My Bucket List… and more.

I was thinking about the things I would like to do before I die last night while half asleep.   And I thought I could share it with my blog readers.  So here are the things I would like to do before my last breath, and if I do not accomplish these for some reason, that would be fine too.

1. See my father again.  I have not seen him in more than two years and seeing him for at least a day would give me satisfaction.  I don’t know him as well as my other family members, so learning more about him and from him would be nice.

2. Travel and visit Rome and China. These two places intrigue me. I learned about Rome’s famous paintings, sculptures, and architecture in college. I would love to see it personally. China is another country that also has famous structures, like the China Wall and Buddhist temples, that I wish I can see. I would also like to learn how to read and speak Chinese.

3. Learn how to play guitar.

4. Skydiving.  Although I am petrified by the idea of jumping off a flying plane. I would need to be drugged or something. I guess I am dreaming of doing something similar to flying like a bird.

5. Ride a horse.

6. Witness the cure for cancer.  I have known too many people who died because of this disease.  It is time to know about its cure.

7. Have a tattoo of a palm tree and a coconut, representing my daughter and my son, respectively.

8. Write and publish a book. (or many books) Or a comic book (I like to draw comics).

9. Own a house by a tropical beach.

10. Experience total peace and balance in my life.

Although I have the above things I wish I can accomplish before I die, I would also like to share the things I have already accomplished in my 39 years of existence.  Here they are:

1. I have two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. And I witnessed both of their births. My daughter is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and my son is a great chess player.

2. I have been married to the most wonderful woman; it will be 15 years this summer.

3. I have owned two houses.

4. I have traveled and visited Washington D.C. and have seen most of its historical monuments.  My favorites were the Lincoln Memorial, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and Mount Vermont in Virginia.

5. I have also traveled and visited California, and saw L.A. from a distance.  I have also lived in the Caribbeans.

6. I have spent plenty of quality time with the person who loves me unconditionally: my mom.

7. I have drawn and have had several political cartoons published in the local newspaper. I have also painted more than 20 paintings.

8. One of my cars are totally paid off and the second one is almost paid off.

9. I went to Kennedy Space Center with my daughter during a field trip. I have also gone to every Disney World theme park (both in Florida and California), Universal Studios, and Lego Land.

10. I have not lost faith in family and the beauty of life.

Do you have a bucket list as well…?  What have you accomplished so far in life?


We are dying.

This blog was originally intended to be about being frank… being honest with each other.
So I am adding this brief post about an ultimate truth…
We are dying.
Yep, all of us, in case you did not know.
If this sounds depressing and discouraging, that is not my intention.
I understand this may not be uplifting or inspirational to some readers.
But the reality is … we are all dying.
For those of us who complain about the weather, whine about the food we eat, criticize our neighbor for playing music too loud… the truth is, in a hundred year it will not matter at all…. because we will all be dead.
It is a reality.
I read a poem one time that said “Life asked death: ‘why do people love me, but despise you so much?’ and death answered ‘because you are a beautiful lie, and I am a hard, cold truth.'”
Life is not necessarily a lie, but we fill our minds with so many fantasies and illusions, that we tend to forget the truth about our deaths.
Life is short.  Life is precious. Life is a gift. 
So let us live life to its fullest.
Let us live each moment, as it is our last.
Let us laugh, forgive, love, give, and share.
Until we die.

The Ego is a Dangerous Thing

The Ego is a dangerous thing.  It inflates us to the point of admiring ourselves.  It elevates us so that we can admire our own skills and characteristics.  The Ego puts us on a pedestal to glorify ourselves.  It magnifies our abilities and successes.  It also keeps us deceive us so that we live in a fantasy of self-admiration and self-adoration.  The Ego is a illusion that  maintains us living in a fabricated world of invisibility and immortality.  It gives us a senses of limitlessness and security.

But the reality is that we are truly insecure.  We dread having to die one day.  We hate admitting our faults and limitations.  We are scared to face the insignificance of our existence.  We despise facing our fears.   So we hide behind the facade of security and certainty.  We disguise ourselves with success and comfort.  We overemphasize our images so that we can feel better about ourselves.

But it is a lie.  We deceive ourselves.  We intoxicate ourselves with self-righteousness and pride. We love to live a dream where we are kings and queens of our own lives.  We enjoy being the center of our existence.  We adore the images we create in our minds.  We simply feed the ego.

And the Ego is a dangerous thing.  Beware of the Ego.

Why do we mourn?

When we mourn a  lost loved one, is it because we feel bad for the person that is gone?  Or is it because we feel bad forourselves for losing someone?  And if thisis the case, aren’t we being selfish and self centered for crying when someone has “left us” ?  How can we stop being this way?  Can we not be this way?  Maybe we can stop thinking about our own personal “misery” when someone happens to leave this world.

Is it our purpose in life to grieve those who leave us?  Or should we be happy that they have left this world of suffering and confusion, with hopes that they have transferred into a better state of existence? And if we  believe in the afterlife, why still mourn?  And if we don’t believe in the afterlife, do we mourn because there is no hope of ever seeing the loved one who left when it is time for us to depart also?  The simple answer is that we mourn and suffer because of our loss.  In other words, we feel sorry for ourselves.

We don’t like to think about death.  It petrifies most of us. It is the ultimate experience that seemingly puts an end to our current existence.  We don’t know for sure what awaits us on the other side, so we rather ignore the fact that it will happen at all.  But deep down, we know it will. And we temporarily escape this reality by living superficial lives that continuously feed our egos.  We live as if there is no death waiting for us.  We live concerned about superficial and artificial affairs.  We worry about our looks, our possessions, our relationships, our jobs, our unachieved personal goals.  We try very hard to hold on to traits and characteristics that help to fabricate a false sense of security and immortality.  We like to pretend that we are not vulnerable.  Or we try to hide  and distant ourselves from others so that we are not vulnerable.  Either way, we are avoiding and ignoring the fact that we are eventually going to cease to exist on this earth.

We tend to fill our emptiness with the presence of others in our lives.  Do we prefer others to be on our side so that they can fulfill our needs?  If this sounds cold and inconsiderate, maybe it is.  But please bare with me for a moment and think about this.  We tend to try to make ourselves complete through others’ contributions, successes, and accomplishments.  There is nothing wrong when we feel happy when our children succeed in school, sports, and other special events.  But we cross the line when we become obsessed and angry when the children that we raise don’t meet our expectations.  Almost as if they have not represented us good enough to the rest of the world. We demand them to do this and do that, wanting to create little duplicates of ourselves.  Eager to see them meet our demands so that we can use them as trophies.    How self centered can we be?

We also become depressed when our significant others decide to leave us.  We are upset when our favorite political candidate loses the election.  We become upset when our favorite sports team loses a game.  We just don’t like to lose.  We simply don’t want to experience the emptiness that we perceive after we have tried to fill it up with others’ success.  And when this happens, we tend to try to fill up the emptiness again with another sports game, or another political candidate, or another boyfriend or girlfriend.  We keep trying to keep ourselves full.  Full of artificial fulfillment.

But there is nothing wrong with emptiness.  Really.  We are scared of emptiness, because it reminds us of death.  But emptiness is actually liberation.  It is a refreshing experience.  It can hurt, but it always heals.  It heals us from the pain that we have caused ourselves by trying to fill ourselves with artificial happiness, to simply find ourselves back to the reality of our emptiness. We try to pretend we have it all together.  We like to live the fantasy of owning our lives.

But the reality is that, nothing is really ours.  Nothing belongs to us.  Not even our bodies, the children we raise, the houses we live in, or the land we grow up in.  Nothing is ours.  On the contrary, we belong to each other, we belong to this earth, we belong to the greater universe.  We belong to God.

Should we ever mourn?  Sure.  We should mourn when others who are still among us suffer.  We should mourn when the next door neighbor has nothing to eat.  When the children of this world suffer from hunger, abuse, wars, and famine. We should mourn for each other, while we all still live.

Why we are the way we are



We are all insecure about our safety.  We all want to prevent from being hurt. From birth, we are conditioned to try to cope from the chaotic world that surrounds us.  As babies, we cry when we are born.  Why?  Because we are abruptly transferred from the comfortable, warm, and safe environment of our mother’s womb, to the cold, uncomfortable, unsafe world outside of the womb. We cry when we find ourselves suffering from hunger, cold, discomfort, and pain. As we begin to grow and develop, we develop  coping mechanisms as children from continuing to experience hurt from falling down, more pain, and hunger. When  we are cold, we cry because it reminds us of possibility of freezing to death.  When we are hungry, we cry because it is a reminder of the possibility of starving to death. When we hurt, it is a reminder of hurting until we die.  When we are left alone, even if it is temporary, we also cry because it is a step away from being nourished and, therefore, a step closer to abandonment and thus death.  Although we as babies start to explore to world and strive to be independence by starting to crawl and walk, this step of independence is hard to fully achieve if the sense of security from a caregiver is not felt as a safety net.

It is all about the fear of death. Depending of how our parents or caregivers raise us, we develop different levels of insecurities.  For instance, if our parents are protective and constantly available, a healthy approach of surviving is developed. On the other hand, if we are raised in a volatile environment, as in the case of adoption, foster care, or an abusive home, then our sense of insecurity is more profound and thus we develop more extreme ways of surviving.  When we are raised in this kind of environment, as teenagers, we tend to choose ways to cope with the fear of abandonment, hunger, cold, and discomfort (fear of death) by adopting unhealthy and extreme ways of  coping, such as using illegal drugs, getting involved in crimes, sexual promiscuity, or exhibiting violent means of dealing with difficult situations.  Stressful events in our young lives are a reminder of the uncertainty of life and the possibility of facing death.  We automatically react by engaging in these extreme activities that we erroneously believe will give us the sense of security we long, but in reality becomes a way of achieving immediate gratification and thus another self-destructive means to cope.  All for the fear of being abandoned or hurt again.

This way of coping with life is what psychologists and psychiatrists have called Reactive Attachment Disorder.  It involves two extreme ways of coping with life, by either being inhibited from engaging with others, thus being defiant, aggressive and isolated.  The other extreme way would be being disinhibited from engaging with others, thus interacting with others without boundaries, engaging in inappropriate sexual behaviors, and expressing inappropriate affect.

However, when we are raised in more nourishing, stable environments, our sense of self worth and self-esteem is better developed and we then tend to choose more balanced, healthy ways of coping with difficult situations, such as being assertive, diplomatic, respecting others, and following the law.

As adults, we continue to develop unhealthy ways of coping with difficult situations if we are raised in a volatile environment.  We tend to rely on drugs, unstable relationships, and illegal activities.  Our self esteem is low, and so is our sense of self-worth.  We continue to develop extreme ways of coping with life.  One extreme way is isolating ourselves (inhibited) , so we build up “walls” around us that protect us from being hurt again.  We do this by distancing ourselves from others, being shy, avoiding  social activities, and refraining from fully expressing ourselves.  In more extreme cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts.  We try very hard to create distance from others to avoid being hurt again.

The other extreme way of coping with life is overemphasizing our characteristics and skills (disinhibited), so we behave overly expansive and overly involved with others.  We exaggerate our interactions with others by being flamboyant, overly friendly, and intrusive.  We try very hard to overemphasize our skills and looks so that we can be accepted and approved by others, and thus avoiding being hurt again.

Both extreme ways have the same goal: Avoid being hurt.  Avoid being abandoned.  Ultimately avoid death.

However, there is hope.  Even though some of us may have been raised in an unsafe environment that may have triggered these extreme coping mechanism, we also have the responsibility to choose to overcome these self-destructive ways of surviving.

First of all, we have to accept that death is going to happen regardless of what we do.  It is a reality and natural part of our existence.  Secondly, it is important to take advantage of the great opportunities we all have to succeed in this life before we reach our last day on earth.  The two extreme ways of avoiding death that I mentioned above are ways of denying our true nature.  They are ways of preventing us from appreciating the present.  They make us focus too much on the hurt that we have experienced in the past, and on the possible hurt that we may experience again in the future if we don’t develop some way of surviving.

Therefore, we must concentrate more on what we have in front of us and accept who we are and what we have.  We have to practice self love by starting to believe that we are worthy human beings, no matter what others may have told us or how others may have treated us.  We must rely on our own self-assessments, instead of relying  on the acceptance of others. Even though we are social beings, our ultimate source of guidance and standards must lie within ourselves.

Alien Invasion

“War of the Worlds”, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The Blob”, “Independence Day”, “Arrival”, “Mars Attacks”, “Battle: Los Angeles”,” V” ,  “Signs”, “AVP”, “Men in Black”, “The Invasion”, “The X Files” “Cloverfield”, “Transformers”, and the list goes on and on. What do these films have in common? Alien invasion. Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that Hollywood, and all of us who like watching these kinds of movies, are attracted to the possibility of one day being visited by extraterrestrial beings, and not only being visited, be victims of an attack beyond what we, as human beings, have ever experienced. Why? What is the reason that we are so attracted to this kind of global disaster? It is almost as if we wish we are attacked by something beyond our technology. It almost seems as if we are not content with the stories that we can create about life here on earth, but want other beingsIndependenceDay to come and destroy us all. Aren’t we satisfied with who we are? Are we that bad, that we wish for something to come crashing down from the sky and vaporize us all?

Of course, in all of these movies, we fight back and end up winning. But the aliens continue to come!! There is no end to it! And I haven’t even mentioned other kinds of humankind extinction threats also found in Hollywood,  such as natural disasters (“2012”), spiritual raptures (“Left Behind”), and computers taking over the world (“Terminator”). It is amazing how much we want to imagine being snatched out of existence.

And at the same time, we don’t grow anymore as a community.    We continue to fight each other, to distant each other, to compete with one another.  Maybe it is a good idea if aliens come and wipe us all up and teach us a lesson. But seriously speaking, what is up with our ways of communicating with each other?  Are we ever going to learn to accept our differences, fight for equality, and give a helping hand to those in need?  We have a serious problem with communication, which can explain the wars that we endure.  We fear each other so much, that we close the door behind us when we go home.  We want to avoid personal contact so much that we are obsessed with using computerized social networks.  We all need to heal from our tendency to defend ourselves from each other.  We need to stop fearing being rejected by others, and be brave enough to communicate.  We might agree with improving our communication, but then we get up in the morning, go about our business, clock in and out, and go back to our homes, without making the effort of genuinely and honestly reaching out to others.  It is pathetic.  No wonder we dream of a world where aliens come and clean this planet up.  WarofWorlds