To be more courageous

That’s my resolution. It only took me almost the entire first month of the year to think about it and write it down here. (I’ve been meaning to include nixing my habit of procrastination but I just keep putting it off.)

Like most people, I find it easy to get into the habit of things and get comfortable, but then I get too comfortable and suddenly find myself too afraid to get out of whatever cozy, safe routine I’ve established. But when I think about the happiest or most exhilarating moments of my life so far, they are often the ones when I took a risk and did something I was scared of. Like leaving a high-paying corporate job after graduating from university to take up a short course in film (film and I didn’t work out, but because of it I discovered I really wanted to seriously pursue writing). Or in relationships, from telling someone how you feel though you’re not completely sure he feels the same way to making that commitment.

Or even travel, which seems like such a completely pleasant thing to do but I used to get scared of being away from home. Of being in a foreign place. Of getting into that plane or boat. And once there, getting out of the hotel room. But I would do them, just because the excitement of seeing something new far outweighed the fear. Albert Camus had it right when he wrote: “What gives value to travel is fear. It is the fact that, at a certain moment, when we are so far from our own country, we are seized by a vague fear, and an instinctive desire to go back to the protection of old habits…This is why we should not say that we travel for pleasure… It is more an occasion for spiritual testing…” And facing that fear often, I eventually realized, made it less unnerving.

(Plus, this post from travel blog, Everywhere Once, is a great read on “How to Become Fearless“)

(Photo by my sister Mabi David)

I imagine that facing one’s fear is akin to climbing a big mountain: overwhelming in scale, but like most goals need to be faced one step at a time. (Photo of Mount Kinabalu by Mabi David)

And writing. Sitting down to write those stories I’ve always wanted to write scares me the most. Every time. This blog is a small step to be less afraid of my own voice, I guess. It reminds me that I need to write more. In here, but especially beyond it. I have started something. Don’t know what to call it yet. There’s such a long way to go and I’m honestly scared I won’t finish it, that I’ll fail. There it is. That deep-seated fear of failure. A fear that keeps one safely in the middle, which certainly feeds on one’s need for control (ahem). So, these days I’ve been reminding myself more often that I just have to do my part. Sit down and write and let the rest (the fears, the control issues) go. That never even opening that word file is worse than failure. I really hope promise to be more courageous. Wish me luck.

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On the last day of 2011

Before my family and I got started on a day of cooking and eating to welcome the New Year (yes, this post is nine days overdue), my husband and I decided to walk around Quezon Memorial Circle on the morning of December 31. It’s a national park located along the Elliptical Road in Quezon City, where the 66-meter tall Quezon Memorial Shrine stands. Inside the shrine is a small museum and mausoleum with the remains of the Philippines’ second president, Manuel Quezon.

I think I was in elementary school when I first set foot in the shrine for an educational outing. Most people though go to the circle for the park grounds. It comes alive in the mornings when joggers run around the perimeter (there’s even a running clinic every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 am, Saturdays at 7 am, and Sunday at 5:30 am). On weekends, families bring their kids to the playground, fly some kites, ride a paddle boat or an aqua bike in the teeny man-made pond, and during the holidays, go the the carnival for some merry-go-round and Ferris wheel action. There’s also vegetable market, a zip line, a sad-looking soccer pitch (it looked like it needed some major work) and even a fish spa (dip feet in a water tank filled with fish and let the fish do the work.)

Should those activities make you hungry, you can also grab some grub afterward. People have breakfast in one of the many modest stalls and restaurants selling mostly Filipino food–breakfast favorites of various silog (fried rice with egg and meat of choice), lugaw or congee, champorado (chocolate rice porridge), all varieties of kakanin (rice cakes), barbecued meats, and so much more. Since it was December, there were the Filipino Christmas staples of bibingka (a type of rice cake made with coconut milk) and puto bumbong (a distinctly purple rice cake  traditionally cooked in bamboo). I prefer the salty, sweet taste and the fluffy cake texture of the bibingka, but bought some puto bumbong as well before heading home for my brother who recently discovered he loved it. There’s also the beloved ‘dirty’ ice cream. If you’re not familiar with Filipino food, it’s the cheaper and street food version of ice cream. ‘Dirty’ because it’s peddled on the street and street food typically doesn’t really score high in proper sanitation.  Never got sick from it when I was a kid though.

slouching somewhere

Quezon Memorial Shrine. Look up and you’ll see the statues of three angels holding sampaguita wreaths on top of the three vertical pylons

Pick a balloon–Dora, Spongebob, or an Angry Bird

Mang Sorbetero or the dirty ice cream man. Local flavors include cheese, mango, ube and langka (jackfruit)

Bibingka being cooked with charcoal underneath and that tray of charcoal goes on top.

The Quezon Memorial Circle is the nearest open space from our house (closer than UP Diliman), but unfortunately P and I rarely go there. I suggested that we should spend more mornings there this year–to run, to eat, to just take a break from the usual mall-movie-restaurant weekend outings.

An impending new year always brings thoughts of what you want to start doing. A few changes you know would be good for you. To go outdoors more. Write more. Get distracted less. Keep running. Keep hoping. Save more. Bring an extra bag every time I go out. Cut down on plastic bags. Cut down on water bottles. Cut down on the Internet. Read more books. Be braver.