Saturday, June 11, 2005

Thinking Aloud: Missing Comforts

It is, of course, possible for a person to survive without that much stuff. There are certain "comforts" which, if pressed, a person can learn to live without. Even if some have objected and called merely "surviving" as not living, even if surviving and living are the same thing, it cannot be denied that life is much more bearable with at least those things that provide comfort.

One of those missing comforts for me right now is the capability to go online. I have existed (there's another word in addition to surviving and living) for so long without needing the internet, and I am sure I can exist again. But, it is a missing comfort and as such not having it is uncomfortable. While the internet was around, I can communicate with my wife inexpensively. I can also satisfy my craving for more and more knowledge, download books to read, as well as give me the thrill of exploring. It also allows me to communicate my thoughts with the joyful threat of it being read by someone who may care.

That is what galls me the most about this lack of access to the internet, the fact that I cannot express myself when the stimulus is felt. For there are a lot of other "comforts" which is currently denied to me which I cannot gripe about (comforts some of which I am entitled to, most of which I definitely am not entitled to; which doesn't change the fact that lack of such "comforts" are extremely uncomfortable and frustrating). The object of most good writing is not a mix of ramblings with no one topic, or a lot of topics connected by the mere denominator of me. No; what people actually want to read is one article with just one topic and one treatment... and it was much easier when you had today to write about the frustrations of losing important things during a transfer, tomorrow to write about the indignities one must go through during the general introductions and the "getting-to-know" phase of being in a new place (especially if the people you want to introduce yourself to thinks much more highly of themselves than you; no matter how humble one is, and I'm not very, it is still an unpleasant experience being looked down upon), and then the next day to be annoyed at the household shenanigans.

Oh, why not keep a logbook then? Like a diary or a journal? Well, "been there, done that" and my journals are mere dusty, termite eaten books in a small box. Anybody who has ever written has always written for somebody else to read. It is a big lie that all we writers, good and bad, or especially the extremely mediocre, that propagates the lie that we only write for ourselves and only for ourselves. People who talk to themselves either have invisible friends, or they belong to a mental institution—these people have problems, issues, etc. Yet people who write to themselves are somehow seen as being... what? Heroic? True to their art? What a laugh! People write to be read... the reason why we want to believe that it doesn't matter whether we are read or not is because we cannot please everyone and it is easier to pretend that we have pleased ourselves.

For instance, I have always wanted to write the sort of articles on the level of TIME, Readers' Digest, or Christianity Today... you know, the sort of articles that discusses something in more than just three pages. The only way one can ever learn to write that way is to have as much practice as one gets, and I am quite sure that in the past, people are given that opportunity to grow. To grow, that is, one can be at one time not so skillful, or witty, or endearing, or any of those lovely adjectives, and keep on writing until one becomes skillful, or witty, or endearing, or any of... well, you get the picture. Yet, and I am at once admitting that maybe my experience is unique, I find that writers should be good the first time around, they are demanded to be good... or they just will not be given a chance. Well, at least, when I can blog regularly, I can have that practice, even if my readership is low, and the few "friends" who know about it don't find any inclination to read it... but I can practice, at least. And, I practice giving it in those little bite-sized lengths that this generation can stand to occupy their attention.

Well, that's just the problem: even if good writing manifests itself in tight, one topic, one goal and one objective writing, the swirl of ideas in my head now is anything but. I hate the whole process of transferring to a new place (I know I can write at length about that), I hate having to get to know new people again (ditto), I hate having to lose my stuff (ditto; oh, heck! ditto for the rest of the list), I miss my wife, I feel so unwanted, I feel so unneeded, and I don't know what I want to do with my life. They are all a jumble, and as such, when they remain a jumble in my head, and nobody understands a jumble, it drives me to lethargy. When I write, I take the first steps to understanding myself, the world around me and my place in it; at least, insofar as those subjects that I write about.

But I am not immune to criticism... I have ever wanted to please. Who can I please? So far, very few; so even in this, one of my beloved activities, I find myself mediocre.

The one thing that stands so clear in my mind, in bold 40 point type, is that with money comes happiness. All the people who have much more money than I are happier than I am. The answer seems to be simple: just get a good enough job that supplies that money. Yet, to get those sort of jobs, one must first have money: to study for, to prepare for, to seek, to find, to keep the job. Some have argued that I am smart. Well, no matter how smart one is, if one doesn't have the money, that all one guy will be: merely smart. I want to give my wife and family a better life, and I know I can... but to get that better life, it seems, I must purchase it. I have tried so hard to start as I am, for years, with no success. Even those I know who have the smarts, even if they are not in the ministry, do not get plenty of money or security if they had started out poor. Yet those with mediocre minds and mediocre hearts, just because they were born with more money than they can spend, they are the doctors, the lawyers, the scientists... in short, everything that I have wanted to be. I have met a lot of people who, with their money, was able to acquire enough polish to be what this world would characterize as "intelligent" or "smart"... they have acquired accents, acoutrements and the "means" to be as "high class" as they seem.

Yet, because my Dad was poor, though his IQ is 152, he remains, well, remains the way some mediocre probinsyano can hope for. He has very little polish, though he is smart, and because of that, even if he is smart, opportunities are denied him. My mother-in-law, no matter how industrious and skillful, because she started poor, can only have the security of her own home, but will never be free from financial worries. . . . They deserve to be happy and carefree as the next coñotic around, and yet both have to work harder than they deserve. . . and for what? Neither are truly appreciated, if what little pats on the back they get cannot be considered "appreciation."

And so there remains just one logical question left to ask: are poor people, no matter how skillful or industrious, ever entitled to the same comforts that rich people have (even if they never earned it)? Are all people ever so equal to ever hope to be entitled to the same sort of comforts? The answer, apparently, is "not ever."