A Red Halloween

“Boys and girls of every age, won’t you like to see something strange?”

The end of the year is coming and soon, Fall will turn to Winter. I love this time of the year, this tone brings people together, there’s good food, memories are made in nearly every event that will occur, I especially am fond of decorating. Thinking up of ideas to display the holiday spirit, seeing the creativity in nearly every house and family. Even the holiday themed movies are interesting, one in particular was the Book of Life.

Produced by one of my favorite directors, Guillermo del Toro, my whole family was looking forward to seeing the movie that was based on the Mexican Day of the Dead. The movie was funnier than anticipated, but it revealed to me, how little exposure I’ve gotten to the holiday. Halloween came natural to me, I get more than a kick at the idea of scaring people, but that’s not what Día del Muertos represents.

This holiday is about family, it’s about honor and memory, ultimately it’s about love. It’s nothing new to hear about Latin American morals surrounding the idea of family, and this holiday fits perfectly in that. Our loved ones who have passed away continue to live on happily so long as we remember them fondly in our hearts. They are insulted when we cry over their deaths but would rather that we tell stories of the best times we’ve had with them. To laugh over the things that make them so dear to us, is the best way to honor them, it doesn’t matter whether or not there were things left unsaid or regrets between two parties, what matters is that Life goes on, that there is love present our hearts.

The love between two people are said to overcome any distance, why not the gap between this world and the next? Isn’t that the whole concept of Christianity? That God’s love is so grand, that it covers the whole whole and people’s hearts, is the message that Christ has been trying to tell us all these years.

Heh, it warms the heart to think this way.

Love. It helps us look back with courage and fondness, but to also be able to look forward, to make the best of our lives and to not be complacent with apathy or cowardice.

I thought about why we never celebrated Día del Muertos and, much to my regret, it was just something that we never really did. Whether it was just too painful or there were no fond memories to reflect upon, I wasn’t introduced to the celebration of it until that movie, The Book of Life. Because now I have someone to remember, someone whom I love and have had good memories with. I’m not sure if the rest of my family will want to participate, but at the very least, I still have this journal.

This year will be interesting for me, to celebrate Halloween and Día del Muertos, to terrify others with the face of death and then to sit with him and, reflecting and laughing. This will be my strange holiday.

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Smiling at Death

Memento Mori, Bushido, Y.O.L.O.

It seems that every generation has their own reminder that Death is near by and that something must be done. Personally, I think that the last one was used purely for the sake of doing stupid things.

In either case, there is truth in all of these, “Death is always around.” But what is often mistaken is how this should be taken, some people see this as an excuse to live life without consequences, others that one should plan for as many occasions as possible; but for me, I’ve heard both extremes and from that I’ve found a balance between the pros and cons of both.

Honor.

It’s a bit old-fashioned, but I believe that if one lives honorably, they retain the “no regrets” aspect without perverting it beyond a point, as well as the “be prepared” aspect that the other extreme favors.

I mean think about it, I can live and have fun, but not bang any girl simply for the sake of hooking up, I can train my body and save my money for a rainy day without being scared of every single possible outcome and have days where I can relax as well.

To have honor to me, means to hold yourself to a particular standard, so long as you meet those standards, on any level of your life, then you can honestly say, “I have no regrets.” Even if you just died then and there, that standard helps keep you in check, on any point in your life, even if you’re in the middle of transitions, which is basically more often than not.

Imagine the self that you want to be: courageous, smart, likable, healthy, witty, tough, always says the right thing at the right time, and so on. This is the standard that you have to hold yourself to.

This is who you want to be, but that you aren’t right now, for X reasons, and that’s normal, but that’s the thing, if you say, “I’m not this and this is normal.” You’ve shut yourself down, then and there. You need to say, “I’m not this but I’d like to be.” this is the norm. It should be normal to attempt to make little changes to your current character in order to resemble your standard character. It’s amazing to think that nearly any aspect that one desires can be obtained if they simply worked hard enough for it.

For me, I want to live without any regrets, hence the Bank girl, I don’t want to look back and say, “If only I had asked her out, If this, If that, etc” I’d rather ask her out, be rejected, and then move on. So for me, at this point in time, I need ask this girl out, not for some depressing emotion or for some societal obligation, but because in order for me to remain honorable to myself, in order for me to continue to say, “I have no regrets”; this is what I must do.

Granted, my life isn’t hanging on the response this girl gives me, but if I have little regrets here and there, then I’ll eventually have huge regrets later on. If I chicken out at this small incident, then it’s no wonder why I would chicken out at something major, like that accident that happened right before me. I need to test my courage by actually doing something that scares me, in this case, the only two endings this could have are:

  1. She says, “Yes”
  2. She says, “No”

So what is there to fear? Death.

If I don’t live the life in the way that I would want to live it, then I’m scared of Death, because of business left undone and things left unsaid, which are basically Regrets.

In order to not be scared of Death, but in fact smile at Death, I need to live without fear, without hesitation, and ultimately without regrets. Because if I have done this, what is there to fear? I’ve done all that I wanted to do, and I did it by what I thought was right. There would be no reason for me to be ashamed in front of my family, my friends and even God.

And that’s the whole point of this, God didn’t give us Death to scare us, we gave it to ourselves. It came with the knowledge of what is Right and what is Wrong. Being scared of something and not facing, it is simply the wrong way to approach it, you’ve abandoned your goals, and you’ve let the fear control you, and eventually you’ll live Life the wrong way.

It’s only when you’re scared of something and then you face it, does it become a good thing to be scared, to face it, and to live Life the right way.

“I knew a man who once said, ‘Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.'” – Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)

The Year of 1987

Day 17: Hop on the internet and search for the biggest news stories in the year you were born.Infoplease is a great resource for this. Think about how these news stories, or even statistics, may have shaped your childhood or who you are today. For example, the year I was born, it was discovered that 98% of American households had at least one television set. I could write about how television influenced my generation, and continues to do so today, either positively or negatively.

OK so for 1987, I got:

World Events:

  • William Buckley, American hostage in Lebanon, reported slain (Jan. 20).
  • Iraqi missiles kill 37 in attack on US frigate Stark in Persian Gulf (May 17); Iraqi president Hussein apologizes (May 18).
  • Prime Minister Thatcher wins rare third term in Britain (June 11).
  • Klaus Barbie, 73, Gestapo wartime chief in Lyon, sentenced to life by French court for war crimes (July 4).

U.S. Events:

Economics:

  • US GDP (1998 dollars):   $4,692.30 billion
  • Federal spending:   $1003.91 billion
  • Federal debt:   $2346.1 billion
  • Median Household Income
  • (current dollars):  $26,061
  • Consumer Price Index:   113.6
  • Unemployment:   6.2%
  • Cost of a first-class stamp:   $0.22

Sports:

  • Super Bowl: NY Giants d. Denver (39-20)
  • World Series: Minnesota d. St. Louis Cardinals (4-3)
  • NBA Championship: LA Lakers d. Boston (4-2)
  • Stanley Cup: Edmonton d. Philadelphia (4-3)
  • Wimbledon: Women: Martina Navratilova d. S. Graf (7-5 6-3); Men: Pat Cash d. I. Lendl (7-6 6-2 7-5)
  • Kentucky Derby Champion: Alysheba
  • NCAA Basketball Championship: Indiana d. Syracuse (74-73)
  • NCAA Football Champions: Miami-FL (12-0-0)

Entertainment:

Events:

  • Though African, Latin American and other genres of international music have been around for centuries, a group of small, London-based labels coin the term “world music,” which helps record sellers find rack space for the eclectic music.
  • thirtysomething debuts on ABC and departs from typical dramas, featuring analytical, self-absorbed baby-boomer characters.

Movies:

  • Moonstruck, Wall Street, The Last Emperor, Fatal Attraction

Books:

Science:

  • Prozac released for use in US by Eli Lilly & Company. Background: Health & Nutrition
  • AZT wins FDA approval for use in the treatment of AIDS.
  • An international treaty signed in Montreal calls for a 50% reduction in the use of CFCs by the year 2000 (Sept. 16). Background: environmentalism
  • Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand make the first transatlantic hot-air balloon flight. 2,790 miles from Sugarloaf Mountain, Maine, to Ireland Virgin Atlantic Flyer (July 2–4). Background: Famous Firsts in Aviation

Deaths:

 

A Punishment to Some; To Others, a Gift; To Many, a Favor

Day 11Memento mori. “Remember that you will die.” Admittedly, this isn’t the most pleasant topic. There is, however, great benefit in meditating on the reality that at some point, you will in fact die. It motivates you to live the life right now that you want to be living. Meditate on this, and write out your thoughts. Does death scare you? Does it motivate you? It’s okay to be honest.

This quote was from Seneca, talking about Death. Heh, Death, my old friend. It seems like when I was young, Death was always around me, in such close encounters, that it can’t be anything more than a miracle that I’m still here in this life. But now that I’m older, Death has taken on a different role in my life. My Father’s own death was just… so sudden and unexpected, we never really got to prepare for it fully, save for the weeks when he had to stay at his job to save on gas, and didn’t come home. Here, Death feels like a cruel thief, stealing someone so important to me, but my Faith reminds me that Death has but only one Master, and that is God, Himself. Yet, my Father lived a life how he thought was the right way to live, despite the things that would’ve liked to have seen, he had all he ever needed within us.

So now to think that I will die, this is a rather interesting thing to ponder over, because some part of me thinks that I’m still young, so I’ve got that idiotic idea that I’ll never die,  but it’s mostly because I’m genually familiar with Death, I can remember that day when all I wanted to do was sleep, not knowing that I’d be sleeping for eternity, and how my family tried to hide their fears under their determination to keep me awake. In the years following, I’ve lived life with a flavor that was unique, and yet, as time has passed, that flavor is all, but gone.

Now, I don’t fear Death, I fear the unknown. Death to me, is like I said before, an old friend. I know my life isn’t even CLOSE to being finished, and yet, I don’t fear the idea that Death can come for me at any time. But I do use the death of others as a motivator, at least in the sense of trying to become stronger/faster/tougher: “What if something fell on the girls? Will I be strong enough to help?” etc. But my own Death? Nah, I’m fine. I even sometimes think about my funeral, who would show, what would happen afterwards, and so on. Heh, it’s kinda fun thinking about Death, but that could also be coming from the mixture of my Mexican side, who respects Death; my Youthfulness, who doesn’t think will die at all; and my Catholic faith, which tells me not to fear Death for it will be bringing me closer to God. I guess in the end, I feel like I owe this Life a lot of things before I meet Death, but then again, it’s up to God to determine that.

Hitting the Ground, Running

Oh man, these last few days have been hectic!

  1. On Saturday, I’ve learned that a good friend died, his service is on Friday, He was the head usher, who asked me to be one, I was completely shocked upon hearing it.
  2. My Bro-in-law got a job that’s put him 5 minutes driving from the new house.
  3. The process of us getting a new house, has been progressing faster than we all originally planned, so I’m going to have to start packing more rapidly.
  4. With everyone moving around, I’ll be doing most of the work myself along with JP, an entire house of 5 and only 2 people packing, me being one of them.
  5. All this, along with acting as the Parent for the girls, and taking care of anything else miscellaneous that can occur in the family
  6. And finally, trying to apply to school and stay in shape by keeping with up with my workouts.

Needless to say, these next couple of days will be nothing short of interesting!

Confidence is a bit lacking…

A few weeks ago, I went to confession as a good Catholic man should, and this particular priest, who has a reputation for rambling, was rambling about how I should do things to avoid sin, so he eventually asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I replied to become a doctor, and he told me if I should consider something else… Now here’s the interesting part…

I know it in my mind, body, and soul that I want nothing more in this life than to be a doctor, with every fiber of my being, and yet, I’ve found that when questioned with even the slightest possibility of doing something else, I become hesitant, my voice lowers, my vocabulary shortens, and it seems like I’m almost scared to defend myself in sticking to my goal…

So I was telling the Priest that I cannot see myself and anything else but a doctor, but to his eyes, it must’ve seemed like I didn’t know what I was talking about, or like I had no desire whatsoever. Well, whatever he thought, I’m certain he couldn’t have thought I was as adamant about being a doctor as I claim to be.

So what is it? Why do I act like a frightened mouse when someone comes even close to questioning my motives for wanting to become a doctor. Or even questioning my character, for that matter.

I remember an interview with a representative of a medical school, and when he questioned why some of my grades aren’t perfect, I would explain to him that there are more than a plethora of situations that would require my attention, some family, some friends, and I threw in, “I’m the kind of guy that people would come to for help” And he gave me a scenario,

“a Friend asked for your help, but you need to study for a test the next day, what would you do?”

I told him, I’d help that friend, and then he said with disappointment in his voice, “And there goes that test.” I tried to sound confident but it probably sounded like a whisper when I said, “I cannot deny who I am.” but he didn’t look up from his papers.

So, other than scratching that school from my list of potential Medical schools, that moment where my confidence is shaken, despite what I knew was the right choice, has haunted me for some time.

This is a problem I need to focus on.

But that’s the thing, I have MORE than enough reason to be confident, I’d even go so far as say be angry about this career path! Yet, something in me, doesn’t use it, it doesn’t reach into this pool of motivation, full of various things, when other people have just one and they make it work. Here I am, with so much motivation and yet it’s all gone when it comes to defending who I am or what I do.

Maybe that’s the thing, “A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.” – Segal’s Law, this is describing the fact that conflicting information can cause loads of problems, especially when it comes to making a decision… So in my case, I am seeing these things as separate reasons, the Death of my Father, the Disadvantaged Upbringing, the Earning of my Name, The Path for my Nieces, it all adds up to one thing: Sacrifice.

All of these things revolve around Sacrifice. It was Sacrifice that pushed me to Medicine, it was Sacrifice that carries me, it’s Sacrifice that I wake up to, and it’s Sacrifice that drives me to keep going. I’m going to have to REALLY think about this, because this is what will be the center of everything! What brings balance to my universe, the singular method to all the madness that I will experience, the spark that ignites a raging inferno, will be Sacrifice.

“Sacrifice, which is the passion of great souls, has never been the law of societies.” – Henri Frederic Amiel, has spoken the words perfectly.

Even more Changes

Man, these last few days, I’ve been staring at a blank screen wracking my brain, trying to figure out what to write about. It didn’t help when I had a desire to write something. But I’ve come to realize that there are a lot more changes going on in my house, for one, I’m completely re-arranging my room, it’s a bit difficult to sleep  because even my bed feels strange.

But the idea is that of the classic flame metaphor, “Getting rid of the old things to create space for new things.” These last few days, it’s all been about donating the old stuff and putting new things in its place. 

I’ve always liked the idea of donating things to places so that others can get something new from something old. Heh, this stems from the majority of my childhood wardrobe being consistent of Hand-me-downs from my elder siblings, so for me, if it doesn’t bear sentimental value, then I’ll give it to others. But it’s always interesting to see what you can dig up from the past by trying to make a better future. I’ve found old shirts and random objects, but nothing of importance. 

Yet, to change things requires effort and persistence. I mean cleaning up years of junk makes one break a sweat, no doubt, but all changes that are needed, never happen overnight. Even Death takes time to adjust and accept what has happened, tears must be shed first, and the stages of grieving must be performed in order for one to reach the end of acceptance. 

Maybe the changes are subtle, maybe they’re grand, the idea is that one must always try to find a way to change for the better. Granted, not all changes will be for the better, but the choice on who you are is and always be yours, when something good or bad happens, it has always been your choice to take it one way or another way. I’ve always tried to stay optimistic, but I’m not perfect, when my Father died, I was certain that my Mother would follow, due to her poor health and her attachment to my Father, yet here she is, still around, laughing, praying, still breathing with her one lung. 

I guess I needed something of a break from writing into this journal, these last few days, I’ve been to busy to ponder over things, and when the hardest jobs were done, my mind started pondering again. So I’ve got some things lined up, for the future, but for now, I need to keep making changes until I’m at my optimized conditions to work to my best!

So on that note, I’ve got some work to do, submitting papers, filling out things, and just plainly cleaning on all sorts of levels.