- Visionary - The annoying person in the group who always talks about dreams and ideas and asks everyone else when they gonna jump on the bandwagon (which is occupied only by him/her).
- Strategist - The realist who knows what’s going on in the world, can put together intricate plans for world domination, but doesn’t feel like doing anything about it because it’s too much of a bother.
- Administrator - The person who loves ticking checkboxes, scheduling meetings, writing agenda and minutes, and balancing budgets. Because numbers have names and feelings too, apparently.
- People-Person - The life of the party, counselor, and coach. Being everyone’s best friend, these folks are most likely invited to be a part of everyone’s groom/bridal party. In a few years, this will become their day job.
- Champion - The vanguard of ethics who does the right things and calls out the unethical behavior. The first person nominated to take care of public relations issues when shit hits the fan. Sometimes the last person to get invited to the afterparties.
Buys cars from in·sur·ance bro·kers
Left for a·ban·don·ment
And re·stores them back to sal·vage
Re·flec·tion of his life
Of re·build·ing post-ex·o·dus
Drift a·long o·pen Pa·cif·ic
Piece-by-piece re·fill his lost peace
Drift no lon·ger but drive!
Every now and then I tell people that I grossly bullied others in my youth, and they respond with disbelief or surprise. But it’s not as though this process of cultivating myself to be more sensitive to others have come easily. It took me perhaps 12 years of self-inspection to uproot much of the physical and verbal violence I inflicted upon others. And I’d say I’m currently cultivating my sense of emotional care.
The physical hurt I inflicted stopped in my last year of high school, despite my having taken taekwondo martial arts to hone my sense of self-discipline beginning in middle school. I used to beat my brother, and that messed him up emotionally. In hindsight that was a kind of hypocrisy I regret. But we’re doing good today, thankfully. He buys me food when I’m busy with work.
After a few years of college, verbal abuses slowly chipped away to become verbal “cuts”. In other words, it went from being “You need to lose weight you fat piece of shit,” at age 14 to “A little soft around the edges eh?” at age 25. I think now those verbal cutting has largely diminished, but I still have to be careful.
There were verbal cuts with regards to gender, i.e. “that’s so gay” or “you fight like a girl”; on origin and immigrant history “yeah but they’re fobs”; or class, “yo momma so broke”. It’s easy to fall back into habits and mindless remarking. I think maybe the reason I am perceived to be reserved and quiet is because anything I say has to be careful and deliberate. Sometimes it crosses over into conservatism. I remember Bao Phi asked me why it was so important to not curse and swear when I remarked about his slam poetry containing a lot of “vulgar words”. His inquiry prompted me to ask myself what was more important, politeness, or truth in one’s mind and soul being expressed? I chose the latter.
This current phase of my self cultivation is the art of emotional care. This is new and almost alien to me. My first girlfriend was at age 26, when I really tried to care for another person. The relationship didn’t meet her needs, but I learned quite a bit about being a partner in mind, body, and soul. It’s taken me some time to learn how to deal with her as an ex-girlfriend, i.e. not to be awkward, or dredging up the past, or hammering down the primal need for being possessive. It’s still hard, and for that reason I can see why moving on is easier than trying to subject yourself to torture/torment in trying to remain civil with your ex. But I remembered having to being very explicit in my thoughts and feelings; she wanted to know what I was going through. The exercise of assigning words to such fuzzy notions helped me to understand what were my natural reactions, and what were within my control. Unfortunately, I was still very green in picking up on her emotional signs, perhaps because I was so engrossed in my own introspection. I still remember failing at addressing her needs, such as when she got hungry after a major parade, or being supportive as she struggled through her campaigning for student council.
Around age 28, I remember an acquaintance of mine exploded when I unearthed her pageantry past and shared it with others, in a rather juvenile fashion, “Hey look guys, she used to be a beauty queen!” When she exploded, I reawoken to the fact that I was still causing harm to others, emotionally anyways. I wrote a poem about it, entitled DMZ:
over time the human heart becomes littered with landmines
playful children play in fields
one child frolics in the scarred earth
and a thunderous boom roars across the bosom of the valley
"don’t talk about that shit anymore!"
children learn to stop smiling
r e m a i n s . . .
It surprises me even now that I feel haunted by that incident, largely because I thought I was doing well in being thoughtful about others, but such beliefs were far from the truth. This memory humbles me to guard myself from the conceited notion that I am caring as I’d want to believe. I still have a long way to go.
As I’ve not mastered emotional care, sometimes I feel like withdrawing from all forms of social contact as to prevent harm to others by burying myself in work. But I suppose neglect is its own kind of harm. I’ve told myself that after I go through this currently greatest career sprint of my life (perhaps I’ll slow down next year), that I work on exercising my emotional faculties again; let it atrophy and I might become the very being I despise.
Would be easier if one had simply been born a saint.