Saturday, September 11, 2004


It's been three years since the fateful events of this day occurred in New York.

I was still late at work rushing to get some papers finished for my boss at that time since he was traveling to Vietnam for the ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting as a private-sector representative, and later on to join the President in Japan.

We received a call just past midnight that the news was sprayed all over the broadcast media. The mighty towers had been hit. America took a sucker punch - before the day was over, there was reported loss of around 2,800 lives. I doubt if there was less, but probably there were more unreported deaths that day.

I'll spare myself getting worked up over the catchwords of violence, living as we do in a culture of violence.

It was also around the time that I left one of my previous jobs - one of a series of messy break-ups some people would call abandonments. In fact it was just my second day at my job when the attacks took place. While I was not meant to be with the good folks at the consultancy I left - I did learn one thing from them.

It was how to put a capsule of hope into a set of statements that will define who and what I am. It was not the first time I tried to put my beliefs and values on paper, but this was the first time I had mastered all the tools to make sure I can make these beliefs come true. In a sense, these were not only the things I stood for, but also the things I had always hoped for to achieve in this life.

On this day where the world remembers atrocity, I would like to remember those whose heart-wrenching stories I have not yet heard, because I have been too privileged to encounter them in this life.

And so I renew my stands:

I stand for truth, love, beauty and goodness.

I stand as a concerned citizen of the world, willing to contribute what I can toward making this world a better place.

I stand for a world that is moved by change, yet molded by the ideals I hold dear.

I stand for the cooperative work of all people, able to share peacefully in the resources of this world.

I stand as a unique and special individual, deepening and sharing my intimate relationship with my Creator.

I stand, open and waiting for the challenges that each day would bring me.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Defying Solitude

I cannot help but feel squeamish when I remember the time I recognized the stirrings of love. As the good poet Gibran says "Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. "

But first, one must learn courage to defy solitude.

This piece is for Cherry and Bobby P., who provided the inspiration and worked in my contribution. They also had the grace in first performing it more than 15 years ago. Thanks to Randy Crawford, who lives on in "senti" songs designed for retreats. It's sad but Googling "The Competition" does not yield quick results as to who composed the soundtrack. It's not a riveting earthquake, but that soundtrack played a part in changing a lot of lives.

And for Bambi F. (the memory of whom awakens all sort of squeamishness in me). My voice as the Voice Alone first recognized itself because of you. This voice is older now, and even though I don't know the what-might-have-been's, it's still nice to think of you sometimes.

People are gathered in the dark, illuminated by candles. The voices call out in the darkness.

The Woman
I am not who I was.
I am not going to be who I was going to be.
You changed all that.

The Man
I am not who I was.
I am not going to be who I was going to be.
You changed all that.

The Woman
You are not who you were.
You are not going to be who you were going to be.
I changed all that.

The Man
You are not who you were.
You are not going to be who you were going to be.
I changed all that.

The separate paths we once took crossed
And suddenly became one.
Our lives are no longer yours nor mine alone.
We could never have who we are now
Without each other.

The Voice Alone
I am alone.
In my dreams I walk deserted paths.
In my life I hold forth that shell
With which I ward off everybody.
In my work I do my best to grab it all
And keep all the credit just for me.
In my hours of loneliness I clutch
At my security blankets, whatever's there.
And in my prayers I cry out loud, HELP ME!
But I hear only the passing darkness
. . . and I feel the swelling blackness.
Yes, I am alone.

I am afraid.
As I move closer to loving another person
I fear risking myself, and losing my love.
As I spend the hours in vigilance, alone,
I tremble to experience my own insignificance.
As I stand between the paths of taking and giving
I dread of doing the wrong thing
And end up doing nothing.
And in my soul again I scream, HELP ME!
But no one listens to my plea
. . .no one really cares for me.
Of this I am afraid.

I am confused.
Bewildered by my own universe
I can't understand my own self.
Puzzled by the feelings of others
I never really have felt a fullness.
Mystified by God's grace
I abstain from seeking my own soul.
Confused about my own course
I refuse to care about my life.
And there my spirit shouts, HELP ME!
But I don't see my own hand
. . . I can't help me see myself.
Oh, I...I don't know!

I am angry.
Why shouldn't I be angry
When this world gives nothing to me?
Why shouldn't I be resentful
When I share no love with another?
Why shouldn't I be hateful
When I've never known happiness?
Why shouldn't I be furious
When everything's been so unfair?
Yes, why would I cry, HELP ME?!
But no one really has,
. . .because no one can hear me.

For I am alone, and so unhappy.
I cannot be anything else,
And here I stand, in my empty shell.
I nurse my fears and feel my way
Alone, smoldering at my weakness.
I have failed to love, and so must
Failure come in my living life.
I am alone, my loneliness
Envelops me, and I am no more.

The Woman
What are you looking for?
What do you want to happen?
Aren't you satisfied with what life has to offer?
Will you ever be content?
Will you ever know?

The Man
Then I will sing a song of companionship;
I will show what alone must finally answer these.
I believe these are to find
our own ideal of human love
revealing it in you.
Therefore let me take you
somewhere you have never traveled.
For who but we should understand love
with all its sorrows and joys?
Who but we should be the creators of friends?

All Together
People alone may go very fast
But maybe not so far.
Playing alone is still solitaire,
People alone may reach for a love
But only half as well.
People alone may seem satisfied. . .
How can they tell?