Escape Lessons from Pi’s Chapter 10

30 Jul

A big thanks to my sister Karen for introducing Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi. She was so moved by the story, she even shared me a copy of the novel’s e-book. Fast forward to today, which is nearly a year after, I’m still stuck with Chapter 11. I can’t remember why I suddenly stopped. Perhaps I got busy then, and when I already have the time, my reading preferences have changed.

While still finding my way to finish the book, I can’t help but recall the novel’s 10th chapter. It is short – just four paragraphs, and was about zookeeping and animals’ escape tendencies. The following is an excerpt of the said chapter:

Yet there will always be animals that seek to escape from zoos. Animals that are kept in unsuitable enclosures are the most obvious example. Every animal has particular habitat needs that must be met. If its enclosure is too sunny or too wet or too empty, if its perch is too high or too exposed, if the ground is too sandy, if there are too few branches to make a nest, if the food trough is too low, if there is not enough mud to wallow in—and so many other ifs—then the animal will not be at peace. It is not so much a question of constructing an imitation of conditions in the wild as of getting to the essence of these conditions. Everything in an enclosure must be just right—in other words, within the limits of the animal’s capacity to adapt…

Wild animals that are captured when they are fully mature are another example of escape-prone animals; often they are too set in their ways to reconstruct their subjective worlds and adapt to a new environment.

But even animals that were bred in zoos and have never known the wild, that are perfectly adapted to their enclosures and feel no tension in the presence of humans, will have moments of excitement that push them to seek to escape. All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.

Whatever the reason for wanting to escape, sane or insane, zoo detractors should realize that animals don’t escape to somewhere but from something. Something within their territory has frightened them—the intrusion of an enemy, the assault of a dominant animal, a startling noise—and set off a flight reaction. The animal flees, or tries to…

The novel’s lead character Pi may have been talking here about the animals that they have been tending at the Pondicherry zoo. However, one can see that the passages from Chapter 10 are also valid for us human beings (who obviously are members of Kingdom Animalia). While we have those opposable thumbs and large brains that set us apart from other animals, we humans have the same tendency to escape from our own perceived “cages” – our homes, our jobs, our society, our own selves, and many others.

Yes, it’s obvious why one flees to another place when he or she is oppressed in some way (think about those who receive below minimum wages and victims of physical abuse). However, I used to wonder, and even find it so illogical, why some people leave their current state of living (which appears to be capable of nourishing more than what one needs) for something that seems to be more uncertain and uncomfortable. Having gone across this particular chapter, it made me realize that it is just inherent for us to go somewhere else: a different place where we can seek the peace that we yearn for.


Dealing with Writer’s Block

23 Feb

For some people, spewing a 200-word, or even a 300-word, article every 30 minutes is a breeze. As if they’re a mean, writing machine that is clueless with the phrase “writer’s block”. I actually envy them for having such a talent.

And speaking of writer’s block, I’m experiencing one right now. See, I enjoy writing. Perhaps it can also be said that I write way better than I speak.  But sometimes,  fresh ideas as to how I’m going to write that certain article just don’t come near me. And me writing in the same tone again and again only bores me and, perhaps, the reader as well. And the “block” only worsens with the reminder of meeting the daily article quota.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about anything (the quotas, the deadlines, etc.). In fact, I want to keep it that way to challenge me more. More than that, I am also grateful that I have come to this point of living this dream. It’s just that aside from the writing ideas, I also get to a point where I have even run out of ways on dealing with the “block”.

Some of the things that I have done to ease out of the “block”:

  1. Shopping trip at the nearby grocery store
  2. Baked chocolate cupcakes
  3. Ate a full meal (and I only got sleepy afterwards)
  4. Checked Facebook
  5. Chat or text with friends
  6. Go to my  mini-store and take over my aunt (aka the self-confessed vendor) in selling snacks
  7. Surf the web (Good thing I came across this site by the Lantern Hollow Press about beating the writer’s block”).

I guess I have ranted enough about writer’s block. Am hoping to finally get into a “writer’s block”-free mode for the rest of the day.

My Reasons to Thank 2011

2 Jan

More than 24 hours had already passed, yet I still can’t help but look back from the year that was. Maybe because the year 2011 has been a roller coaster ride: a year of wonderful highs and terrible lows; a year where some dreams are fulfilled, and some outgrown. And with this ride, I am really grateful. Thankful that I have learned things anew, thankful that I am still living a life.

It is with this feeling of gratitude that I decided to choose the events, places and people that have highlighted my 2011:

1. The Pitch 2011 and The 21st IAVE World Volunteer Conference

A chance of presenting to the world our aspirations and advocacies.

HOM for The Pitch 2011

The Pitch 2011 Finalists

2. The Singapore Experience

    A fulfillment of a childhood dream destination

The Marina Bay Sands

The Land of Dreams, Resorts World Sentosa

Hello Sentosa Merlion!

3. My LB friends

     The crazy “kumares” who have made my LB stay enjoyable

me, Peeaye & Mari

me, Eden, Jenny & Mari

Peeaye, me & Jhal

The "shemboting" Unit 4 housemates


4.  My HOM family

The people who made me realize that though it’s good to always strive for the better, sometimes what one has and what one can do is already enough and worthwhile.

The HOM volunteers and the award-winning dancing lolas

My sweet birthday at Better Days

One of my dreams for these elderly is for them to perform again in front of a big audience. Here they are onstage at SMX , dancing in front of hundreds of people.

The HOM volunteers / sherpas after the Servathon 2011

5. The Corregidor solo sojourn

Corregidor Island: a proof that beauty and serenity still prevails even after the worst bombings and destructions.

A portion of the Mile-Long Barracks

A map of the tadpole-shaped island

A view of the island's tail-end

One of the island's famous landmarks, the Malinta Tunnel

6. La familia original 🙂

With a father who’s working overseas and comes home only after two or three years, every time together is a precious one.

My dear sibs Kevin and Karen

Sisters by blood and soul, Karen and me (who's the older one? 😛 )

Daddy and Mommy

7. Rosie Helen’s

The result of my failure to meet a certain standard, and the thing that has kept me busy ever since.

And Rosie Helen's was born...

Thank you 2011, ‘coz despite the hurdles, you were still kind and generous. And to 2012, welcome and I look forward to the adventures you bring. Cheers!

My Grandmother’s Piece of Advice

1 Jan

Marry a man who is a breadwinner, not a “bread-eater”.

Very well said, grandma. 🙂

On Who / What Can Be Changed

25 Nov

The epitaph of an Anglican bishop found in the Westminster Abbey says it best (Thanks Ms. Arina Nikitina of for posting):

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world.

Sana kasi sumagot na lang sa wikang Filipino…

12 Sep

… para mas maayos, mas malinaw at mas naipapaliwanag ng mga kandidata sa beauty pageant ang mga kasagutang ibinabato sa kanila sa question and answer portion. Wala rin naman sigurong masama kung magkaroon na din ng interpreter ang Ms. Philippines. Mga kandidata nga ng Venezuela at Colombia, armado lagi ng interpreter, pero laging naiuuwi ang korona.

From a book I’m currently reading…

7 May

… when you feel yourself becoming afraid of something, you shouldn’t worry at all… the fact that you’re scared only means that you have more potential inside you to be heroic.

Anthony DeStefano, Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers to Life’s Most Difficult Problems