Monthly Archives: November 2009

Looking Through the Hourglass

She examined the hourglass carefully, looking at it as if it was one of a kind. Indeed, it was. She hesitated. She wanted to touch it. She longed to feel the smooth-looking glass beneath her gentle fingers. She wanted her fingers to slide against the varnished mahogany that held the glass in place. But she couldn’t touch it, even if she wanted to. The sand gently fell, creating a miniature desert underneath. Her time was running out.

The sands of time were streaked with different hues of red, blue, gold, and green. It was phlegmatic to the constant pull of gravity as it descended like water, amounting to the sand dune that built up every second.

This was probably the reason why time was important. As each particle of sand fell, the dune grew, and a second was wasted. Who knew how much time she was wasting just by staring into the transparent glass, fantasizing about what would happen if she rotated it.

It was just seconds before the mound was complete—mere seconds before time was done and over.

Finally, she brought her fingers to touch the object desired by many. It took courage, for she didn’t know what could happen. She didn’t know what to expect. It was cold—no one had touched its transparent glass before her, except for Time and his ancestors. The sand began to descend. What once came down now went up. It resisted gravity. The once colorful sand turned into a jet black substance of thick liquid. Accustoming itself to its new keeper, it made a high pitched clang—the kind when knife strikes crystal.

It vibrated as its dark liquid began to flow up and down, faster than ever. She wondered if this too happened to Time. She was chosen by him to inherit this beautiful curse. He was the last of his kind, and his corpse now lay before her, with the uncanny hour glass attached to his wrist with a chain of silver.

The liquid oozed out of the crack that had forever been there—a flaw in simple time. The cold liquid crawled up her finger as it proliferated throughout her entire hand. It stopped when it reached her slender wrist. A black chain formed, bonding her to the hourglass. She tugged at it, even though she knew it would never budge. The liquid crept away from the chain, and away from her hand, into the crack it had just escaped from. It left the black chain silver. At the same time, the chain that once was on Time dispersed. He was finally free.

Everything returned to normal. The liquid returned to sand. The hourglass retained its deceiving look of subterfuge. Moments ago, it had been on Time’s wrist. Now it was chained to hers. And it will forever stay that way, unless she too dies like Time. Death was her only salvation.

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The Huge Canvas in the Sky

As you walk towards a distant sound, entranced, you notice a faint rhythmic pattern in the crash-like sound you hear. You follow the sound of the constant beat and you find yourself in a place you never thought you’d ever end up in. Paradise.

The sky, a huge canvas bursting with colors far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined, catches your attention for it is the focal point of the picture—its very foundation. You realize that you seem so small underneath the varied colors of a fiery red, a calming blue, the citrus colors of yellow and orange, and the small, fine finishing touches of white and purple. The colors all seem to stand out and yet they blend as if united as one. The hues seem to know exactly where to go that they fit with each other perfectly like a puzzle piece. They look overwhelming, being so close to you that you could almost reach out your hand and touch them, feeling the colors penetrate your skin. The sun, sinking into the ocean for a long night’s swim, provides the light so that you can see the picture clearly and admire the silhouettes of the mountains, as the last rays of the sun appear to shine out of them. You feel relaxed despite the feeling of intimidation of the sky. For the first time, since you go to this uncanny and secluded place, you look away from the magical sunset. You find yourself on top of a cliff. The ocean under you throws a fit, its waves violently slapping the cliff as if holding a human grudge and you realize that it makes the same sound that brought you to this haven in the first place. The glimmering ocean reflects the sky, making it a brilliant red. You see the sand with no footprints, making perfect little sand dunes.

You sit at the top of the cliff, paradoxically feeling danger and serenity as you enjoy every moment of it. You find no need for music: Not with the beat of the waves and the whistling of the wind. You lose track of time and when you get back on its tracks, it dawns to you that it’s best to head back home. You take one final look at the scenery, picturing it for the last time, feeling guilty about leaving. Sadly, it’s time for you to go. You stand up and walk away, cherishing one of your last sunsets.

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The Commencement Speech

To the students of this school, twenty years ago I was where you are today, in your place, except unlike most of you—I hope—I wasn’t listening. I was too busy dozing off while the commencement speaker talked about her life. I was too busy spacing out, thinking about the future and what it had in store for me, that I probably missed opportunities at a series of lessons—lessons I had to learn the hard way years later. Moral lesson of the story? Listen. Listen like every speaker is worth your time. Listen like you were some international spy who needed to find all the information she could about something that was supposedly top secret. Listen as if the person speaking to you would kill himself if you didn’t listen. Listening helps a lot. It helps you, and it helps the person you’re listening to. It’s one of the few acts that benefit both ends. Just, please, make sure it isn’t junk you’re listening to.

When I first started working as a clinical psychologist years ago, I came upon a man whom I had diagnosed to have manic depression. This psychological illness, also known as the bipolar disorder, describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood. Symptoms of this include depressive episodes in the patient, mixed episodes  in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time, and psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. At its worst, it can closely resemble schizophrenia. Anyway, this man was of the cyclothymia subtype, meaning he wasn’t the type to undergo major depressive and manic episodes. He called me up one fine early morning. It was 1 a.m and being my usual selfish self, I told him I’d be seeing him later anyway during our scheduled appointment. I hung up before he could even reply. Bad move on my part. He missed our appointment that day. Turns out he tried to kill himself, but failed. He called me thinking I’d successfully talk him out of it. He failed himself by attempting at a suicide. I failed him by not listening. I failed him, I failed myself, and I failed everyone around him. I was more of a failure than he was.

But failures teach us lessons—they’re probably the best teachers you will ever have. I learned that everyone was worth my time and that if at first a person seems fine, dull, or rude at first glance, then I just had to look deeper. I learned to look into people, to be in tune with their thoughts, their feelings, and their whole being. That feeling of empathy—of understanding—suddenly seemed so familiar. I realized I had already possessed these when I was younger and that I had just forgotten how to empathize and understand. I had been able to empathize while remaining detached, and at that time when I was responsible for an attempted suicide, it seemed like the only thing that lingered in me was to remain detached. The call of reality made me that way. It made me make an excuse for my apathy and my detachment. It made me feel fine with an excuse to back me up. Two more lessons here: one, excuses are lies guarded and they not only make you look foolish, but they also do make you a fool; and two, reality brings out the worst in you and it’s your choice whether or not you will allow it to do so.

After years of humiliation and guilt, humility finally planted itself in me. It took a huge failure to strip me of my pride. Humility comes from humiliation—and I don’t mean just the word itself. Humiliation teaches humility; guilt teaches fear of making the same mistakes. And even if I had been able to restore my competency as a clinical psychologist, I still hadn’t been able to restore myself. Pride was thrown out the window and regret was always in sight, croaking like Poe’s raven, eternally reminding me of my “Nevermore”.

Apparently I sooner or later did something right—or maybe I got lucky—but a situation presented itself to me. I was asked to see a little girl who had been kidnapped. Having written a book in college that revolved around stockholm syndrome entitled “Keeping Her in the Light,” I was familiar with the syndrome the little girl had shown signs of having. She had become dependent on her kidnapper during the few days she had been kidnapped, and my task was to make her see the light—the truth that her captor wasn’t the good guy she made herself believe he was. I did succeed, thankfully, but that wasn’t the point. You see, when I said a situation presented itself to me, I meant that it opened a lot of doors. I had to close one door, though, to be able choose which open door to take. Know though that there will always be at least one door open. Anyway, because of this situation, I was able to discover that I had a knack for offender profiling. Without knowing the kidnapper, I was able to make accurate assumptions regarding his behavior, background, patterns, etc. based on simple case files. I tested this knack I had on stories of criminals on the internet. All the classics: Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, Albert Fish, and the like. Most assumptions were accurate. Things started looking up—maybe my luck was improving, or maybe God was telling me I was in the wrong field—and in a few years time I was out there, pointing out that a certain killer was insecure simply because he had broken every mirror in every house he had decided to drop by.

Thing is, you’ll never know what you’re supposed to be doing until you’re actually doing it. Only when you’re out there doing what you’re supposed to be doing will you realize you’re doing the right thing. Remember, when one door closes, another one opens. Heck, ten more open, actually. And you will be left to choose which door to take only when you have fully closed the door you’ve emerged from. But know this: All roads lead to the same main road; all doors will lead you to the same room sooner or later. It’s just a matter of taking shortcuts. It’s just a matter of knowing that who you’re meant to be is who you are. The rest will follow. Whatever road or door you take, you will turn out to be who you’re meant to be. And if you turn out to be a garbage collector, don’t worry, you’re probably going to find some ingenious way of turning garbage into precious gems. You’ll probably turn out to be the alchemist of this century, turning useless things into something useful, transforming the ugly to the beautiful. Or you’ll save a baby that was thrown along with the trash. Either way, you do something profound; you turn something mundane into something extraordinary.

We should all be alchemists, actually, in our own little way. Talk to a criminal, listen to him, empathize with him, understand him, change him. For life moves forward, recollections move backward, and you have the power to make sure history does not repeat its mistakes.

To the listeners and alchemists of this year, I wish you good luck.

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The Blank Page

So I’m struck and stuck with the infamous “writer’s block” once again, staring at an empty page, a blank void of white.  I don’t think I dare drink brewed coffee once again just to escape it and have words flowing strongly and quickly from mind to pencil to paper. Such a relief is only followed by my allergic reaction to coffee, resulting to a hideously swollen right eye. The price of good coffee…

But I suppose anyone can get inspiration from anything…even from something as dull as blank paper. The thing with a blank page is that it holds so many possibilities. Maybe that’s why we always have this hesitation when it comes to filling up a blank resume or a barren canvas. Writing, doodling, painting, or drawing something on something so blank and full of possibilities decreases the number of those possbilities. You draw a flower on bond paper and you cancel out the possibility of drawing a computer right next to it. You draw a piano and you cancel out the possibility of drawing a fish.

Or so it seems.

When one door closes, another one opens. You minus one possibility from your list of possibilities and sooner or later you’ll come up with ten more possibilities. The flower can be a desktop design for the computer; the fish can be placed on a fishbowl on top of the piano.

So what’s the lesson here?

Have no fear to do something new–to close one door–for another one will open. Learn how to turn one thing into another. Perhaps this is the “alchemy” of this century. You turn something as poor as metal into something as precious as gold. Turn an unused canvas into a work of art. Turn your unfilled notebook into a book of sagacious thoughts. Turn yourself into a better version of you.

Or maybe some of us can relate to that blank paper, waiting to be filled with something worth looking at and worth discovering. The teachers of this world–be it your parents or the world itself–are the pens that will stain you with what they are filled with. The ink is their knowledge, their experiences, and they try to fill you with these things too. Thing is, will you trust them enough to let them? DO you trust them enough to turn you into something worth finding?

This blank page ceases to be what it is with every letter I type into this contraption. Do not be afraid to cease to be. Changing yourself does not equate to your ceasing to be yourself. This computer too was once just something abstract–a thought in somebody’s head. But we humans have the capacity to transform the abstract into something concrete. That’s more than alchemy.

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How to Get a Copy of Keeping Her in the Light

As of now, e-book copies are available only at the Eternal Press website (http://eternalpress.ca). Copies in print will follow and be out in a few weeks both in Amazon and the EP website.

There are books of mature content in the site, so I suggest you go straight to http://www.eternalpress.ca/keepingherinthelight.html instead of loitering around the homepage.

Simply click on the “Add to EP cart” button and another tab/window will open, leading you to your shopping cart. Make sure you set the quantity to 1. It’s for 5.95 USD. You’ll need PayPal though. Those without a PayPal account can buy directly from me (remember, it’s still in e-book form as of now). You’ll just have to tell me so that I can inform Eternal Press.

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Release Date

You’re all invited to join Eternal Press authors at our monthly launch party! Come chat with us all day on November 7, 2009 at: Eternal Press Reader’s Group to celebrate the new releases, visit with our authors, and just have fun.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EternalPressReaders/

Then, help us keep the party going well into the night in the Eternal Press LIVE chat room http://www.eternalpress.ca.

Release Day LIVE Chat Schedule

7-8pm EST: Kari Thomas and Nicole Fuentes

8-9pm EST: Leigh Wood and Sherry King

9-10pm EST: J. Rose Allister and Valerie J. Patterson

10-11pm EST: Wendy Stone and A.J. Ryan

Come out and have some one-on-one time with your favorite author or discover a new talent.

SEE YOU SOON!

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