Putting Stubbornness to Good Use

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Wide Open Pets

“I really think this is good for you!” said a friend to me over the phone. He’d been telling it to me in our conversations. All of us are stubborn in some ways, but few people can put their stubbornness to good use. So, I decided to put mine. “Have you tried it?” I asked him. “Not yet,” he answered. “Then I really think you ought to try it first,” I insisted.

“Stubborn” often connotes something negative and is a kind of firmness and insistence we all do not want to be used on us. And perhaps, we also do not want to use it on others. Most of us do not want to be PIN (pain in the neck). This reminds us of PIN sales persons and unprofessional network marketers who hound us even in our sleep, unrelenting until they have made us buy.

Nobody likes a guy who stubbornly does something that will just end up pissing off people, or worse, end up in harm. Like minding other’s business. Or gossiping. And how about folks who keep falling prey to scams or crimes but never learn their lesson? Stubbornness like that just turns me off. I was a stubborn guy like that.

Power of Stubbornness

But there are those who make something positive of their stubbornness. They just won’t give up and it delights us to see them doing it. Like the person who is too stubborn to let himself fail, so he keeps trying to hit high marks. Or the officemate who always aims for excellence in all he does and does it quietly. I had an officemate like that who won’t stop until he has accomplished everything perfectly. And he just worked quietly in his corner.

And there was this network marketer I really appreciated. Yes, he stubbornly asked people for appointments to present his product and business, but he let you decide on your own. He never did pestering followups (except for casual follow ups which looked professional) nor kept telling you about it each time you met (because anyway, he has presented everything well when he presented it to you), nor insisted that you buy. He never brought up the topic again with me but made efforts to follow up on his friendship, instead. So in the end, I bought the product and joined him. I never learn my lesson.

I once was stubborn in a nice way like that, but in a different field. I doggedly trained in martial arts until I perfected every move. I did it day and night and never stopped even if my friends all said I was in tip-top form and it was time I rested. I was stubborn. I just continued doing it and aimed higher.

The Right Stubbornness

Thus, in a sense, we should all be “stubborn.” We should all just keep doing things, over and over, even if others advice us to stop because we’ve done more than enough. But for stubbornness to be positive, here are some factors to consider:

  1. It should involve things that we alone are affected. You cannot be stubborn about things that affect other people or about what other people do. Don’t be a nuisance.
  2. You should be doing it to be a better person. Don’t do it to prove yourself better than others.
  3. You should do it quietly. Don’t do it just to attract attention. If you should get good attention, it should all be natural. If you have to insist on something, do it once or twice.
  4. Do it for a worthy personal goal. Analyze the goal and motive, if it’s really needed. The goal is often is to become a better person. And don’t make “worthy” goals for others.
  5. Don’t be a PIN. If you have to be stubborn, do it without being a pain in the neck.
  6. Keep it simple. Avoid great projects because it’s usually a sign of grandstanding and proving yourself to others.

Stubbornness Leads to Miracles

Faith can move mountains. We all have faith but few people have faith that displaces or “throws off” mountains. Often, it is faith “as small as a mustard seed” that does this. It’s just simple faith, nothing pretentious or grandstanding. People with this faith simply keep at it. They just stubbornly believe even if everything seems to be against all odds. They never give up. This is stubbornness put to good use.

Often, the key to a miracle is stubbornness. You keep stubbornly believing even if reality says otherwise. Even if the facts and evidences point to the opposite. Sometimes, stubborn faith like that comes when you learn to be quietly confident in God. You just keep still and know that HE is God.

Solving Gaps

If you are stubborn, learn how to put it to good use. And you can begin by making sure no one gets pissed off by your stubbornness. Most generation gaps have this at the core of the problem. Both parties stubbornly insist on their own values. To be sure, there are wrong and right standards, and right standards should be enforced and wrong ones corrected. But problem is, both sides are apt to insist their standards to be correct.

So most times, it is best to just stubbornly live out your standards and time and the just God will prove who’s been right and who’s been wrong all along. It’s like tea—we are all prone to insist that our cup of tea is the best, until one day, we realize there’s a better tea, and then we want it served bottomless. Because we’re all stubborn, some things are better learned by oneself. That’s among the facts of life.

Parable of the Hen and the Early Worm

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britannica.com

Each day before I start blogging, I first look out the door of our small porch to survey my neighborhood and often see my neighbor’s hen. It’s a funny looking, slender young hen with kind-of long legs. tiny body.  comic head and wide, wondering eyes. It roams around the street all day, always making a funny-sounding, desperate chirp while searching for food. Sometimes there are two of them.

Sometimes, too, I do my organic gardening and see earthworms crawl out from underneath earthen pots and squirm their way to some dark corners for safety. I discovered how earthworms often do their thing even early in the morning. They’re hard working like ants, though less visible.

So, there was this worm who often woke up late, usually at 8 am which was 4 hours later than he should. He slept late the night before, hanging out in taverns till the late hours, and slept at dawn. No way he could make it at 4 am because he was just beginning sleep at 2 am. So, the early worm often chided him. “Don’t you ever learn from the early bird?” the early worm said. “The early bird gets everything and leaves nothing for the late bird!”

Late Worm simply shook his head and started looking for nutrients and minerals in the soil to eat but found only a handful left. Early Worm got almost all of it. He was probably right. Still, Late Worm didn’t buy the idea of being early for work. He saw a drawback but couldn’t explain it. And anyway, he had nothing to prove his theory. So, no use arguing with Early Worm about it. What was important was that he was enjoying his life the way he wanted it—just enough food, plenty of sleep, and a happy nightlife.

Then one day, at about 5 am, I saw Miss Hen frantically searching for food at Mr. Bean’s front yard (one neighbor looked like Mr. Bean). She found none and hurriedly transferred to my front yard. And there she met Early Worm. “Good morning, Miss Hen!” Early Worm shouted. And that was the last we heard of him.

Thus, Late Worm finally proved his theory. “The early bird gets the early worm.” Not all early undertakings are good, he reasoned. For the bird, it was advantageous. But not for the early worm. There is a right time for everything.

LESSON: A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, [Ecclesiastes 2.24].

Just remember, everything in moderation.

I’d like to conclude with the true story of my Uncle Frank. He was always early for work. But one time, he was late. But it was a fortunate tardiness, a blessing in disguise—if he had been 10 minutes earlier for work, he would have been one of those who died in the collapse of Twin Towers, World Trace Center in New York City during the 9-11, 2001 attack.

Why Would You Eat That?

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Eat—it’s one of my favorite hobbies. And I love food the more it looks Asian or Mediterranean. Not that I’m choosy. Give me anything that can be eaten and see what happens. Sometimes, I think it’s why I also like watching zombie movies now and then. Just watch how they eat. I don’t know, but I love seeing people devouring food with such gusto.

But what I can’t understand is why people can’t understand why I eat what I eat. Or why I like zombie movies. They think I have some psychological problems just because of that. I guess, it all started when I dipped hotdog in vinegar when I was a kid and ate it with rice. People found it weird, but they really got the shock of their lives when one day they saw me eat camote tops with rice, and nothing else, for lunch. “Why would you eat only that for lunch?” they asked.

Blood and Intestine. Anyone?

In high school, there was a time when I only ate banana cue for lunch. Among the worse I ever ate for a meal was probably grilled pig intestine (isaw) and coagulated pig blood (named beta max in the streets). I bought them on sidewalks, cooked barbecue style (you may have them rare, medium rare or well done) and there was an array of different sauces in jars to dip them in. But I preferred a fresh take-home sauce packet rather than dip my barbecue in the jars where all customers dipped theirs. Just to play safe. Some folks dip their barbecue there, bite, and then dip it again. You can imagine how sauces and saliva eventually mix in those jars. Anyway, the dips were a mix of cooked vinegar, soy, chopped garlic and onions, and a little bit of sugar.

There are two types of intestine barbecue—pig’s and chicken’s. Chicken intestine is smaller and has some bitter after-taste. Pig’s intestine is more delectable. In Manila, barbecued intestines and solidified blood are ordinary street foods sold on sidewalks and patronized by the masses for early or late afternoon or early evening appetizers or snacks. But few people take them seriously as lunch or dinner like I sometimes did. So my friend was curious when one night he saw me having barbecued intestines for supper. “Why would you eat that for dinner?” he asked almost indignantly, like he caught me in adultery and was ready to stone me to death.

“Why not”? I asked back. “You eat this stuff in the streets, right?” He nodded. “Well, It’s just like that, too. Only this time I take them home and eat them with rice,” I said. That seemed to enlighten him. The next day, I saw him buy take-home barbecued intestines he would have for dinner. He became an instant convert. After that, we often had fish balls with rice for dinner. I think we were among the first Manilenans to do this.

For your information, pork intestine is thoroughly washed and scrubbed with salt to get rid of all undesirable taste, odor and dirt and then boiled to tenderize. Sometimes, it is scrubbed with guava, too. Then it is marinated for flavor and grilled. You get fats, bad cholesterol, lots of salt plus some uric acid bonus. No other nutritional benefit, whatsoever. But it’s so delicious that lots of folks don’t mind getting arthritis later on.

It’s not just my meals that’s often questioned. It’s also my mental food. Why do I read the books I read? In college while taking Architecture, I often read books on politics, agrarian reform, law, communism and mystery-detective fiction, among other books. But not a single book on Architecture. So my dad asked me why. I really didn’t know why. And my classmates in Architecture also asked me: “Why would you read that?” I just said, “Because.”

Some Sort of a Scientist

It’s probably due to how I sometimes like experimenting on things. Sometimes, I’m some sort of a scientist. Other times, I’m just plain superstitious like the rest 😀 . I want to see what would happen if I mix things like foods in my “lab,” cook them, or if I read this or that forbidden book. I like doing it especially when people tell me it’s supposed to be bad. I want to know what makes it bad or if it’s really as bad as they make it look.

Of course, I don’t mean experimenting on vices like drugs, smoking or joining illegal groups or activities or experimenting on sex. I’m more into investigating radical thoughts and trying new or weird recipes. And often, I discover supposedly “bad ideas” or “bad food” to be okay. Life is simply keeping everything in balance, even good health and wellness. Yeah, sometimes you have to know how unhealthy tastes like.

Why would I eat this or that stuff? Because I don’t want to be merely dictated upon by people, telling me what’s good or bad for me. I listen to wise people but then I want to be in charge of my life in the end just the same. And only God and his Word are my final decision-Makers.

How to Demolish Frustration

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Frustration is painful, especially if you expected the best results from a reliable person or thing. The pain is worse when it comes to ambitions gone awry. It’s okay to be frustrated with how your cooking turned out, looking and tasting strange and far different from how it was pictured in the recipe book, and things like that. But frustrated with your career or love life?

First, Frustration Demolishes You

Often, recovering from frustration like that can be hard work, if not frustrating in itself. I remember the time when I couldn’t finish college due to a silly ailment. There was nothing I could do about it because my hormones dictated what I could and couldn’t do. All my future seemed to hang on the thin thread of my college diploma—and it snapped. At a young age, I was so worried about what job I could land on without credentials. And how about my future? My income source? In fact, my entire life.

That’s not to mention about my love life. With no college degree, no job and money, who would fall for me? Would I ever have a family of my own? How about my dream house and car? My dream gym and backyard vegetable garden? With a frustrated college stint, how would my dreams materialize if I’d just be stuck with blue-collar jobs all my life? My best shot was to at least land on pink-collar jobs.

You can just imagine how devastated I was when I became a college dropout against my will. Everyday was gloomy and uncertain. Everyone looked down on me while my contemporaries were graduating from college, passing board exams, landing on top job positions and becoming respected professionals. They looked at me as if saying, “What happened to you?”

At least my love-life had a bit of some color to it. Funny as it sounds, some girls still fell for me—pretty, decent girls at that. And I couldn’t understand why. For sure, they were not suffering delusions due to hunger, for they came from well-to-do families. And it wasn’t as if they were running out of admirers, because they had a lot. They also had high IQs. So what was wrong with them? Or was it something wrong in me?

So I had my share of frustrations. Sometimes I think I got more than my share of them. If shares of frustrations could be traded on the stock market, I’d be a billionaire by now.

Then You Demolish It

But one day I learned a great lesson in life. Frustrations are really weak structures that look big and strong, deceiving you so they can always stand in the way of your success. You know how sometimes, due to unconstrained anger, you throw a fragile plate on a solid wall and break it to pieces? I did something like that on the wall of my frustrations. But guess what. The plate didn’t break, but the wall did—in small pieces.

I was shocked. The big, ominous wall broke just like that with a small, thin piece of  dinner plate. And all along I thought I was stuck with that wall of frustrations for life. All those wasted times that I let it intimidate me. Again, frustrations. But not this time—I immediately hit it with my plate and it smashed into pieces. So that’s how feeble frustrations are. They easily break. Why let them break me?

Plates are God’s Gifts

What are plates? They hold your food for you, right? Often, your favorite food. So plates, figuratively here, are anything that contain or hold what you need and what you love. You gain access to all these through dreaming. To me it’s dreaming. At least it’s what demolishes my walls of frustration. I dream of the things I want and aspire for and see them rise up before me and uproot the bogus wall of frustration that has been blocking my sight.

There are lots of things you cannot have instantly in life but which you can immediately call into existence in your dreams. Once you build your aspirations in your dreams, they grow fast and push out your wall of frustration. Having a powerful imagination helps a lot. The thing is to build your desires exactly where your wall of frustration is, grow it bigger until it knocks off and replaces the wall. That’s how I demolish frustration.

That’s why I like dreaming. I’ve been doing it since grade school but had never mastered it until recently when I demolished my wall of frustration with a plate. I’m still not that successful but at least my walls of frustration have been demolished.

And I don’t mean you just keep dreaming your frustrations away. You’ve got to back up your dreams with real hard work and strategic planning. My point is, if frustrations still happen despite your efforts, don’t let it put you down, which is what often happens if you don’t understand God’s gift of dreaming. Everything God put in your life has a use. And dreaming is a good backup plan to fight frustration amusingly while you are still trying to come up with your Plan B.

Remember my frustrations above? Well, I landed on managerial positions, and even once worked as marketing director, even if I didn’t graduate from college and had no credentials to show for my qualifications. And my love-life? I have a smart, beautiful, kind and loving wife who supports me in all my dreams, plus two sons and a grandson who are promising material for dream building.

Believe me. Dreaming demolishes frustrations.

Stopping Awhile to Watch the Rain. Have You?

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Ateneo de Manila

Rains were often a hassle to me especially when rain got my shoes and socks all wet and even smelly after I wade through a street flood. That’s why I love summer. But that was before I stumbled on a revelation. One day I got caught trapped on a sidewalk due to heavy rains while I was waiting for a ride home. Then I saw it.

Have you stopped awhile to watch the rain, I mean really watch it? Watch it falling in big drops en masse and washing everything afresh? It makes people separated by distance (and probably by preferences and prejudices) cringe close together, perfectly united to protect themselves from getting wet. And I love the sight where people share umbrellas together for the same purpose. Sometimes they huddle and huggle in narrow bus stops and waiting sheds to save each other from the rain.

Rain does that. And if rain does so much wonders like that to people, I don’t mind getting my shoes and socks all wet. The sight of torrential rain hitting windshields and street pavements hard and getting everything wet becomes magic moments. You watch and take in all this, finally realizing why God created rain and rainy days. It still is a hassle, especially this side of the world where laundry clothes are sometimes still made to dry out in the sun (especially if you can’t afford machine laundry), but the way it promotes care and unity far outweighs its inconveniences.

Rain stirs up my fondest memories, too. I remember times when I was in grade school, high school and college and my friends and I walked in the rain and allowed ourselves to get wet because we all shared my umbrella. There was a time when my high school classmate and I decided to walk the length of Rizal Avenue one rainy afternoon from A. Bonifacio to Blumentritt to Carriedo. In the rain, you freely talk about a lot of things and not realize how far you’ve gone.

I love rain when in Baguio City where thick mists cover everything, leaving only the tops of pine trees visible or when I’m in a car watching how the world outside gets bathed in rain. Most of all, I love rain when I’m with my wife alone in our small bedroom and classes on all levels are suspended and we’re huddled together sharing silly stories. It’s also a good time to watch a good, inspiring movie on TV while you lie down together in bed. One time we did this watching, “Daig Ka ng Lola Ko.”

I used to complain a lot about rain, especially thunderstorms. I still hate thunderstorms, especially the way it affects our internet connection. But then I realize how it’s an opportunity to rest my eyes and turn it from staring at the PC screen all day to looking out the window, afar, watching the rain and lightning and listening to the thunder and the rain pattering on everything, I immediately see why God allows thunderstorms, besides purifying and ionizing the air around with them.

The next time you have an appointment and it suddenly rains hard—and you can cancel the appointment—cancel it and stay home, and watch the rain…and be healed.