Lower thoughts, lower ways.

Category: On Art

Lyrics: Dance With Him – Amena Brown


Dance with Him
He puts His hand on the small of my back
Two fingers pressed into the center of my palm
He pulls me close
Steps with His left, my right
I focus on His eyes and try to ignore my feet as they clumsily count one – two – three
I’m trying to trust Him
He knows this dance better than me
I’m still a novice and it’s obvious
I have yet to lean in and let Him control the turns
He takes His time and even when I miss a step
It’s fine
He knows I’m learning
He wants me to put my hand in His
Close my eyes and trust Him
With my life
My heart
With worry
And “I’m so scared”
With hurt
Worth and unworthy
Loving and unlovable
And my heart has been hurt before
I have been burned before
And endured loss before
I am in no mood for a dance
No mood to be romanced
I have become a grace cynic
And love’s worst critic
He sends me invitations every day
And even though I have yet to RSVP
He doesn’t mind me
He keeps pursuing
Taking steps in spite of me
He is a songwriter
Composing the notes that hold together eternity
And He wants to teach my limbs to sing
He’s been waiting to watch me let go of woe
And worry…until my soul
Sings in that beautiful voice He gave me
That I have someone come to think
Is not so beautiful
To dance with Him
I must give in
And give up
The trust it takes to really love
And I want to love Him unbridled
Believe in Him with a faith that is unshakeable
Like tree roots centuries deep
Until I learn to follow His time
Take deep breaths
Rest my head on His chest
And my cares at His feet
But I never fare well
As long as I depend on me
Take His hand
Take a chance
Fingertips in the palm of the One who holds galaxies
In His hand
Hand on His shoulder
Heart in His hand
We dance
To a down beat
That keeps time with His heartbeat
It feels like He’s letting me go
When He’s only letting me turn
And sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me fall
When He’s only letting me learn
It feels like He’s letting me go
When He’s only letting me turn
And sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me fall
When He’s only letting me learn
His is the song that never ends
His love
Sinners become friends
He wants to dance with you
Until the only Song you hear
Is Him


Part 1: Beauty, Price Tags and Jack and the Beanstalk

I once met a friend who told me, “Wow, I didn’t know you were beautiful.”

His remark caught me off-guard. I was never good at receiving compliments and I knew this one statement was something short of it (or was it?). So I was there, overthinking, left in that little space between gratitude and the lack of it, waiting for something to trip me over to the right side.

He might have seen the question mark all over my face so that he made a quick follow-up: “I’ve always seen you with your (more) beautiful friend and somehow, it was always her that I noticed.”

“Oh,” was the only reply I could muster. I didn’t know him well but had I did, I would have slapped him as a joking gesture. He might have felt that it didn’t quite get across, so he went the distance left to try to explain…

“Let’s just say, she’s this 500-peso bill. And you’re a 200-peso bill.”

…and haplessly failed at it. I took his value analogy and put it in my bag to think about for a later time.

It’s not that I want to be valued more because I’d choose “inner” beauty compliments over physical beauty ones any given day.The problem here is deeply-lodged somewhere else.

Our language shows us exactly.

I once read somewhere that our day-to-day vocabulary is ridden with business terms. We value someone. We cherish priceless moments. We invest in relationships. We are secure.

The problem with this vocabulary is that it’s for business, not human beings. Investment comes with a return and when we do invest in people and don’t get what we expect, we find it hard not to be disappointed. We value someone more, someone less.

Wouldn’t it be better if we just nurtured relationships? Or cherished beautiful moments? Or loved people?

It’s systemic. We are cosmically putting a price on everything as if we were sales staff in our own grocer. This is a world where our minds are conditioned to think that all is capital, from our property to our brains to our family background. Who are we to blame? Everything is an asset we can tap on and utilize to move us up the ladder. My diligence gets me good grades. My money and talents get me more friends. My physical looks get me a higher chance at employment.

There’s nothing superficially wrong with utilizing our resources to get us more because this dog-eat-dog world will only drop us if we don’t compete. And boy, do we feel competitive enough to try to outrun even ourselves. Surprisingly, we do this in all areas, even in those where competition is not really warranted.

Recently, pictures of South Koreans undergoing plastic surgery, have become viral on the Internet. If my friend valued me at 200 pesos, I’d spend thousands just to look like a 500-peso bill. Beauty can now be bought and consequently, self-worth.

(To be continued)

Three Men: Creativity Beyond Disability


Three days ago, I received a sweet little notification from Facebook: “Stephen Kuusisto accepted your friend request.” When my eyes landed on that area of my notifications dropdown box, I immediately ignored all other sense to check comments or photo tags. I clicked to be linked to Stephen’s page.

The man is the author of one of my favorite essays on appearances, “The Beauty Myth”. I won’t go in detail about the essay because I’d like you to read it and come up with your own unbiased opinion on it. You may read it now or later but I’ll give you some background check on Stephen.

He’s a writer and he’s blind. It’s a different kind of blindness from the one we so normally encounter. Stephen doesn’t see black or the lack of anything. He sees colors, he sees shapes. It is like a permanent built-in kaleidoscope a kid accidentally wished for during his first time of looking through the lens.

Righteous One

The notification from Stephen came at just the right time. It was Saturday evening and I just finished watching Ang Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho where they aired a segment on a rising artist in Philippine hiphop, Righteous One. Very much just like Stephen, Righteous One is a creative with a disability. He was born with cerebral palsy which meant he had to grow up with a loss of motor skills. This constrained him to a wheelchair.

Instead of playing outdoors as a kid, Righteous had to stay at home for most of the time. He spent his solitude just thinking and writing (reminds me of my own pensive childhood) and because of this, he mastered the skill of words. His screen name, he says, is based from the Bible.


Of course, I wouldn’t forget one of the fondest stuffed toys on my creativity bed. Nolan (not the Hollywood director) was an Irish poet and author who, like Righteous One, was born with cerebral palsy. I remember cradling his book when I was 13, running my hands through the pages, trying to get a hold of the words he excellently made tangible. He gave me my earliest literary climaxes and I would like to share one:

Westwards he trudged
Eastwards he scrambled
Northwards he stretched
Seeming lost he southwards beavered,
Urtication his grim destination.

Although he’s gone to rest, I don’t particularly agree that Christopher ever reached a grim destination. Also, his short poem sounds like Righteous One’s song “Para to sa norte, sa timog, silangan, kanluran…”


Human beings are admirable in their ability to make do with what they have to build something new, in their skill of turning seemingly bleak things around, and in their drive to defeat preconceived judgment.

Righteous One said it himself: “Malalaman ang katotohanan sa kasinungalingan.”
(Truth can be learned from falsehood.) Consequently, disability and lack can contribute to a different kind of completeness.

The men above are just some of the people who inspire me to go on with the creative business, however lamentable it is to call it a “business” (which is really most of it now).

I love creating for the sake of it and I know a lot of artists who venture into this artistic world without really minding the the value that comes back to them. To be fair to the underrated creative, the value he creates is indispensable and different. This capital-obsessed world doesn’t understand it and gives it either too low or too high a price because it doesn’t know what else.

But C.S. Lewis put it simply and said “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like ART… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

Chinese disabled artist

Chinese painter Zhanzhong Tang doing his calligraphy.