On Courage

I was sorting through the files and folders of my laptop when I came across this question I asked the kids a few years ago. I remember saying and asking this out of the blue while we were discussing courage, then I typed down the lecture/question after class so I wouldn’t forget.

“When we were kids, we’d be the bravest people on the planet. We’d jump from the highest step in the staircase, climb the highest bars, swing from one branch to another; we were never afraid to get our hands dirty and discover. We were never afraid to tell what we feel. We were never afraid to believe– in Peter Pan, in Neverneverland, in Narnia, in magic. When we were kids, it was always so very easy to say the truth, and so very easy to say ‘I love you’, and ‘I hate you’. Then we grew up, and suddenly we start being scared. We develop all these phobias that were never really there when we were children: heights, darkness, water, elevators, enclosed spaces, bugs, and cockroaches… truth and love and commitment and honesty. We start to doubt, and question, and second-guess. We lose hope and faith. Why is it that when we grow older, instead of being braver, we become more afraid?”

And then a few months ago, I came across a(n) (e)book and saw this. I never got to share this with my kids:

“He’d never laid claim to being a brave man and he’d only got more cowardly with age. Strange thing, that — the fewer years you have to lose the more you fear the losing of ’em. Maybe a man just gets a stock of courage when he’s born, and wears it down with each scrape he gets into.”

The Heroes, Joe Abercrombie

I stopped reading after I saw that passage.

But only because I had other work to finish.

Featured image credit: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/qjd_Els_mSo/hqdefault.jpg

On Courage was originally published on PROJECT: BEAUTIFUL WORDS

Some Days: A Memo to the Tired, the Weary, the Exhausted

Some days, you just want to give up, yeah?

Some days, you’re all fired up and ready to take on the world, and some days you just want to curl up in your bed and just be.

Some days, you’re the hero, while some days you just want to stand still and not give a damn as you watch the whole world burn.

There are days like that, when the wait is long and the spirit is weak; when the heart yearns and the body aches and the mind just wants to shut down. It happens when you look at your dreams and you see that long stretch of road ahead of you, and you’re out of breath and so, so tired — so very tired — but there’s still no sign of the finish line. You look on ahead and you wonder if you’re even getting anywhere, because one step you take after another just leads you nowhere.

And then you see them. All those people running past you, all glowing and happy and energetic and on fire, on brilliant, blinding fire, and you look at yourself and you wonder when it was exactly that your own fire started to flicker, and why hadn’t you noticed it? You didn’t even know that you got dimmer and dimmer until it was too late, until you’ve all but died down.

It’s not cool. Some days, you’re just not cool at all.

Those days, those times when you’re most uncool, those are the times you’d feel like giving up. It’s easiest to give up on those days, when hope is but a flickering flame ready to die at the slightest whisper of the wind, and your body is one push away from keeling over. Oh, how sweet it would be to just stop running, to stop fighting, to stop chasing an impossible, impossible dream.

But then, if you quit, then that’s the end of it. If you quit, then that’s it. It’s over. You’re done.

And that sucks all the more. That’s even sadder. So, very sad.

So I guess, on the days that you are tired and nothing seems to be working anymore — not your dreams, not your plans, not your goals, not even your freaking body weight — stop.

Stop and breathe. Take a minute, or two, or five, or an entire day if it helps you sleep at night, to just rest.

Just rest. And remember. Remember your dreams. Remember who you are. Remember what you’re doing this for.

And if you still see that long stretch of road ahead of you, try not to despair. Look back instead and marvel at the long stretch of road behind you, and give yourself a pat on the back for getting as far as where you are right now.

Because on days you feel like crap, your dreams are crap, your efforts are crap, realize that it’s not really about how far you still have to go. It’s about how far you’ve already come.

Then maybe, just maybe, you realize that it’s not such a bad day, after all.


Karren Renz Seña
11 March 2015
Photo credit: http://kurtbubna.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Give-up-dark-street.jpg

Some Days: A Memo to the Tired, the Weary, the Exhausted was originally published on BECOMING CHAMPIONS

The Sorrows and Triumphs of Writing

Writing a book is never easy. It’s probably the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. You will lose much and you will suffer greatly.

There would be days you’d want to just throw your laptop away and scream, “To hell with it!”. There would be days you’d want to eat your own arm out of frustration. There would be days your friends and family would tell you that they’ve forgotten how you look because they haven’t seen you in a long time, because you spend every waking moment writing your book. And even when you are asleep, you dream of it.

In the dark of the night, you would hear faint, fearful whispers: “What if I’m not good enough?” or “What if no one would buy my book?”, or “What if I’m writing the wrong metaphors?” And then, because you are afraid of not being enough, you would turn on the lights and then you would turn back to writing your book. In fear, instead of love.

There a thousand different sorrows you will experience when you decide to write your book, yes, but there is that ONE powerful reason why you will continue, anyway.

Find that reason. Hold on to it. Grab on to it for dear life.

Because though there may be a thousand reasons to stop writing, that one reason you have to go on is more than enough.

Writing a book is never easy. But it’s so worth it when you finally hold your book in your hands.

So write. Write it in the best possible way. Write it in a way only you can.

I have had a thousand different reasons to stop writing Champions, but I held on if for no other reason than this:

I am a writer. Writers write. We read. We study how to write. We practice writing. We perfect our craft. Our writing is our gift to the world.

My name is Karren, and I have written Champions. My sorrow. My joy. My pain. My comfort. My defeat. My victory.


Photo credit: http://www.thewrittenwarrior.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/artwork_inspirational_typewriters_writing_art_write_writer_1920x1080_65921.jpg

The Sorrows and Triumphs of Writing was originally published on BECOMING CHAMPIONS

Bookmarks (For Mama, For Buddy, For B)

I’ve always believed that a person’s life is a book with a never-ending story. Or at least for me, the story ends only when a person draws his last breath. Sometimes, it goes even farther, especially when you leave so strong a legacy, that the people you leave behind would continue to tell your story for you.

My dream is to have my story told, even long after I died. My dream is to leave behind a story so moving, that it may have the power to change at least one life. Touch at least one heart. My dream is to tell stories through my words- in writing, and in lectures. My dream is simple. To be a writer, and to be an educator.

Tonight, I am claiming those dreams.

But the price I had to pay is too steep. I had to break my mother’s heart. Again. And I am so sorry, but I cannot stay one minute longer in this particular chapter of my story, my life. I am so sorry.

I am so sorry.

I’ve spent four years pushing myself to do what you need me to do. I’ve spent four years working for you, with you. And I can’t anymore. So many doors have closed, so many opportunities I have missed. I cannot let this one go, because Ma, one day, they’d stop coming. And then where would I be?

I’m so sorry I had to leave you behind. But I have to run my own race. I’m sorry I can’t give you more time. It is selfish of me, but I have to go. I am so sorry. You have given me so much, and I am ashamed that I cannot give even half of it in return, but I cannot let my dreams wait anymore. They’re leaving me behind, and I can’t let that happen. I am so sorry.

I’ve breezed through so many chapters of my life already, and through it all, there’s always one constant character who stands by me, no matter what. Thank you, Buddy, for being the one constant person in my story. People may come and go, my heart would always break and mend, I would either win or lose, but I know that you would always be there for me. You are the one character that I would bring with me, up until the very last page. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Our promise, what was it again? Liliparin ang langit, gagapangin ang impyerno. Basta magkasama tayo, walang iwanan. I know you’ll be with me, even long after my book has been closed. Thank you so much.

Now, every book has its bookmark-worthy pages. Every book has its most memorable chapter. Bookmarks aren’t just for marking the last page you’ve read, so you can come back to it when you decided to pick the book up again; sometimes you’d put it on the page which touched your heart the most. Your favorite page, in other words. It is the page you’d always come back to, no matter where in the story you already are.

I’ve never once used bookmarks before, literally or figuratively, but in the story of my life, I’ve put that one single bookmark on the page where I met you, B.

There was a time where the story was at its most unbearable chapter. The pages were bleak, lifeless, and the words just flow into the pages, without making any sense at all. Turning the pages of my story was an unbearable task, because I know the next page would be as horrid as the previous one. And then one day, I turned it, and there was you.

And it was a new chapter. The best chapter I have ever had the pleasure to read and to live through. You made everything alright, and it is because of that, and every other little thing you do, that I fell in love with you. I loved you then, and I love you still. You gave me another reason to wake in the morning. There was a skip in my step that wasn’t there before. The sun was shining brighter, and the flowers were suddenly prettier. You put color in an otherwise gray life. I think, if I were to be honest, that it is because of you that I managed to get through each day.

Before there was you, I was rotting away, waiting for the day where I’d be able to break free from the routines of my life, and finally be able to live my dream. I was rotting away, because every day was another day for me to wait in vain. I couldn’t wait to leave. I couldn’t wait to finally run my own race, dream my own dream. Back then, if I left, I would have broken so many people’s hearts. And then you came, and you taught me patience. You made me smile again. You taught me love.

And every day is a new day for me to love you. As the song goes, Every day’s another first, another chance for me to fall in love with you.

I love you, B. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now. I love you.

The chapter I spent with you was the best I ever had, and it would be a pleasure for me to bring you into the next, if fate so allows.

There is but one wish that dwelled in my heart tonight,
That I may live to see the days where eight months would turn to eight years,
And eight years
Would stretch to eight decades.
I want to see to it that the story written in eight pages
Would have enough words to reach eight chapters,
And that the eight chapters
Would continue on to eight volumes.
And, if by Fate’s command,
The days that I would draw breath
Would fail to reach eight decades,
If, by Destiny’s choice,
The ink would dry up
Without reaching eight volumes,
Keep in mind that the eight months
I shared with you are best months
Of my life.
And that even if I run out of days, or breath or ink,
Remember that my heart
Would beat for you
Even long after that eighth decade,
Long after you’ve turned the last page
Of the eighth volume
Of the story of our lives.

-For the 8th. 020410

Tonight, I am now turning the page again. I am now stepping into a new chapter.  The pages are still blank, and for me, there is nothing more frightening than a blank, white page. Still, I am moving forward. I am now closing another chapter of my life, leave the bookmark where it is, and could only hope that the next chapter would be as good, if not better than the last.

I am the blackbird who took her broken wings to learn how to fly into the dark, black night.

I am the soldier who paid the steep price of freedom.

I am the dreamer, who dreamed a dream. But the dream will not turn into shame. The dream would be reality, because I said so.

Ma, I’m sorry.

Buds, thank you.

B, I love you.

I do hope that you would still be with me in this new chapter. There’s a better story waiting to be written. I hope, when I write it, I’d have the honor to write it with you still by my side.

It’s time for me to go, now.  See you on the next page.