A List of Unusually Intimate Things to Know About Someone

This was a thread I posted on Twitter back in February of this year. I suddenly remembered it, so I decided to put it here for prosperity’s sake.


 

  1. Where their moles are
  2. What their footsteps sound like
  3. What they look like when they’re asleep
  4. The pace of their resting breath
  5. Which foot they put their socks on first
  6. Where their skin is lighter, and where it’s darker
  7. What their face looks like in moments of intense emotion – exhilaration, heartbreak, terror, love, every other torrential human emotion
  8. Being able to identify their handwriting in a sea of anonymous papers/notes/letters/tests
  9. Knowing a text is from them even when it’s from a different number/without the ID telling you who it’s from
  10. What their sleeping dreams are like
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Family Partner

I don’t know how important preschool is to most people – in fact, most people might not even remember their preschool years. But my preschool, Family Partner, left several lasting impressions on me. It was recently their anniversary (20th or 25th?), and they had asked us to write a testimony about how Family Partner influenced us. I thought about it, and I realized that maybe one of the most important lessons I had learned in this lifetime, I had learned during my stay there – something that I kept coming back to more and more as I found my place in the world.


 

Some of my earliest memories are of Family Partner, and though I only stayed there for a short period of my twenty-one years on earth, I still remember those memories fondly. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the forest green gate and mint walls that greeted me every day. I won’t forget the grey sand in the box and the yellow playhouse. And the murals on the walls – especially that tall bunny. I still remember the easel they taught us the alphabet and how to read clocks on. I still remember the stairs going up to the reading area, and the carpet I’d roll around with a ragdoll on. I remember “reading” Adarna books – really just looking at the pictures – upstairs, or playing with the wooden puzzles in the classroom while waiting to be picked up. I loved that, honestly.

Family Partner was where I first learned about fractions, and also how to make my own blue modeling clay. But I think some of the most important things I learned there were things that I am only realizing now were imprinted on me by Family Partner. I learned the basic stuff, like sharing and taking turns. I learned how to clean up after myself once snacks were over, or when hands needed to be washed after play. And there is one particular memory that I somehow always keep coming back to whenever I feel hesitant about taking an opportunity.

We were doing a nativity skit for Christmas, and I had been chosen to play the role of Mary. As a child, I enjoyed the limelight. But I had always just been a very bibo sheep, or a very loud, expressive member of the choir. Those were always background characters – I had never played the lead in anything. It was the first time I felt the pressure of carrying a performance. I shied away. I felt unworthy. When I told Teacher Linda about the predicament, she at first encouraged me, but I still felt unconfident. So she told me, “If you really don’t want to do it, we can give the role to someone else, you know.”

I stared at her, shocked. It had never occurred to me that the role could be given to someone else. I can’t remember what happened next – not even if I eventually ended up playing Mary. But it was at that moment that I realized that what has been given to me can also be taken away if I do not rise to the occasion. A chance to shine is exactly that – a chance, a gift. It’s not something that can only be mine; there will be others who would be happy to have the same opportunity to do well.

As I grew up and reflected on that moment more, I realized that it matters less whether or not I am deserving of an opportunity, but rather that I step up to its corresponding expectations. The person given an opportunity could be anyone – it wasn’t restricted to just an outspoken, playful little girl, or a shy, timid one. It matters more who one becomes and is in the role that they are given. It matters more that one does her best, and that one works in excellence.

This notion is one that has come back to me more often in recent years – when I accepted a leadership position in my church, when I ran for a position in my college org, and when I applied for a scholarship abroad. It’s tempting not to call attention to oneself, to not push against the track that most of my peers follow. I wouldn’t want to appear greedy, and I don’t want to make others feel bad because of the advantages I know I have at my disposal. Furthermore, those same privileges have often made me wonder if I’ve worked hard enough to be deserving of certain opportunities. But I understand now that a grateful heart is not one that passes off opportunities. It is one that makes the most out of everything one has been given. Besides – opportunities aren’t about oneself. In the same way that playing Mary all those Christmases back would have been for the greater glory of God, every opportunity we are given are opportunities to serve God and people. Opportunities aren’t about getting ahead – they are about developing or positioning oneself so that one can multiply opportunities for others. I now believe that passing off those opportunities is almost the same as passing off the responsibility and joy to do good.

A lot of things have changed since my school days in Family Partner. I’ve experienced so much over the course of my life, and there have been many new beginnings and graduations at Family Partner. Still, my family and I maintain a close relationship with the school and Teacher Leclec and Teacher Linda, a relationship that I hope only continues to strengthen. I am grateful for the jumpstart they gave me in life, for the sweet childhood memories, but most importantly, I am thankful for the life lesson on stepping up that I am blessed to have to draw on whenever the horizon calls.

The Child Who Made Me A Video

I went to Headway School for Giftedness, my alma mater, to do some fieldwork for thesis back in February, just a few days before my 20th birthday. It was a very exciting day – words cannot describe what thesis has put me, Iya and Steff through. But I’m happy about it. Something about everything just went in full circle. Did I mention I met a fellow Atenean there? And the last time I visited, they had invited me to be a resident psychologist there once I got licensed. I might take them up on it.

Below is an excerpt from an email exchange I had between a child I had randomly met at Headway.


Hey Luis!
This is Ate Kim, from yesterday. Attached is the awesome film that you made me. I just want to say that I really appreciate it, and it spoke to me on a deep level. At first I didn’t understand what you were doing, but the finished product told a stronger story to me than you probably understand. You see, I went to Headway too when I was your age. I spent prep until grade 6 there, and it defined my childhood, in a way. The sentimentality of the music and videos you had chosen reminded me of the flow of time, my roots, hope for the future, and the people we share this life with. Just like my laptop sticker says, growing up is painful, but what I meant was that it’s a process that burns you the way gold is refined by fire. With your own quiet technique, I felt like you were able to tie it all together in film.
I was so moved that I even showed my best friend the video, and since she understood how much that film must have meant to me, she was almost moved to tears in our school cafeteria, of all places (I myself almost cried in the library yesterday). She has a friend studying film in Saint Benilde who she wants to show your video to. Could I send her the file? 🙂
Thank you so much!
God bless you! You’re a very talented boy, and I pray that you will continue to nurture that talent and use it to keep telling powerful stories. 🙂
Sincerely,
Ate Kim Andaya

Dear Mr. (Psyche) President

Since my term in Ateneo Psyche will be ending soon, I’ve decided to publish the palanca I wrote for my organizational best friend, Danyl Ferrer. I wrote this before our term even legitimately started, and I can say I’ve grown a lot with this guy since then.

I should probably also write a goodbye letter to all the Psyche people to post here. Maybe something that mirrors my discernment talk, but also a lot more personal. Eh, I’ll get around to it when I get around to it.


 

Dear Mr. President,

In writing a traditionally sappy palanca, it is recommended that I go down the memory lane of our times together, or dissect the essence of what it means to be your friend. But I’m still in the process of making memories and finding out what “Danyl’s friend” means. I’ll be frank – even if we met in freshman year, and even if I let you hug me because you’re the huggy type, and even if I think we get along pretty well, I hardly know a thing about you.

But I do know bits and pieces. Bits and pieces about your love life (thanks Lance. He’s the reason why I checked out Ciely’s profile +++ I know what Yellow Jacket means HAHAHA Please don’t kill Lance, he’s lovely ❤ ), bits and pieces about your family (like your vacations, your older siblings, your mom, and your dad), bits and pieces about your past (your high school, how you started drinking), bits and pieces of who you are today. The bits and pieces I knew of you before constructed some chill, friendly dude who loved girls and drinking. Lovable, but not exactly esteemed.

And now there’s this new president bit. And you’re actually acting the part. And it’s changing the entire constellation of my bits and pieces of you. Now there are bright spots of brilliance, guidance and inspiration, as well as dark areas of questions and things yet unknown. But you’re beginning to look like Orion.[1]

Let me tell you something: several of the newly graduated officers told me to look out for you, keep you on track, make sure you do the right thing. One of them even told me that you were lucky to have me. I don’t know how true that is, but in any case, I can see that I don’t always have to mind you (I’m not your mom). You have your own plans and you’re not helpless. And for the record, I think we keep each other on track. There have been times when you’ve reminded me of deadlines and remembered things that slipped my mind and pointed out things that I didn’t see.

Beyond that, I think I’m lucky to have you. I’ve never been anyone’s right hand before – in fact, lately, I’ve always taken on a leading role, and my friends have pointed out on numerous occasions that I tend to have a dominating attitude. My main fear upon running for my position was that I’d be too bossy, too demanding, too impatient, and that I might “steal” the responsibility of leading this organization from you. And yet you’ve managed to rein me in. You’ve been patient and appreciative and eager to listen to my ideas. You have never gone overboard with what you asked me to do or with what you expect from me. Simply the idea of the role already intrigues and amuses me because of its novelty and the curious dynamic that it creates. But more than the idea of the role, and more than to serve Psyche, I want to support you because I believe in you, Danyl.

I really hope that aside from continuing to be great partners, we’d also become great friends in the realest sense of the word. God bless always, and know that I’m always going to be here – for Psyche, for academic support, and even for emotional support. For jokes and chill time too, of course, if you’re up to it.

Sincerely,

Your Secretary-General

P.S. I saw the palancas from the other peeps. I apologize for being MeMa, pero trip ko magsulat eh.

[1] In Hesiod’s works, Orion was the great hunter who was made into a constellation, one that the start and end of the year is marked by. You will also be pleased to note that in Greek mythos Orion got really drunk in one of his adventures.

How Would You Raise a Child Genius?

Technically this should be part of the Snippet Series, since it’s old, but I’ve decided to reserve that for more literary works. Practical works are timeless, in a way, so I don’t think I need to emphasize when I wrote them.

This isn’t very sharply hewn, but it was written to be a presentation, not a document.


So my mother tasked me with the job of helping her write a “lecture” about how to raise genius kids.

But I can’t write something like that on the spot, especially since I’m only the child and didn’t do any of the raising, and I don’t have much expert knowledge on the subject.

However, I can help out by saying that I think the way the topic is phrased is not properly focused. We shouldn’t be striving to populate the world with geniuses. There’s a Korean child prodigy by the name of Kim Ung-yong, who has the highest recorded IQ in human history. He speaks several languages, started being a guest student in a physics class at age 3, and worked for NASA at the age of 16. And now he’s just trying to live an ordinary life, and he’s encouraging others to do the same. There’s a long list of child prodigies who grew up normal.

Parents want the best for their kids. And the best does not mean being a genius. Nor does the best mean being an overachiever. It doesn’t matter how many instruments you’ve played, how many facts you’ve memorized, or how many medals you’ve garnered.

As Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” We can join the rat’s race and clamor after all the flashy things that the world wants. But that’s not what satisfies the soul, and that’s not what’s best for your child.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then all these things shall be added unto you.” Don’t worry. Just don’t. Just train up a child in the way he should go, and everything will fall into place. Just like how the second circle in the 4 Spiritual Laws booklet shows a life that is orderly and peaceful because God is at the center, God’s centrality in the lives of our children will have the same effect. We need to trust that when it comes to our kids. What is true in our lives should reflect in how we raise our children.

Raise your child to seek wisdom, and he will be guided in the knowledge he comes across. If you value knowledge too much and wisdom too little, your child may acquire knowledge the way the world does, and he may fail to see God’s design in what exists, and the Truth may be taken from him.

Raise your child to value hard work, honesty, discipline and excellence, and not grades. This will teach him to persevere when he struggles, get back up when he fails, and to stand strong against the easy way out.

Raise your child to value respect, humility and teamwork, and he will know how to follow as well as how to lead, and he will see how the two are symbiotic and equal.

Most importantly, raise your child to love as Jesus loved – because, as Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Love is the greatest thing we have, as Christians, as humans. It is the key to life, and therefore the best thing God wants your child to have.

If you raise your child up with the proper values and with the proper mindset, you won’t have just a genius. You’ll have a gamechanger. You will have brought into the world someone who honors, serves and loves God, and makes it known and felt, and that should be the greatest goal of any Christian parent.

Our God is the God of the impossible. He is the God who builds nations, heals the multitudes, and brings abundance to those who have few. He is our children’s God too. The sooner we help our darlings realize that the sooner miracles can happen. Our children are not called to success. They are called to service.

The world needs servant leaders, for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve. The world needs harvesters, for the harvest is plenty. The world needs good Samaritans – in the fullness of the kindness of a stranger. The world does not need another prideful idol for its admiration. So pray, earnestly, for the Lord’s will to be done in your child’s life, and surrender, as Mary did.

What I Learned at Midnight

1. Sometimes you have to make a fool of yourself to get to the bottom of things.

2. Perceptions are so fragile and yet persistent.

3. The past should only matter in reference to the future.

4. Being forgotten is definitive.

5. If someone doesn’t know how to recognize love despite being given it, it’s not your fault.

6. Sometimes the most you can do is let people grow up. Sometimes it’s not about being the catalyst or the guide.

7. Sometimes you have to force an end to get a new beginning.

8. There is hope that you fight for and hope that you wait for.

9. Even if things didn’t turn out the way you wanted, the Gracious One grants peace in finally seeing things as they are. It allows you to move past where you are, forward.

10. Kung nagmahal ka ng buo’t puro, you will regret nothing.

Heart’s Vignette: A Music Anthology

So Psyche’s Sublimation Week is about to roll in. I spent a good portion of my afternoon sublimating, compiling a playlist that chronologically narrates a story. I was scared what I’d do with it if I didn’t put it somewhere, so here it is, so that at least it’s outside of me.


 

Tori Kelly – Dear No One

 

Hamilton Cast – Satisfied

Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That

He Is We – All About Us

Bastille – Bite Down

Jessie Ware – Say You Love Me

 

gnash – i hate u, i love u

 

The Click Five – Mary Jane

Alex G – I Can’t Make You Love Me

James Bay – Let It Go

Sara Bareilles – Gravity

Hillsong United – Here Now

Chihiro Kosaka (The World God Only Knows) – The Memory of My First Love

Adele – When We Were Young