Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Voice

I know it was only for my own good.  There will be countless reasons to defend my parents’ actions even after nearly a decade after the incident, but it still sticks on my mind to this day.  I cannot talk for my parents but perhaps they knew they did something wrong.  Perhaps they did something right.  I really don’t know.  I was largely brought up with the infamous “tiger-mom” style parenting but if I missed something of my childhood, it was my privacy.  Tears were worth very little when I grew and I was told that “tears solve nothing.” I was bottling up my emotions that begged to be dispersed at such a turbulent adolescent age.  Time and time again, I was denied the right to express anger, love, resentment, jealousy, weakness, and other emotions that plague the heart so easily during those teen years.  After tears, my second attempt was writing.  And this attempt was perhaps the most disastrous.

Writing is a very interesting mode of expressing emotions.  It betrays your most inner thoughts even those that you may not think will appear on paper.  Amongst the arts, there are many ways of expressing emotion, writing, music performance, acting, dancing, and many more.  The curious thing about writing is how distinct each piece of work can be.  Simply by reading a piece of work, it is possibly to identify the author.  It is also possible to discern some of the history and background of the author.  With the other modes of the arts, perhaps there is this transparency to some extent, but definitely not as much as writing.  Take for example music performance.  When performing a piece, the music itself was some story which you attempt to emote to the audience.  The story may or may not be yours, but you draw upon your life experiences to bring the emotion that the author wishes to emote.  The overall outcome is one of ambiguity: the final presentation is a mix of the song writer’s emotions and the performer’s emotive lens.  Acting has even less transparency since the character you perform is of someone else’s imagination.  Again, you draw upon your own experiences to emote as the character would, but the best actors betray very little of their personal personality to the public audience.

However, writing is ridiculously transparent.  It is possible to write as though you are someone else, but I fear that the true opinions that you wish to emote only appear in your natural writing.  And what more transparent writing can there be than a personal journal.  I used to keep one.  It was my second attempt at emotion.  There were a whole lot of emotions in that journal; I remember because I started writing it one day when the emotions were running the highest, the most powerful and worst kinds to befall on any human.  Ones that I needed to let go of somewhere, somehow.  And it was all written in that journal.  I am sure you know where this story goes: it was read.  The worst part of it was not that it was read, but by the subtle hints I received about needing to curb those emotions.  Randomly, I was told that certain emotions were bad, or not appropriate for my age.  And that was when I knew.  I took every single one of those pages to the shredder and never wrote again for the longest time aside from school assignments and the like.  I learned all sorts of tricks in the meantime: to write mirror image in cursive, to write with my left hand, to write so skinny that the individual letters were barely distinguishable.  Only now do I have an idea at perhaps what was going on.  I was unconsciously trying to find a secure outlet of emotion and hoping that one day I might be able to write again.

It took me a long time to gather strength to write again.  But I write publicly now and with a pen name.  It protects my emotions which are still regarded as weaknesses but I have learned other methods to relive them.  Although I appear to be bitter, I am not.  I know that parents are not perfect.  The episode has served its purpose and if nothing else, I know that I will never read another’s journal.  Perhaps I am also stronger because of it and have been able to creatively learn things I never would have done otherwise.  It has taught me much about myself and my limits.  And best of all, I have learned how to come out stronger and let my voice be heard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Tiger of Thanksgiving

The plotting and the planning begins as yet another year of stampedes for the latest swanky gadget, the must-haves, and the Doorbusters (regardless of whether it is actually needed or not).  The ancient way of celebrating Thanksgiving has morphed into a sensational day of browsing through mountains of ads and figuring out a game plan with the members of the family who have come to share this supposed day of thanks.  A typical weekend goes like this:  Wednesday cooking, Thursday eating and planning, Friday shopping.  That it, if you even call Friday a shopping day… I would call it more of a hogging and dehumanizing day when people suddenly become primitive animals fighting for a low-demand resource.  Take any biology class and suddenly the relationship between humans and iPads becomes starkly similar to that of a tiger and the carcass of a zebra.

This year, it has been particularly interesting to watch the news as the day of doom approaches closer and closer.  Black Friday is now getting backlash (gasp!) as stores are now infringing on the day of eating and planning.  With stores opening as early as 8PM on Thursday, workers are now needed on the one day of the year that everyone is supposed to get off.  The worked are not really happy about that (after all, they also need to do some eating and planning, right?) and so they have threatened to strike.  Why strike?  Well it is so that if no one comes at work at 8PM then the stores cannot open at 8PM and corporations will back off on their idea to open at 8PM.  It is pretty simple and believable logic right?

Well, not so much.  Let us take an approach so that the shoppers are the tigers and the goods are the zebras and the corporations are some secret hunters that spear down those zebras.  If the tigers are really hungry for more zebra and the hunters are willing to send more dead zebras down, the workers that are threatening to strike are like the tigers that suffer from consciousness and are trying to prevent the hunters from sending more zebra by doing unpleasant things.  Perhaps they are doing a rain dance to prevent all the zebras from coming out into the open.  All of this to say, perhaps the problem exists amongst the tigers and not the tigers with relation to the other players of the ecological system.  Last year, we got a whole 24 hours to plot our attack of Black Friday and the corporations decided well maybe they only need 20 hours.  In fact, they are right; we don’t need 24 hours and we can more than manage our scheming with less time.  One of the great things about humans is that we so easily adapt to changing environments so the corporations at least got that right.  So there are four hours up for grabs and there is money at stake.  There are shoppers and therefore there is money.  Are you starting to see the same logic as the corporations are?  I am.  And what’s more, there are people who are willing to get 8.50 plus an extra 50% bonus to work those four hours; not all, but some.  And in this case, some is enough.

So you see, the problem of the destruction of Thanksgiving comes not from external sources like the zebras or the hunters.  It is all an internal struggle and very much a philosophical struggle between multiple humans and humans themselves.  If we are truly to bring back the spirit of the holiday and return to the olden days of simply giving thanks and not expecting any receiving gifts, then I fear it will take much more than a strike to realize this rather formidable goal.  To take the human out a tiger may be an easy task but to yank out the tiger out of the entire populace of human will take a far greater will.