Thursday, January 3, 2013


No. I promised myself that there will be no more New Year's Resolutions.

You do not need a new year to make changes.  Any day will do ... as long as you choose and decide to do it.  There is nothing phenomenal about that. More often than not, we choose to wait for the end of a year and the start of another to create some semblance of resolve because we are procrastinating. New Year has become a cute delaying tactic.

So instead I decided to organize my mind and list what I have learned from the twelve months that was 2012.  

Now that I look back, I can safely say that it was one of the most challenging years of my life.   In my nearly six decades of human existence, never did I imagine that I would confront such dilemmas.  I was told about these things before ... I have heard others undergo these thrill rides in the journey called life. In other words, I was forewarned yet I still found myself unarmed.

But that is the usual way it goes. You cannot be prepared enough. And when it happens to you, the only thing you can do is ... to pick up the lessons, make sure you are wiser and a bit harder but not to the point of generating your own venom to be a toxin to your personal system.

So here goes.

1.  Growing older can really be a bitch.

OK, I can only take so much of regular rounds of South Beach Diet.  I usually take two rounds of Phase 1, then go to Phase 2 --- and at the end of six weeks, I would have lost about ten to twelve pounds.  

I work out four to six times a week for a minimum of one hour and a half --- do vicious cardio exercises, make it a point to join spinning classes and lift enough weights so that my chest has slowly evolved into this portable boulder that makes me look like a junior version of Lou Ferrigno.

I have turned semi-vegan, I only eat brown rice for weekend lunches and limit my weekdays to salads,fruits and a peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat cibatta for lunch.  

But then you also confront the sad fact that your metabolism is not the same as it was ... say twenty years ago. 

When you are in your 20s and 30s, you diet for three days and ... wham! You suddenly feel like you can impersonate Audrey Hepburn. But now ... you spend six weeks with minimum carbohydrate intake, endure coffee without sugar or with artificial sweeteners, stay away from dessert, chocolate bars and everything you think you live for ... and you lost about a fourth of what it used to be decades ago.


Yes, I keep that rigid discipline with what I eat but I also confess that I am also a victim of my own weaknesses. I am human after all, OK?  My human-ness includes an insatiable appetite for junk food (Cheetos, Doritos, Nachos or anything I can grab from the shelves of S & R) ... and a near-addiction to chocolates.  

So despite all the huffing and puffing I do each day, all it takes is a couple of Snickers bars or a single day of indulgence of classic Doritos dipped in salsa ... and wham!  Suddenly I look at myself at the mirror and I have returned into the humiliating state of looking like a water balloon. Or a jackfruit.

I could not comprehend why all my discipline, determination and absolute faith in Fitness First could still lead me to this condition. 

Aside from my obsession with working out, I also had this horrid fear that if I stopped this daily routine all together, I would end up having that unspeakable 38-going-to-39 waistline I had eight years ago when I was unconsciously channeling Jabba The Hutt.  

Then somebody told me the very --- well, not really sad --- irrefutable fact.  It has everything to do with age.

You can only have the physique of Enchong Dee, Gerald Anderson and Paolo Avelino only up to a certain age.  That means their age. But anyone hitting the mid to late 50s must accept the lurid fact that your core muscles are going to give in ... and that belly will stick out like that of an overgrown tadpole.

You can do as many abdominal crunches until your spine splits into three... or refrain from eating anything except tuna, sweet potatoes and steamed fish and still ... You will never obtain the six pack that you yearn to flaunt on the white sands of Boracay during the Easter break.  There is an age limit to that as well.

There are certain physical types that exist among homo sapiens and if you were not pre-destined to the string bean long and lean type, then accept the fact that you will eventually look like a water balloon even if you occupied an entire gym with the rest of your disillusioned ilk.

So what is the learning here?  

Does it mean I stop working out and start devouring any meal that came from oinks until I start resembling Porky himself?  Of course not.  

There are those who take care of their bodies because of vanity.

There are those who take care of their bodies because they have to take care of their bodies.  

Working out and having a healthy lifestyle are not meant to merely preserve or achieve certain a maximum waistline.

It has everything to do with making sure that regardless of your age, you are going to be strong and healthy.

And whether you like it or not --- whether your waistline is a svelte 28" or a noticeable 36", you cannot help but be beautiful if you are healthy.

Now that I gallivant in my 34" human existence, bloated from all the Christmas parties and goodies, I am still going to the gym, still determined to diet because of the excess layer of fat that just popped out of my middle --- but also surrendered to the fact that I can never have the body of Zanjoe or Piolo or even Vice Ganda.

But that's all right.  Everyone grows old and that is something that people either accept or completely shove outside their consciousness.  

This leads me to my second learning.

2. The world is obsessed with youth.  There is a certain cut-off age when it comes to social marketability.  And it has got everything to do with your tenure in earth years.

You are taken aback the first time somebody talks to you in the vernacular ... and they add po.

You realize that they start calling you Kuya or Ate.

Then you become Sir or M'am.

You are not quite sure how you will react when they start calling you Tatay or Nanay although you do not remember any point in your life when you pro-created biologically.

And you completely freak out when somebody calls you Tito or Tita ... or worse, Lolo or Lola ... and you are still wearing skinny jeans --- in your favorite shade of Marlboro Red.

Oh, come on: let's face it.  The world is obsessed with youth.  In this internet-connected-media-savvy world of social media, smart phones and reality shows, you are over-the-hill by the time you hit 30. There is no need to argue about that: Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner ... and for crying out loud, read my lips: all those hydrogen peroxide K-Pop boy and girl bands, One Direction and ... Justin Bieber with his on-and-off accessory called Selena Gomez. It is all about youth ... or being young or clinging onto the privileges that accompany the early decades of human existence.

But this preoccupation for youth has gone overboard.  Yes, considering the size of the below 30 years of age market on this planet, it is understandable why media bombards us with all this useless info about why it is an imperative to be young, stay young, act young ... or die young.

What is so easily forgotten or simply glossed over is the sadder fact that youth passes too quickly.

Kids nowadays are in such a frantic hurry to be old that they never fully enjoy what it is to have benefits of youth.  And what is worse is that the young feel that the old should just go away or drop dead because they are mere consumers of oxygen from the atmosphere.  And that is really, really sad.

You get to feel that when you get to be my age.  

Well, I still wear red straight cut or slim cut jeans but that doesn't mean that adds to whatever social marketability I want to advertise or even imagine.  I have learned to take the stinging slap of reality: when you hit a certain age, you are definitely out of the social market --- not unless you own a building at the Fort, a Lear Jet and approximately thirty per cent of the island of Boracay.  If you have those under your name, then you can be 120 years old and people will still think you are a threat to Derek Ramsay.

But then there is that level of acceptance.  And in the year 2013 I have learned to embrace the fact that there are people who are meant to be single.  I heard something very interesting from my cousin during our New Year's Day reunion: she does not call herself single or childless. She prefers to be considered as involvement-free and child-free.

I was thinking about the implications of such labels --- and I admit that --- well, I like it. For this does not suggest that being in such a status suggests something lacking ... because, more often than not, people like me are alone not out of circumstance ... but out of choice.

This leads to another point.  Each time the year starts I keep saying this to myself over and over again:

3. The best way to stay in the fight longer is to choose your battles.

There are problems that are there but have got nothing to do with you ... individually, circumstantially, personally.

There are problems that are there because they were bound to happen and there was nothing you could possibly do to stop it. (Or maybe even if you could, you wouldn't or didn't or ...whatever.)

There are problems that happen because you chose not to see it as a problem until it became a problem.

And there are problems too large for you to get really pissed about and to think that you could actually solve alone (not unless you have delusions that you are actually Dr. Bruce Banner).

No, this is not a call to inaction or useless passivity. Not even peaceful revolution.  It is a plea for discernment.

I have stopped making mountains out of molehills because I choose to enjoy.

I have stopped thinking of myself as an epic hero who shall eventually achieve immortality in the tradition of Achilles or even Jack Sparrow.

I have opted to focus on what I can do ... more so, what I really want to do. 

Does that sound friggin' selfish?  Perhaps. But then let that be so. I have earned my brownie points to afford to be blatant selfish as long as I know I am not stepping on someone's face to feed my egocentricity. It is all a matter of being real --- that is, to do things because you want to do so and not because you want to impress a percentage of the population into thinking how great you are. Or why you should be named as one of the People of the Year. 


And finally. And most important.

4. You are the company that you should choose to keep.

Life is not measured by the number of thousands of Friends attached to your profile in Friendster or how many followers you have in Twitter.

Life is not guaranteed by the people who surround you today because you may just want to ask yourself --- how many of these people are still going to stick around tomorrow if you have ceased to be what they think you are in the here and now?  Tough cookie, right?

Just the other night, I decided to make a headcount.  Through the years I have lived through in life, I decided to list down how many friends I can call real and how many people I know are just ... well, people that I know.  I was somewhat shocked/saddened/contemplative with the fact that the list did not even reach ten. 

Does that mean --- that I only have ten people who I can call as my real friends considering just how many specimens of humanity I bump into day in and day out in every day of my life?

And that was when I realized that even if I did not have ten names on my list, I was still very, very lucky.  Why is that? Because even having one name jotted down in that roster is more than enough blessing.  Just one name. And my list came close to ten.

So living this relationship-free, child-free life isn't so bad after all.

When I see the postings of my old high school and college chums, I realize that I have reached that age when my peers are grandparents.  I see how they have all changed ... with families, responsibilities --- and, yes, children to earmark the passage of time and the adventure in the years. 

I did not have any of that. I did not raise any kid who fitted so well in my arms, then grew into a youngster then a young adult until he became a father on his own who would hand me my grandchild.  I had none of that. I couldn't mark my years that way --- which is probably why I still know the lyrics of the refrain of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream and I still wear slim cut red jeans.

But that does not mean that I am not happy.  That does not mean that I cannot be happier.

That does not mean that I can only define my happiness in the ways that others tend to find equations for their fulfillment and joy.

I have decided to do that. To choose happiness in my own terms at with no extra cost. That is why I am certain that after a most interesting and challenging years that has come to pass, this new one ..will be life-affirming ... and definitely beautiful.

2013 cannot help but be beautiful.I can bet on that.

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