In a Quarter of a Life

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Talk about choosing the most clichéd quote for intro, right?

When the clock struck 12, I found myself laughing at the sight of my friend panicking because their surprise was failing. The others went for a smoke, and I sat there inside the pub, quite contented with one bottle of beer which, due to my acid reflux I did not miraculously finish, while my friend told me to act surprised. My other friends returned with some delicious mango dessert with a candle on top, singing Happy Birthday. And I did act surprised, at least I tried based on my poor acting skills. They gave me a book— one I’ve been eyeing for months— as a gift. I’m too easy, honestly. Just give me a book and I’ll squeal like a banshee. We spent a week night (such rebels!) drinking and laughing and hugging it out until I got home, forgot I left my keys in the house. My sister, bless her sleepless heart, opened the door for me and went back to bed while I did the same.

The day started like most of mine these days: quiet, tedious, but with a certain determination to a distant, blurry goal. I opted not to open the messages flooding my phone that morning, focusing on getting ready. I went to work, greeting by my little wildlings, and treated my coworkers and friends. I got another book (at this point you could say I’m quite predictable as well) and stuffed myself with carbs until my visitors left the house and I fell asleep.

I wouldn’t say it’s because hey, I just turned 25 today, I’m a real adult now so birthdays aren’t a thing for me anymore, no. To me, it was just another day.

I’m not big on birthdays for myself. Looking back at the past years of my life, I’m big on birthdays for other people, including mine. My debut was a surprise, because I didn’t expect anything. They were for my parents, with their unending love for their firstborn. And they were for my friends, who adopted me as their own.

But do I feel anything different? As I write this, I want to say yes and no. But I’m not quite sure. I like to joke that I am officially, accurately capable of a quarter life crisis by the time I turn 25. It’s too early to say, since it’s only been a day, but I’d like to start by negating that with everything that has happened last year.

 

The uncertainty of not knowing who you truly are, as I have come to realize, is a gift. Looking back, I’ve always thought of myself as a sponge: highly absorbent of the people around me. Like water, I flow through the motions of the people around me, adapting to get by. I thought this ambiguity was an identity problem, an existential crisis, because I never really know who I am if someone made me describe myself. But now, it’s something that I wish to celebrate about myself. The fact that you find yourself lost, even to yourself, is an opportunity to start again. Mistakes can be laughed at, grudges can be forgiven; it all returns into a blank slate. Like a fresh coat of white paint. A clear canvas. A new page. This has worked wonders on the year that led up to this. The impossible things became possible for me.

The lack of courage and perseverance over many things have hindered me from a lot of things in life. I was sheltered, is sheltered, and maybe I will be all my life. Missed chances, missed opportunities, all because I was too scared to try. But they’re not worth dwelling over now, not anymore. There’s always a restart button, this I see clearly now.

Moments of hesitation will still eventually come. You’d think it’s so easy to change until you’re in that moment before the dive and think, ‘Holy crap, I really can’t do this. This was a bad idea and I take it back’. However, there’s beauty in the attempt. I’ll try my best to get past that.

Here’s to another year. May it be as unpredictable as the last one.

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Turtles All The Way Down: A Temporary Fix

It was a gloomy Tuesday afternoon and everything was traumatic. I had an unannounced observation for my last class where I lacked resources for the lesson. I had to spend forty excruciating minutes that felt like hours inside the computer laboratory, pretending that I knew what I was doing as I taught second grade kids about Rizal. The experience was similar to getting a root canal.

When it was all over, my head told me we had a meeting. To my dismay, I have misplaced my friction pen. Again. Hoping that my Mumuso pencil case (a gift last Teachers Day) will help me be organized with my writing materials this time, I went to National Book Store to buy another pen and its refill. As I tried not to overthink and replay the events of my day as if it will do anything to change it, my aimlessly wandering eyes landed on the Just In at the Fiction isle and it was like Christmas morning.

Yes, John Green has that effect on me. Us awkward nerds, we have to stick together you know? But kidding aside, I remember chatting with my fellow bibliophile cousin and when she saw me with the latest copy at the exact day of its release, she didn’t doubt my urge to buy it. It’s the John Green, man. You can’t give an excuse for that. But fret not, my wallet did not die in vain. I used up all my Globe Rewards to pay for a portion of the price. How much money did I actually shell off? P179. What a steal! It’s like a Book Sale from the year 2030.

I finished it in three days, forcing myself to pause and sleep because I had work the next day. As per usual, if I didn’t have anything else to do, novels would only last a day on me. I like to finish things at hand at all costs or else I would spend the rest of the day just completely anxious to finish it. I can’t function. It’s going to have a voice in my head saying come on finish the book but I have work tomorrow morning how can you sleep not knowing what happens next in the story I’ll read it when I have free time at work you can sleep while the students are copying notes no I can’t I should be working but we need to find out what happens next.

Such as the case of Aza Holmes, the girl with the beginning and the end in her name and cool vintage car named Harold. She’s a little more anxious than most, and who wouldn’t, when you know certain facts about microbial organisms that are more than the amount of cells in your body? But she tries to be normal, especially for her mother, with the help of her best friend and resident cool kid Daisy. And she does become somewhat cool, because she has met Davis Pickett when they were at Sad Camp for children with a dead parent. A few years later, Pickett becomes a household name, and a controversial one at that. This leads Aza and Daisy to snoop around the Pickett estate to find clues, only to be warped inside the world of the rich and the famous. Warning, it doesn’t feel so good.

Although sometimes it does, when Aza is with Davis. She discovers that he is more than a rich man’s son, and that he writes poetry and blogs that make her blush when it’s about her. They like to look at the sky despite the crappy Indiana weather and watch space movies in the home theater at the basement.


Just when you think things are going so well, sometimes you are your own worst enemy. That’s not uncommon, according to Dr. Singh. More often than not, we like to hold a grudge on ourselves, as to why there could be many reasons or in this novel’s case, none. It just simply is. Dealing with anxiety is not something that is easily cured by medication and therapy. How can you deal with an internal thing using an external force?

They come in the form of thoughts, some solicited and mostly not. You cannot unthink something. You can try to put it deep within you in your subconscious, and it might work temporarily. But some people cannot simply do that. It will be hard for them, and more often than not, for the people around them. It will get frustrating.

I have always wondered why we are so complex as human beings- with values, morality, intellect- only to disintegrate with our depreciating bodies. I would lay in bed at night, hearing my body work like an old grandfather clock with its wheels and hear it churn inside myself. Then I would always sleep with the fear of what happens to me when I die. Where does me, or the vessel of me, go? Maybe that’s why people who are devoted to their religion are blissfully unworried about these things. They have something to believe in. The rest of us ask: How can you simply believe? And so the thought spiral goes on and on. They’d never understand that because they are so sure. And we’d never understand anything because we’re not sure of anything. Nothing is ever really certain.

The way I see it is that it’s like the Philippine seasons: rainy and sunny. Except that it doesn’t always last for a few months. The rainy days can last for a year or two or ten, until it drowns you and the people around you. So you try to sink to the bottom, hoping there’s a plug at the end. But plot twist, there is no plug. You just drowned yourself swimming to the bottom for nothing.

We can’t say sorry enough that we are causing other people pain over our anxiety. We wish we could take all that burden away, keep you all at a distance so you won’t see. We feel more like we are a bother if we tell. It’s going to be a constant battle of wills, which in the end we just give up on. Mental health is such a sensitive topic that is easily diverted into something else- religion, self-confidence, sakit ng mayayaman– for it just to make sense. When in fact you just have to let it be. Not let it be in the sense that you abandon your search for the cure. It is never going to be cured, but it is something that can be perceived with understanding.

Turtles All The Way Down somehow made me validate these thoughts with a character you can relate with. I found myself crying at the part where Aza and Daisy fought all the time, because it’s just so accurate. People can love flawed people, yes, but you can’t demand them to change something they can’t control. It’s like having a family of lizards with one pig, and every other lizard wants the pig to be like them. It’s biologically impossible.

At a topic just like this, the only thing that’s left to do is to use your damn heart for once in a good way. Understand and empathize. That’s all there is to it. There is no great moral, no big reveal to a secret to this story for the whole world to know. Only something to read and hope on. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Calcified

I once thought my heart was too wild
that I let it cower, and in its cage it grew;
any sign of life, I run and hide,
so it was smaller that most hearts that I knew.

But then I made the mistake of letting a stranger
touch my wild heart and then it went in flames;
my heart was never the same as I remembered,
I thought I was even going insane.

Now my heart is too big, too raw for my cage,
and it leaves me with no other option-
to let it burn in a fiery rage
until someone willingly accepts my destruction.

The Stranger

There are things I should know about you but I don’t, but frankly, my dear, does it matter?

I don’t know your zodiac sign,
and I wonder if the stars align
for us to be together
but I know how your eyes
can never tell lies
when you are happy, angry, or somber.

I don’t know the name of your mother and father,
or how many siblings you have if there are any
but I know you work harder
than all of your friends combined together
and love to spend time with your family.

I don’t know your favorite song,
book, movie, weather, or day
but I know how you’d like
to sleep in on weekends
and snooze that alarm
on a Sunday.

I don’t know you, my dear,
quite frankly I don’t you at all-
and yet somehow I know you
like how I should after all.

Balang Araw

May mga araw na rumaragasang sa bilis, mga araw na nakakamuti ng mata sa bagal. Isang segundo ay tila masyadong matagal o kaya’y wala na sa isang iglap lamang.

May mga araw na nararamdaman mo ang napakaraming bagay ng sabay-sabay na parang buhangin sa iyong paa tuwing ang alon ay tumatama sa iyong paa habang nakatayo sa dalampasigan-
unti-unti kang nilulunod, nilulubog.

May mga araw na wala kang maramdaman, nabubuhay upang huminga lang. Ramdam ang pagdaloy ng hangin at dugo sa iyong katawan, rinig ang tibok ng puso. Walang saya, walang lungkot, at wala ring kasiguraduhang buhay talaga.

May mga araw na minsan pakiramdam mo ang iyong sariling bahay, kasama, at katawan ay hindi mo tahanan. Na mistulang alam mong mayroon kang paglulugaran sa mundo pero di mo alam kung saan. May hinahanap ka na di mo alam kung ano. May tinatawag ka pero di mo alam kung sino.

May mga araw na pakiramdam mo alam mo na ang patutunguhan mo sa buhay, na alam mo na ang bawat hakbang na iyong tatahakin, alam ang daang susuyurin. Handa ka sa kahit ano mang parating, at kahit ano man ito ay malalampasan mo rin.

May mga araw na nagsasama-sama silang lahat-
ang oras ay mabilis at mabagal,
ang damdamin mo’y puno at walang laman,
ang buhay mo’y may saysay at walang katuturan-
at para kang isang bombang sasabog na
at gusto na lang mawala.

May mga araw na pipiliin mo na lang sabihin sa iyong sarili na maaayos din ang lahat,
hindi man ngayon,
hindi man bukas,
pero balang araw.

Something To Read When You Feel Like Your Life is Too Messy

At times like these, we just all wish we had a rewind button. But rewind button is too cliché. And if you had one, you’d go far back as to your, I don’t know, birth? That is because you don’t ever remember having experienced pain, hurt, fear, and heartache. Also the thing about life is an awful roller coaster ride, with ups and downs. Sometimes it just happens that you’re down there too long that no matter how patient you are in waiting to get to the good part, climb up, that you just want to get off the ride because it’s so boring.

Life gets so boring, you wonder why you’re still given the time and space in this world, in this life.

So we either do two things. One, we find plenty of ways to regain that feeling, or any feeling at all. We go through such lengths that involve the unusual, the bizarre, and then the uncharacteristic and sometimes immoral/illegal. The crazy lengths we have to go through makes everyone else put a distance from you, or worse, condemn and ostracize you. Honestly, you’d rather they just leave you alone than tell you what to do with your life. If you wanted help, you would have asked, right?

And second, you get so tired of it all that you just want to end it.

Everyone knows those two things, but there was that one obvious answer we often forget in which we really need.

You just need to rest. What we need is a pause button.

Whether it be a vacation, a retreat, or a simple timeout. Hell, it can even be a small bathroom break. All it just takes is a time for yourself, remember who you are, what you really want to do and become.

I’ve always thought the point of roller coasters were not the feelings of the highs. It makes my stomach queazy and awful, so I don’t like it at all. Nor is it the lows, the plummeting down, because I’m afraid of heights. What I like, and what I think is the purpose of me riding a roller coaster is the view. Open space, clear skies, and the fresh air despite coming from the speed of the ride, is what I’m in it for.

Life can get high and low, bumpy and smooth, good or bad, but when you never lose sight of what matters most, then the messiness of it all doesn’t seem as colossal at it does at the moment. To some, it might seem like you’re trying to forget, project, or even neglect. But the view looks too good for every other distraction, am I right?

Today I Wish You Knew

Having one person to share all of your thoughts, secrets, and demons within is a lie. Each person you know knows a fraction of who you are, not as a whole. But there is only one person you always want to talk to about everything- that even if there’s everybody else, it doesn’t feel as good as when you tell that person. It doesn’t matter what your relationship is with them either. Connection is what you’re looking for, and you can connect with a stranger far more deeper than a childhood friend.

It doesn’t matter if it’s something trivial as how beautiful the sunset looked today as you walked home. Something profound as a passage you discovered from this new book you’re reading. Something simple as a new episode of The Handmaid’s Tale coming out today. Something debilitating as how you feel like everything is too much and you hate making small talk with people and just want to be left alone for a while and yet you feel lonely for something but don’t know what it is.

But the thing about those persons is that they often have lives of their own, one that might not include you anymore for different reasons. And when you suddenly have the urge to talk to them but can’t yet wish you would, the question is, does that make you selfish?

I wish I didn’t have to fight for people to stay in my life. If they wanted to be, they will be. Everyone seems to be having that same mindset lately. But if we kept waiting around on each other, nothing will ever be done, now wouldn’t it?

I’ve learned that it’s all give and take. When you give, you give what you can. When you tire, you rest. When you give up, you leave. Of course you can leave, you’re human after all. We’re all capable of having fickle hearts at certain times of weakness in our lives. It’s not a crime to fail, to give up, to forget.

But like the sunset that you witnessed, the book you’re reading, the show you’re watching, and the feeling you’re having, this will have to end and you will have to finish it. The walking around on each other. The silent dance. 

It is then that you realize that your persons can leave you, and that you can find another one again. And it will feel so different yet so intense as well.

I wanted to tell you so many things that my boring life has had lately, but I don’t see any point of it anymore. You can ask, and I will tell, I just won’t push again. I’ve done it a lot that I must sound crazy and silly and desperate to some. I guess I should keep all these experiences, feelings, and moments to myself so I can tell it to someone who will be my new person. I don’t know if I’ll find another one, I’m hoping I will. Until then, like my love, I’ll keep it hidden and tucked away to someone who’ll take good care of it.