But now that (as I write this) we are all inching towards the very last day of the year, let us pump up ourselves in the manner of the blow fish hoping that the new year will be kinder. Just the sheer enumeration of all the people who left us these past twelve months is already mind boggling: at first I thought I could handle it when David Bowie and Prince died. But when George Michael, Princess Leia and her mother all died within the same week, I said to myself, "The Grim Reaper is really hot in his dance ... but do you think he can take some suggestions as to who should be in his guest list?"
2016 saw the year of the underdog, the Year of Living Surprisingly. We acquired a rather different kind of president through an impressive number of votes. Even the U.S. has elected its 45th president who is most likely unlike any other who came before him. Populism and protectionism is on the rise, political musical chairs keep playing, Russia and China and North Korea and Syria and the terrorist bombings in Europe. Name it and we've done and seen it all in this passing year.
And some effing pessimist gives me the finger and says, "So what makes you think 2017 will be better?" Just think that by the end of January, the Naughty Monkey would have gone to be replaced by the Year of the Proud Cock. Now if that is not assuring, I do not know what is.
In the meantime, I hope to change my luck by changing myself in some ruffled fronts. My God, at my age --- I have come to realize that there are still a helluva lot of lessons to learn considering how fast the world changes. Some people think New Year's resolutions are just a lot of crock --- but I opt to say that they are just personal guidelines.
By knowing your vulnerabilities and objectifying who you are at this point in your life gives you not only context but a sense of direction. It is like that ubiquitous pin on the GPS map of your life telling you exactly where you are --- so that you can estimate which options you have in Uber to get to your destination. It is not meant to be The Ten Commandments revised and revisited each year. It is simply reminding yourself where to go ... and how to get there. So let's go.
1. I will not define my life or even my Universe by the things I read and share in social media.
It has become endemic: social media can overwhelm and even possess you so that you define your existence by the number of friends, followers, likes, dislikes and even livestreaming one can use to enhance the present reincarnation.
There is a need to curb that. There is also a very important need to discriminate what is true from what is being made to look true in the worldwide web. Information has become so accessible, abundant and cheap so that deception and authentication have become relative. It is easy to be misled and misguided by social media so that you get to a point that your life becomes a series of shoutouts and you even start posting pictures of your dying grandmother on her hospital bed or ... worse, showing one's self having an enema because it is good to share. Life has become a series of Instagram shots, Snapchat mini-videos and Twitter messages to turn one's daily life into a multi-platform reality show.
It begins to eat the very essence of being alive by diminishing your universe to URLs and hyperlinks. You tend to misuse and abuse the idea of a friend because you have diminished something precious and meant to be cherished into a very common verb.
2. I will only react to chosen issues --- and even spend more time determining whether the rest of the world needs my reaction.
Some smart ass once sent me a DM to warn me that times have changed. Said rectum personified said, "Now is the age of interaction. Soliloquy is dead. " Oh. That simply means that once you read about something/anything in the internet (Read: Access to information) and give your five cents worth of an opinion (Read: Freedom of expression) then you better be ready for a thousand and one Magis and clowns to go hurling their precious comments about what you just spat out there.
But then again --- do you really have to? Is there any real and practical reason aside from announcing to the world that you have an opinion --- or that you are in the know --- that you have to let the rest of the Universe know what and how you exactly feel? Perhaps not ... but some people find it therapeutic to scream to the world what they are experiencing in the here and now.
Maybe I should put a lid on tweeting or making shoutouts cursing Manila traffic or the telecom company that I use for my cellphone or about how random strangers go up to me and call me fat. Maybe I should just learn to hold back and think before I pound on the keyboard to express my thoughts --- because, honestly, does the effing world really care about what I think?
Maybe I should also be just a bit more careful about making statements, throwing allegations or even giving an opinion when nobody is asking. After all ... there is such a thing as oversharing. Worse, there is also a condition that can be overbearing.,
3. I take promises with a grain of salt --- and not be devastated when somebody whose words of honor turns out to be just a lot of words not worth honoring.
It happens, right? In the course of every year you come across people who will throw their arms around your shoulders, pat you on the head and make all sorts of promises short of insuring a good window seat on the first vehicle to be used in the Rapture.
But for some people, palabra de honor (or word of honor) is just a lot of words.
Some people will tell you things you want to hear, promise you jobs and even call you good. But the point is that --- they are just making you feel good and hopefully vulnerable and gullible to whatever it is that they will ask from you in the future. And you, being that bright eyed bushy-tailed mammal of gullibility, will succumb to the charms and actually believe in the promises made by the demigods.
It would have been so much better if they just told you that the deal is off --- but for a great number of them (especially in my business), they simply fade away ... hoping that by some freaky law of physics you will also be sucked into another dimension.
So next time, the adage "To see is to believe" still works and should be the mantra of those perennially victimized by the bullcrappers --- who just happen to be the money bags and are riding the fancy cars. Which actually means you cannot tell them to "Goeth thee and fornicate with thyself !" (Translation: Go f--k yourself!) because despite the fact that they are either congenital or professional liars --- they just happen to be your employers.
Call it sad reality. We come across a lot of species in any line of work. You just pray that the law of karma.
4. I will not allow others to set my limitations: fail or succeed, find out for yourself.
The rule is simple: be selective of the opinions/judgments/assumptions others give about you and what you can do.
Another rule to literally etch into your brains: People have their own motives which may or may not be for YOUR best interest ... so be on the lookout for yourself.
People will always judge you based on their own limitations --- but that does not mean that their assessment is necessarily true. Maybe it is, maybe it is not. But go find it out for yourself. Never let other people put the locks on the gates of your life. Other people's assessment are meant to be just that --- estimates and approximations.
But nobody can qualify and quantify your life better than yourself. Which leads us to ...
5. I will always have the courage to do something I never even imagined of doing. I will always have the enthusiasm to surprise myself.
Never be complacent, never be smug. Never ever think that what you have in the here and now is all that you are meant to have. This has got nothing to do with the acquisition of material wants and needs --- but the enthusiasm, the excitement to gain newer experiences in life.
This means being brave. The difference between bravery and stupidity can be as fine as a single strand of hair --- but then again, it is better to be stupidly brave or bravely stupid than to be a slug waiting for something to happen in order to affirm that there is still life flowing in one's circulatory system. Nothing is more pathetic than somebody who chooses to just lean back and let the world make decisions for him.
Sometimes life can be so frustrating that letting your fate run its course can be quite a comfortable option. But then again that is only a respite and never the solution, So it's good to have this deadline, telling yourself that you have to make a decision ... and when you decide, then go for it.
One thing that I have learned after six decades of human existence is that there is great truth in the saying: You can't have everything. It is because you will not be given everything that you want that you learn to appreciate the some things that have been handed to you ... and to aspire to have something more than just any thing.
And this also leads to another very important mantra to engrave on my forehead:
5. I will never take myself much too seriously to think that the world cannot go on spinning without me. I will always arm myself with a high tolerance for laughter.
Oh, come on. There is no such thing as the perfect life, the perfect year, the perfect day. There will always be something to screw you up --- and you will be given a very important choice: will you be upset or will you fix the mess?
More often than not, you get really upset (and start ranting/raving in the real and virtual worlds) only to realize that such explosions of energy and emotion do not really solve anything. They are just very good opportunities to make a spectacle of yourself ... or to provoke people to think that you have crossed your sanity line. Then, if you want anything really done ... or any real change to happen, you realize that you have to do something. And that is finding a constructive way to fix the mess.
That is why I always believe in the power of laughter. Sure, it gets really bleak at times and you get to do really strange things in your moment of abandonment. But chances are ... when you look back and you already have that objective distance about the sad turn of events, you will laugh at yourself for all the crazy things you thought were so significant at that moment.
Problems come and go. Some are serious, others are made worse by worrying or letting your imagination run wild about where to go and what to do. But in the end, you will know what to do and you can only do that when you don't take your problems too seriously to lose your sense of perspective. And that perspective can only come with a clearer mind that is usually accompanied by staying calm ... or just being capable of laughter.
More often than not, our problems look much larger because we imagine them to be so. But facing them head-on with no sense of entitlement and a calm sense of ease will change the way you view anything, anyone anywhere with a more positive and creative light.
And lastly ...
6. I will constantly remind myself that it is not only about me.
Nope. It is never just about you. There are always angles to every story and the only way to understand life, events and even people who you wish were fertilizer is to have the broadness of mind and kindness of heart to realize that they too have their own point of view. You may think that your nemesis is the ugliest, meanest and most worthless creature on the planet that should best be left as a statistic, but that ugly, mean and maybe not exactly worthless creature also has his own life and perception of you.
Maybe the biggest problems of 2016 is that the world has become so divisive. People --- regardless of race or creed --- became so obsessed with territoriality, with insisting that issues are reasons enough to divide the world into us versus them. We have forgotten that the world is not about tribes ... but how we are meant to work at the understanding of one another. That is why we somehow wish 2016 will end so that we can have the excuse to have a new beginning.
Every year is a new beginning. We are not sure what 2017 will bring but we can at least try to still remain positive about our own lives and the fate of the world in general. With all the hardship and tears that 2016 brought, there is no other way but up.
So bring on the New Year.