A Defining Moment: Growing Up

With a new year, comes new changes. And in my particular case, I rearranged my room, lowered some towering furniture and, according to my sister who gave me the layout idea, opened up the energy in my room, and I must say, there’s a real change in the feel of the room.

One suggestion for my layout is to have the room reflect my goals, and that meant “putting away” some childish things that I had on display originally. Growing up, I never had very many possessions, so I’m naturally a sentimentalist, what I do, have I cherish. At the current moment, it’s a lot of things a kid would have: 2 Gundam models, a one-winged Charizard, a keychain Psyduck, a couple of rocks that Isa gave me, and so on. My walls were bare due to the towering shelves, and the one thing that wasn’t in sight was my one achievement: My bachelors degree.

Began this entry way back in January, and now it is May 9th, suffice to say, the room is not what it was when I started this entry. For starters my degree is right in the middle of the wall where I can view it everyday.

So now with my own solitude changed, there’s the matter of my own self that needs to change…

I’m working a full-time, mostly physically demanding job (at Amazon) with benefits, I have money to help out my family, and even enough to have it saved, for a rainy day, and I even have things to look forward to: Having my loans and affairs ordered, Learning how to play my new Acoustic Guitar, School in the Fall (Bioengineering degree), and saving up for a new car.

Heh heh, it feels so weird saying this, thinking this. I don’t know why I’m reacting like this. I’m not freaking out, it’s just a little unsettling. Then again, why should it? I strive for balance in life, why does it seem strange that I’m close to obtaining it? Maybe I’m prone to entropy and chaos…

But I don’t want to be.

I do want this to work. I want to be able to move forward with my life, to be able to live independently and not rely on anyone, but to be the one whom people rely on. And I can’t do that unless I push forward. Unless I try to go outside of my comfort zone and do things when I’m tired and exhausted.

I have to oftentimes yell and degrade myself, because it’s only when my flaws are brought to my attention can I strive to fix them, even if I’m the one bring them to my own attention.

Because a child quits when he’s bored or tired, but an adult grits his teeth and keeps going even beyond the point of pain and suffering. He pushes because he knows it’s the right thing to do, and I haven’t been an adult, but a child. I need to push myself through these things that need to be done, but I’m procrastinating.

Maybe it’s fear, or just laziness, but whatever it is, I need to be rid of it now. God didn’t give me this life, nor saved it from the jaws of Death, only for me to waste it.

I am going to grow up, there is no other choice in the matter.

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“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.

That face in the mirror

For a majority of my college life, I’ve always kept my hair short, spiked, not very long nor excessive, it would borderline between crew cut and porcupine.

Irrelevant? No, only leading up to my point.

With a change in growth, the change in identity is simply bound to follow, and what few people realize, a change in appearance.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that one’s beliefs, ideas, and resolves are shown in one’s mannerisms, speech, and even stance. Everyday quirks that one displays everyday speak volumes to those who are trained to see them. So when one grows and solidifies one’s beliefs, this is subconsciously displayed to everyone, which is also why “Like attracts like” or why a certain mindset brings about a specific result.

Yet, now this is where my hair comes into light. My hair is growing longer, mainly due to a lack of resources to cut it, but I’ve realized that mentally, subconsciously, and physically, I’m accepting that change, I’ve found my changes being discovered as time progresses, my ideas are formed with a different set of thought-process, the passion in my voice is not scattered but more focused, and yes, I’m starting to actually look different.

Going in the reverse order, I looked in the mirror and found that my face is starting to look… different, subtle, but enough to be noticed. With a change in physical appearance, after any significant massive physical growth spurts, can only mean that something within me has changed, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, something.

I was reading AoM’s mini-series about the minds of 20-somethings, and how at the end, at the age of 25, the mind has finally and officially matured into it’s adult-hood form. So, I guess that means that my change in physical appearance might be caused by another source.

Mentally, I was slapped with the harsh hand of reality, that I was not participating in the role of an adult that I had requested from my family after my father’s death. An adult would have taken greater responsibility than what I have done, in his family, in his life, and in his future. I was still acting like a child, by refusing to see and to act when I should have, by allowing the ideas and mental state of others, however unstable, to sway me to change my position or to silence me when I needed to speak up. This was some time ago, and since then, I have tried to open my eyes and my mind as wide as possible to try to pick up the slack I was leaving. I’m actively trying to make good with my time and to take a more active role in the family, I’m aiming to become one of the main protagonists, rather than a side-character in the story of my family. I’m not there yet, but as my mind is maturing, I’m pursuing it more and more, through conversation and explanation of my actions.

Spiritually, I have seen that my life is now starting to resemble a time when I was spiritually satisfied; the time of my Catholic Youth Group. Now, I am a member of the Knights of Columbus (KofC), a Catholic men’s organization for charity and spiritual growth in God and in Brotherhood. This is a bit of a stretch, because when I was in my Youth Group, we literally focused on spiritual growth in the forms of teachings about the Catholic faith, prayer, and activities that helped us focus on growing in the faith. The KofC are full of grown men, who seem to have already reached their spiritual growth and are now expressing it through prayer and action. When I was in the Youth Group, I was among peers who are growing in the Faith like I was; when I am in the KofC meeting, I’m among men of various ages, albeit older than myself, who have reached individualized peaks of growth in the Catholic faith. The spiritual energy is rather sporadic because there’s really no one who is close to my level to help me focus my energy on. Yet, I find myself smiling, and full of both energy and peace, as I stand among men old enough to be my father. I feel glad to be there, I feel as though, this will be my new ‘Youth Group’, that these men, these Knights, can help me grow spiritually and help me reach a peak in my own path to God that will surpass my own expectations.

In terms of Emotional change, I was informed by my sister, during our conversation on the phone, that I will come across patients who will be expressing powerful emotions, so much that they will sway a lot of people. Yet in order to be a good doctor, I must remain calm and focused on the task at hand, I will be facing these passionate people and if I do not have a firm grasp on my own emotions, I will find myself making a mistake simply because I was emotionally persuaded to. Granted, I should always act on my feelings of what is right and what is wrong, but I must strong in the sense that I will have to try to calm others who will react spontaneously, if I do not cannot try to calm them down, then my abilities to help them will be greatly hindered, and then what good will I be? I need to be both gentle and strong, passionate and focused, calm and firm, ready to act at a moment’s notice to any sort of disaster or change, all the while maintaining my own composure. When I will be faced with people who are panicking, scared, worried, pissed off, depressed, even emotional-less, I will have to find ways to make sure my own emotions don’t become blended, or effected by theirs, otherwise, I’ll walk away from the experience panicked, scared, worried, pissed off, depressed or even emotional-less. If I do not have a strong heart to hold on to, I will lose it in a sea where I will wind up heartless, and then how will I be able to help people?

So far, these are the only changes that I can use to answer my question of “why doesn’t my face look familiar?” That being said, there will always be an unknown factor, something unexpected or unforeseen that can cause my change. Perhaps it’s more subtle than I can detect, other than the physical manifestation of it, and even then, I cannot accurately address what it is that’s actually different in my face, only that it seems different. For all I know, it could be nothing at all, simply a figment of my imagination, or that my now-longer hair can cause that much of a change in my appearance. Well, all things come to Light in the end, whether or not I’m aware of what it is that has, or will have, change the objective now will be to try to maintain my course, of trying to get into medical school, by whatever means necessary. I’m now waiting for my results, which won’t come until the end of February, so until then, I have much work to do, or rather, I should find ways to improve my current situation and that of my family and friends… Well, I can always go back to volunteering at the hospital…

Still Useful

We were working on the cars when one of the ratchets broke, “I’ll throw it away, Dad” I said to him, after handing him a replacement. “No! Keep it, still good.” He said. “‘Still good’? How? It’s broken, we can’t fix this.” I rebuked him. “We can use it for other things, it’s no ratchet, it’s something else.” He explains to me, to which I said, “… Like a hammer?” “… Yeah!” he says laughing.

My Father never threw anything away, especially tools. Despite their conditions, or should its purpose be lost or taken by another, my Father, ever the packrat, would save said item in case another situation arose.

Even broken or damaged tools would still have a purpose in my Father’s eyes, our garage is filled with the usual plethora of various tools, but also with a vast array of tools no one has ever seen before, and another horde of tools that are rusted, broken, or simply twisted due to some tragic fate of being overused by my Father. But none of it, however bizarre or specific its purpose, regardless of condition would be kept for a future use.

It’s understandable once you realize that my Father grew up in eras where people were saving everything, using everything to the last drop, and nothing was thrown away but only recycled over and over again, he grew up with those ideals. To him, a ratchet isn’t useless just because it couldn’t fulfill it’s role as a ratchet, it can now become other things, a Tool is still a Tool, regardless if circumstances causes it to be used other than it’s original intentions.

This is a rather interesting way of thinking that’s now taking this country by storm. People are now using their creativity to recycle everyday common items, from old entertainment systems to recycled iPods and Tablets, it’s really rather fascinating.

Yet, I find myself not so attached to this particular ideal, too often has my desk been cluttered with various random things, all with the idea that it could be useful somewhere in the future. And it’s funny because, sometimes that’s true, I would happen to be in a random situation, where, sure enough, I have exactly what was needed to be the perfect remedy! Ha ha ha, but that’s too random and unpredictable to depend on: “Possible future use.” It’s just not enough for my current small living space. I can see myself practicing this in the future, definitely, yet for now, I’m rather limited in how much space I can take up.

Also, I think I would be FAR more organized than my Father was. His area for tools was one literally giant mess, tool boxes filled with every type of tool was on this large wooden desk/table, with shelves and containers with small various things from fuses to screws, nuts and bolts to light bulbs.

And that’s just everything I can identify, there are boxes, shelves, and containers full of things, I’ve never seen before! I don’t know if it was a hobby or if my Father really did run into so strange and unique machinery that he’d wind up with parts and pieces that no one has ever seen before!

For a time, I set myself in charge of cleaning up the Garage/Tools, and I’ve oftentimes run out of containers and places to organize everything into their own space, there was just too many things!

…. I’m ranting…

When one really thinks about this particular ideal, “It’s still useful” it brings about an interesting perspective, I mean, how often have we thrown things away, simply because it was empty, or a piece of it broke off? How long did we sit there looking at said thing and think, “What else can I do with this, now that it’s different/empty/changed?” If we look at it simply as, “It’s broken.” Then obviously the next thought is to throw it away, however people forget that everything has a purpose even if that wasn’t in the original design.

Like Wall-E.

Wall-E was designed to make garbage cubes, yet his ultimate purpose was to re-introduce humans to Earth and fall in love with another robot…

Heh, I have a bit of NerdFitness writing rubbed into me…
You never really know what’s going to happen to the future, and you can never really plan for everything that’s going to come your way, so it’s rather difficult, if not impossible, to be prepared for it, yet, if you were to keep little things, here and there, things that are unique or special, then I think, you’ll have a far better time being prepared than were you to have to go around without anything.

My Father would rather have a cluttered Garage full of random tools collected over the years, than have a project that constantly required him to get the tools from stores over and over again. One thing’s for certain, if I ever needed a project completed, I definitely know I can find the tools for it.

One can even translate this to people, If someone has changed, that doesn’t mean that one should throw away the bond that was originally had, but to keep it and find new ways to stay friends with said person… Not that I’m condoning using people, it’s merely a metaphor. People change, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep their friendship anymore, one just needs to find another way, another means of communication.

No matter what happens to someone or something, they’ll always be useful if only we try to think from another perspective.

Progress in the Making

I find that it’s interesting trying to change ones habits. Change. A strange thing that be as small as going left instead of right or something as Grand as going Left instead of Right. Heh heh, what I mean is that some changes are many yet so small that one doesn’t notice it, until someone points it out to them, and then all of a sudden, one is left wondering, “When did all this happened?!” and others are so gargantuan, one feels as if the entire world has shifted.

Well, I’m currently pushing myself to wake up normally at 7am, based on this article from the beloved Art of Manliness website. and it states that you cannot wake up 3 hours earlier just off the bat, one must make small changes in order to get accustomed to the change, and then little by little it’ll feel as if nothing has changed at all. In the middle of this, I find myself trying to stay awake more so than just waking up, because if I don’t make myself do something, I’m going to fall back asleep. So to prevent my stumbling self to crawling back to bed, I’m going to implement several things, and hopefully some combination of them will cause me to stay awake for the rest of the day.

In the meantime, Massive changes are approaching, I have a Minorities Ceremony this Saturday, where I will be honored due to my Hispanic brethren not being the majority of the race that is at LSU, afterwards, I’ll see if I can make it to Mandy’s birthday party, however with only $20 in my savings, I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint her. Then, I’m going to need to pay for the MCAT test, officially securing it in June when I will take it. Hopefully before then, I will have finished my Personal Statement for the AACOMAS and completed my application for Medical School, which will require more money… Soon after the MCAT, I will no longer need to study (for now that is,) for 3 hours every weekday, and then I’ll need to start looking for a job, and I have no doubt that it will be something meaningless and/or completely separate from my Biology major, which is somewhat degrading, because then I’ll be paying off the loans I got just to get that degree, only to have it do nothing for me. Sigh… but it must be done… And that’s the truth. After all, no one ever said that just because I have a degree, life will be easier, heh heh…

Change… such a fickle, yet unbiased force. The Winds of Change are often blowing during these times, foreshadowing Adaptations as well as Endurance, Trials as well as Triumphs, Strength as well as Toughness, even Endings as well as Beginnings.

And we’re all subject to this Wind, some even connect by the changes of others, Marcus Aurelius thought that we are all connected by one form of Energy, us, the world, and everything in between, all of us connected. In various forms, as well, when someone cries, another laughs, when someone feels alone, another feels at home, when someone hates, another loves.

I saw several poor and homeless people today, and close to my own home as well. And upon looking at them, I felt such an urge to reach out and help them, but I didn’t. Not that I didn’t want to, but the fact of the matter is, I couldn’t. I have nothing to offer them, save some words, I can’t even give them any time, because I have no time to give. My time is not my own. I’m tied to other priorities, other promises and oaths that must be fulfilled, and this has kept me from going out of my way to help these people.

It’s a frustrating feeling, not being able to help those in need, to see suffering and not be able to comfort them, to know that you are probably the only person in the crowd that cares about their well-being, only to turn your back on them, it breaks your heart. Each time I do, I feel pain and emptiness, I feel as if I’ve become one of the apathetic masses who shuns them like one does a stray dog. I strongly believe in the UNICEF charity organization and I had contributed to it before, but due to lack of funds, I was no longer able. I had tried to support a child who lived across the world, but I had to stop because again, my resources were limited.

But, I will not forget them…

For I will have my own time eventually. I will have the resources to help these people, and not only these people around me, but people all over the world. The Broken, the Beaten and the Damned, will forever be in my heart and in my prayers. I will save them. Not for prestige or for recognition, but for the fact that I been spared from Death various times, so then I will use this Life that was given to me to help those in need. I will earn this Life. Even if it’s only in the Eyes of God.

“Be the Change you want to see in this world”

By the wise and humble Mohandas Gandhi.

I’ve always lived by this particular phrase as it bests sums up all of the codes of honor uttered by Knights and Samurais, that I admire so. The strangest part about this, is that sometimes one doesn’t get to see when the changes happen, in most cases, I doubt one ever will, as what we do in life echoes through the lives of others and there for sparks a change in them, causing them to move forward and do things accordingly.

But in those rare cases where you can see a change, the rewards are beyond measure…

Since I’ve found Nerdfitness.com I’ve trained myself rather diligently and routinely, but before I start each session, I always inform my brothers that I’m going to exercise, nothing special, just gives us a moment to see what the other is doing, they’d usually be sitting infront of the TV, while I go to the Garage with the weights. And when I’m finished with my training for the day, I inform them that I’m going for a shower, and so on, this has become routine with us.

Yet today, as I was preparing for my running on the treadmill, I noticed that Greggy wasn’t there… Norm hadn’t come home yet from his job, so I had expected Greggy to be sitting on the couch, and then it hit me… “He’s Exercising…” Granted, Greggy was taking Karate classes at the College, but he never trained at home. Which lead me to believe that by seeing me go exercise myself, I’ve slowly inspired him to exercise, he’d always ask me, “Feel better?” and I’d reply accordingly with wheezing or an exhausted grin.

Now, this could all be just circumstantial, he could’ve just as easily found his own inspiration to exercise and wanted to find the right time to do so, and so on and so forth, and I will not walk around thinking I changed the world just by doing my thing, so I won’t take any credit for anything mentioned above.

So with that in the air, I was reminded of Gandhi’s quote, If one wants to see change in the world, then one must make the first step towards that desired change! I’ve always tried to be a good a guy I could possibly be, honorable, and friendly to any and everyone I come across with, all with the thought that by being the example for everyone to see, of whatI think it means to be a good person, friend, Catholic, brother, and son, then maybe the rest of the world might start thinking this way as well.

For too long have I seen the horrors of people before me, after me, as well as people just like me, fall and take so many others with them, with no reason other than to experience what they’ve been told from the very beginningnot to do. And it truly saddens me, some of them I thought were very good people and to see them fall like that…

So I will make my stand here! Because this is what I believe is the right thing to do! For the sake of those who have fallen and for the sake of those who need someone to help them! I will continue to be a Good Man, and take everything everyone has taught me and make the best of this situation called Life! I will not give up this fight, even if I’m fighting alone! Let the world see that one Man stood up and fought for what he believed was the right thing to do! No matter what happens, I will hold fast to my beliefs and look to the future with Hope and Optimism! Even if I’m bloodied and cleaved, I’ll just smile and say, “That was fun…”

Man, I feel inspired! But I have to sleep! Oh man, it’s going to be hard to sleep now!