From the Crosswalk into the Rain

When it began to rain hard this afternoon, I was inside one of the bedrooms with the blinds shut to keep the bright heat out. A deep, long-grunting thunder was nature’s alarm.In just a few minutes, the afternoon shifted completely, from a tortured heat to clouds weeping. The sky was white outside, still bright, though dulled slightly by the weighted clouds. The drops were heavy, made to echo even more forcefully under the roof of our old house. Oh how we’ve needed the rain!

I was busy reading, but the rain was loud and called me to walk outside to a roofed but open part of the house. I sat down a few inches away from the rain, the concrete underneath me still pinching hot. I watched the rain and felt the temperature’s soft drop around me. I recalled the last time I remember walking deliberately into rainfall. It hasn’t happened very often in recent years.

I sat there for a while. Happy for the fresh air that arrived with the downpour. But it wasn’t enough to just sit there and watch.

I couldn’t help myself and decided to step out into the rain.

I found my dad by our front door, enjoying the cool of the rain, without having to be in it. He watched me walk into the raindrops. I was smiling. He was trying to convince me I was under acid rain.

I spread my arms out and just walked around our yard, considering how strong the drops of water beat down. I cupped my hands together, wondering how long it would take me to collect rain in the palms of my hand.

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Later, I finished the book I began reading last night. I had made an informal pact with myself that to unwind this weekend, I would first turn to a book rather than my weekly episodes of The Voice. I hate that I’ve had very little time to read, or that I’ve made very little time to read. I haven’t read a book in months, and the last one was similar to watching a romantic comedy, but it took longer. (At the very least, I was entertained.)

On my way to a meeting yesterday afternoon, I conveniently ducked into a nearby second-hand bookstore right before arriving at a pedestrian walk. The cause of the detour was to avoid the awkward situation of arriving at a crosswalk when you feel like it’s about to go red for pedestrians but you can’t really tell – so you kind of make motions to move – but then you hesitate – then you realize you look stupid because you can still make the cross – but then you’re afraid you’ll embarrass yourself by being the person that walks across and is eventually honked at halfway there because the traffic light just went green — and you’re still in the middle of the road.

Yeah, I think about that stuff.

Even as I was in there for the lamest of reasons, I thought to myself, there must be a reason why I’m in here. Well another reason why I’m in here, not just escaping potential shame. So I looked at the first book that I found interesting, speed read the first few pages and a few random paragraphs from later chapters too. Less than five minutes after I walked in, I was crossing the road with new old book in hand (in perfect timing, I might add), determined I would spend a bit of the weekend getting lost in it. I was also determined to make that bookstore experience matter. It couldn’t have been just me cowardly running away from an awkward public situation that probably isn’t really that awkward to begin with.

I didn’t get lost in the book, I found myself in it.

Have you read Donald Miller’s, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”? I more than recommend it and I will most likely read it again, continuing to respond to it for weeks. And for months more, I’ll wish that I had written this book myself.

Here’s a quick excerpt, among many thought-provoking and action-enticing excerpts that I could have put forward:

“We get robbed of the glory of life because we aren’t capable of remembering how we got here. When you are born, you wake up slowly to everything. Your brain doesn’t stop growing until you turn twenty-six, so from birth to twenty-six, God is slowly turning the light on, and you’re groggy and pointing at things saying circle and blue and car and then sex and job and health care. The experience is so slow you could easily come to believe life isn’t that big of a deal, that life isn’t staggering. What I’m saying is I think life is staggering and we’re just used to it. We are all are like spoiled children no longer impressed with the gifts we’re given – it’s just another sunset, just another rainstorm moving in over the mountain, just another child being born, just another funeral…

If I have a hope, it’s that God sat over the dark nothing and worte you and me, specifically, into the story and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you.”

I guess it’s no wonder then that a few hours after I read those lines, I stepped out into the rain, and thanked God for such a beautiful day.

It wasn’t just another afternoon of rain.

C is for Coffee

My brain hasn’t taken a break since 8 am today. Even if it’s tried.

I blame it on the caramel macchiato that I started my day with. I haven’t been so relieved to find a Starbucks open on a weekend in an office building. I was running low on sleep, after a busy week and I did something out of character: kickstarted my day with a generous helping of iced coffee.

Har har har. Joke’s on you girl because twelve hours later your brain is still raring to go, but at the same time, blindly seeking the likings of a pause button. Or a break pedal. Or an open field with wild flowers to run my energy off, and cold, soft grass on which to crumple with relief.

Let’s just say I don’t do coffee. In the past it has, for me, only resulted in heart palpitations, feelings similar to that of a panic attack, or lost hours of sleep. I love everything coffee flavored. I love everything coffee scented. It’s coffee that I can quite manage in heavy proportions. Even if it’s poured over ice and drowned in milk. Heck, I can get an energy kick out of a bead of chocolate. Or a drizzle of caramel. Or a glass of water. Or a smile. Seriously.

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Thus, even if I want le brain to stop. It just keeps going.

Which was probably a great thing today. Saturday was non-profit work day! 🙂

From 2006 to 2008, I studied at an incredible school called  the United World College Costa Rica. Those two years changed me. Changed my life. UWC makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. The network is global, as each campus has about 200 students each year, representing more than 100 countries. The exciting part is that the real UWC experience happens after graduation. I have not stopped being surprised with how the movement continues to challenge me, as well as open doors. Not to mention, some of the most interesting and talented people I know, I’ve met through UWC, even in the years since graduation.

Today I worked with the UWC Philippines National Committee, helping facilitate the selection of two new young scholars to be sent out to international campuses. What an exciting process! This being my first year home since I was selected myself, I loved meeting the candidates and connecting with other members of our committee. I helped facilitate round table discussions on loaded debate topics while the formal interviews went on. I had so much fun (especially since I purposefully played devil’s advocate) that I would love to organize conversations like this just for the pure joy of the experience. Conversations like this were a norm at UWC, often without prompting. Would you give cash to the poor to reduce poverty? Should prostitution be legalized? Is bribery sometimes acceptable? Should developing nations place restrictions on rural-urban migration? 

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The second highlight of my day, which took the late afternoon and early evening, was meeting with the Board of Directors of my non-profit organization, the Buhay Makulay Children’s Project. It’s been a long time coming, and I finally had this key meeting. And just like my brain has been foreshadowing all day, I am now raring to go. Might I remind you that I moved back home because I wanted to focus on Buhay Makulay? Wait and see, wait and see. And pray for me. Big changes are brewing, and you can be a part of this story too.

In the meantime, hydrate.

More soon,

T

Dance Films that Move Me

Words cannot explain how entranced I have been the past few days with Iron and Wine’s music video for Boy With a Coin.

The first time I looked up the song on YouTube, I didn’t even bother watching the video and just listened to the song as I worked on a separate tab on my browser. A few plays later, after falling in love with the music, I finally decided to watch the video, made curious by the sound of people ascending stairs at the beginning of the song.

As a dancer, I gravitate towards music videos heavy with dance. This video captivated me so. It even got me dancing around my dining room late into the night.

Boy With a Coin. By Iron and Wine.

Elegance and intensity. But elegance made richer by authenticity. And intensity made powerful by subtlety. I may have watched this video ten million times in the past two days.

 

While I’m at it, off the top of my head, here are a few of my all time favorite dance-inspired videos/short films. In order of appearance in my life.

I hope one day to direct one of my own.

 

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room. John Mayer. Choreographed by Wade Robson.

So raw. So beautiful. Thank you Wade Robson for choreographing this. I love the simplicity and honesty of the filming and dancing.

Ariel. By Stateless.

This video will always remind me of the summer I spent in DC, when I first found the video. I played it loudly in my room when my roommate were gone. Over and over again. It may be the least dance-intense videos on my list, but sometimes when I dance, the imagery and electricity captured in this video is what inspires me when I move. I want people to see that when I dance, but without the need for special effects.

Thought of You. By the Weepies. Animation by Ryan Woodward. 

Right here, ladies and gentlemen, is the marriage of two things I love – dance and animation. The animation has so effortlessly and precisely communicated emotion through movement. Even more than that, it’s just such great storytelling.

Valtari. By Sigur Ros. From the Valtari Mystery Film Experiment.

Not only was this my favorite song from their recent album, but when I first saw this film I was left speechless. Time to watch it, people!