A few weeks ago, I met up with Leloy so we could meet up with two people who were part of The Manila Review team. To quote from the website, The Manila Review is a biannual online publication that aims to map the ideas that shape public discussion in the Philippines. Which basically means that something exciting is afoot.
The people in question are Sheila Coronel and Vicente Rafael, two amazing beings, both of whom are currently teaching in the United States. Vince was home for a series of talks. He’s been away for decades and Sheila, six years. I don’t remember the exact phrasing of the conversation, but Sheila mentioned something about somehow being out of touch with the Philippines since the move. She talked about how, when talking to her old friends, she doesn’t really “get it” sometimes anymore, the way that you “get it” when people are talking about something that’s familiar to you, I suppose. Sheila then asked Vince if he ever felt displaced, since he’s been away for longer than she has, and she asked what he does about that feeling.
“The trick is to make that displacement meaningful,” he might have said. It could have also been “productive,” but it doesn’t matter because the idea—at least, the one I got—is to make something good or useful out of whatever situation you are in. I’ve often talked about feeling stuck here, but I have also often neglected to at least do something while I am in this state of stuck-ness.
And maybe, perhaps, not to think so lowly of this space that I have found myself in. That I’m probably in this weird for a reason. Maybe it’s part of the progression. Maybe it’s here so I can open my eyes to something else that I hadn’t been seeing. Who really knows?
We spent a few hours in Café Adriatico in Manila, and though I don’t quite remember everything that we talked about, I absorbed some things and these things have stayed with me. I’m glad part of the discourse was caught on tape (thanks to Sarie and Jason C.), because of a DVD we will be producing as a thank-you for some of our ArtisteConnect backers. Such an interesting afternoon.
I can’t wait to get a copy of the video, because in those few short hours, I was so glad I got to meet such intelligent people who weren’t arrogant about their intelligence. People who were genuinely curious and interested in what you had to say, even though they just met you and even though you had nothing brilliant or amazing to say. It’s refreshing, to say the least, even moreso considering how esteemed they are.
The meeting just made me more excited about The Manila Review’s first issue, which you can support by clicking on this link. (It’s similar to Kickstarter.) It made me really want this to work, so please help us out if you want to see it succeed, too.
So much has happened in the last two weeks, namely: 2 lectures for my illustration class, How Still, How Fast, and my descent into the abyss created by iPhone game apps, to name a few. Here are some stories from this wonderfully scary and exciting time.
On public opinion
More and more, I’m realizing that you really have no control over what other people think about what you do, who you are, how you look, and so on. Thankfully, my second solo exhibit, How Still, How Fast, was generally received well. (At least, no one had anything bad to say to my face, but, like I said—no control.) Long story short, some unkind words were said by some people, and it was frustrating and maddening.
I think the big lessons here are:
a) grace is a more attractive quality than anger, and
b) you can’t let these things get to you and eat you up.
I won’t let what strangers think of my work affect what I do, and neither should anyone let other people’s negative words get the best of them. Soldier on, I say, even if it stings at first. The quicker you can let go of unimportant comments, the quicker peace~ can find you.
On verbal communication
When I wrote this article for Young Star, I outed myself as a disastrous public speaker. I was a mess and I knew it. I’ve gone through three sessions with my Illustration class (3 hours a pop!) and I think I am relatively unscathed. There is definitely room for lots of improvement, but I won’t beat myself up about it.
Last week, I was filmed answering a few basic questions and I got tongue-tied. I panicked and said the first thing that came to my mind—even though it was not something that I wanted to say. This incident reminds me of my first-ever Philiosophy class.
My prof said: “If you can’t say it, then you’re not thinking it.” At the time, I thought it was preposterous—Not everyone can speak well! I said—but now, I do believe that he had a point.
At the exact moment that I falter because of speaking, I do not think about what I ought to say. I am thinking about how stupid I must sound, and how dumb I must loook, and how I wish I were somewhere else. I don’t think about my answers, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I should and what I want to say.
I just prioritize freaking out over articulating what I think. Unintentionally, of course, but you see, I’m a spaz.
On how hard work pays off
There are people who are so naturally gifted, it makes you want to punch them (under the guise of friendly sparring), and there are those who have to work to get where they want to be. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how it seems really hard to get to where I want to be. Often, I feel guilty that my main priority in life is to be thought of as someone who is good at what I do, when there are other things to worry about, like human rights violators and endangered species—but that’s another story.
Though it’s frustrating to see people take short-cuts and fly to the top, I am humbled every time I stop looking up and fixating on those people, and realize that so many other people actually take the time to work on their craft instead of looking for shorter routes to success and recognition.
I realize how important it is to understand what you are doing, and why you are doing things, as well as building a foundation for your artistry and honing your skills, as well as discovering new ones. This might not get me to high places right now, but—it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock & roll.
(LOL I had to, I’m sorry.)
On counting my blessings
Finally, an aspect that’s thankful. :) Sometimes it’s hard to look at the good things, but I feel that one must be grateful for the things that go right. Even if one doesn’t feel like being thankful. I struggle against counting my blessings sometimes, but I find that when I give into the part of myself that just nags at me to be thankful, I actually do feel better and, I don’t know, a lot closer to being whole.
Speaking of blessings, Erin wrote about my show for Lost at E Minor:
You can read about it over here.
A lot of people have been very supportive of my decision to be involved in the arts, and so far, I haven’t been starving. In fact, I have ballooned, but that’s a small price to pay. Mostly, I am thankful for the people who’ve taken even just two minutes out of their lives to be encouraging. Having a great support system comprised of family, friends, and even people I haven’t even met, is one of the greatest blessings I never asked for but got anyway.
When things get tough, it’s the best thing to remember.
Sometimes I think of little bits of things to write about, that have nothing to do with each other, or are only vaguely connected by places and things like that. Sometimes, they die their sad idea deaths, but I am hoping that together, they won’t be a waste of space. Here’s the first volume of stories, collected during my last stay in Hong Kong.
One afternoon, my dad and I went up and down Nathan Road, famed for its good deals on cameras. We knew that stores clad in neon signs made dubious deals so we searched far and wide for the little shop that was his go-to. It wasn’t there anymore. So, we scoured the stores to look for good deals, and when it seems too good to be true, be warned, it often is.
Sometimes, waiting just a little bit longer gives you a way better deal than you ever thought possible. At least, I know this to be true for myself.