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Creation


You have a heat in you

That makes the dormant volcano of my heart

Rise from extinction.

You have a pull in you

That makes the weightless clouds of my spirit

Erupt into a deluge.

I was a star-

Swirling around me, multiple worlds.

Worlds that have formed through millenia,

Existing through eons and eons.

You flowed into me and turned me into a supernova.

Imploding into a black hole.

Now I must have everything.

And it would seem I turn them into nothing.

But really, I open up

Into another

Universe.

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Working in the insurance industry has been an exercise in dealing with multiple rejections. In sales, the first lesson you’re taught is that for every great client, there will be a dozen or more prospects who will say those three little words that everyone’s scared of hearing–“No, thank you!”

It’s true for every goal you wish to pursue, be it in your career or landing a great job, finding your lifetime partner, or even just getting to have the life that you always wanted to live.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to do a quick workshop on this topic. To illustrate the ten tips on dealing with rejection, I asked my participants to put together a jigsaw puzzle, one piece at a time, as fast as they can, and here are the lessons we learned together.

Pursuing your goals is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, each piece that doesn’t fit is some form of rejection.

1. It all starts with the big picture.
That puzzle is your vision, when you’re first handed the pieces it can be overwhelming and each piece can seem so disconnected from each other. Having that clear picture in mind lets you see how the pieces fit together. Focus on building the picture and eventually, it will come.

2. Some rejection happens when you want to reach your goals quickly.
Life is short, and of course, we want to get to our goals as soon as we can. In the course of putting together our picture, inevitably we’re going to pick up the wrong piece–many times. We can of course take our sweet time and not act until we find the perfect piece each time, but imagine how long that picture is going to take to complete!

3. Accepting rejection is better than forcing something that isn’t meant to be.
You decide to take action, and pick up the piece closest to you. But you find it doesn’t fit. Here is where most of us get caught up: we know it doesn’t fit but we keep pushing and pushing, forcing the pieces together, not realizing that there are other pieces out there that are meant to go to those spots. We have a hard time accepting we made a mistake so we make excuses, become defensive or much worse, just give up. Remember: Thomas Edison picked up more than a hundred wrong filaments before he was able to get his lightbulb to work.

4. Rejection will slow you down if you don’t let it go.
While some of us can deal with forgiving mistakes, we have trouble letting the disappointment of the experience go. We misinterpret the old addage: “forgive and forget”. So we carry around the pain and the memory of rejections past not knowing that having all this baggage is just weighing us down, preventing us from moving on to the next opportunity. I say, recognize the mistake then let it go, when you see that piece later on you will understand where it is meant to be.

5. It pays to have a strategy to minimise rejection.
While rejection is inevitable, it shouldn’t mean that we should subject ourselves to it over and over. That’s exhausting! Look at your big picture again, start from the edges, put the pieces that look similar together, then you’ll encounter less mistakes and build your picture faster. One of the groups in my workshop was taking longer to put together their puzzle, not realizing that they had the picture upside-down until half-way!

6. Rejections are never mistakes, they are part of the picture.
A jigsaw puzzle is an excellent metaphor for life because it seems at first a menage of disconnected experiences. But the key is to understand that all the pieces are connected to each other. It’s just a matter of understanding where each one goes. It also involves a great deal of trust– trust that you have all the pieces, and trust that they belong to the same picture (and they do!)

7. Learn from others.
We often meet people at different stages of their lives and experiences, some have completed multiple puzzles while we’re still working with our first one. One of the key lessons of our workshop was how some of us insist on experiencing rejection first-hand so we can learn from them. But ask yourself: is the goal to deal with rejection or to complete the puzzle? Each one is a valid choice, but one is more effective.

8. You don’t have to do it by yourself, ask for help.
Life is indeed a solo act. We were born into ourselves on our own (yes, even if you’re part of a multiple birth) and we will leave this world on our own. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have audience participation! Building our puzzle is possible as a solitary activity but it goes by faster and more fun if we let other people in.

9. Don’t compare yourself with others, it’s all about doing your best.
We’re constantly inundated with images of other people’s success. Sometimes we ask, “how come I’m not like this person?” or “why do some people have an unfair advantage?”. News flash: your picture is uniquely yours. So it’s pointless to compare yourself or even envy others. You discover your own adventure. Sure, you can check out what’s happening next door but always remember, their pieces don’t belong to your picture and yours don’t belong to theirs either. So just focus on doing your best.

10. Failure and Rejection are completely different things.
Rejection is a fickle and fleeting experience, sometimes when we’re so zoomed in on one part of our puzzle we feel that they will never fit. Just step back and look at your life for a second, and you will realize you haven’t failed, you just haven’t completed the puzzle yet.

I’ve lived for only a moment so I can’t claim to be successful but I can confidently say that I have not failed. See, the difference between failure and success is simple, it’s just time and effort.

So next time, when you face rejection don’t take it personal and DON’T GIVE UP!

You’re just not done yet.

To Moi


It was heavy:
The load you carried as you bravely took each step.
Do you remember the times
we ran so fast, people thought we were going places?
And we did go places!
Sometimes so far apart we felt that we’d never see each other again.
But our paths crossed,
Since the world is smaller and more cramped in than our hearts would want us to think.
Maybe we were too much for it.
Maybe we were meant to be somewhere grander,
Doing grander things.

I love you.

And I love that you have left me something to remember you with.

Each time I need to recall a happy thought,
I remember– RESURRECTION!

You live forever in our hearts, where you have left indelible footprints.

Go lightly now, in that far away.

We are on our way!

Rest easy, my love and condolences.

Lover


I met Loneliness sitting in a coffee shop–
Waiting.
She brought a novel,
Opened in the middle
But the corners of the pages remained crisp.

Loneliness wears glasses too big for her face
And makes an effort not to look to the distance,
Lest she appear wistful.

Loneliness seemed content.

I sat across her and surprised her with a meeting gift.
Another book, but with a cliffhanger ending.
I dropped my jaw and loosened my throat
And spoke to her one octave lower than my actual voice.

She looked at me as I recited every story that I had filed for first meetings.
Her eyes narrowed while she muttered,
“Oh, wow, that’s interesting”.

Loneliness was a great listener–
A good companion.
She never made me feel
Less than enough.
Some nights she would talk to me
About familiar stories.
My heart would quicken
With the thought that we had so much
In common.

Lovers lost,
Heart armours,
And the heaps of coffee cups
We’ve left behind.

I told her, “Loneliness, I will pursue you.
I will love you like no one ever has.
Loneliness, let me make windows where you’ve put up your walls.”

But she had nothing for me.

“I need to be alone”, she said.
Maybe I need to stop looking for someone to be with.

I told her, “let us be alone, together.”

So Loneliness stayed.

But I couldn’t help
But fall for her.
She captured me
And invaded my every thought.
I made her mixtapes that I played
Over
And over.
She hasn’t even listened to all of them.

She reminded me of my addiction
To things unrequited.
She was my dealer, my enabler,
That friend who kept telling you to take
One more shot.

I thought Loneliness wanted to be alone, but she clinged to me like a lover.

The kind who doesn’t go away.

Death March


Gaano ba kalayo ang Pampanga?

Kasing layo ba nung pumunta ka ng ibang bansa
At sinabi mong wag na ‘kong maghintay?

Kasing layo ba ng inabot ng usapan nung unang gabing
Akala nating nahanap na natin yung para sa isa’t isa?

Kasing layo ba nung minsang nag-aya ka para makipagkita-
Sa unang pagkakataon-
At pilit na inaabot ng kaluluwa ko ang mga kamay mo sa ilalim ng lamesa?

Kasing layo ba ng pagitan natin
Habang naglalakad sa España?
Nang naramdaman ko ang mga pinong balahibo ng braso mo,
Nguni’t nanggiginaw sa hawak na hindi dumating.

Kasing layo ba ng agwat ng ating mga paniniwala?
(Naniwala ako sa atin, at
Naniwala ka sa wala.)

Kasing layo ng huling sulyap
Nang hinatid mo ko sa dyip.
Kasing layo ng mga panaginip,
Mga sulat at awit na pinilit.

Kasing layo ng pag-asa ko,
Ang patuloy na pag-asa sa’yo.

Gaano ba kalayo ang Pampanga?
Pagod na ‘kong maglakad.


Gusto kong maintindihan mong ayos lang ako.
Hindi ako nanlalamig bago mo ako yakapin.
Hindi ako tumitingin sa kawalan para abangan ang pagsalubong ng titig mo.
Walang puwang sa aking balat na pinuno ng paghaplos mo.
Busog ang puso ko nang ikaw ay dumating.

Sabihin nating ikaw ay pang-himagas–
Ang matamis na katapusan sa nagutom kong kaluluwa.

Kaya mabilis ang tibok ng puso ko, may dagdag para sayo.
Hindi para mabuhay, kundi para makaramdam ng kilig,
Para magkulay-rosas ang mga pisngi.

Pinaghahain kita gaya ng isang bisita.
Nagsaing ako nang sobra.
Inilatag ko ang mga bisig ko para mayroon kang masiksikan.
Ibinaling ko sayo ang aking pagtingin
Upang makita mo na hindi ako nakatingin sa kawalan:
Tinitingnan kita.
At inaya kitang yakapin ako, para madama mo kung gaano kainit ang aking pagmamahal.
Doon mo maiintindihang ayos lang ako.

Sight


Your pupils drift into the corners of your eyes

Casting a line into mine,

But from an angle–skewed.

So I can admire your jaw

And the smooth firm flesh

Where your neck and shoulder meet.

I can smell the saline and ash

Seeping into your collar.

The sliver of chest you’re flashing

Is a shore of glistening sand

Begging me to crash into it.

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Our gaze is linked by a thick

And heavy rope,

Tethering a boat on the dock.

My eyelids flutter now and then

As they strain from the weight.

My eyes moisten

And you assume that they twinkle

For you.

 

My face is a veil of iron–

Lips still,

Expressions paralyzed

Our thoughts traverse

Only the bridge that links our eyes.

 

Eyelids close

Then open again.

Twinkle.

 

You shift on your seat

And the momentum sends you standing

Then drawing the bridge with your footsteps.

As our spaces intersect,

The bridge is drawn

And the gaze is lost.

 

The back of your hand

Brushes my skin as you walk past.

Your tiny hairs are grapnels

That snatch my flesh

Beckoning me to sail to another sea

Together.

 

Motionless, I anticipate you backstepping

Turn to me,

Throw a line,

Let me feel you

Fear my certain rejection.

 

But your pride gave you wind

To just move on,

I keep my sight from wandering after you.

 

Out of sight,

Out of mind.

 

 

Birth


The sound of the chisel against these iron bars

Is tick-tock-tick-tock

Our meet-cute is a forty-minute cab ride away

Yet I remain imprisoned.

These metal arms that long embraced me

Have gained the warmth that my intent

Could never extract from your arms.

The sound of metal on metal

Keeps bouncing on my head

And sends me rocking forth and back

Like a baby.

 

This cell of anonymity is the womb that bears

My unborn love for you.

Why must it face the sun?

Why must it let out a cry?

Why must it be severed from the life-giving bosom?

 

My love is a parasite.

It must latch on.

 

Destiny contracts.

Stronger and shorter in between.

Flesh and blood are the delicate

Tendrils that root me in imagination.

 

Time and the tide of my emotion

Will thrust me into reality–

 

Stillborn.

The Endless


Time has no purpose but to mark the steps

To show the forward motion

To give context to the journey

To this familiar nowhere called Us.

 

Maybe the feet know to go

Where your footsteps have left their warmth.

Maybe the center of my gravity

Is in the core of Was-just-here.

 

Maybe the heart is just too used

To being left behind

In the Almost.

 

In the ocean of Where-you-were,

The limestone cliffs of What-we-could-have-been

Shine like a beacon for my storm-tossed soul.

The crashing waves become hands upon my cradle

Drawing on this sleep,

Never ending this dream.

 

Our “here” just keeps on drifting beyond reach.

We never are and can never be, only

 

Might

Remains to move me.

 

 

The Comeback


Sometimes I think I’ve gone too far

away from you

That I’m back where I started–

Right behind you.

If only your memory were a corpse

Buried in the ground,

And I never had a shovel

Or pick

Or spoon

Or hands-

Then there would be no nights like this.

 

But you’re a seed,

That turned into a tree

And you know how I just can’t

Resist the shade.

And you bore fruit

And I ate them all

And spat out the pits.

 

Maybe if I just kept still–

 

Maybe if I destroyed you–

 

Maybe if you just stopped mattering

And I stopped muttering

We start happening

And I stop hoping.

 

Then I’d see that the seed

Was a weed

And the fruits were all spiney.

 

That would be as far

Enough to get past you

So you can be where you need to–

Behind me.