There’s a story.

There’s a story about overcoming fears. It’s old, rusty, and downright cliched. But it is my story before, and still my story today.

Most of the solutions is a lame attempt to hide in the luster of eloquence. In the end, even the remarkable linguist failed to keep the serpent at bay. All that, it turned out, was a cop-out. A debauchery of what reality offers as a solution to itself. A disguise that eats its way through the forgotten fibers of my being.

Reality will always be reality. Realize too that the traces of the paths we carve across time is a lasting echo of the narrative of our lives, exposed to the judgments of observers. There’s no reason, and no way, to erect a barrier against who you are. No way to prevent the jurors from deciding. No excuse on preserving the God-given luster of your beauty because the world failed to understand. For in the process of keeping its shine, you may lose its sparkle as well.

For my greatest fear, indeed, is not simply that we are powerful beyond measure. My greatest fear is the blinding light within, the greatest threat that my world, my peaceful abode, my comfort zone, will ever face.

The terrifying glow of the Holy Spirit within me.

Posted in Prose

Christmas Eve

The coffee shop has a strange hush in it. I wonder. The lights seem to flicker, like a candle blown by a soft wind. The bartender is silent behind the bar. I looked at him, and saw tears in his eyes. He seems to miss someone, with those eyes that tells of longing.

Outside is utter blankness. From a distance one can hear the steady murmurings of families gathering together, of children happily ripping open their gifts. Up above, they say, Santa’s making his rounds. I remember a lot of things during these times, when the cold evening air seem to pierce even the thickest glass of a lonely coffee shop. I remember a life well lived, and the regrets felt by a man who made mistakes.

Few Christmas eves left a mark on my head. The last one was spent walking in a dark alley, carrying flowers for the dead. The tomb had the same cold wind touching my skin. Was it her attempting to hug me in the afterlife? Cancer did no favors to an innocent wife.

But the child, where is the child? Two years ago, he was there, still laughing with a mother who was said to have survived. But nature is a serial killer. A freak. The tomb that I went into two years after a fateful Christmas Eve dinner contained two, with the death of one catalyzing the resignation of the other.

The battle still chills me. Two long years have passed and the cold wind still lingers in every Christmas Eve, stabbing through me in a bitter fashion.

I wonder why the coffee shop is still open at this time, but I’m beyond complaining. The silence keeps me from cleansing my thoughts of the past. All I have with me is an empty cup of madness, of despair beyond the comfort of tears that failed me. The cold seemed not only to pierce, but to live inside me.

So I left the sad bartender alone. He looked at me as I left, and with a nod, I could, at least, tell a brother how I feel his pain.

***

To be continued.

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The Medical Student

The Open House was in full force, and everyone was already tired. Most of them were in the auditorium, and there I was too, looking for a better place to be to rest. I’d like to avoid the cold in the auditorium, besides, I’m already done with most of the work I’m tasked with.

Ate Miles was in the Penthouse Lobby, talking to some of my batchmates, telling stories about clerkship and our own version of the “real world”. For us, it is really something to look forward to. We were lucky to be in St. Luke’s, where professionalism means being human towards the doctors in training. The stories she told us, it was surprising to say the least.

As first year medical students we are exposed to an endless barrage of information, ranging from the most useful to the seemingly impractical. The amount of knowledge being churned out each day is frankly unbearable, if not for the higher purpose by which we do it. I remember when Dean Carandang told us that before, being in medical school is a privilege in and of itself – it means you are a rarity, that you bear the intelligence to actually endure a lifetime of studying. This is not the case anymore

That’s why with the sheer ordinariness of the dream of becoming a physician comes an existential emptiness. The drive towards it becomes too muddled with individual purposes, of equally important desires of the multitude who were accepted, of things that almost drive yours to the wall because you have no great story to tell in the question “Why do you want to be a doctor?”.

But when Ate Miles told us her stories, I saw a steady wearing off of my emptiness. The drive to study, which was clouded by the need for some higher purpose reiterated over and over again just to motivate oneself to finish just another page of Guyton or Harper, or whatever book thrown at us, seems to be making its way back into me.

It’s just the way it is. I just want to know how to do it. I just want to learn to become a doctor. I’m here for the experience, for the life of a physician in the hospital. I’m here to be slapped with failures and be elated by minor successes. I’m here to celebrate every good grade that I obtain, and to weep to every bad one that I get. I’m here to live, because this is my choice in life, and I have no other way of living it other than living every single, beautiful minute of it at its full.

Posted in Daily Musings, Medicine, Prose

God works

God doesn’t mind how you believe in Him,
For as long as you do,
Where “believe” could mean anything,
But the passive whispers of paralyzed faith.

God doesn’t mind how you believe in Him,
For as long as you do,
Where “do” might simply mean to think of Him,
And know He’s there; but that’s not enough.

God created the world to be a good place,
But who am I to know?
For God doesn’t give me credit in this world,
In a vain hope for an afterlife so vague

God gave me the hands to do His work,
For as long as I’ve faith,
But I can’t have faith without the deeds
For I cannot preach what I cannot practice

God doesn’t mind how you believe in Him
For as long as you do,
Sola fide Non Sum

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Sands

Stars, may I see you, now?

Tender, this evening kills,
This boredom, decrepits.
But God does not sleep,
Yes he doesn’t bat an eye
But a foot.

Time winds down, and the arrow
Flies. Points to death.
In slow, creeping, murmurs,
I wait. And more I wait.

Tender is the night, deliberate.

Keep me in your pockets,
Stranger. Dear Stranger,
Thus, test thee in this tense
Titillation of tachycardic
Tenenbaums.

As my sweat seeps through,
Heart. Races.
Mystery, and wonder, what next?

Clocks wither.

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Why I want to become a doctor?

“I don’t know” would be the classic answer for me. Usually, I avoid the question for fear of being judged, most of the time unfairly. Sometimes too, by the mere fact that I’m thinking of being misjudged makes me the one who judges myself unfairly. Quite simply, it’s the “hidden zombie” within me that’s the greatest enemy.

There’s nothing wrong with the dream of becoming a doctor, all for reasons private to us. Sometimes we do feel that our reasons may be nobler than most who want it simply for the fame attached to the name. M.D., however, is no easy suffix to attain, and to do it well one has to love it all by itself and with the perks and follies that comes with the journey.

When I chose to become a doctor, I wasn’t sure myself whether my intentions are noble. Is it nobler to say that it is the only way I could reconcile my love for science and my desire for its practical application for the direct benefit of society? Is it noble to say that I want my family to have a stable life in the future, to help my parents fulfill their simple dreams? Is it noble to say that being a doctor is something that came naturally for me, without any childhood motivation, something which, in just a snap of a finger, just… felt right?

For those who have experienced the rigors of healthcare, and still want to stay, and to improve so that you may be able to help others more, I salute you, for my reasons are neither here nor there with yours.

Sometimes I do feel the naivety of my statements, and I can’t help but curl up in terror with the very fear of me knowing absolutely nothing about the thing I’m entering to.

But I guess there’s no reason for me to sulk in the corner and be sad about what I do not know. For the knowledge is there, parading itself in front of me in a tangled shape of arrows that tells the story of a molecule, or perhaps the story of the blood cell that seeks to be enriched before it is ready to be pumped out into the system.

Just like that, from the sweetness of existence, we will be degraded and recreated to serve a higher purpose that we might not know as of the moment. The remaining three years of medical school is the rite-of-passage where our greatest opponent is not our professors, nor our subjects, and definitely not our own classmates – for all of them are there to help us and nurture us.

The worst conceivable enemy I could think of is ourselves, subject to illusory standards of greatness that may prevent us from enjoying the experience. When stressors force us to shut ourselves up and make the whole odyssey a shackle that hinders our growth. And, above all, is coloring ourselves with expectations that others placed upon us… and making them our own.

Why do you want to become a doctor? I guess it’s something that should drive us forward into excelling. Whatever your reason is, keep it close to your heart, so that amid all the distractions, depressions, knowledge, information, whispers, and expectations, one thing is kept true within you: your humanity.

And if you’re still confused. There’s no need to worry. From the words of Doc Decs in one memorable anatomy class: “Everything happens for a reason.”

Posted in Daily Musings, Prose

To believe and to do

What divine providence withholds is what confuses us the most.

Faith is a confusing thing. Works, all the more. But the clash of two philosophies is sometimes just too much for me and my human capacity. Maybe I guess my threshold for confusion is lower than most that I tend to overthink some of the passages of the bible and wonder whether the truths I’ve held until now are really the truths.

But sometimes divine providence do provide an answer. It’s almost instantaneous that it took me a few look backs to recognize it.

“Act as if everything depended on you. Trust as if everything depended on God.”

– St. Ignatius of Loyola.

And suddenly a friend of mine, Neil Palteng, invited me for a talk on “How to Heal our Brokenness” hosted by Days with the Lord at the RCBC Plaza tomorrow.

I guess I need this one.

“Faith without works is dead.”

– James 2:20

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