Suffering is a Cookie: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

personal life, philosophy, pop culture, rambling, reflections, vegan

Suffering, I thought–as I bit on the half-eaten mango that I had stored in the refrigerator yesterday, is inevitable. There was nothing new to this concept: Buddhism’s First Noble Truth discusses the dissatisfaction that arises from changing states–hence, suffering is but a discomfort from a present situation which isn’t exactly what you expect.

But what I was wondering about was whether suffering was diminished the earlier one accepted it.

Solidarity or Shit: Chronicles During the COVID-19 Community Quarantine

film, gay, personal life, pop culture, reflections, vegan

Last night, I watched Netflix’s “The Platform” (El Hoyo), a dystopian science-fiction film which explores class warfare and how a threat could force people to cooperate.

I’ve been mulling about how the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the entrenched inequalities in our society. Already we’re seeing how the less privileged are made to choose between dying from hunger or dying from the disease, while the rich continue to believe that these people are merely being stubborn–lacking the discipline that is demanded by this enhanced community quarantine imposed by the Philippine government, when in fact, it is the very privilege these rich people have that allow them to easily follow the rules.

Love in the Time of the Novel Coronavirus

personal life, rambling, reflections, travel

All travel is fiction, you told yourself, as you walked around Ximending that cold morning. You’ve been too obsessed with getting the details right that you forgot that the experience is more important, the feelings you will take away from this whole trip.

Is There Really A Self? (& 10 PM Explorations of Being)

books, personal life, philosophy, pop culture, reflections
“Connecting Time”, an exhibition by Daniel Arsham. Taken at the MOCO Museum in Amsterdam, October 2019

A few years back, right after I graduated from college, I had to be confined because of depression.

In the facility, our days were regimented. We (the other patients and I) woke up at 6 in the morning, stretched for a bit, ate breakfast, did a morning activity that lasted for an hour or so, had lunch, then took a break. We had another activity in the afternoon, and then a quick snack, then a break before dinner. At 9 pm, they would turn off the lights.

During that period of confinement, I got to meet another patient, who was reading a book on Buddhism, which I ended up reading because I was bored with the routines. I remember being engrossed with the part about anattā, which is the Buddhist concept of non-self.

Displacement Theory

personal life, reflections, travel
A puzzled dog inside Oma, a restaurant in Brussels where I ate one of the best vegan buffets I’ve had in my life

Lately I’ve been feeling a sense of displacement. It usually strikes me every time I come back from a long trip, as if I’m straddling between two worlds, one that is familiar and one where I am invisible, where I only exist as a random face, a stranger.

I know that home is a wonderful place to be in. I honestly don’t have the right to be dissatisfied. I enjoy a lot of things here that many people don’t. I don’t mean to say that with a smug sense of satisfaction, but to acknowledge that I’m lucky. (Maybe to say one is lucky repeatedly can be some way of humble-bragging as well, but…shrugs.)

The Weight of a Life in Wonder

personal life, reflections, travel

At certain moments of your life, the question comes, during a pause:

Selfie with “Untitled (Donkey)” by Jeff Koons, at the Moco Museum (October 2019)

What am I doing here?

What the hell am I doing here?

Of Grit and Grace

personal life, reflections

Much has been said about persistence and perseverance: how, if you are only forceful and determined enough, you could achieve whatever it is that you set your mind to.

A wall of photos and business cards (Vietnam, 2014)