the missing rose
March 29, 2012 § 2 Comments
I have avoided writing anything for the longest time. Longer than my last post actually. In fact, almost everything I wrote since the year started can be classified as crap. They had been reports of facts and nothing else. It’s been nearly a year now since I graduated. Yesterday, as the jeepney I was in passed the University Avenue, I looked on the growing sunflowers both with pain and affection. I thought to myself, “yes, it’s been one year…and what has happened since that?”. I could argue within earthly constructs that in fact a lot has happened. I went to a lot of places, I got my license, I reconnected with long lost friends, and what not. Yet after all the dust had settled, as they all say, that gnawing feeling of emptiness silently consumed me. Maybe everything that I’ve been doing were ways of escaping it after all.
I think, what I would like to say in the most simple form, stripped of any excuse, is that I felt lost. Six years after college, magna cum laude, top 3 and all, I am still lost. Six years after, I come back to the question I tried my best to answer, “what is my purpose in life?”.
I didn’t want to admit this to myself, before today, because it would have meant defeat. Here were my relatives and friends telling me all these good things about me, thinking I had achieved something, and even mistaking the emptiness that I felt as humility. I would be irresponsible to let my parents down and I would be stupid to admit to feeling this. A number of times I’ve tried to open up to some of my friends, but I guess after getting either a mellowed “suck it up”, a literary hug, or a blank stare, you eventually become too embarrassed to keep on going. In effect, what I have come to realize is that you just can’t escape yourself. I still remember that time when I started the struggle to know what the presence of my matter meant in the universal scheme of things. It was a dreadful feeling. Contrary to what some people thought as something that appeared as an exhaustive philosophical and intellectual exercise, it was something short of driving yourself mad. I was a freshman in college then – lost and confused. I turned to my parents, they gave me love and support, but I knew it was only I who had the answer. Perseverance with me, I decided to walk that journey of discovery. I made choices, and I bore their consequences. I even achieved more than I planned to. But how come after all this, I seem to be back where I started?
Oftentimes I ask myself, “why do I even preoccupy myself with these things?” Surely there is no definite answer to the question of “what is my reason of being?”. I even know all the pretty excuses one may answer to circumvent this problem. “You have to make your own answer”, “you are what you choose to be”, “look into your heart”, “be yourself” – I use them all the time with my friends. The truth of the matter is the essence of these phrases still elude me. For years, I thought I got it. Okay, be myself. But who am I? Why must I be part of the people who make life more complicated than it already is? At times, when I feel my brain mash up from all my swirling thoughts, I try to get a grip by calming myself. I close my eyes and attempt to drown my thoughts, but always something surfaces and bobs into my consciousness like an ugly flotsam stuck in an infinite ocean. I could not still my mind, I couldn’t meditate. So I sought the help of other people, I talked to them and listened to them, hoping to find myself somewhere in them. Illogical as it sounds, for I know that “of course I wouldn’t find myself in anyone other than my own self”, I did this for a long time. Eventually, I did realize that no, I am not in any of them. So when the emptiness caught up, I turned to reading books. At first, I was conservative in my choices. I limited my selection to inspirational fiction glorified here and there with a healthy amount of scientific/sociological/”relevant” titles. Eventually, I did open up to reading self-help books, and believe me I’ve read a lot of books. So now the question of “how come some people flip 180 degrees after a single book, and I’ve barely made a right angle with all these books?” enters the picture. I’ve been reading these books and I’ve been reciting their mantras. Am I reading the wrong books? What am I not getting? What do I keep missing?
Yesterday, I finally got a job. In fact, I think what triggered me into going a full circle back to these questions was when I started looking for a job. I am honestly blessed with not being a person who is forced to just take any job because I basically just need to earn. But don’t get me wrong. I am not rich, and I do need money to live in this pecuniary world where the truth is sometimes money is still needed for happiness. It isn’t equated to happiness, but it is a tool to get it. Anyway, going back to the point, now that I am free to choose what job I would like to take, I am left with a number of choices and again this is hard to make. What aggravated things was the fact that I had a lot of time to think about it. I felt compelled to choose a job that was definitely my passion. So I felt for my passion, and I decided on teaching. But still, my purpose escaped me. I tried rigorous analysis, I tried plain stagnation. The harder I fought, the more the answer evaded me. Yet the more I put off thinking about it, the more it crawled out of the back of my thoughts.
This morning, I woke up dazed as usual. I went up to the fifth floor and saw the same mess. As I tried to stuff up all the things I thought I needed inside my bag, I realized I should bring something to read since I had a lot of waiting time today. I looked up the shelf and I randomly chose this book April lent me probably 6 or 7 months ago. She told me it was good, but I never did open it until today. Honestly, I would have possibly parted with this unassuming book without reading it if April had asked for it any sooner. But as it happened, this book is not hers, and she lent that friend of hers a book of mine. So taking the bedlam out of that previous statement, I swapped books with April’s friend. Considering all the intricacies of lending, it was pretty hard to unswap the deal, thus the 6 or 7 months of this book being in my possession.
So I read the book, and I felt like the book read me. I had been looking for answers in so many complicated books that I neglected the fact that good things can also be found in a narrative as short as this. In my struggle to look for a detailed answer, I forgot to consider the possibility of a simple one. I am not saying however that this book has solved all my anxieties nor answered all my questions. I have realized and re-realized a lot of things by reading this book, but it’s a long shot for a realization to become an actualization. For the time being though, I cannot be thankful enough for having picked up this book and decided on reading it. Time and again, God made me realized that He is listening. All those times I prayed so hard, even with the feeling that I could hardly connect to Him, He heard me. I just had to wait for the right time. That realization alone was enough to comfort me.
I think it is best not to go into a lengthy discussion of what my realizations are. If there’s one thing I learned from reading all those books, it’s that we may talk what we read, but we can only be what we lived. In fact, this book may not have the same impact to you as it has made to me. Important lessons in life cannot be learned by reading them. The only way to learn to them would be to experience them. So to preach them here is a waste of effort, but I do encourage you to face your fears and listen to yourself. Lessons are more powerful when they come from you yourself. Sometimes, a quote that you thought you’ve always known suddenly makes a whole lot more sense. If you don’t feel lost right now, that’s good. But if you do feel it in the future, don’t be scared to find your way to something new. I have honestly not perfected the exercise of listening to what my heart says, but I guess this experience has led me closer to achieving that. Sometimes, it’s when we feel vulnerable the most that we finally face ourselves because it’s our only hope.
I think this quote from Henry David Thoreau best describes what I would like to point out. That it’s okay to be lost. :) Sometimes, it’s even good.