It’s birthday so allow me to be introspective and think deep thoughts about life in general.
It’s been a while since I’ve celebrated my birthday here at home. For the past 3 years, I’ve celebrated February 17 with an outward perspective by traveling to various cities abroad in search of new experiences and absorb foreign cultures. It had been some of the most amazing times of my life. From embarking on a Beatles pilgrimage to England with Sheryl and two of our closest friends Ronnie and Jonze in 2016 to an unforgettable trip to Paris in 2017 with the same gang but with the addition of our fave couple Paul and Bevs to a Euro tour with just me and Sheryl that covered the Alsace region of France, Luxembourg, and Germany last year.
Today is different. Today is all about a journey as important as any trip to faraway lands to learn about peoples and places. Today is about the journey to my own self to get a better understanding and assessment of my life. While this trip doesn’t cost anything in dollars, it does cost a whole lot in terms of emotional and spiritual capital.
So what have I learned in this special natal day journey?
Earlier today, Sheryl, Ronnie, and I went to Chinatown to have a birthday brunch at the famous Jing Fong restaurant. While we had an amazing meal made up of world-class braised chicken feet, crab shumai, offal soup, roast duck, BBQ pork, beef and shrimp dumplings, steamed Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, and bean curds with sweet ginger syrup, it was our conversation at the dinning table that had a more profound effect for there we talked about the importance of opening up to fellow human beings , especially in a modern world that is slowly closing up due to extreme cynicism and general distrust.
How many of us have stopped connecting with friends and family on social media due to the toxic environment it nurtures?
How many of us have stopped sharing important life events with family and friends due to scars brought by political differences?
How many of us have decided to withdraw from this noisy world and find solace in our own isolation?
How many of us have found ourselves in the middle of a crowd yet feel completely alone?
We were promised that the Internet will bring us all together yet why is it that more and more of us are being driven apart?
The truth is, regardless of the pitfalls of social media and information technology in general, the real culprit that caused our dystopian disconnect is us. We stopped connecting despite the fact that we have all the means to do so. We started believing that we do not need other human beings to be happy. We do!
We need each other and we have to do everything to connect with one another. Have brunch with your friends, see a movie with your family, send someone a nice thoughtful note, share your knowledge with people, work with peers, inspire others, and help everyone you can.
I Will Not Be Afraid
We have all become afraid to reach out and connect because of the possible repercussions. I had been guilty of this. I had shunned many invitations to networking events for fear of being used by new acquaintances. I had ignored people who reached out to me for help for fear of being exposed to abuse. I had been scared to open up to people for fear of being judged and misunderstood. I will not be afraid anymore. The opportunity to help someone and win a friend is worth every risk of being judged, abused, and used.
I am not somebody who can directly make a difference in people’s lives. I’m not a pastor, priest, doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, or a scientist. All I can do is write, draw, and make music hoping to maybe inspire someone to make change in their lives with a few words, scribbles, and melodies.
In the creative world, it is very easy to lose faith in one’s self and fall into the depths self doubt when your work doesn’t get the acclaim nor the monetary reward that you expect. But for me, It only takes one person to feel something about my work to assure me that all the work I’ve put in was worth it.
I had always thought of my band back in college as a failure and sadly, sometimes, an embarrassment. While we recorded two albums and toured for long periods of time, our songs never amounted to anything and so did the band. So I never looked back and appreciated the work I did until 2012, when I decided to regroup with my old pals for a one night reunion gig. It was a weird show because we called it a reunion gig even though we were so obscure, nobody knew we even disbanded because to them we never existed in the first place. But just to feel good about ourselves, we pretended people cared.
The show was attended by about 25 people, mostly family and friends. However, at the end of the gig, a group of guys came up to us. They were probably the only strangers in the select few. But what they told me change my life. They told me that when they were in high school, my band was one of the reasons why they formed their own bands. My jaw dropped.
Now, I always tell that story to my fellow artists who are struggling to find reasons to keep on going. So please, keep creating and keep inspiring.
I am home for my birthday and I love it. I am with Sheryl, spent two days with dear friends, and received warm wishes from family, co-workers, and friends. There’s nothing else I could ask for so I am thankful.
Happy birthday to me!