Owls and Excellence

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I’ve visited the local zoo with my adoptive daughter (well, she adopted me as her dad, really, so how can I refuse an angel’s request) and the rest of the family. I was glad to have the chance to visit the animals; it brought back a lot of good childhood memories.

However, I digress. So I’ll cut that story short, and get onto my actual topic.

I’m consumed with the thought of excellence since Friday, last week. Mostly, it’s because I see people in our office who just gets by through mediocrity. They slack off, and they even have the guts to complain about getting poor evaluations from me when they know for a fact that they didn’t do anything stellar. It just makes my blood boil after it has curdled. I was raised with an Opus Dei philosophy, so it just makes me feel indignant when I come across a culture of mediocrity. As part of my protest, I’ve been putting quotes about excellence as my chat status message, hoping to inspire even just one person to strive for excellence.

I say “strive for excellence” and not perfection because excellence is not something permanent — at least as far as I know. One day, I might be excellent, but if I’m not careful with what I do, I can fall in the same traps that mediocrity seems to lay out in front of everyone. It might be a simple headache, a shiny red balloon, or blinking at the wrong time, and what we have can be spoiled. Could we really account for all those minute variables when we sometimes forget periods after sentences or feel angry at bird poop on a newly washed car? I think not, so we can’t really be perfect — just continuously striving for excellence. Nevertheless, there’s always a vanguard for excellence, and that is vigilance.

For me, it’s vigilance against the illusion of perfection. Yes, I admit that I pride myself with my achievements, but I realize now that it’s unattainable because it’s either the absence of fault or the completion of all requirements. Saying that someone is perfect is just simply turning a blind eye on a minute flaw or saying that a high standard was met when in fact, it’s just partially fulfilled. It’d take an infinite amount of energy for us to really achieve that, making me think that it’s just God who has the capacity to achieve. So really, we can only strive for excellence.

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Quail Eggshells in Blue Bowl

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Quail Eggshells in Blue Bowl

So many people worried about Humpty Dumpty — even the horses who wouldn’t usually care about eggs — but maybe, they misunderstood him. He might have known what most chefs know: eggs can make more magic when they’re cracked and broken in a bowl, even quail eggs.

My Ex and I

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The way you perceive the world would taint how you take pictures.

Two days ago, I told one of my closest friends about this blog. Her initial reaction was like, “Wow! You have a new blog — again? Actually, you take better pictures than your ex, who claims that she likes photography.” While I was taken by surprise because my ex was mentioned, I felt that what she said was true; my ex only says she is passionate about it. In truth, she can’t push through with it, even when I was there to support her with all my heart. My friend continued to say that my ex’s photos didn’t have appeal and that she really don’t know how to take pictures. It got me thinking for a short time. Why do people say that about the photographs that she shoots when she’s the one who has a better camera and some training to boot? Considering that the topic was my ex, I soon drifted off to other better ideas to think about.

The next day, a former friend and colleague went to the office to get some documents about her employment there, and we got to talking. During our chat, I mentioned that I have started this photoblog. Somehow, this other friend was able to steer the conversation toward my ex. Then, she suddenly blurted out her opinion about my ex: “Well, it can’t be helped. The way you perceive the world would taint how you take pictures.”

Maybe, that’s it. Maybe not. All I know is that when we were together, my ex-girlfriend only looked at her life like it wasn’t interesting. She couldn’t find things to smile about most of the time, and she even confessed that she didn’t know what she was passionate about. Those were some of the reasons why we didn’t work out. I’d hate to think that it’s also the reason why she’s not excelling in what she considers as her craft, too, but it sure sounds plausible.

Like what I said before, I don’t know much about photography, but I’m willing to learn. I can’t really say that my photographs are top notch, too, but I’m serious when I say that I’m passionate about capturing parts of my life using (a very crude) camera. I hope that my ex wouldn’t get to see this post, but if she does, she realizes that negativity and halfheartedness isn’t the way to go. It’s really facing life with smiling eyes and blazing passion to look for and claim the things that’ll make her happy.

Thinking about Suicide

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I think that despair should be dealt with optimism; isolation with companionship; a cry for help with a resounding ā€œIā€™m listening.ā€

Yesterday morning, while watching Masterchef Philippines, I heard a tragic news bulletin. A woman jumped to her death from a tall building. According to the field correspondent, the building administrators tried to stop her, but they were unable to. When she hit the pavement below, her body literally fell apart, her head, disintegrated, rendering her unidentifiable. All I could do while listening to the news was to cover my mouth and shake my head in disbelief.

My mom was the first to react. She said, “So many people are dying, trying desperately to buy more time through drugs and doctors. This woman just threw hers away just like that.”

I knew that there was bitterness in her remark. She knows that her time with me and my family was drastically shortened because of diabetes and its accompanying complications. I can just imagine how she feels about it; to her, it’s really unfair.

On the other hand, I was trained to consider other people’s perspective. Coming from a psychology background, I can bet that the woman in the news thought that it’s her only way out of whatever hounded her to jump. A lost love? Family dishonor? Seemingly endless debt? Despair over a diagnosis that might have been equal to a death sentence? I can just imagine the possibilities. While I understand how a person can arrive there — at the edge of a ledge — I can’t condone suicide.

While it’s such a big responsibility, I wish that I could have been there to try to talk her out of it. I wish that I or someone, anyone, stopped her with a smile, a friendly hello, and a sincere question: why? I know that it’s simplistic — almost not a try at all — but I think that despair should be dealt with optimism; isolation with companionship; a cry for help with a resounding “I’m listening.” I don’t know if it’ll work, but it sure beats panic and worry, negative emotions that might have been the very things that she wanted to jump away from.

But it’s too late. She already jumped.

The next best thing that we could do to keep things like that from happening is to help each other be happy.