Howdy! If you're a reader of this blog, please be inform that my writings have found a new home in this domain www.bonimanalili.com.

Photo Credit: el-lobo, sxc.hu

Hello there! If you’re a reader of this blog, please don’t worry, I haven’t quit or got hit by a truck, I’d continue to write because spilling part of me in reflective writing is one my enduring passion, and it’s my hope to inspire someone through my written words even we’re technically stranger to each other.

Why the long absence of new post? Well, I’ve been busy and practically obsessed in attaining a goal for the past few weeks. If you remember what I’ve written in this post, I’ve been passing items to GraphicRiver to improve my design skills and because I’m teaching visual graphics design to my students. Also, I love the challenge of the “River” – only the world-class designs are approved. Risky? Yes. Hard work required? Yes. Disappointing when got rejected? Yes. Worth it? Yes.

I’ve received so many rejections and I still receive until now (I’ve received two rejections yesterday), but I now have 63 items on my portfolio. Comparing my previous design works to my newer ones, I believe that my design aesthetics have been improving considerably. My ignorance on typography, layout and hierarchy are now partly gone. And it’s a satisfaction to realize that 70% of my submissions are passing the standard of GraphicRiver.

Photo Credit: ba, sxc.hu

“I won’t get any dime doing it!”

That's the most common reason I’m hearing why other people don’t engage in a creative work like photography, designing or writing. The sentiment is wrong, obviously, J.K. Rowling is a billionaire and a lot of designers are making a good living doing art. But many people cannot see the potential of choosing to do what they love, hustling on it to get better and doing the work required to get some real dime to come in (Warning: You won't even see the butt of a coin if you just have the patience of a spoiled 5-year old. Real dime takes time. And effort.).

I'm afraid that more and more young people are entering the workplace solely for the sake of a paycheck and not for the profession itself, those give-me-the-money workers produce a lot of crap out there: crooked buildings, insanely boring classes, buggy apps that require 2 hours of prayers before working, recipes that taste like boxes, and print designs that seem like a monkey with a Photoshop have done it. Yeah, they're getting the money and they're happy, but the world is getting uglier as a result. Why? Because they don't care. They're not really seeing the code, the font, or the perspective, they just are seeing and drooling for Uncle Ben every single time.

Photo Credit: anshustock, sxc.hu

One afternoon, I heard a woman talk about students who got the honors. Just after few of her words, I’m already saddened. She said, “Is he really smart? Or just diligent? I mean, if he just study hard, stay up late at night or wake up early to review his notes, go to the library and make a sweat out of his education, he doesn’t deserve it. I think students who are gifted are the ones entitled for the medals, not the diligent ones.”

I’m tempted to blurt out and deliver a philosophical plus psychological oratory in front of her. I stopped myself and resumed my composure. But I didn't stop whispering to myself, "Is it really? Is talent greater than diligence?" Then I realized that I'm facing that kind of mentality almost every day. As I teach my students IT skills, I feel that I'm constantly facing a barrier of unbelief from some of them because they don’t believe that hard work makes a difference. They are unconsciously committed to the idea that inborn smarts are the only ones that counts in every field - finances, education, or morality ("This is just who I am, I can't be totally integral.").

One time, I demonstrated how to write a simple webpage from scratch, 90% of them scratched their head and said, "We can never do that! We're not destined to write those cryptic codes!” (Some are even using the name of God with their excuses.)

Photo Credit: raichinger, sxc.hu

It's 3:30 in the afternoon, I’m pounding the keyboard, writing HTML and CSS snippets in order to finish the last requirement of the exam I’m taking. My mouth was dry, my head was fuzzy, and some occasional glitches in my computer makes me squint and utter whispers, “Don’t let me down, old machine”, because well, I happened to sit with a PC with a generous 1GB of RAM! (RAM is the working table of a computer, the bigger the better, but 1GB is the ideal ten years ago!) As if the computer heard me, it managed to run Photoshop and Illustrator and let me finish the other requirements.

After a few hours, I asked the assessor what's the result of my examination, he nodded and made a thumbs up! Thanks God, I’m now competent in Visual Graphics Design under TESDA, one of our government institution that certifies individuals in various fields. I’m currently teaching Graphics Design to my students, so no matter what, I simply cannot fail or they would throw me out of the boat!

I’m the kind of person who likes to have excess - in preparation. I save for financial rainy days, put buffers on my schedule and learn as much about a topic I’m interested in. I read a number of design-related books (logo design, typography, grid systems, color theory, creative process) and watched numerous video tutorials about Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign so I can have the right stuff in my mind. I practiced on most of my free time to be proficient. I want to pass the test, and I want it bad enough. Practically, I over-prepared (Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” This principle never betrayed me.). And with the help of prayers, I managed to pass.

I’m not writing this to smugly declare my accomplishment and fill my ego bank. I’m indebted to countless teachers, both offline and online, in learning the skills necessary. I'm also thankful for my students, whom by their questions, pushed me to seek better answers and learn more.

Photo Credit: sxc.hu, hisks

Thank you.

I never wanted to believe in Christ before. To believe in God, to believe in a personal higher Being is the farthest and the craziest step of my life, even imagining it is repulsive to me! I thought that Christians are delusional or just in a guilt business, doing every gimmick to make people feel bad of themselves, ashamed, so they can make them swallow an antidote, an antidote they keep calling as the Good News. Message of nonsense, I thought. And their Gospel has no relevance to real life whatsoever.

Christians for me are just religious people, second-grade actors and actresses, trying-hard salesmen. Hopeless people who are trying hard to look hopeful whenever someone is looking, persuading every emotional teenager to join their cult. Homophobic. Judgmental. Legalistic. Insensitive. Arrogant. Ignorant. Hypocrites to the core.

Somehow, so I thought, all of the teachings of the church and of the Bible converted them to more hateful individuals who belittle everyone who are not in their club. Proclaiming love, but doing hate. Pathetic.

But then I met you.

Photo Credit: cx ed, sxc.hu

It is easy to feel smug when we know more of a subject than other people. We feel that we have it all figured out and our insights must be respected like the word of a deity. We’re an expert in your own eyes and we want others to see us like that as well.

People who think they know it all and that they have all the answers are pretty dogmatic. You can practically find them anywhere: in academia, government or even in religious institutions (remember the leader who never bothered to listen to other denominations but insisting that he must be listened to? He never bothered to listen so no one would lend their ears to him). These people falsely believe that no amount of reasoning can destroy their principles and arguments. Constricted mind. Hardened hearts.

They have the expert's mind in the negative sense - close minded.

Photo Credit: carloszk, sxc.hu

Imagine a man in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, exhausted trying to keep afloat. Afraid of being eaten by the great ocean, his mind can't help panicking and wishing his nightmare to end. Do you think his mind can walk on to other things like the details of his current projects or his progress in his life dreams?

The answer is undoubtedly no. Anyone in constant danger like that cannot think of things other than survival, our brain locks our attention to nothing else except for the next breath of oxygen or nearby salvation. We switch to survival mode.

Survival mode happens in our life. For many, the constant worry, the “ocean” is their area of finances. Haunted by creditors and helplessly surviving from paycheck to paycheck, the well-deserved attention on more important areas of their life like spirituality, relationships, health, and personal growth easily slips away.

Photo Credit: danjaeger, sxc.hu

One reason that makes our life worth living is because of goals and anticipations. When we have something or someone to look forward to, it creates a healthy expectation that spurs us to move. Just the simple moments spent in dreaming can evoke a sense of happiness within us.

We all want something. When we look at our art, we envision the best version it can be. When we look at our budget, we’re thinking about how great it would be when we finally don’t have to worry whether we can pay the tuition fees of our kids. When our job seems dull and unexciting, we are thinking when our side business would finally soar and let us quit the job that are expected of us and embrace the passion we've been always eager to do.

We start. We encourage ourselves. We do the work. When we finally passed the project to the client or hit publish, we walk home thinking that maybe tomorrow is the day of glory.

Photo Credit: scataudo, sxc.hu

Have you seen stuff of yours lately and you can’t help but question their existence? “Why are you here? What are you for? Why I even buy you in the first place?” It’s a good thing that you noticed the excess, because many people are drifting with the excessive consumerism ideals of our culture nowadays. Ads on TV, radio, internet, billboards, or even on escalators are constantly shouting many subliminal messages - some of them are true, but many are not. We’re living in a culture of senseless affluence.

What is senseless affluence? It’s overstuffing your life with the unessential. It’s having more material things but failing to extract the priceless from simple things. It’s the constant pursuit of more without even questioning its premise.