Thoughts over coffee

it’s hard to believe
it’s just been 4 days
since i met you

coz this feeling —
of lightness
of happiness
of love
of certainty
of peace
just came rushing in
as if they’re already there
just waiting
for the right person
for you
to arrive
and unleash them

has it really been
4 days?
for it feels like 4ever
as if my moments
with you
were contrived, staged
planned, conspired
by our Maker
and all i can do now
is yield
and trust
and have faith
in us
in love.

Advertisements

Always and forever

I become a little bit different whenever I’m in a relationship. I morph into someone quite… not me.

I remember how I had a string of relationships that were really purely about convenience, and yes, about lust, too. How I felt like a crazy maniac always hungry for the next orgasmic release. Those were the wild days, and yet now looking back, I didn’t exactly like the version of myself in those no-strings-attached kinds of relationships.

There were relationships too that made me feel so insecure. Where I always felt this need to prove myself as I can’t shake off the inexplicable feeling that no matter what I do, I will always be found wanting. Lacking with what? I can’t pinpoint exactly. There’s just this ominous feeling that I’m not enough. That I would never be enough. That feeling was the worst.

And of course there were relationships that were, for one reason or another, supposed to be kept in secret. Maybe because of her family, or maybe because there’s another party that could get hurt. Whatever the reasons were, it’s those kind of relationships that you could never be truly happy because how could you be happy when you’re always confronted with a feeling of guilt and anxiety?

And then, there’s my relationship with you. We could talk about everything, laugh about anything. For some reason, the memories of our moments together are sweeter now that we are no longer together. Perhaps things are just smoother looking back than how jagged they truly were when we were right in the middle of it. Thinking about us still makes me smile. We were happy, weren’t we? I know I was happy. You made me feel like I could just be myself with you. No pretense, no guilt, no insecurities. I can just be me. That was the greatest gift I could ever receive from someone — the privilege of being loved as just my own naked, fallible self.

You were my greatest love yet. And if no greater love ever comes in the future, I’m grateful I experienced our kind of love.

We are no longer together, and yet… I will love you always and forever.

self-fulfilling prophecy

this may spring

from genuine

self-confidence

or

from pure delusion

but i’ve always felt

i’m meant

for something

big

and great

and wonderful

meant for something

so much more

than this

than today

and that

it’s just a matter

of time

and dedication

before the universe

unravels its beauty

before my very eyes

and lift me

higher

and

higher

to where

i’m meant to be

 

An invocation for a new beginning

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ― Meister Eckhart

Enrollment is done, and I am now officially a member of the Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM) MBA Class of 2017. This morning’s entire enrollment process felt like a breeze — I was done in less than an hour, paying for absolutely nothing.

It’s 10:40PM in the evening and here I am, at AIM’s serene and cozy library, feeling like all the books surrounding me are cheerfully greeting, saying “Welcome, we’ve been waiting for you.” I feel at home, as if I’ve always been meant to be here.

But I couldn’t deny that along with this excitement to set sail and discover new horizons, I feel nervous as well. The feeling of hope and optimism is tinged with this anxious feeling of whether I will measure up not only to the expectations of other people but especially to the expectations I have set for myself.

To be brutally honest, I’m not only aiming to pass my classes. Being simply satisfactory is not an option. The goal is to excel, to be among the top students. And I’m scared that I might just end up a failure, which, in my case, is totally unacceptable considering that my US$ 40,000 MBA education is sponsored by a company who has specified a minimum grade requirement of at least above average. Failure to comply would mean revocation of my scholarship and reimbursement of all the expenses that the scholarship sponsor incurred. This is something I cannot live with.

Will I excel? Will I be pleased with myself after my MBA ends? Will I measure up?

I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have been given all the resources and talents I need to win this shit, and I am determined to fight this through to emerge victoriously. There simply can’t be no excuse for poor performance. I have been entrusted with so much trust from different people — the scholarship committee, the scholarship sponsor, my loved ones — and I will not fail them. Most importantly, I will not fail myself.

Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

But before going to war, I just want to take this time to take this all in. To pause for a moment and say thank you to the universe for conspiring and doing everything so that I — a speck of insignificant dust, a nothing in the grand scheme of things — has found himself here in this little corner, a step closer to his dreams.

Dear universe, thank you. For this moment. For being here. For the vast ocean of knowledge that waits to be discovered. For the mistakes, the failures, and the successes that have led to where I am now. For the people who have supported and loved me. For the sparks of inspiration that come every time I needed it. For this sense of purpose. For infusing life with meaning.

Dear universe, I am truly grateful.

Why I’m getting my MBA

The day after my father died, I got an email from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) that the business school’s Scholarship Committee has nominated me for a full scholarship. If accepted, an international conglomerate will be sponsoring my 16-month MBA. I was at the airport en route to my home province to attend to my father’s remains when I got the news from AIM. I cried hysterically after I’ve read the email.

My father, a successful businessman despite being a college dropout, had always wanted me to pursue business. Or at least take business studies in the hopes of sparking my interest in doing business. He was a natural, starting his own mini-businesses and selling various goods as early as high school. I was told that he had a consuming desire to improve his lot in life, and he was so sure that the only way he can do that is by being successful in doing business. Formal schooling probably bored him so he dropped out, and instead started his own business in buy and sell of agricultural products.

I, on the other hand, didn’t inherit the inclination for business. I pursued engineering and luckily, from the looks of it, I excelled at it. Having my own business, much less getting an MBA, never appeared on my horizon. Not until this year.

I recently finished reading the book “Ahead of the curve: Two years at Harvard Business School” by Philip Delves Broughton. This book is a memoir of the author’s experience while taking his MBA at Harvard Business School (HBS). I read the book to have an idea on what the entire business school experience looks like, and to somehow glean something about HBS as I’ve read that the Asian Institute of Management was established in partnership with HBS and uses the HBS case study teaching methodology. According to the author, people go to business school for all kinds of reasons, but they usually can be placed into two broad categories: those who know exactly why they’re going, and those who just sort of do.

People in the first category can tell you with exact precision what they want out of their MBA education, and boy they can give you a convincing justification as to how the outrageous cost of taking an MBA would eventually yield a handsome return on investment for them. They have a plan in place, and they know where they are going. I wish I belong to this category, but I don’t.

The only thing I know is that after six years of rising through the ranks in a renewable energy company in the Philippines, I feel like I wanted to do something new. I feel stuck, and my work doesn’t excite me anymore. I want change, but don’t know exactly what kind.

While I believe I have pretty good shot at being accepted in a scholarship for a Masters degree abroad in a technical field — I could take a Master in Energy or Master in Engineering — the thought of specializing further in a technical field doesn’t seem appealing anymore. I feel that my Fellowship in Iceland was already enough to satisfy my thirst for the technicalities of engineering. I now wanted to expand my horizons. But what and how exactly?

The answer arrived not through a voice from heaven, but through Google, of course. Just like what any crisis-stricken millennial would do, I searched Google and asked: “What to do with my life?”

I was relieved when I found out that I wasn’t alone; the sheer number of individuals from different age groups and nationalities who have also asked the same question was staggering. There was an ocean of online articles, interviews, videos, and books which tried to answer the question. In the process, I’ve read the book “Springboard: Launching your search for personal success” written by a Wharton professor, and came across the idea of applying Design Thinking in personal life.

As I was searching for answers from these outside sources, perhaps all of them pointed towards a common direction: to search inside, to probe the inner recesses of one’s self. I asked myself difficult and admittedly, corny questions like: “What it is that makes me feel alive?” or “What would I like to learn more of?” or “If I have infinite time and resources, what would I want to do?”

I can’t recall when it dawned on me to explore the possibility of getting an MBA. Perhaps I heard a colleague mention it. I don’t know. But when I caught the idea, it somehow made me excited. Weeks of soul-searching brought out to the surface the epiphany that the world of business and finance now intrigues and excites me. I want to enter that world of shining possibilities. And getting an MBA is a door to that world now beckoning to me.

But why would I want to enter that world? Could there be more than the feeling of intrigue and excitement as motivation for entering that world? Could there be a higher purpose? Perhaps there is. Perhaps there should be.

I remember my father telling me when I was young that no one gets rich by just being an employee working from 8 to 5. That I must have my own business so I can take control not only of my finances but of my time as well. That business grants you the freedom to live the life you want. That business grants you the opportunity to create jobs, to help people, to change and uplift lives.

We had our differences, my father and I, and it took me a very long time — more than twelve years — to finally forgive him for abandoning us. But I’m grateful we were able to reconcile just before he died about a month ago. I’m glad I was able to tell him that I was applying for an MBA scholarship. I could still remember how happy he was upon hearing that news, and how he always prayed for me to get the scholarship.

I wish he’s still alive now so I can tell him that despite the fierce competition for the full scholarship, I got accepted. I wish I could take him with me at the Asian Institute of Management for him to see the school for himself and see his son studying business at arguably the best business school in the Philippines and one of the top-tier business schools in Asia. I wish I could tell him that someday I plan on having my own business to create jobs and help people and make a difference in our society.

I wish he could see how I’m fulfilling his dream for me.

On introspection and writing

I have long been aching to write but every time I tried to, I just couldn’t get past the first sentence.

I wanted to write about this fork in my career, this plan to resign from being the head of reservoir engineering in a renewable energy company — to toss in the air this supposedly enviable career track — and pursue my MBA instead. I wanted to write about how waiting for the results of the MBA scholarship is tearing me apart every single day; the results will be out next week, and the wait is nothing but excruciating. I wanted to write about my father’s death about a month ago, how even if I hated him most of my life I’m missing him now, and yes, how I’m wishing to have reconciled with him sooner. I wanted to write about how even after 28 years of existence, and despite my accomplishments, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I wanted to write about how sometimes in the middle of the night I would wake up and find myself pleading to God not to take my life yet.

I wanted to write about so many things but was not able to do so. Cannot do so. Maybe because of stress at work. Or because I’m not ready yet. Or maybe I’ve become too conscious again of my writing. I honestly don’t know.

But I’m glad I’m able to write again. And that words are once again flowing. And I kid you not, I’m on the verge of crying right now just because I can feel again this joy that writing brings forth.

I am not a writer, that is a given. And I find my writing dull and stale. I wish I could write better than this but this is all I have, these bland and uninspired words coming out of my heart.

I’m currently reading Seneca’s “On the shortness life”, and one of the things that really spoke to me was when he wrote that “preoccupied minds, as if under a yoke, cannot turn around and look backward; therefore, their life disappears into an abyss. Just as it does no good to pour any amount of liquid into a vessel if there’s nothing at the bottom to receive and keep it, so it makes no difference how much time we are given if there’s nowhere for it to settle.”

It struck a chord in me because in this fast-paced times, especially at work — I go from one meeting to another, rush around to beat a deadline only to move on to the next, tick an endless to-do list, catch up on an overwhelming number of emails — it’s so easy to drown in the whirlwind of busy-ness. I am always preoccupied, always in motion, always squandering my time and energy chasing after inessential things.

It has become very difficult to find time just to sit still, gather my thoughts, and absorb everything that’s happening in my life. To make sense of things and appreciate the moment and be thankful for this miracle of being alive.

Amidst all the noise and chaos, indeed it is difficult to find time for self-introspection and for writing down my thoughts, but I believe it is not impossible. Which is why I have decided to block every Saturday morning just to quiet my mind and reflect on my week. To stare at my soul and reach into my guts and ask questions such as: What did I achieve this week? Did I minimize doing non-value-adding things and focused instead on doing what’s essential? Have I become better compared to last week? What lessons can I learn? How can I improve? How can I live a life of significance?

I don’t want to get old and end up asking myself, “Where did my life go?”, and then regretting that I didn’t make the best out of my one and only life. I want to be fully aware, to be fully immersed in this life. And the only way I know I can do that is to take time for introspection and write down my thoughts. Of course, this is so much easier said than done. Because my default setting is to do things mindlessly and go through the motions. That is no longer acceptable.

Seneca wrote that “it’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it.” It is my hope that by constantly taking time to reflect and write about the way I’m living my life, may I find the courage to only pursue the things I deem essential, and in the end find that my life has all been worthwhile.

pretentious poet

and i’ll keep

pretending

to be a poet

deluding myself

of my mastery

of words

with profound

beauty

expressed

in naked

simplicity

using line

breaks

as i please

to add meaning?

i don’t know

shit

breaking rules

without

knowing them

and i’ll keep

pretending

i know

what

i’m doing

writing

shitty poems

like this

for the sheer

enjoyment

of it

hoping that

someday

the lie

becomes

the truth