The World We Live In

2011

In light of the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I can’t help but take some time to reflect on the state of our world.

One of my major goals in blogging is to uplift (hence the blog’s theme of turning life’s lemons into delicious, thirst-quenching lemonade), but while I come off as generally optimistic in most of my posts, there is something I must admit: I am a closet pessimist.

used to be optimistic… when I was little. But then I was introduced to something called the world. Unfortunately, it was as soon as I went out and saw the world that I started losing faith in it. The church mission I served in the Philippines was a great learning experience, not to mention a character-builder, but unfortunately it opened my eyes to the frightening state of this world we call home.

While looking through some of the emails I sent home while on my mission, I came across a letter I had sent during what was undoubtedly the most difficult time of my mission. Something I wrote stuck out to me:

“Working in this area has really opened my eyes to the state of the world right now, which in some ways is hard to accept. Even in the lives of [those I love], I’m seeing this harsh reality. A woman… showed up to church late yesterday saying that she was late because her husband had attacked her…. But the harshest reality hits us when we’re out and about trying to [help people]. The other day, we [met] a… family whose father was stoned to death two years ago by twelve men who were drunk…”

And therein lies the answer to my pessimism.

Later on in my mission, I remember getting wind one night of a man who had held several tourists hostage on a bus. The man ended up killing many of the tourists before the police were able to stop him and rescue the survivors. As I walked home with my mission companion (side note: a mission companion is comparable to a business partner, though neither of us got paid), he was uncharacteristically quiet. Eventually he said to me, “Nakakatakot ang Pilipinas, ano?” Which is to say, “The Philippines is a scary place, isn’t it?” My response to him was this: “Nakakatakot ang mundo“–meaning, simply, “The world is a scary place.”

Who can forget September 11th? I was only 11 at the time, but I will never forget. It seems like the world has taken a drastic downturn since then, and in light of the Boston Marathon, the shootings in Connecticut and Colorado, and other terrible events, it doesn’t seem like the world is looking to improve anytime soon.

It seems that I am not the only one who realizes the tragic state of things. The entertainment industry–which admittedly can be the cause of the world’s problems at times–also seems to be calling for a solution. Here are a few quotes (some more inspirational than others) that have come to my mind over these past few days:

“Sometimes everything is just the worst.”–Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

I decided to start with the least inspirational quote of all. This quote is not exactly what you’d call uplifting, but it certainly is true at times. Luckily, the key word in this quote is sometimes. Not always. So that’s definitely something.

“How we deal with tragedy defines who we are.”–Chris Traeger, Parks and Recreation

Though the world as a whole may be taking a turn for the worst, we as individuals are not defined by the world we live in. We can rise above all the negativity that surrounds us… Admittedly, I’m still working on that myself. Any advice on how to go about doing that?

“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”–Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This post would not have been complete without a few words from our favorite vampire slayer. The girl died twice, for crying out loud! If anyone knows how to overcome the odds, she does. Granted, she’s a fictitious character (but is she, really? There’s a little bit of Buffy in all of us), but the lesson remains the same: it might not be easy to live in this world, but it’s definitely possible.

So how do we stay sane in a crazy world? There’s no sure-fire answer, unfortunately, but peace can be found amidst all the chaos. I personally find peace through writing, listening to music, communicating with God, and being with those I love. Other people may have different ways of coping, and that’s completely fine–the important thing is that we cope somehow.

While the world falls apart around us, we have to ask ourselves: Are we simply surviving in this harsh world, or are we actually living? It’s all terribly cliche, yes, but it’s true. And while I may have lost my faith in mankind as a whole, I still have just a smidgen of faith in the individual.

I’m sorry, did you want some macaroni with all that cheese? Sorry if this post was too cheesy. It’s just something that came to my mind when I was about to go to sleep, and I knew I had to write about it right away. I probably should have slept instead, seeing as I’m starting to work full-time tomorrow and have a number of finals coming up, but I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead. And on that depressing note, I’ll end this depressing post.

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Life According to the Killers

Music is one of my favorite things in this world.  I can’t really imagine what my life would be like without music.  If nothing else, life would be much more silent if music were not in it.  I listen to music while I exercise, when I’m in the car, to motivate myself while I’m working.  I connect music to memories ranging from family vacations to my first ever car crash, which actually took place earlier this week… but that is neither here nor there.

If music is one of my favorite things, then the Killers are one of my favorite providers of said music.  I just feel like I can really relate to their songs in a way that I can’t quite relate to other music.  Other bands may have the occasional catchy tune or inspirational ballad, but for me the Killers have always been consistent in writing songs that are not only catchy but inspirational. About a month ago, on November 30th, I had the opportunity to see the Killers in concert.  Best night ever wouldn’t quite do it justice.  Hearing their music so up close and personal like that really brought their songs to life for me.  Or, in the words of my very own journal entry written just days after the concert took place:

The-Killers-Runaways-608x608-608x400“I remember thinking throughout the concert that I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.  I couldn’t believe I was singing along to all my favorite songs, experiencing them in a way I had never experienced them before.”

As admittedly lame as it is for me to quote myself like that, the point is that I honestly can’t remember ever wanting anything to end less than I did that concert. The week following the concert, I found myself hard pressed to listen to anything besides the Killers.  During this time I gained an even greater appreciation for the lyrics of these songs and how much I could apply them to my life.  Thus this post will be dedicated to listing some of the best Killers lyrics and how those lyrics connect to my life on a personal level.  These will most likely not, however, be lyrics that most people are familiar with.  The two and a half people who read this will notice the absence of famous lyrics like “Somebody told me that you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year” (what does that even mean???) or “Are we human, or are we dancer?”  Instead, I will look at some perhaps lesser known but definitely more poignant lyrics that only a true fan such as myself would catch.


And I’m sick of all my judges
So scared of letting me shine
-Sam’s Town

We all have our judges, people who constantly try to bring us down and keep us from reaching our full potential.  They might not even realize that they’re doing it, but the fact is that some people needlessly criticize and hold others to impossible expectations.  Why do we do that to each other?  Can’t we all just let everybody be themselves?  Why do we want so much for other people to be like us?  Constructive criticism can be good, but when we stop listening to those unnecessary outside voices, that is when we can truly shine bright like a diamond, as Rihanna would say.

And the decades disappear
Like sinking ships but we persevere
God gives us hope, but we still fear what we don’t know.
The mind is poison.
A Dustland Fairytale

Time goes so quickly.  Life is short and full of trials, yet we push forward.  In my life at least, I have come to learn that everything always works out for the best, but that doesn’t stop me from fearing the unknown–that is, the future.  The mind poisons us, creating a fear that does not need to be there.  We can choose to drive away the fear and have faith instead… faith that everything will turn out alright, just like it always does.

No sense in holding grudges
And it’s better to forgive
These are things that I must learn
To practice while I live.
-From Here on Out

Sometimes people are going to hurt us.  That’s just a part of life.  I’ve tried the whole holding grudges thing, and it’s no fun.  It really does just feel so much better to forgive.  That feeling of anger, that tension in my chest like something is about to burst… that is something that I never care to feel again.  So I work every day to forgive others for the pain they cause.  It really is much better than the alternative.  Trust me.

You never know
If you never learn
You never shine
If you never burn
Battle Born

These lyrics are what I like to call simple but powerful, especially the second half.  You never shine if you never burn… what I take from that is that we have to experience the refining fire of trials in order to become stronger, happier people who can also help others in their hardships. There’s really not much more I can say about that, is there?

Last but not least, I want to conclude with an entire song that I think speaks volumes to everybody’s lot in life.  This song has literally gotten me through some difficult times.  I’ll even admit that I actually shed some tears when I first heard it, and that’s a huge deal coming from a person who usually displays the emotional range of a shriveled mushroom.  Here it is, what I consider to be one of the best songs ever written:

May your limits be unknown
And may your efforts be your own
If you ever feel you can’t take it anymore…
Don’t break character
You’ve got a lot of heart.
Be Still

Honestly, I don’t really feel the need to give an explanation on this one.  The song pretty much speaks for itself.

Merry Christmas, everybody.