family, for the sake that a death in battle leads to a Heaven that only the brave can enter in, and meet with one’s ancestors.

But when translated to a more modern setting, it’d become: Why be scared of Life? It’s full of many wondrous things, even Death can be wondrous, hesitation and fear does nothing in changing your destiny, Bravery and dying in battle is rewarded, Life is something meant to be enjoyed to the fullest, because in the end, being scared isn’t going to change a damn thing.

So they laugh out loud, they eat what they want, they drink and fight and love and life. In a sense, they’re very honest, direct people, maybe not the most tactful of people but once you’re one of them, you’re practically family.

So why isn’t that practiced today? This particular philosophy is within many cultures, not just the Norsemen, it’s even in my own.

I guess, it can only be acquired individually, just as fear grasps the hearts of each man, a charismatic point of view to life must be learned on one’s own terms. Granted, changing one’s life’s perspective isn’t as easy as it sounds, ha ha, but with practice and experience, you can change the very parameters of your reality. By staying up 5 minutes more than usual, you can make an Early Bird into a Night Owl; you can make a 300 pound man into one of the world’s strongest men with small changes; You can make the most adamant atheist into the most religious individuals with a passage from a book.

But one thing that must be considered is: Are you afraid?

If you are scared of change, you’ll find ways not to. If you’re scared of falling into traditions, you’ll try anything that’s new. But fear is a natural emotion, yet how can it rule over our lives so much? Granted, fear can save one’s life, so it’s a vital emotion, but I believe it’s never meant to be a hindrance, no, long ago I learned what fear really does.

Fear widens the eyes, quickens the breath, heightens the hearing, increases the bloodflow, speeds up the thinking processes, and puts you in a fight-or-flight state of mind. Meaning, that you can run and flee for your life, finding the quickest route out of danger and into safety…

Or you can fight.

With all your senses heightened, you can prove to be a lethal weapon. You can face all the monsters of this world and the next, if you would just stand your ground. The idea that being scared doesn’t do anything for you in given situations, that there will be times when you need to grit your teeth. To take that step forward, to speak a word to that one individual that makes you freeze in your tracks, to stand up when all others have sat down. All these require efforts in the mastering of fear, not in the absence of it.

So when the situation calls for it, you have two choices:

You can run or…

You can Fight.

These Frequent Dark Days

Yesterday, I went to my Uncle’s funeral, I saw his picture, and now I have a face to put to his name, as it turns out it was someone I recognized after all.

There was a Mass in his honor, and we all went to my cousin’s house for food and to catch up with relatives, at the end, they showed a 13-minute movie and last words and memories for him. It was interesting seeing and hearing about a man I never got the chance to know personally. The tears shed by the family and friends spoke untold volumes of memories, respect, and love, all of which, I’ve never seen before, or at least not from him.

But it was really nice hearing these stories filling in the empty spaces I have about the man. I’m glad to see that the silhouette I have in my mind, is getting fuller and fuller of tales about a man who loved to sing, loved his family, loved going out of his way for others. The funny nicknames he had, the songs he loved to sing, the wise words he told to others to help guide them, this is a man I wished I had known personally.

This is my second funeral in a span of 3 years.

There’s a fine print that comes with being born as one of the youngest member of the family: Dark Days Lie Ahead.

I’m going to see the deaths of MANY people within my own family, whether it was natural or not, expected or not, hopefully all older than me, because nothing brings pain to someone than seeing someone else younger pass away, that’s assuming I don’t die in advance, but that’s besides the point.

I’m curious as to wondering how all of these events and future events will affect me, will I grow colder in the light of constant deaths? Will I push others away for fear of having pain enter my heart when they leave? or will I develop a sense of being able to let go when I get attached to people?

That last one is what I think I’ve already developed quite a bit.

Is it strange that I’m able to seemingly to have a social Out of sight, out of mind take on my friends unless there’s a situation that calls them to be on my mind after we’ve part ways. But when thinking about other people, I don’t ever see myself thinking, “You know, it’s been a long time, I should talk to this person again.” My conversations with people don’t seem to be affected with time, I remember talking to my little sister only to find that several events have passed with several people when the last thing I remember was that these were people she barely knew. I was shocked, Me:”Wait, I thought you didn’t like Guy Y!” Her:”Oh yeah, I didn’t at first but we got along now.” Me:”How long ago was this?”… And so on.

I’m only concerned that when a girl asks me can I live without her, I’m going to be an idiot and say, “Well of course I could, I lived before I knew you and so on, there’s no evidence that I still cannot do the same even when you’re gone.” Heh, see how romantic I can be?

It’s strange to not feel attachment like the ones I would hear about from friends, I mean it’s not like I treat people terribly or simply don’t care about them, it’s difficult to explain. I feel independant. I know there are ties I have to family and friends, but in terms of my life being attached to people, I feel like I can keep going regardless of who’s with me or whether or not they’re there. My morals and beliefs are simply my own, I’m subject to changes and slight alterations, but I don’t think there’d be anyone who can come by and completely change my entire perspective on life. I’m bound to make mistakes, and learn from them, but I’m aware of that, and am willing to adjust to whatever situation that comes to it, which is probably why I feel this way. Also being the youngest, I’m aware that I have a deep seeded desire to go out and make a name for myself, breaking free from the title “Baby of the family” and other such degrading names.

It wouldn’t be the first time someone in my position has done such a thing. Maybe I’m preparing myself for all of the times I will stand alone, I’m almost certain that I’m going to face a LOT of things on my own despite my family, and friends who offer me their support. This experience with the MCAT felt like a foretelling of what lies ahead in my life. I’ll always have people who have my back, and I’m truly grateful for that, yet, there will always be a gap between what I know is troubling me and them seeing me troubled, so their abilities to help me are always limited, if not applicable at all. I sound like a real jerk for saying that, but sadly enough, it’s going to be the truth, heh, it’s the truth right now, actually.

But I guess, that’s my problem. I should see this as a sign that I need to explain my situation better when someone asks me what’s bothering me. I mean, it’s not their fault that they don’t understand what’s going on in my world. Hmm… Guess that means that my feeling independent has it’s downsides, I would have to deal with this so that those who want to help me can help me, if only by listening.

Hmm… So I guess we’ll see how in the darkness of these future days, my true character will be revealed.

Trying hard to feel bad

I’ve received some news today. An uncle has passed away.

My uncle Manuel, brother of my late-Father died recently.

Such a strange loss. I was never really close to him, to be utterly honest, I can’t even put a face to the name. Yet, he is family, so obviously, this should mean something, at least something more than the words that carried the news.

But you can’t be sad for something you never had, and maybe in the back of my mind, I might recognize his face in some family reunion in the past, but with or without context and association, I’ve got nothing.

I mean, my Grandfather, despite the lack of communication, had a sense of welcomeness about him. I never felt distant or estranged with him, despite the language barrier. With my Uncles and Aunts, there’s a lot more complexity in the way. In my young eyes, I saw them not as relatives but more like they’re family friends of my parents, there was hardly a sign or indication that they– err we were related. Family reunions felt more like a gather of people. Visits had no indication of blood-ties. There’s just nothing there for me to see that I’m related to these people who are hugging me and telling me that they remember me from years ago, or from when I was blank high.

Upon writing this, I’m thinking about how the girls see me. I am their Mother’s Brother, so do I show that? Am I seen as something more than another adult in their eyes? Do I earn that title of “Uncle” and fulfill the responsibilities involved?

Heh, then I remember them saying that I’m their favorite uncle, the last time they were here, and then they leave, and each time, they come back, I’m hoping that I can still be considered their Uncle, I’m not aiming for “The Favorite” but I’m aiming to be simply recognized as to have a bond more than just the word ‘Uncle’, I want something with the girls that I never got from my own Uncles and Aunts: A Bond.

I knew my Grandfather had a Library of Wisdom and Knowledge that I would’ve loved to spend years to tap, and he was gone, and I knew I had lost something when he passed, but now I’ve lost an Uncle, a man I almost never knew on a personal level, I don’t know what he did, what his interests were, or even where he’s placed on the family lineage, or whether or not he’s older or younger than my own parents! Granted, I forget how old my own siblings are, but I can at least place them in Chronological order. And I’m more than confident my own parents can do more than just list them in order, all 14+ Uncles and Aunts on both sides!

But now, there’s something missing. a Bond involves 2 parties, one on each side. You see, my sister and Brother-in-law are well aware of distant relatives being commonplace, especially among Mexican and Hispanic families, so they put effort for the benefit of their daughters, to have them be aware of something beyond the simple family structure, which is also common in Hispanic families.

Neither my parents nor my Aunts and Uncles went above and beyond, like my Sister and her Husband did, for whatever their reasons are, this gap now between relatives is ultimately the result. I can’t shed tears over someone I didn’t know existed. As sad as it sounds, hearing this doesn’t do anything to me, I didn’t even know I had an Uncle Manuel!!

Sigh…

But that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Like my grandfather, he also had experiences and knowledge that I could’ve learned from. Experiences, jokes, a point of view that I could’ve compared life to, lost perspective is a lost treasure. I guess if I was trying to find some sort of reason to be sad of his passing, I would see that I could’ve had something with the man who’s gone. I mean thinking about it, it’s like a cheat to get a new friend, this guy would’ve felt obligated to talk to me because I’m related to him. I mean, how often does someone felt like they needed a new friend or a new perspective on life?

I should’ve taken the opportunity to at least try to get to know them, but even now my Spanish is shaky and broken, I don’t know if that’ll be seen as disrespectful or just plain ignorant. Not to mention that I would be representing my own family, and that includes whatever bad blood that lies between them and my parents, so if they had any reason to be against my parents, they would place themselves against me. My being the one left outside the loop, I would’ve been subject to hostility from an unknown source. It’s a risk either way.

So, as I try to find sentimentalism in nothing, I will see that this, in of itself, is a cause for sadness. Because there is nothing to be sad over when someone of my Kin dies, that will be the reason for my sadness. I will mourn him because I have absolutely no reason to. And that itself, is a valid reason to miss him.

“What have you done?”

From time to time, before I go to sleep, I find myself in front of a mirror, and almost instinctively I ask myself, “What have you done?” I ask not looking for an answer, and I’m almost certain that I’m uncertain that the person I’m asking is myself.

But why isn’t it me who will answer? Why isn’t my answer good enough? What’s stopping me from being the one who finally put this question to rest once and for all?

And I’m starting to think I can!

I spoke to my sister on the phone, and I was explaining to her that one fear I have is during the interview I won’t remember how far I’ve come, or what I’ve been through all these years, or even what I’m certain that I know will be vital assets for my being able to be a good doctor.

It’s all there in the back of my mind, I’m certain of it. And I know these are things that doctors will be looking for, expecting, and are hoping the students pick up during medical school, the fact that I have them now, is an advantage, I know it!

I just have to remember what I’ve done, where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, felt, experienced! I have to remember that People don’t know these things, and that they must be said in order to prove that I will be worthy of Being a doctor!

I’m getting myself riled up. I guess this is what my sister was expecting when I told her my MCAT score, she was expecting me to be ecstatic, but I was only thinking of more things that I need to do, but now that I’m thinking about this, I’m getting excited!

Now I’m going to face the Schools themselves! I need to start as soon as possible now. Guess, tomorrow will bring about some interesting results… Hopefully.

It’s Time…

I got my results for my MCAT back… And it’s 25!

I’ve nearly doubled my score, and that’s a good sign. Progress is always a good thing to see.

So then, now comes the fated hour where I will start my application for Medical school. Heh, I know I’ll be refused by a LOT of schools, they have various process and formulas that will weed out MANY students. but there’s always hope that I can get in.

Hope. The last thing anyone should lose.

I know I can get in, I have to just expand my search, I just need to keep an open mind about where I can go and what I need to do. I mean, when thought about logically, thousands of people with worse situations than my own have been accepted, and thousands of people with much better qualifications than my own have been rejected. It’s both discouraging and inspiring at the same time!

I have a few schools in mind already, so I’ll start my application as soon as I have everything set, and then we’ll see where I wind up. I’ll be both excited and freaking out at the same time as I go through important points in the process.

Now it is time to see what I can do. It’s time for me to see if I’m worthy of the Trails of the Doctor! Or rather, if I’m even worthy of getting in!