Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Looking for Light

For as long as I can recall, I've been in this constant battle in defining the concept of "happiness". I would say I'm "happy" maybe 10% of my life, depending on what standard of evaluation one uses. The other 90% is an oscillation between depression and confusion, an unsure stance on whether to adhere to a majority perception of the emotion or to live by an independent standard.

I suppose the definition of "happiness" I employ refers to the heart lifting sensation of the chest, the increased bloodflow through the body's circulation that sometimes gets misinterpreted for a bout of inspiration. Truth be told, a lot of "happiness" is a mere change in the bio-chemical balances in our bodies, not necessarily an abstract concept we struggle to subjectively define.

Instead what I think matters is the source in which we generate the hybrid sensation of physical and metaphysical state-of-being. I'm starting to realize that the majority of "happiness" has been dependent on the external. Career goals, relationships, material possessions, whatever.

I've been trying hard to cultivate happiness within. That isn't to say there isn't use of the external objects that make our lives easier, but the problem lies in the dependence of these things. I always wonder how I would be if all these things were stripped away from me. Would my integrity still be there? Would I still be the person I claim I am? That's the real test. Who a person is at their core.

Finding that core is half the battle, sometimes, it's the entire battle. It's almost like standing right in front of your darkness and not turning away. Thinking this time that you have enough strength, maybe not to fight, but at least enough not to flee. You start thinking that all your previous defeats were merely stepping stones in the lesson plan and suddenly, you have no more regrets. It's like a shower to wash the grime. Everything was meant to happen. Everything had its purpose.

Once you go under the demon's wing, you better be prepared. You better have that resistive instinct salivating at its teeth, ready to fight and rebel against the beckoning call of night. Because whoever comes out of that battle will be a different person. It'll be that who defines you. And afterward you won't even know the whole thing happened.

The crowd is fickle

...I'm interrupting her ...I'm interrupting her ...I'm interrupting her. I'll never see her again.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

“Roll with the Punches”

* I gave the following piece as my closing reading at VONA 2010.

“Roll with the punches” is probably the most overused boxing proverb to get us through tough times, but I’ve spent far too many hours in stuffy gyms around the world to settle on a cliché one-liner.

In many ways the Sweet Science is like writing. It’s a lonely affair. You may have your coaches and gym mates beside you, but come fight night, you’re the only one in that squared circle. Stepping through the ropes for the first time is much like publishing your first piece. You’re naked out there. You’re vulnerable. That’s what makes the experience both frightful and exciting. That is the reason we live.

Fighting pushes you to the extreme limits of being human. It is in those moments of pain and despair, of confusion and desolation that you truly know what you’re made of, and your training makes or breaks your survival. Ali once said “The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights.” And that’s true. Preparation is everything and the difference between talent and skill is self-discipline.

Most readers will never see those countless hours toiled while the rest of the world slumbers. They will never understand how cutting out a paragraph can be just as agonizing as self-amputation. And they will never appreciate how after the critics tear us to pieces on the public sphere, we slowly learn to love ourselves again.

But writers, like boxers, learn to grow tough skin. We might fall, but we get up and come back stronger. It becomes instinct to “roll with the punches” and soon enough, we learn that it was never really about winning or losing in the first place, but all that ever mattered was that we showed up and fought well.