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5 Things I need to do in 2019

The New Year heralds hope.

Well, at least, that’s what we all want to believe. Kinda like kicking off a new beginning after the previous 365 days of nonstop pain in the bleep. Call it our personal reboot, the time for some self-examination, and for cleaning up junk files, viruses and cobwebs in the brain.

The heart is no exception. While some take the heart to mean watching one’s calorie intake closely, especially if you’re over 50 like me, others with a bit more angst and rage (and a hidden split personality) ought to walk the introspective road.

That’s me right there. I like to look inside, stare at the internal abyss, so to speak, straddle the high wire between now and the tombstone and see what I can make out of the darkness below as it stares back at me.

How are my monsters doing? My own personal Leviathans must be hungry for attention. And those silent shadows who find it to their liking to rouse me at 3AM? What the effing hell are they up to?

What of the sundry things that I need to finish, accomplish, even achieve? Would 2019 be kind to one struggling for his place in a world populated in part by real monsters? God forbid they get in the way once I rev up my engines. I’m 55 years old, a man in a fucking hurry to get to where I need to be. Where my mind and heart choose to go, there are no traffic rules.

To answer my questions, I need to lay out 5 things for 2019. Five doable things, not the highfalutin, up-in-the-stratosphere kind of things. I believe in being practical, even though I dream big dreams. There’s no point in reaching for the impossible if the doable is staring me in the face.

Here goes nothing. Be reminded, though, that this list doesn’t follow any order of importance:

(1) I SHOULD GO BACK TO LAUGHING. As an editor, I don’t get to have much of this. The necessity to be ten steps ahead of everyone else has killed the laughter out of my eyes, my lips, my words. Too much study has left me exhausted. My articles are dull, oftentimes bereft of humor. I rarely smile in photographs, to say little of offline engagements with real people. I’m beginning to act my part—a soulless, humorless editor, one who’d rather rant than pant for joy. I make Stalin look like Dopey. Of course, I blame Duterte for it, but then again, we all have choices. One can rage, I believe, without being jaded. Mockery: now that’s something to seriously consider. I need to get tickled pink again. I need a good dose of schadenfreude.

(2) I SHOULD RETHINK MY FETISH FOR BUYING BOOKS. I have more books than what the Klementinum Library in Prague could ever boast of having (yes, it’s an exaggeration, damn it). Many remain unread; the ones I’ve read still litter my bedside table and larger shelves. I use them for future reference for manuscripts yet unfinished. I spent a king’s fortune on books in 2018, something no king would risk doing if he’s the kind who also spends on mistresses and concubines. While I don’t regret what I did, maybe this year I’d save up for a bed cushion. It would do my back and shoulders some good. However, I know this “New Year’s Resolution” would be a massive failure.

(3) I SHOULD GET BACK TO WRITING ONE ESSAY A DAY. Practice and more practice. That’s the secret. If triathlon athletes, porn stars and petty thieves can do it, why not writers? Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote that we need writers who can see past the smoke and ruin left by today’s insipid civilization, and behold a larger reality, one better suited for humans than predator lizards. There are so many things to write about, not just corruption in high places, a dick-tator’s sick fetish for finger food, and Panelo’s fashion statements. Writers are the only species of underpaid, under-appreciated professionals who possess the ability to imagine, and thereby build new and better worlds. Worlds not necessarily beyond the rings of Saturn or past the boiling caverns of a hollow earth, but universes where life and human dignity are possible and actually encouraged. But then again, there’s always Uranus to consider when contemplating on hurling these asswipes to their doom.

(4) REKINDLE OFFLINE FRIENDSHIPS. To shake another person’s hand. To hug real people. To hear another’s voice. To warm up to another human being. To snuggle. Fall off the chair laughing when someone delivers a good punchline. To be an actual human being to another. To send a greeting card or write a letter using one’s pen. To luxuriate in someone’s scent. To fall dead drunk on a physical table. To have your knuckles feel a bully’s chin. To scream putangna mo! in a friend’s face and thereafter laugh! As a journalist, to watch life more closely than before using all the senses—sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, extra-sensory perception, and all these cumulatively drowned in whiskey (which is nonsense). There’s more to being human than watching someone eat or undress in pixels. Our being human, some believe, is rooted in the Fall. Then I say: Fall laughing. It’s time to get my flat ass out of my writing cave.

(5) TO REESTABLISH BONDS WITH THE FAMILY. The idea of family is the best thing humanity has ever invented. Think about it. If you’re the type who thinks all your choices have turned to shit in 2018, and this led you to one melancholy day after the other, know this: you didn’t choose your family. So, you’re off the hook, no matter how shitty family can be at times. You’re not to blame. Horse face aside, the people’s fondness for social media had put a strain on many familial relationships: between parents and children. But in the same breath, allow me to say that you can both use social media to your advantage.

Allow me to be a little pedagogic at this point: Parents, stop trolling your children online. Guide them, don’t be their number one stalkers. That’s creepy. Rather, I suggest you spend time with them. An hour or two won’t hurt. A whole weekend could do magic to a thinning relationship. Likewise, parents should restrain themselves from commenting stupid stuff on their children’s Facebook timeline. C’mon, you know better than to creep up on your kids like that. Jeez. Be interested in what your children are interested in and take the conversation from there. If there’s something in their posts you don’t agree with, pull them aside—IN PERSON—and talk to them.

Listen first to what they have to say. Their world is not your world, and believe me if your kids ever catch you in a foolish post, you’ll never hear the end of it. So, don’t. As for the kids, don’t block your parents online. Just let them tag along for the ride. Social media can still do wonders for parent and child. But remember this: Refuse the urge to make memes of your parent’s weaknesses or flaws. That’s sick. You have something to say to your old folks, convince them first to treat you out for burgers and pasta and raise your grievances to them there. Not all things personal are political.

These are just five of over a thousand and one things I plan on doing this coming 2019. Wish me luck, or better yet, a million bucks. G

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