Sunday, April 29, 2012

i found animal farm in the book sematary

last week i was able to drop by my favorite second hand book store which i fondly call the book sematary.  this is where i spend my free time rummaging through their second hand book shelves for titles that i longed to have in my possession.  a lot of people now are turning in their hardbound and paperback copies since they have already these electronic copies which do not occupy physical space.  so there is really a great chance of getting physical copies of books at very, very reduced prices.  of course, many of these books are well-worn, but for me, this condition adds more to the value of the books knowing fairly well that, like good soldiers, these have served their purpose.

well, i was lucky to find these great titles at the book sematary for only seventeen pesos each -- fantastic mr fox by roald dahl, the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde, and animal farm by george orwell.  their regular prices at the book stores range from two hundred fifty to three hundred pesos.  i was particularly elated to find animal farm because this will complement that other book i have by mr. orwell, 1984

at home, i immediately immersed myself reading animal farm.  i guessed it took me a total of 24 hours to finish this.  basically, the story is about a revolt by the animals on a farm and their taking over the responsibility of maintaining it and its businesses.  it was the only farm owned and managed by animals.  and the animals hoped that what they did in their farm will catch on and inspire other animals in other farms to stage their own revolutions.

this is a great satire and i must admit, for me, this is a precursor to orwell's 1984, which is his excellent commentary on human bondage and man's inherent quest for freedom.  i greatly admire orwell's deep understanding of our foibles and weaknesses, most especially greed or avarice, and how this drives us to disunity and failure.  in animal farm, orwell showcased layers of animal society.  the pigs, owing to their, superior intelligence, immediately and automatically, were designated the leaders, supervisors, administrators, and planners for the farm.  they regaled the other animals with their eloquence, their command of words, their power of persuasion, so that they were bequeathed these positions of power. of course, they promised of equality and prosperity and good life for everyone. yet, this was easier said than done.  the pigs succumbed to their character weaknesses much as we humans do.

in the final paragraphs of the novel, the other animals of the farm, sad, dejected, frustrated, helplessly looked as the pigs and humans partied and schemed.  orwell wrote --

"no question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs.  the creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

this was written between november 1943 and february 1944.  much time had passed since then. many revolutions in many parts of the world had taken place. some failed, some succeeded.  in the philippines alone, we have had two successful peaceful change of leadership and authority. yet, for me, in my humble observation, orwell's words still ring true.  nothing much had changed.  the mass of us still longs for equality and good life. 

eloquence will not do much. only sincere, honest, good governance and concrete deeds will. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

if you want to see beautiful fried eggs ..

another fine morning. for me, at least, as far as i am concerned.

 it  was my rest day from work and i got up early ahead of my wife and daughter. i thought it best to impress them this time so i prepared breakfast.  went to the bakery  and bought freshly baked bread.  back at home, i fried the leftover rice, cut several bean curd squares for me and fried them as well to a crisp golden brown.  fixed the dip for these -- two spoonfuls of vinegar, one spoonful of soy sauce, and a pinch of sugar.  for my two ladies, i knew they'd be okay with eggs fried sunny side up.

after i was done arranging the breakfast table, i proudly announced, "wake up, guys! breakfast's ready." the two ladies still looked drowsy as they sat.  the wife smiled thankfully at my initiative.  the daughter eyed my handiwork as chef.  after a short prayer of thanks to the Infinite, we started eating.

"what are these, dad?" the daughter smilingly asked.
"why, they are fried eggs, your favorite, sunny side up!" i boasted.
"hmmm, doesn't look like that to me," daughter said critically, "looks more like a cross between crepes or scrambled eggs."

i looked at the eggs again. i must admit she was right.  there was a side up but by no means was that sunny.  i knew what she meant. a sunny side up fried egg should look like two concentric circles, a big white one and a smaller yellow one right smack in the middle of the big white one.  the ones i did were not even close to a circle.  the edges were crisp and brown and overcooked like curled bacon when fried, the yellow was smudged over the white (i knew this happened when i struggled to turn over the eggs).  they were actually semi-circle or half-circle fried eggs.  well, immediately, that novice chef inside of me found these words of wisdom for my defense --

"daughter, if you want to see beautiful fried eggs you have to wake up early and do them yourself."  that said, i took a mouthful of the fried rice and the golden brown bean curd and coaxed my two ladies to try the bean curd and the amazing chinese-style dip i made.  i can only sense mysterious glances being exchanged between my two ladies.

now, i think there is really some nugget of wisdom from what i told my daughter over breakfast -- daughter, if you want to see beautiful fried eggs you have to wake up early and do them yourself.  

we must admit, for us all, most times, we rely on what others do, to get benefit from their skills -- cooking, farming, fishing, carpentry, singing, painting, accounting, laundering, etc.  this is because it is difficult to be a jack-of-all-trades. many times, though, even without any solicitation, we give our critiques or comments which are generally negative and full of dissatisfaction.  that is, without having made even a small effort to give thanks first for the service or services we received. 

i believe, in these instances where you are dissatisfied with a service you are getting, then the best thing is to learn the skill yourself, and do it yourself. in this case, one will be able to expend all efforts to realize that benchmark or ideal that one is seeing in his mind's eye. 

in our mind's eye, we always have this benchmark, this image, of how things need to be done. we use this to pass out judgments or critiques. we fail to realize that the ones doing the work have their own benchmarks or ideals as well that they tend to comply with. now, their benchmarks or ideals might not be the same as ours.  most importantly, they are doing these, sharing their expertise or skills, as a form of service.  even if we pay them, still, in general their sharing of their skills is a service to those who lack those skills.

and so,

we cannot let others exercise for us, if we want to have that toned body we want; we cannot let others sing that song the way we wanted it sung; the way we are hearing it inside our heads;  we cannot let others meditate for us and anticipate cosmic consciousness to dawn on us ..

we have to fry the eggs ourselves so we can get that satisfaction from that sunny side-up image we have conjured in our mind's eyes.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

who would not miss

there are times like this, moments, when one awakes with a very beautiful feeling.  like this morning. i awoke and i feel so light, so happy, so joyful.  the negativities of the previous day gone, or, momentarily unremembered. as i walked towards the bakery i am so aware of my surroundings --

i hear the bird's concerto, i know they're just there among the branches and leaves of the trees that i passed.  i playfully mimicked their twittering by whistling and i thought they answered back. and this old dog, looking so ancient with its emaciated body but still standing so bravely. he looked at me and i saw he's blind in both eyes, or probably just cataracts, for the eyes has whitened irises. yet i know, he enjoys this morning too.  the wind whispers; the green and brown leaves of the trees rustle,  one or two of the browned leaves fall in slow-motion, as if they are resisting leaving mother tree, but, it is now their time to kiss the ground;  the grass leaves that sprouted right in the cracks of the paved road sway gently; and, although it is already morning, up there in the blue sky, the moon is a three-fourth white orb, white as the irises of old dog.  at the bakery store, the owner handed me freshly baked bread, still hot from the oven, the aroma immediately arousing my stomach's juices.

at home, the table is set for breakfast, with wife and daughter, three white ceramic cups full of sweet-smelling hot coffee already prepared.  this will be a simple, hearty breakfast.  yes, i know, i know, this joy will soon pass.  life's concerns will again intrude upon me as it has done on the previous days. but still, i shall enjoy this moment.  i shall accept.  i will surrender.  henry david thoreau had said it, " to effect the quality of day is the highest of all arts .. ".

difficult, maybe, but i will always try to have a great day as much as the Infinite will allow ..

 a fine morning

who would not miss
such a fine morning as this
when many feathered friends 
sit on the bough sweetly singing,
and the goat's sons and daughters
are busily grazing;
while on my lawn, the dried grasses lie
awaiting the trumpet's call 
for Earth to them reclaim,
and on another corner
the ground gives way
to a sprouting seed
well-timed, welcoming
this merry, merry day!