Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ruminations and Rants. Aftermidnight Rain and Last Words for the Night

[WRITTEN months ago]
I AWOKE about an hour or so ago, after about only two or three hours afternoon sleep (or nap). I didn't sleep at all last night. These "things" bother me. I never gotten off this instinctive shudder in me. As a child, as an adult. When I was an active journalist back home, sleep wouldn't visit me no matter how exhausted I was after coverage of a huge typhoon devastation and/or countryside strife. There were many. Deaths, destruction--that I was a witness myself. Far from home and in the "comfort" of The Batcave, these killings in the past years hurtled in and out of my laptop, seemingly distant. But it's not. It feels I was just there--hearing the wails of agony, smelling the fresh stench of blood, feeling the broken texture of the shattered ground right on my flesh. I could almost feel gaping wounds and touch broken skin.

          All morning, I walked to my little plants with my attentive superhomeys (Georgia The Babedawg and Cyd The Koolcat). Cleaned the house, did laundry, poked around, listened to soft music with no words. I couldn't even write a poem. Usually it takes me days after the fact before I can console myself with a poem or two or a song. The rain is pouring again in the mountain as I write. The sky mourns. And thunder growls.
          Few years ago, I strode into a tiny hut in Tahlequah (Oklahoma) to visit a Cherokee shaman, no words. He placed his wrinkled hands on my head and whispered, "My son, you are running between the rain. You are. Continue helping to calm the storm down. Go run between the rain as you always do. Only in allowing yourself to get soaked and drenched would you undertand the storm and know how to pacify it within and without." And he named me A-ga-na or Rain. Runs Between The Rain.

          Almost the same words as my Igorot friend (back home), Hindu dada and Buddhist monk teacher. The rain. I traveled far and pursued the same mission. Calm the storm down as I battled my own tempest within. Running between the rain. I wrote about people, organized communities for peace and connected-ness. But I am tired. I don't think the "spirit of the rain" in me is still running. Not anymore. Just seated and pondering. Yet I still feel my spirit is running, untiringly running--especially when carnage of this magnitude happens. Running to finally come home--as we all run to come home, within. Only within where the warmth of home resides. Peace is always within, if only we can feel it more than we see or hear it.
I WANNA say I want to laugh or shrug things off. All the grief and anger in the world. Need I be this dramatic? My family are all safe and peaceful. Yet many in this world are hurting so bad. I was a "protected" child and then I heard tempest on the radio in late 1960s and saw poorer kids frolicking in the mud then dining on one tiny can of sardines, a family of five--their tin can shanty of a house pummeled by typhoons months each year. Then their dad got shot because he complained a lot about his job. Made me not finish my dinner. Made me angry why mom and dad were fighting over stuff. Sleepless nights, cold nights even though the moon sweats. Poetry consoled me. I ran to the barrio for refuge. I became a journalist at 14. I never changed wherever I went. My poetry and words and art kept that anger at bay. And let joy gain into me like a dancing bonfire amidst a storm. Yet I still feel for the dead, wasted just like that. Still, it makes me angry.

          But anger consumes the remaining light of hope in us. Anger doesn't calm anger down, it fuels it. I just have to write through the night. Let anger go. And then smile in the morning as tall green trees outside the glass window facing my bed greet me with the blessings of life. Life is so precious and beautiful so why do we waste it?
A SUB-SEQUENCE in the finale episode of "Silicon Valley" made me laugh so hard. It was essentially about how Filipinos could easily get interested and laugh at stuff and things, no matter how weird the stimuli are. Yes, Filipinos are a fascinating people. In the 1990s coup d'etats, kids would run after shells spat out by bazookas and submachineguns while armed hostilities ensued, collecting them. During typhoons, people turned flooded areas into impromptu swimming pools, kids surf on them. They could laugh on an instant, cry the next--then they laugh at their own tears afterwards. Should I say, we. I am proud of that kind of fatalistic frolic, a light attitude that simply takes things as they are--and then subverts that dark vibe into a sweep of comedic submission. It's not like we don't mourn the dead or dying, we do. When a neighbor dies, expect a huge convoy of people sending the dead to its resting place, weeping--yet before that, during days of the wake, you'd hear people exchanging jokes, laughing. And eating, of course.
No wonder the Philippines is the one of the happiest countries in the world. Months of rains and typhoons, homes shattered, people dead--yet Christmas is celebrated the longest in the world (don't ask me how long) and practically all summer months are fiesta time. Laughter, food, family, friends, community, games. Don't we get angry, don't we fight? Of course, we do. Yet after the fight, just usher a box of cerveza and "pulutan" (finger foods) on the table, then we are all cool. Friends again. Next question, "Do you have a joke?" That ensuing series of jokes will only come into an abrupt halt when Kumander (wife) calls out, "Hey, husband, time to go home and wash the dishes!" Uh huh. So you may ask, how do I survive the loneliness of being oceans away from my family and people? I laugh. I even laugh alone.

PEACE and CALM. Anger and hatred will always be part/s of our being. These human emotions will always be part of mine. Many reasons anger us, many things drive us to hatred. It is a continuing struggle of existence. To be good amidst the universe's evil. But we can try to avoid being angry, or angry beyond control. Pet animals and plants offer us some respite, refuge, shelter--to ruminate life and explore love within. And calm the tempest down. They don't speak or even if they could, they'd be speaking a different language. Yet they can freely and loudly communicate words that many of us fail to hear or recognize. The ability to feel it.

          Let me share a quote from a book that I used to read to my kids when they were little, written in 1943 by a French poet and aviator, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, "Le Petit Prince" or "The Little Prince." French: "Il est tres simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux." English: "Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Animals and plants say these words, without speaking them. Loud and clear.

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