“What kinda guy would I be?”

I remember saying this years ago, “What kinda guy would I be, if I was in this for the _______?” and I’d finish it with something that other people would normally give to others but not to me, i.e. gratitude, appreciation, or even just a plain “Thank you”.

Life took a rather funnier perspective each time I said it, it gave me a sense of humility and strength at the same time. I’m stronger because I didn’t need the recognition, and I’m humbled with the idea that I did the good deed simply out of nature. Heh, signs of a good man, maybe… Maybe, if I acted enough like a good man, or thought enough like a good man, I’ll be a good man? The sort of “fake it until you make it” sense.

You know, it’s strange to think that there are times when I’m not the good man, when I’m the one who needs help, or advice. Granted, I’m human and am expected to make mistakes and whatnot, but I often wonder what could cause me to no longer see through this perspective.

I’ve always liked this perspective, this ideal, this concept that I don’t need reciprocation of anything from anyone else, that ‘virtue is its own reward’ and that solidified the idea that I could possibly be a chivalrous man in this world. 

It comes with a fantastic yet subtle feeling, but it has always been able to take me with the gentlest of touches, like a child’s hand on one’s face; frail, soft and borderline innocent. Yet, it’s something I’ll instinctively reach for when it’s there, almost as if I don’t want it to fall. 

Ha ha ha, what is this? This is one of the strangest things to have crossed my path, if I were to call it anything, I’d call it: A Reminder.

A reminder that no matter what I’m faced with, virtue is always a choice, even if it’s at the end. A reminder that good people always do the right thing, regardless of the cost. A reminder that there’s still a chance that I can also be one of the good guys. 

I know I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’m constantly searching ways to prevent these incidents and improve myself, in multiple levels of my life, maybe this is my path to trying to be a good man in this world. Heh, what kind of a guy would I be, if I didn’t try to be the best guy that I can be?


Facing the Beast once again

Thursday, January 24th at 8AM

I flew to San Francisco on the previous Monday, to get used to my new environment, and to do my final preparations for the MCAT, the monster of a test that I faced before, and found only defeat in it’s wake.

Now after the MCAT Prep course I was ready to face it again, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday found me in either my hotel room or in the Public Library studying, taking practice tests, and getting used to the format of the test, leaving it only to find a place to eat, but studying none the less.

Then Thursday came, I was ready, I woke up on time, grabbed my essentials and walked out the door, being completely terrible with directions, I found myself walking away from the location of the Cable car for roughly 10 minutes, so I almost ran back in the opposite direction to try to catch up. Luckily I made it with time to spare, other than being a little sweaty, I was fine and calm. I walked in there knowing full well that the MCAT Prep course teachings have left me in a far better state than before, I wasn’t just walking in blind like before, I felt Ready.

I left around 11:30AM, only taking 1 of the optional breaks, but when I walked out of there, I was full of dread, stressed, something went wrong, I felt it, I had no idea how I did, my head was hanging somewhat low leaving the tall buildings, I didn’t even feel the relief that I was done until much later on in the day. I heaved heavy sighs and simply couldn’t shake off the depressed feeling from my mind.

So now looking back, I can still feel it, that lingering feel of doubt, it’s not a complete “I know I failed” but it’s not “I performed marvelously” either. To be quite honest, I don’t know what it is. Yet, if anything, I would call it most likely a… Humbling feeling.

Humbling… that’s as close a label as I’m going to get for this feeling. I am humbled by the MCAT.

Calls from my Mother and my Sister both included the fact that if I did not performed well this time, then it was God’s plan that I did not, He needs me elsewhere and that’s just it. Being informed of that, helped me deal with the humbling feeling, but some part of it still remains. It’s not completely a bad feeling, but it’s not a happy one either. I just feel… I don’t know.

But I’m remembering how I acted when taking the first MCAT, I was uplifted, prideful even, I made a really big deal out of it, told everyone who’d listen that I was taking the MCAT and joke around about it, and then I felt a severe blow from reality and walked away defeated. This time, I hardly told anyone save for family and some friends, I guess my defeat left my tongue in check and I didn’t elaborate on it at all, but they made a big deal out of it, they came to me concerned about how I did and how I felt, and I would respond in roughly the same form to all of them.

Heh, on the one hand, this is a sign that I’m truly supported by people near and far, on the other, with all their support, it would kill me to disappoint them! Man, there’s just no winning with my mentality…

The Beast has really helped me, in more than one way, that’s for certain. My eyes and views are now different than the first time  I took it, one could even dare to say, I’ve matured a bit, heh heh…

But, whatever happens, I must be ready for it, whether or not I did well, I must be prepared for the actions needed to be done, plans and back-ups for each scenario. Man, I really hope I did well enough to apply to medical school with, I just need a solid score; a chance, that’s all I need, just a chance to get in there and show them what I’m made of!

Well pondering over it now, isn’t going to do anything except make me lose more sleep. I’ve still got 23 days left before I can find out how I did. Well… 22 days now…


I remember getting a test back, I got an 89%, only one of my friends who got this score, compliments all around, I’m feeling good about myself, I go home with my head held high.

My Father comes home, he asks about my test, I smile as I show him my 89%, he looks at the paper, then me, then the paper again, and he says, “Ahhh?! Why couldn’t you get 90%” “Oh, well the test was pretty hard.” I reply. “¡Taras! Why didn’t you get 90?” followed up with a hit on the back of my head. “Ow! It was hard!” I say. “Ahhh…” he utters as he goes about his lunch.

“A dose of adversity is often as needful as a dose of medicine.” This particular phrase is the embodiment of the above memory as well as all others similar to it… usually the ones when my Father would hit me on the back of my head, followed by the classic, “¡Taras!

It was all in a lovingly matter, mind you. I’m not sure whether or not he would thought as far as having such conversations would cause me to be humbled or to inspired to be a better person… in either case, it worked. Whenever I’m met with compliments, I take it with as much modesty or humility as possible. It has been integrated into my mind, to not let any personal victory get to my head, to not be prideful nor arrogant.

It was interesting having someone in my life who would constantly, although playfully, call me an idiot when a majority of people call me a genius, is a wonderful balance to my mentality. When someone is constantly praised, without being knocked down in any sense of the word, will cause someone to be arrogant, over-confident, vain.

Every story about a valiant Knight, or a Grand Martial Arts Master has parts in them, when they’ve met their match, when they’ve failed to meet a goal, when they’ve lost. They learn a valuable lesson. Failure, Defeat, Humility in its rawest form. Painful, however, it is what stays with us the most, that’s why the most vivid memories are the most embarrassing.

It’s essentially balance. In my case, being constantly praised for being a genius, will have nothing but negative effects on both my personality and mind. Granted, I’m no genius, I’ve done my fair share of stupid mistakes, simply because I wasn’t smart enough, and you see, I’m able to not only recognize it, but accept it as a part of who I am, as a part of my own past and as a part of what’s going to happen in the future, as much as I wouldn’t want it to be, I’m going to eventually trip over myself, choke on air or water, and laugh at vulgar and oftentimes inappropriate jokes.

In Mexican bonds, we tend to address each other lovingly with a name that’s the opposite of ones highest trait or quality. Using myself as the example, my brothers would mainly call me an idiot or something that resembled stupid, however my Father always stuck with Taras which was something like “dumbass” because my greatest quality was that I was constantly in school and studying and getting a higher education than my brothers. I believe it’s something along the same lines as a Boy named Sue, you bring someone down, to help them realize that they have to fight to get higher and higher in life.

Life has always been about balance, one can see this in every and nearly any aspect of anything! Chess, Call of Duty, all forms of war: Offense and Defense; Yoga, Martial arts: Balance of mind and body and spirit; even science has balance, Physics: Every action has an equal and opposing reaction, Biology: Homeostasis, Chemistry: all chemical reactions react until they reach stabilization; even Mythology and Religion: the world is created, Life happens, then it is destroyed, Yin and Yang.

Balance is what keeps us from being too far to one extreme, from feeling out of place, out of order, and allowing us to become good people, because everyone needs a middle ground of both, strength and gentleness, of tradition and free-thinking, of confidence and and humility otherwise, people would be of one extreme and too much of one side without the other to balance it out leads to disaster, too much confidence results in arrogance, vanity or just plain stupidity, too much humility leads to cowardice, fear of the world, and Living Wallpaper status.

I think by him calling me an idiot all these years, it made me respect and love him more, it opened my eyes to the experiences others are facing in their lives, especially my own Father, who was working so hard.

Perspective is never a bad thing to have. To see the world from high up and from down below, from Gray to every color in the world, from the eyes of a child to the eyes of the elderly, perspective helps us find balance in the most interesting of ways.