August 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
I’ve been trying to write for weeks now, and I just sit in front of the screen — without anything to say.
Now, that I’ve entered this new, odd world, inundated by science, I feel exhausted by the end of the day. It takes work to refocus the way I view the world — to see it with the eyes of a scientist. And then when I find the time to reflect on what I have learned, what I have felt, what I have sensed, my thoughts fall away.
On my desktop sits a quotation that serves as a daily reminder of what I need to do. It comes from one of the greatest thinking men in history, and it says, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
I agree, so I’m going to cut the shit and start thinking again.
April 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
I just read the words, “Trust the Universe,” and it immediately made me feel good.
I like the idea of fate. The idea that everything will somehow come together. The idea that, little by little, piece by piece, everything will be in the right place at the right time, because you were meant to be as you are with what you have, with what you know. Indeed, you were meant to be as you are where you stand. Today and for always.
At times, it can be a relief to think that I’m not behind the wheel. But, despite the fact that I like the idea of fate, my actions expose my true belief system. I believe in work. For me, it’s much easier not to trust the unknown – the universe, everything that’s seemingly out of your control – and, instead, rely on work. You do work; you get stuff done. You drive every moving part forward. Without you, nothing changes.
But when I look at the life that unfolds around me, I can’t help but see how wrong I am. My life is the product of both chance and persistence, serendipity and diligence, good timing and great follow-through. Everywhere I’m headed starts with the blessings and the opportunities I’ve been given, and is realized by late nights, sweat beads, and tired hands.
It can’t be as simple as just trusting in myself, or even just in fate. So, I’d make an amendment.
Trust in yourself and in your power to do. The universe will see you through.
April 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
When you think you’ve done enough, do more.
It’s all worth it.
April 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
So, last night, the Bataan Association/Foundation hosted the annual Fall of Bataan fundraiser to support our scholarship program in the Philippines. After weeks of planning, inviting, writing, updating, shuttling, etc., etc., BAUSA has another charity event under its belt, and it feels good.
I want to thank my friends and family from the bottom of my heart for supporting the Bataan Association and for believing in our mission. We’re going to send 12 young people from Bataan to college this year, and that’s going to make such a huge difference.
Right now, I’m feeling spent from a weekend of do-gooding with my family. Very spent, but well spent.
Well spent indeed.
March 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Yesterday, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed about life, and the whole “getting into a great medical school is so scary and hard” bit came crashing down on me. I can be pretty demanding of myself when it comes to school. I study like a freak. I live and breathe chemistry and physics. At school, my friends call me overzealous. And they’re right. If you took one look at my Google calendar, in all its color-coded, blocked out glory, you would probably use the terms, “maniacal” or “obsessive compulsive,” to describe the way I plan out every part of my life — what subjects I cover, when I cook, what problems I complete, how many crunches I do, what review sessions I attend — at any given hour on a given day.
Every minute detail is planned carefully and followed accordingly.
So, as you can probably expect, I kind of cracked, cried, broke down. It was silly, and as always, my mom slapped some sense into me. After talking to her on the phone, I talked to Takafumi about how rigid I’ve become and how I don’t know how to make it all work out. My wise Takafumi responded with a quote. It was deep. It was truth. It was Bruce Lee.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now, you put water into a cup; it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
On random Wednesday or Thursday nights, my mother’s house in New Jersey booms with the sounds of familiar voices, the smells of delicious Filipino dishes, and this indescribable, but truly palpable feeling of warmth. For as long as I can remember, mom has been hosting meetings for the Bataan Association, an organization of Filipino-Americans who emigrated from the historic province of Bataan to the Tri-State area. An academic would call them a diaspora community, a group of people from one land – now in another – keeping their ties alive in their new home.
I grew up calling these people, many of my mother’s closest friends and confidants, “tita” or “tito” — tagalog for “auntie” or “uncle.” Through the years, they have cared for me, showed me unconditional support and affection, and, without even realizing it, these amazing men and women have taught me so much about what it means to be Filipino, to be American, and to be a responsible citizen of this world.
Through action, my mother, titas, and titos showed me that true citizenship is not demonstrated simply by providing and caring for your family, working hard, abiding by law, paying taxes and voting. It’s not enough to just move along through life as if it were a self-containing bubble. You’ve got to utilize your powers, talents, abilities to affect change, to help those in need, to leave this world better than when you first came.
I have never been able to separate what I do in life from this responsibility. I yearn to be part of something larger than myself. That’s what the men and women of the Bataan Association and Foundation stand for. They instilled these values, this passion for contributing, in me. I want to help because, to them, helping has never been an option. It is necessity. It is duty.
I’m so proud to be part of the Bataan Association and Foundation, and I can’t wait to help realize the potential that this charity undoubtedly has to change lives in the Philippines. I want to start preparing the Foundation for success in applying for large grants. I want to visit the Bataan scholars we send to college and share their stories with our donors. I want to meet with the regional hospital administrators to assess any major needs. I want to host a yearly medical mission for primary and dental care. I want to create a memorial scholarship in the name of our late founder to send a student from Bataan to medical school.
There is so much we can do. It’s been a slow start, but I’m ready to give more. It’s overwhelming, and I hardly have the time now, but I can’t sit by with all of these ideas, and let the opportunity to do something — anything — slip by. I’ve got to act.
February 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
Every now and then, I like to read my past journal entries and blog posts. Most recently, I took a peek at my mind as it was in February 2010. I love to do this, and I’d encourage anyone to keep a journal. It’s an amazing thing to look back at a version of yourself — your emotions, opinions, ideas from one moment in time, captured for all time.
Today, I almost forgot what it was to feel like I did last February. I was in a fog. I couldn’t see forward or backward. I felt I lacked direction, purpose, meaning. By then, I’d already applied to Columbia’s Postbacc Premed Program, and was anxiously awaiting their response. I worked robotically through the days. Writing what I was told to write. Speaking in the voice of someone else.
Then, the response came in March. It said, “Get set, go,” and I’ve been moving at the speed of light ever since — almost without a moment to think about what life is now, and what life was then. I won’t lie. The premed lifestyle has been crippling. It has taken over my entire life. It dictates whom I see and when I see them, what I do and when I do them. And despite the long hours, the insane pressure to be perfect, the never-ending workload, I’ve never felt so energized. I’ve never felt so motivated. I’ve never felt more alive and capable.
I miss parts of my old life. Going home at 7 PM and turning my mind off. Meeting my best friends for yoga or dinner or a random weeknight bender. I miss money. I miss office parties and weeknight dodge ball. I miss art shows, concerts, Sunday brunches, and reading literature. I miss Saturday mornings in Takafumi’s arms, and Sunday nights with my mom. I miss having the option of taking on knitting as a hobby, and I miss having no reason to not do the things I like to do. In short, I miss freedom. I do. Just not enough.
Not enough to give up what I know I can become, what I can give, what I can do with my hands and my mind. And I know it’s going to be hard. I accept the challenge, and I will continue to accept every future challenge. It’s not the easy route, and it will take a lot of sacrifice, diligence, persistence, and a shitload of post-exam beers.
I signed up for this. As a dear friend said, “This is the life.”
So, get set, go. Every day, move.
February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
There are so many reasons to sign Planned Parenthood’s petition to Congress to reverse their bill to bar federal funding to Planned Parenthood. This organization has been a safe haven for both women and men from all walks of life, and has filled a major gap in meeting the crucial health care needs of our nation’s young people for almost a century. The House’s move to bar funding for birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing is yet another piece of undeniable proof that the House is out of touch with the needs of our generation. These actions will have a pervasive impact on our communities for many, many years, and I am disgusted that the House has betrayed the many individuals who rely on Planned Parenthood to live a more healthy life — all because many of our leaders cannot separate from base ideologies that obviously do not reflect any concern for or knowledge of the real needs of their people.
Please sign the petition.
February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Today, I came across a picture of my mother’s roses. These were picked last year, probably around June. Mama has always been a green thumb, and I’ve tried my best to keep 3 plants alive for the past 6 months. Happy to report that I’ve yet to kill them. Maybe, this Spring, I’ll consider upgrading to some flowering plants to bring a little more color into my and Takafumi’s apartment. Maybe.