The bogeyman is lurking around the corner… again

Thought (it’s now obvious I never stop thinking, even in my sleep) about this through as a reaction to my wife’s blog post about friends. Like I realized that people are priceless. Whoever they are. Friends – goes without saying. Enemies – though you’re happy about their absence, there are people who feel happy with their presence. Scum, lowlifes and politicians – all loved by their mothers. Pseudo-friends (those people who only stay with you as long as they enjoy your company and then cut out when things aren’t so pleasant) – there are other people who they stick with through thick and thin.

Bearing this in mind, it’s not easy to understand that when you have a friend, enjoy his/her presence while it lasts. Because friends seldom stay. Only about 1 in a million actually become friends for life. The others, well, for so many reasons and factors they seem to have some sort of “expiration date”. Yes, they could have become your true friends, sticking with you though thick and thin, listening to your rants and vents, or simply staying quiet with you. But even the best of intentions don’t last, and sooner or later what used to be warm becomes lukewarm, and then finally grows cold.

You will feel it, and as soon as you do, you know it’s going to be another round of letting go. It’s just sad how often we have to do this unpleasant recourse. Letting go.

Enjoy your friends. Love them as much as you could. But never think they’ll always be there, because 999,999 out of a million they won’t. Be ready to release and move on.

“A misunderstood love…?”

In the 1999 hit video game Final Fantasy VIII, there was a scene where all the lead characters learned that they had grown together as kids in an orphanage. Skipping the details of that scene, it resulted in the six of them developing an even stronger bond that surpasses that of normal camaraderie. I guess learning that you were together as kids tend to break down the walls and kind of makes things rosier around your interaction with its other.

Just thought of this as an amazing coincidence. Among all the Final Fantasy games, VIII was my favorite, and that scene was a big reason why. It’s amazing because something very similar happened to me tonight. See, my sister-in-law has this friend, a doctor named Joyce. I would often see her whenever I go to my in-laws house, and we’d say hi to each other without so much as a decent conversation. She was just my sister-in-law’s friend anyway, who’s grown quite close to my wife by association. Okay lang.

Pero this night when she arrived, I saw something in her that I have never seen before. Something uncannily familiar. So I whisphered into my wife’s ear to ask what “Doc’s” maiden last name is. All the while, I was feeling anxious in the event Doc would say “Renato.”

She did say “Renato.” Joyce Renato, or the former Jocelyn Renato, a girl I went to school with back in grade six at St. Mary’s College over at Mother Ignacia, QC.

“Yeah, I was there too.” so said Squall.

I mean, WOW. There we were, just casually regarding each other in all those numerous times we’d meet at my in-laws house, having no idea whatsoever that we were actually together in school over 20 years ago! I don’t know what happened, it’s like a veil had been lifted off and for the first time I had a really good look at her features. “Hey…” I wondered, after which my heart raced when I remembered her name was Joyce. “Could it be…?” That’s when I asked Joy to ask what her maiden name was. What if she said “Renato”???

BOOM!

It was a good kind of BOOM, though. And all of the sudden, what used to be two people who simply regarded each other loosely and casually took over the topic of the night and made everyone laugh in delight for this most pleasant of surprises. I couldn’t help smiling while remembering the subsequent conversation I had with Doc – as I look at her, all I see is that cute, almost chubby girl with glasses, a headband, her books and backgammon board sitting beside an unassuming plantbox beside the walkway that stretched from the elementary building all the way to the Panay Avenue gate. The experience was exciting, bringing me to a giddy fit. And Joy, my wife, kept laughing because all the way home I had this smile on my face that I couldn’t seem to wipe off.

So that’s what Squall, Quistis, Selphie, Zell and Irvine must have felt.

It’s nice to have something to smile about for a change

——–

Disclaimer: The line “A misunderstood love…?” is quoted from FFVIII, on that same scene I described above. Quistis said that to Squall, supposedly to ‘explain away’ her hidden feelings for him. There. (must start putting Disclaimers in my blog posts to about misinterpretations  )

When it’s possible for me to become a serial killer…

This is sorta sad. About 2:30am. Just chillin’ in my room, watching my wife sleep. The song I Can’t Make You Love Me (Nina’s version) is playing in my laptop. Song made me search for Joy’s blog post for the lyrics. Scrolled down and re-read the replies…

Just thinking about stuff. Probably just one of those times. Last night I was at work, the whole night. Drove home around 9 this morning. Slept the whole day almost. Now I don’t feel like sleeping. I’m still tired, but I don’t feel like sleeping. This sort of exhaustion brings with it a unique kind of melancholy. Couldn’t avoid thinking about misunderstandings. Mixed signals. Lack of communication. Silent hurts. Unspoken truths. Spoken lies. Friends breaking up, and not knowing why. Wracking my brain trying to figure out how a pleasant situation would suddenly turn south for no apparent reason. Why suddenly a person close to you would suddenly drift away. Not just suddenly, but swiftly, drastically, and almost violently. Misunderstandings? Lack of communication? Mixed signals? Misinterpreted behavior?  Unspoken hellos? Pressing ‘Delete’ just for the heck of it?

I’d choose belligerence anytime. At least with belligerent people, there is no puzzle. You know exactly why an asshole is being an asshole and why he is acting like an asshole. Sometimes I prefer no-brainers when I don’t have a great deal of time to figure things out. Just deal with it and go on with your life.

But friends communicate. It’s the same as saying that birds fly or the sun shines. When they stop doing that for no apparent reason… well… it’s mind-boggling. It doesn’t make sense.

Or it’s dead.

Kill the misunderstandings, or kill the friendship. It’s not a tough choice. It’s a no-brainer. And yet it seems we still can’t make the right choice.

Sad…

World War III may be closer than we think =((

Well, maybe not in scale. But in principle it’s happening everyday.

History lesson: World War II would not have elevated to the scale it eventually went to if it hadn’t been for the Axis Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan. In a nutshell, the collaborators of the Tripartite Pact were required to assist each other should they be attacked by any country not already involved in the European war. This was what Japan was counting on and most analysts think gave them the balls to attack Pearl Harbor. With the Pact in place, once the U.S. declared war against them, it was tantamount to declaring war against both Germany and Italy as well.

Sounds familiar? No, I’m not talking about school fraternities per se. In my honest opinion, school fraternities have always been a good thing. It only began to look bad when us Filipinos, in our usual over-dramatic flair, gave a new and decidedly harmful twist to the arrangement. Just think back to the “rambol” that used to happen frequently during the 90s in many of the bigger universities. It’s silly because most of them usually start of simply as a disagreement between as few as two people who just happen to be members of their own “frats”. Next thing we know, everyone in both gangs is involved. Sillier still is that most of them don’t even know what started the fight.

Which leads me to the point of this post: let your friend fight his own fight.

It is always honorable to stand up for your friend, especially when he’s outnumbered 6-to-1. But there is no honor in ganging up on a single adversary. And in the absence of a physical scuffle, there is also no honor in rallying all your friends against one single opponent in order to sway public opinion to your side. Remember that he might also have friends who’d want to stand up for him. Involve your entire circle, and his circle will jump into the fray as well. Result: large-scale divisiveness.

I’ve always admired people who don’t butt in to their friends’ quarrels because they don’t want to stick their noses into things that don’t directly concern them. I could never say this enough (and so here I am saying this again): It’s none of our business. Let your friend vent his frustrations and disappointments stemming from the quarrel. Listen to him. Be there for him. But don’t step into the fray. Don’t go charging into the next room to start a word war with your friend’s adversary. It’s HIS adversary, NOT yours.

History has taught us that this kind of thinking could only result in more chaos. Let’s learn from the mistakes of the past.

How to deal with a back-stabber

Say you’re talking to someone and, without provocation or good reason, that person said something insulting about a close friend of yours. What would you do?

  1. Tell your friend about it
  2. Keep mum
  3. Agree

If the person bad-mouthing your friend is someone you’ve been obsessing on since 1st grade, there’s a good chance you’ll pick 3. You pick 2 most probably when you’re deaf-mute or brain-dead. Otherwise, almost all of us would pick 1.

The question is this: should we?

“Of course! That person is bad-mouthing my friend. My friend has a right to know about it!”

True or False?

TRUE. Your friend has a right to know about any axe to grind anyone has about him/her.

But guess what? YOU don’t have a right to tell him/her about it.

“What??? OF COURSE I do! That person is my bestest friend!”

No, you don’t. Being the person’s best friend doesn’t give you the right to be his eyes/ears/mouth/whatever.

Weird? Not at all. When someone bad-mouths your friend and you tell your friend about it, what do you expect to accomplish? You want your friend to know, expecting him/her to be angry. In that alone you already have the intent to worsen the situation. What else do you think would happen? If we’re all lucky, your friend would keep quiet and just hold it as a passive grudge. He/she may never do something about it, but at the same time he/she would never talk to that person again. IF WE’RE LUCKY.

Chances are there will be a confrontation. Worse, it will come down Jerry-Springer style.

From bad to worse, yes?

But then, your friend does have a right to know if anyone’s talking ill about them. But should you be the one to be the avenue of revelation? NO. THIS IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. This is between the back-stabber and the back-stabbee. Why do you think it’s so bad to back-stab? Having derogatory words flying out uncontrollably is just half of the evil. The other half is the back-stabber depriving your friend his/her right to be aware of something he/she should be aware of. It’s your friend’s business to know about this. It is not, however, your business to be the one to tell him/her.

Let me put it this way. When a person bad-mouths another, the transgression of back-stabbing is his/hers to answer to. But it is not your responsibility to make sure your friend knows about it. On the contrary, if you tell your friend about it, you’re answerable for the sin of being a gossiper (remember that gossip doesn’t necessarily mean false, it could also mean the conveyance of any bad thought or message for the purpose of promoting strife) and a trouble-maker. And also for sticking your nose into something where it doesn’t belong.

This is between the two of them. It’s none of your business.

You want to stick it out for your friend? Stand up to that back-stabber and say it to his/her face that he/she’s wrong. Tell him that your friend is way out of his/her league, and that he/she should stop being a gutless pansy and take it up with your friend personally. Let that person know who’s the lesser human being.

And then stop there.

Back-stabbers are powerless when we don’t play messengers.

That’s what friends are for

Missed church again this Sunday, just got off Gtalk with a friend who talked to me about venting.

Pouring out grievances, hurts and frustrations. That venting. Not the largest Frapuccino size that Starbucks sells.

He said he “made the mistake” of venting his disappointments about a person at work to his friends, which had me as something of a loss. Why did he consider it as a mistake, I asked? Well, it’s because his friends to whom he vented told that person about what he said.

“What the f…”

(Yes, that “f…” leads exactly to what you think it leads to. I’m not really predisposed to expletives, but extremely retarded situations like this tend to bring out the worst in me)

Does anyone still know what it means to be a confidante?

I’m not trying to act self-righteous, but when friends approach me to talk about things that bother or frustrate them, I try to make sure that whatever they tell me stays with me alone. It stops here and goes no further. I don’t know about other people, but for me that’s what it means to confide. “Confide” obviously has the same etymology as the words “confidence” and “confidential”. To pour out one’s feelings to someone he could trust to keep it a secret. Because, well, venting normally happens at the height of a person’s emotions, and more often than not, in situations like this words not normally uttered when a person is calm get unleashed almost uncontrollably. But that’s fine, it’s not backstabbing or spreading harmful gossip (unless the person talks to a variety of people with the explicit intention to ruin someone’s name). The person just needs to release his bottled up feelings.

But more importantly, when a person confides, he bares his innermost feelings, and therefore becomes completely vulnerable to whatever negative opinions we might have about him as a result. So in a manner of speaking, confiding also includes a certain degree of risk: would we be able to accept this person after getting a glimpse of his deepest and most profound feelings? The fact that he opened up means he trusts us to be able to do that, to accept him for who he is. That’s what friends are for, right?

So if he trusts us enough to reveal his secrets or pour out his emotions, it follows that the only people who should know about what he has to say are those whom he has chosen to tell them to. The people whom he trusts. As for the others, they shouldn’t. They’re not entitled to such information. It’s your friend’s secret, and only he has the right to disclose it to anyone he chooses. Not you. You follow?

You should be honored if you (either alone or as part of an inner circle of confidantes) are chosen by a friend to listen to his hurts. That means he trusts you, that at some point in your friendship you have earned his confidence and proven yourself to be trustworthy. But with great trust comes great responsibility. Anything imparted to you at the height of a friend’s emotions is understood to be told in confidence. It should be kept within the two (or group) of you. A SECRET.

Conveying anything expressed in confidence by someone to another (whether the subject of that person’s venting or anyone else) doesn’t make you anything but one: UNTRUSTWORTHY. Unfit to keep a secret. A loudmouth.

Trust is a basic building block of friendship. Let’s all try to be worthy of being trusted by our friends.

“I’m a mess. You’re a disaster.”

Case #1: Along the Timog-Tomas Morato rotunda, right beside Padi’s Point stood my favorite “Italian” restaurant, Napoli.  A few years ago I had dinner there with my then-fiancee and some friends and naturally, we ordered Puttanesca, among other things. Friend A didn’t partake of that sumptuous pasta dish because according to her, she simply doesn’t like it. Friend B then remarked “What a weird person.”

Of course, it was meant as a joke – as I’m sure you’d all be thinking how intolerant Friend B was for cracking such an intolerant remark seriously. But then, how many times have we seriously thought about other people as “weird” just because they don’t think as we do?

True-to-life story: someone had stopped talking to me simply because I told that person that I don’t watch Pinoy Big Brother.

And another said I’ve got some serious issues just for declaring that The Da Vinci code isn’t good.

How should we react to people who, upon hearing others express their personal opinions, tell them to keep their opinions to themselves?

Case #2: Ever encounter someone who’s been cheated on and feels so helpless that all the person could do was talk, just to avoid blowing up? How did you react to that person? Do you listen to him/her all the while setting a limit on how long you’re going to listen? Ever express your disgust for what you perceive as that person’s stubborn refusal to help him/herself?

Or how about someone who’s got a serious liking for another who’s already attached?  Would you nag at that person for being a potential “relationship-wrecker”? Or would you assume that the person already knows what’s right and wrong, and so couldn’t do jack about his/her predicament other than pour out his/her frustrations by talking? Do you trust your friends this much?

Case #3: Ever had a friend who attempted suicide or did drugs because he/she couldn’t deal with a crisis? Do you extend understanding to this person or walk away because he/she didn’t handle the situation the way you would have handled it had you been in that person’s shoes?

Ever land judgment on a person for reacting badly to a situation that you have never experienced yourself?

How many times have you been surprised in eventually finding yourself in a similar predicament and doing the exact same thing that you’ve judged others for doing when they were in that same exact rut?

I’ve been guilty of all three. And believe me, the eye-openers have been anything but pleasant. In fact, some of them were downright painful.

Ironically, those people whose different opinions I didn’t tolerate, those that I’ve called wussies and unethical people simply because they vocalized their feelings, those that I’ve criticized for doing stupid things that I so pompously declared I would never do… they’re the ones who stood by me during my times of crisis… when I committed or came close to committing the very same things that I bragged I would never, ever be stupid enough or immoral enough to commit.

It was a very humbling experience.

Lesson learned: a little tolerance goes a long way.