The Challenge of Minimalism

In March 2015, we let go of about 80% of our possessions. With some misgivings, I gathered my books and sold some, and then gave away a lot more. Our shelves, tables, chairs, and other appliances went to people who responded to the ads I posted on Facebook, Craigslist, or OLX. Even our set of clothes dwindled. Between myself, my wife, and my son, we gave away 4 big boxes full of shirts, pants, and other clothes.

My books are my best possessions and treasures. I had almost all of Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi books, Tolkien’s books, the game of thrones books (which by the way belong to the series called “A Song of Ice and Fire”), a bunch of Filipino and Ilokano books, and nonfiction leadership and business books.

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Remembering Childhood Friends

The first close friend I remember in my childhood is one of our neighbors in Roxas, Isabela. I knew him as Don-Don. Only later did I find out that his real name is Samuel. Don Don had two brothers – Geoffrey and Bong Bong.

I spent countless hours in their rented home and their yard. Often, I would climb the concrete fence separating their house and the parsonage we were staying at.

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Losing Time & Space for Contemplation

Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

But in the midst of all the responsibilities and complexities of twenty-first century life, who has time for self-examination and contemplation?

I certainly feel that my life is too full that I cannot make time and space for contemplation. And I feel guilty about it. As a Christian, contemplation and meditation are spiritual practices that could enrich my life.

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Simple Joys brought by Coffee

I am a certified coffee lover. It may have started when I was in 5th grade. My mother asked me to prepare coffee for her. I put hot water in a cup, scooped more than half a teaspoon of Nescafe instant coffee, and finally added a teaspoon of sugar. After tasting it, I almost spat it out because it was bitter. But after several days of doing that, I acquired the taste of coffee. Eventually, coffee became a constant companion for late night writing and meetings.

Instant coffee used to be the craze in the Philippines. It probably still is. I don’t know why but it may have been because of advertisements on the radio and TV. Instant coffee, particularly Nescafe’s, is a poor substitute for real coffee beans! Sure it takes more work to brew coffee beans but I know better now.

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The Inevitability of Routines

We humans are creatures of habit. There are a set of things that we do regularly, in a particular sequence and manner.

Case in point. What did you do first right after waking up? If you’re like me and millions of others, you probably picked up your phone first to turn off your alarm (right!). That first activity in the morning will be followed by dozens of tasks and activities.

Often, these tasks are automatic, you don’t even think about doing them anymore. You’ve just been used to doing one thing after another in a particular sequence and manner.

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Keeping Track of the People I Meet

When I was in high school, I toyed with the idea of writing in my journal about the people I interacted daily–their personalities, their quirks, and other aspects of their lives.

I probably wrote down my impression of 3 friends and that’s it, the list never grew.

In my line of work now, I get to meet a lot of people. They get introduced to me or we get to work together for a program or a project. Or it may have been a simple conversation at an event or a meeting.

My problem is, the next time I see them, I may recognize their faces but I would totally forget their names and other details of how I knew them.

So, today, I started a new practice of writing down the names of the people I meet, the circumstances in which I met them, anything interesting about them, and other details that I remember. It’s a pretty cool way to keep track of the people I meet and will help me remember them the next time we meet.

Big Events and Introverts

Big events can be tough for introverts.

Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts…” helped provide a definition for introverts. It is more than just about shyness. Introverts tend to have a colorful inner life. They’re not afraid of people per se, but they would prefer quietness to loudness; deeper conversations versus small talk; and they tend to avoid large groups of people.

Introverts love planning and using their minds to prepare for different aspects of an event. We can even be extroverted. But such extroversion has an expiry date. Toward the end of the event, I was feeling tired and overstimulated. I longed for the comforts of solitude.

But I also realized that meeting people, interacting with them, and engaging in conversation is a skill. And if it is a skill, then I can learn it. The way to learn it is to put myself in a position where I can meet people, engage in conversation, and practice! It is not really about becoming a fake extrovert, but acquiring the very important skill of people engagement.

Loving and Recommitting to the Craft of Writing

Back in college, I tried to master playing the acoustic guitar. I also wanted to become a published writer. On any given week, I was practicing the guitar for about 2 hours, 4-5 times a week. I also kept a journal and wrote for my college’s paper. At some point, a friend of mine recruited me to write for a magazine for high school students.

I found myself too busy with guitar and writing, on top of all my academic requirements. So I decided to focus on writing and cut back on the time I spent playing the guitar. (Did I mention that I only borrowed guitars because I couldn’t afford to buy one?)

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Stuffing bags and the challenges of a big event

The day before our office’s Youth 2019 event started, I joined several volunteers in stuffing the bags of participants. We put a devotional magazine, the program book, a bookmark, and a sticker.

We had to stuff more than 3,000 bags. And by 11 pm, we were just halfway through.

I called my wife as I walked back to my hotel. I told her what I was doing, and how tiring it was.

She asked me: “Aren’t you thankful you’re stuffing bags and not running the whole event?”

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