Credit: Off-WhiteCredit: Off-White

Growing up, I was always about sharing my work: I shared things I drew, things I wrote like blog posts and essays, things I designed like posters, MySpace Pages, and websites, and even things I made like beats. I even shared skateboarding tricks even if I didn’t feel particularly good, but at least I felt like I was doing all of these things from the heart and out of pure curiosity.

It was about self-expression.

And yes, while much of that had to do with me trying to find my identity with a little bit of ego involved—I wanted to show I can do and show people I was good at it—there was still fear involved. Fear of embarrassment, self-doubt, and criticism. Who did I think I was to be sharing these things? But at the same time, I used my youth to shield myself from these fears. I was young and experimenting a lot, and felt like I had the freedom to make mistakes. If anything, my courage would bring me exposure and respect. I was willing to just give things a try because they piqued my interest. This continued on till college where I continued to explore my potential and what I could do. There was also definitely a superiority complex because I felt like I was better at a lot of things than my peers.

But overtime, this prolific nature got clouded by other things. Now, because career” was on the line, I felt impostor syndrome more deeply. I became more aware of what I couldn’t do and how far I was from where I wanted to go. I felt Ira Glass’s The Gap” in a way I hadn’t before. And it felt like if I show what I’m doing, it would reveal how much of a fraud I was—that I wasn’t really who I said I was nor was as as good as I thought I was.

And because I lived a very public life before that was very much fueled by ego—I wanted to look cool and sound authoritative, this eventually lost its appeal. I felt my insecurities deeper. Now, each thing I shared—all the good things felt like it was disingenuous. Or at least, it felt very showboat-y to me and I just didn’t want to be that person because I do not live a perfect life. There are a lot of things I’m afraid of, a lot of things I feel are holding me back, and going out into the public life felt like it was not authentic to these things I’m feeling deep inside. Overall, I just wanted a more private life so I can keep my private thoughts to my private self. And there was a sense of freedom in people not knowing what I’m up to (especially things in my personal life) and I no longer had this obsession about other people’s validation.

I think this had its time. I needed this in order to mature. To recalibrate at a personal and a subconscious level (therapy helped with this tons). And to just take control of my life because so much of it felt like it was not in my control. I had a lot of stresses at different parts of my life and I wanted to keep them close to the chest. And in a way, maybe I needed to in order to process.

But now, I feel a newfound hunger within me. I’m creating a moodboard and so many of the inspirations in it are creatives who are very public about how they work. They are prolific people who are constantly creating, collaborating, and sharing their process. Because of this, they are constantly inspiring people and making them think. This got me thinking a lot of Virgil who worked non-stop and just shared so much. Its superhuman levels how prolific he was. His process was chaotic, and no matter what people thought of his work, he at least had a point of view and wanted to put it out there, like he was running out of time. It turned it was because he was.

This speaks to me because if I really want to explore my potential, and be a vessel from which my purpose is to be delivered,” I likely would have to get back to my mode of sharing: sharing my work, my thoughts, my inspirations, my lessons learned. And not for the sake of ego or for other people’s validation. But purely to help even 1 person out there to believe in themselves and pick them up from tough times, as I was picked up by the people that inspired me. And do it in my way, totally authentic to who I am, and not making myself to be something I’m not.

In Virgil’s words:

Everything I do is for the 17 year-old version of myself.

I should think about 17-year old Jomi (maybe even the 14 or 15-year old Jomi) and think about how much energy, passion, and emotion he had. He wanted to put so much love and creativity in all he did. He wanted to get better everyday and try all the things. He would share things that he felt helped express himself. He wasn’t afraid—or he was, but he still did it anyway. And I need to do it for that person, but I also need to channel that same energy. I need to do it for him. And I need to do it for others like him.

Dreaming is powerful. And trying to reach our own dreams helps liberate others. And that is why dreaming in public is even more powerful. It might just collectively help us make our dreams a reality.

December 4, 2022 Personal

Creativity is an Act of Rebellion

Why do we create? And more importantly, why must we create?

Creation is in the very fabric of our species. We are builders by nature. It is our ability to imagine—to see a probable future in our heads and make it reality one step at a time—that makes us human. No other species can do this in the same way. While other species may build out of necessity (say, birds building a nest for example), humans create beyond simple needs. Otherwise, there would have been no reason to be a post-agricultural civilization which would give us food, shelter, and clothing necessary to live. But we have far far surpassed that.

Beyond need, we have art, entertainment, knowledge, science. These are things beyond mere survival—they are curiosities and compulsions. We have questions about the material and immaterial world and we seek to answer them. (This very thing you’re reading is a creating out of no other need that an itch I wanted to scratch.)

Creation is how.

We find out what we can do, with the hopes that it might give us something in return: answers, satisfaction, euphoria. We toil through the difficulty and spend countless hours to make something which often we are uncertain would be fruitful. And yet, we must try. We dare to create anyway. We can’t help it. But why?

Because there will always be more. The world is an endless stream of possibilities, and new answers reveal new questions, and new technologies demand better ones, and new art movements inspire an opposing art movement. We say we create to justify our beliefs, but is it not possible that we manufacture beliefs so that we can create?

We have untapped energy inside of us that need to be bottled into doing. Mission is the lifeblood of our beings. We are perpetually unsatisfied, and perfection would be the death of our species. That there is more to do, more to attempt, more to learn, and thus more to create, is because…there is much to destroy. The status quo, the old way of doing things, stuck in tradition and ancient processes, outputting lackluster mediocre results. We believe we can do better. Which means there is much to remove and much to replace. And what we’ve created in place of these things, we eventually will also have to move and replace.

Creation need not always be grand. But it does need to deviate ever so slightly, otherwise, it’s just a copy. Creation tends to have an energy around it—an inner sense of quiet focused aggression because it requires strategic precision and mental faculties working in concert combining our skillsets, experience, and faith to birth something to life.

It is not always smooth. Often you’re learning something new through the creation process and it’s expected to stumble and feel uncomfortable as certain things don’t come naturally to you yet as your brain is creating new or reinforcing old mental pathways as you do new things. One mustn’t get frustrated as this is part of creation—you are not merely creating an external thing, the thing you are creating ends up creating you. The thing you’re creating is a reflection of your own set of strengths, experiences, background, and interests at their current stage combined. But also, you are a reflection of the thing you created yourself. It says a lot about you, the creator. And often this is what prevents us from creating, because we feel inferior, or afraid of what others might say, and most commonly, our taste does not match the current status of the output—it may not be to our standards yet. Every creator goes through this. No one creates a masterpiece from the moment they try something. Instead, you must stay on the path. You must channel that quiet aggression with continued focus and clarity and challenge yourself to keep creating because creation is what creates yourself. You want to get better so you can create something better? There is only one way: create.

There is so much more that goes into creation: the need to be patient, being stubborn in the face of frustration, having to juggle external factors that may affect the creative process. Yet, one must still create. The creation doesn’t care about your excuses. Rather, these are all fuel. Creation is an act of rebellion—against the status quo, and against everything that seeks to pull you away from creation. There is a price that comes with the opportunity to will something new into the world and every creator must pay.

The thing will not create itself. It needs your energy. It needs your rage. It needs your taste. It needs your sense of rebellion. It needs your persistence. Most of all, it needs you. And believe it or not, you need it just as much. Because all these things inside you need to be bottled up to manifest something you can call yours. It is a gift to the world for which the reward is the creation of the thing into itself. Yes, there are all the things it can do in the world. But that is outside of your immediate control. There are no second- and third- order effects until you’ve created the thing, and that is between you and the creation.

We must dare to keep creating. Our souls are no fools, it knows when we’re not, or when we haven’t poured our heart into something. Let our creations create us. Let us continue to be rebels. It is in our blood. It is in our DNA. Our species rule the planet only because of our ability to create. Everything is created through some sheer sense of belief and will and creation.

Something is calling deep into us. We know it. We may not know exactly what we will create next or the path to get there. We must feel into it. We must march on into the world to receive energy back so we can bottle that up into something unique and something that is truly ours. The world as it is this moment can’t be all there is to life. The world needs us. The world needs more rebels like you.

What are you going to create next?

June 20, 2022 Creativity

Believe in Your Genius

Genius is believed to arrive at birth. But contrary to popular belief, all of us have genius.

Or a better way to put it: all of us are bestowed genius at the time of our birth and it doesn’t really leave us until death. And even then, the gifts of our genius will keep giving in the cycle of eternity if properly nourished.

The modern definition of the word has come to mean a specific person with supreme intellectual ability or creative prowess—someone who achieves new discoveries or advances in a domain of knowledge.”1

But the word genius originates from Roman mythology, which means:

the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Much like a guardian angel, the genius would follow each man from the hour of his birth until the day he died.”2

If genius then is present in everyone and not a select few, how do we unleash this genius?

The difference is whether we choose to cultivate that genius throughout our lifetime. But for us to even do that, we must first accept it, and for us to accept it, we must believe each of us have genius, and acknowledge it when we see it and feel it.

Genius thought of as something reserved for the few has become a reason why individual genius isn’t more cultivated in the way it deserves to be. That we can’t or won’t be Einsteins or Da Vincis or Marie Curies or Musks is said often and used as an excuse, but this only exemplifies the point: each of these people cultivated their genius to the utmost extreme and because they cultivated their own genius, by definition, there can only be one of them. More importantly, trying to be like them would only be running away from cultivating our own genius. We can be inspired by other people and their respective geniuses, but we cannot copy or achieve someone else’s genius—we can only cultivate their own.

Think of it like each of us have our own spiritual pet that we didn’t choose but chose us. This representation is prevalent in mythology, literature, and even in modern fiction: Dorothy’s terrier Toto, Luke Skywalker’s droid R2D2, Ash’s pokemon Pikachu, Jon Snow’s direworlf Ghost. These are not merely expendable sidekicks. They protect their owners and have deep similarities with them—they almost share one soul. Genius is similar: we cannot have someone else’s genius because each of us have our own, a spirit which we are one with, one whose lives depend on us, and reciprocally, our lives depend on them.

Genius is a gift we must accept. We must believe in its existence. And we must cultivate it—feed it—like we would spiritual companions and pets. Only by doing so will our own individual geniuses serve us in return. This process will take time because our geniuses need nourishment in order to grow to its full potential. But it will never get close unless we believe in our individual genius in the first place.

While it may take time for it to reveal its shape, its features, its ultimate final form, believing in it is the first step. And once we understand that it is an integral part of us, we must accept it for what it is, and nourish it as much as we can. We can’t let it die, because then, we may be physically alive, but would be spiritually dead.

And while many of us might feel spiritually dead in our day to day—an endemic of modern times, it is never too late. After all, our own individual geniuses are inside us just waiting to be nourished, and ultimately, be freed. It all starts by believing in our genius.



September 27, 2021 Creativity

We Are Time Itself

Some argue the past is an illusion
And the future is already fixed

Some say the present is a singularity
Where we are watching our lives in a fabricated reality

I like to think of the future as an infinite pool of possibilities
But a finite pool of most likely probabilities
Where there is an associated future with every action we take
And the realm of possibilities go from endless to limited

At any given moment there are a few actions we can make
And the same can be said with every single person
Thus the vastness of the future lies on the collision of all these actions

So the future lies on a chain of events
Actions we take which are under our control
With actions of others which are not

We can strongly influence the realm of possibilities for ourselves
So long as we carefully structure the chain of actions we take
Just as the present is largely a chain of actions we took in the past
With a mix of luck, chance, and actions by others

But chain might it be, it is not linear
It is more like a maze
Where there is an associated exit with each path we take
But we are constructing where it goes
Just as we identify which direction to go to

We are both the architect and the participant of the maze
We pre-define what the realm of exits might be based on our current knowledge of what is possible for us
But we cannot construct the exit exactly as we would like it

The point is this: We influence the realm of possibilities
Infinite as it might feel, we have a role to play in expanding it and limiting it
Whether we think we have a choice in it or not

We expand when we are trying to discover what exits we might like to have
We limit based on how convinced we are of the exits available to us
We are constantly expanding and limiting within the scope of our present

Luck and the actions of others play a role in what is available to us at any given second
But the exercise is ours to wrestle with
One we have sole grasp of unless we choose to relinquish it

We are constructing the future every second
We are constantly expanding the possibilities and limiting the options
We are architecting the maze just as we are walking its walls
We are determining what exits we would like to have even if we can’t determine what the exit might actually be

There is power in this perspective of time

Where we are not just passive characters in the flow of reality
Where we have the greatest impact not just on its trajectory
But what the exits can be and who we will be like when we get there
We can bend the associated the future right in the present

Whatever you are doing, wherever you are
There is a already a distant future that is constructed based on what you are currently doing

The question is this: Is this the exit you want?
If yes, keep going within your chain of actions and continue to shape what your potential future might be
If no, continue to expand and then limit

We are merely going back and forth in this exercise
Even if we are conscious of it or not
The difference is in the belief that there is already a future for us
And that it is largely our choice what that can be

An extremely daunting realization
But a deeply empowering one

We are all architecting the future, individually and together
Time is not separate from us

We are time itself

September 1, 2021 Poetry

You Move The Universe

You have so much more to give
You have to enjoy giving it away

Your very being is a present to many
So never underestimate how much you matter

You are here because you are needed here
Because there is more work to be done by you

Things to do, people to help, places to see
Moments to experience that will forever change you

But what you barely notice amidst all the change inside you
Is that you will help change everything outside of you

You are a force in the space-time continuum
A molecule bouncing in the beautiful entropy of life

Everything that comes and has come in contact with you
Is changed forever, someway, somehow

The universe is moving this very second
Because your spirit is right there moving it

August 31, 2021 Poetry

Day 1 of Marriage

Note: This is absolutely not addressed to or inspired by any specific person, nor am I thinking about marriage or looking to get married any time soon. I’ve never been married before so this isn’t marriage advice either. I am just answering an interesting writing prompt using a particular tone of voice. Enjoy.

ps. Thanks to the folks who gave feedback. You know who you are.

Dear wife,

Holy shit, you’re now my wife.

What have I done?!?! Jokes, I love you.

Wow, we’re really married. Not just symbolically but legally. The till death do us part” kind.

What now?

From here on, it’s about growth at the maximum capacity. A kind of growth that cannot be done alone because marriage forces you to be completely naked in every literal and metaphorical way. It’s about creating as many peaks as possible in a lifetime guaranteed to have valleys. A promise to be emotionally present at a level no other person in the world can provide. A journey to endure a life together until one of us passes in the dust hopefully with the same longing affection as the very first day we fell in love but has crystallized into a quiet glowing intensity from a lifetime of partnership and visceral understanding forever etched in time.

The thing most people say is I’m the luckiest man/woman on earth.” I will temper that high by saying: Honestly, I don’t know yet. Yes, I feel incredibly fortunate the stars aligned the way they did, but we both worked our asses off to be attractive enough to land a desirable partner, pursue a relationship together, and be able to take a bet on each other—the most important bet of our lives—together. Only time will tell and we are only at the beginning.

Marriage is basically saying: In an infinite sea of possible futures, the one with you is the only one I want, because I see the best possible version of myself with you, and I don’t even want to imagine the alternative.” My jokes are funny but it’s your laughter I yearn for most. I’m extremely passionate in bed, but it’s only your body I crave. Hugs connect humans ever so briefly, but none would ever have the same warmth as yours. And take away all the extraordinary moments, sitting next to you doing absolutely nothing is the most exciting version of mundane I can think of.

In that sense, maybe I am lucky. But so are you with me. We’re in day one and marriage is more akin to tending to a garden constantly exposed to the harsh elements of life than a dish once prepared then consumed with delicious satisfaction. A dish has defined ingredients with the final form crafted with precision both in flavor and appearance. A garden has none of those things. There will be sunny days, there will be stormy ones. The soil won’t always be fertile, the flowers won’t always bloom. But as long as we plant seeds to cultivate it, get rid of the weeds and snakes that threaten the beauty of our oasis, and prune out old leaves that no longer serve the greenery, then we’ll bear plentiful fruit and wonderful shrubbery enough to give us joy for the rest of our days. But I can’t nor will I do it alone. And neither can you. The day that one of us quits on caring for this joint garden, we risk it wilting into a sad slow death. I am not, was never, and will never be a quitter. I married you because I assume that neither are you. I married you because I thought you’d be a great gardener yourself, that we’d make a damn good garden together, and we’d make little versions of us who will eventually grow to become great gardeners of their own, hopefully even better than we were. And of course, because of your fine ass that I just can’t keep my hands off, you sexy thing you. Get over here so daddy can have a bite.

Wait, I was writing a letter. Sorry I got sidetracked.

Anyway the point of this is to list out expectations of our life together as a married couple. Sorry to burst your bubble, but I have none. I only have expectations of myself: I will do my best to be there for you emotionally, to listen to you compassionately, to communicate with you honestly, to love you fiercely, and to continue to find ways to want you and for you to want me. I can also expect these things from you, but expectations kill relationships. I’d rather us always talk about what we want and how we can do better, than sulk in silence and develop silent resentment overtime. Communication with the intent of understanding is the lifeblood of relationships and exponentially more so in a marriage. There’s no games anymore like when we were younger because we will both suffer. I’d rather both of us win.

There will obviously be concessions from both sides, and the people we are today will not be who we are in a year’s time, in five years’ time, or a whole decade’s time. This comes with the territory of marriage: two ever-changing individuals entering matrimony to infinitely learn from each other and contribute to their personhood. They must develop an endless curiosity for each other, be intimate with their quirks, accept them for their flaws, and help each other get better as people, as spouses, as parents—if applicable.

The whole concept of But he/she is my husband/wife, he/she is supposed to just get me!” is stupid, outrageous, and nonsensical. Neither of us have telepathic powers (it would be terrible if either of us had it actually; part of what makes it fun is there’s so much we still have to figure out about ourselves and each other). If I did something stupid, tell me so I know it bothers you. If I did something good, also tell me so I can do more of that for you. Expressing gratitude says, I see the little things that you do and I appreciate you for them.” It’s crazy how simple things like thank you,” sorry,” and please” do wonders for any relationship. Know that I will do the same for you: I will never hesitate to call you out on your bullshit, but I will always do it politely and with love. If I didn’t like something you did, I will look at and criticize the action performed and not immediately judge your character. If there is something you did that I liked, I will thank you, praise you, kiss you in return, and I will do this abundantly, generously, and exuberantly.

At the end of the day, all anyone ever wants is to be seen, to be heard, to be felt, to be held. I will do all of those things for you, even on your worst days. I trust you will do the same for me on mine. I will do everything in my power and God-given abilities to hold us down. You are my wife because I know you will hold me down.

Honestly, I don’t want to glamorize marriage too much. We are now in the greatest challenge of our lives and there will be a million trying times (on top of the thousands of trying times we had while we were dating) and we will endlessly annoy, frustrate, and anger the living shit out of each other. But so long as we choose to keep coming back to each other, we’ll be fine. I don’t believe in Don’t sleep mad.” Whoever said that has never been in an argument where both sides were seething and want to choke each other out. I’d rather we sleep it off if we can’t stand each other’s guts, but wake up next to each other thinking how blessed we both are because it means we must care that much for each other to have been that mad. And then we can figure it out rationally without the burden of heightened emotion, without the risk of blurting out words we wish we could take back, and instead find a way to truly listen to each other’s grievances and fix it together. Of course, this is all easier said than done. Like everything else in a marriage.

As far as plans, those too are premature. Marriage is a day-to-day thing, heck, even an hour-to-hour thing. There may be things we want to do right now, but life is a moving target with absolutely no certainties. Goals may be renewed, careers can change, children may come, struggle can arise. All I can promise you is this: You will never be bored, because I would rather die than be boring. I’m not saying every moment of our lives will be this exhilarating ride because it won’t. What I’m saying is, as we build a life together, I will never stop playing with you as if we’re the little boy and the little girl on the sandbox building a castle together, or like two teens chasing each other on the grass laughing our butts off rolling in each other’s sweat, or two elderly people slow dancing at a wedding as if it was our first dance as a married couple. You see, people grow old and lose their youth. I’m telling you that we don’t have to. I’m telling you that I won’t allow it so long as I’m on your side. I’m telling you that I am in this to grow old with you, but more importantly, to grow young with you.

All this said, I do hope you feel that you’re the luckiest woman in the world today on the first day of our marriage. But it would mean a whole lot more to me if you feel that on our very last day together, when death eventually does us part.


Your husband

August 1, 2019

Life is About People

The quality of our lives depends so much on the quality of people we allow into our lives.

As I get older, I’m more convinced life is ultimately about spending time with amazing people.

This was not so obvious to me growing up and is still unnatural for me as someone who loves spending much of his time alone.

But being around amazing people who make you better makes life better. Life is more likely to be average or mediocre if you’re around average or mediocre people, but we can increase the likelihood of our lives being amazing if we’re around amazing people.

Humanity is about connection, building memories, and triumphing against worthwhile challenges. You can only do that by being around great people and being a great person to be around with.

As the saying goes: If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If the quality of our lives depend on who we spend time with, it makes perfect sense that we should aim to have a high standard for people (family, friends, colleagues, partners, etc.) we surround ourselves with. We absolutely need to be picky about it and should expect others to do the same.

It’s only right that we should seek the absolute best people given that life is finite and because our lives get exponentially better the more amazing people we surround ourselves with. It is truly one of those things where the returns increase with more inputs and compound on each other on a long time horizon.

But what is great” or amazing”? That depends on what purpose that other person serves in your life. And make no mistake that you, too, serve a purpose in other people’s lives, thus being high value is imperative if we want to be surrounded with other high value people.

If it’s your friends, do they truly support you in your endeavors? Do they raise your ambition? Do they make you want to be better? Do they keep it real with you and tell you things straight? Do they have your back when you’re down? Do they make you feel you belong? Do you have them for life?

If it’s your colleagues, do they challenge your thinking? Do they help you grow in your career? Do they make you want to bring your A-game? Do you trust their judgment? Do they truly want what’s best for the team and company? Do they want to win as bad as you do?

If it’s your partner, do they inspire you? Do they make you want to be a better person? Do they make life sweeter and more meaningful? Do they make you feel fortunate they chose you? Do they seem like good role models? Do they exemplify traits you wish your children would have? Does their existence alone make life worth living?

Life is meant to be lived in the company of amazing people.

If you can’t find any, ask yourself why, or go find them. It starts with doing your best to an amazing person yourself.

This is one of those challenges worth a lifetime to get right.

May 25, 2018 Life