Because love battles

We have no inkling of what John Marc and Seneca have gone through. We, mere bystanders, curious spectators of these two people who seemed to have found all the luck in the world as they vowed “I do”.

We have no idea how hard it was to wait for years until John Marc could finally confess his feelings to Seneca. They were both college students then, when in one of the dormitory events, Seneca sang and her voice was the most beautiful voice John Marc has ever heard. They were friends, but since that magical moment, John Marc knew he wanted them to be more than friends. For John Marc has finally found the woman he can’t live his life without.

But the road was thorny, and the journey a heart-breaking one. The gentleman John Marc is, he waited for her to graduate college. Why? Well because that’s the right thing to do, he would say. From the moment he realized she’s all he ever wanted in life, all he’s been doing was wait and wait and wait. How much longer must he wait?

And then finally, after all the years of waiting, he has finally told her. He laid down his intentions and expressed how he so wanted to be her man. It was the moment he has long been waiting for. It was the moment she gave him a resounding “No”.

We have no idea how to wait for years to express one’s love, and then having that pure, unadulterated love get rejected so coldly. We have no idea how it is to cry out in tears for nights, deploring God to change the heart of a woman who doesn’t love you the way you want her to. We have no idea how it is to continue living day by day seeing no hues of color — days and weeks and months of black and white. We have no idea.

We have no idea that love is a battle, but John Marc does. He knew. He always knew.

For love is something you die for, for living without it is tantamount to death. And so you pursue love with all abandon. This is what John Marc knew.

So he persevered. Prayed harder. Wooed her again. Proved his undying love.

We have no idea how it is to hope against all hope. To be sustained by nothing but love. We have no idea that love is all a person could need. Until John Marc proved it.

We look at John Marc and Seneca on the day of their wedding, two incandescent lovers, and yet we see only one. One heart. One passion. One soul.

Gone were the days when we believed with all conviction in true love. Or in fighting for it. For the realities of life has led us to believe that love is as real as the existence of Santa Claus giving gifts to good children on a snowy Christmas Day.

But we look at John Marc and Seneca vowing “I do”, and we see love. Beating. Breathing. Blooming. Love who battled, got wounded, fought against all odds, battled over and over again… and won.

To my siblings

It’s not because I love you unconditionally. Indeed, far from it. And it’s not because I’m selfless. No, that would be a lie.

I did what I did, and I’m doing what I’m doing — awkwardly filling in the role of a father and breadwinner of our family for the past eight years or so since our parents separated — because I have to, because that’s what being the eldest sibling means, because I had no other choice.

But that too would be a lie.

Of course, I had a choice. I could have chosen to rebel and wasted my life away. I could have slacked off, made our parents’ separation and financial woes an excuse to retreat to a life of self-pity and misery.

But I didn’t.

I studied hard to maintain my academic scholarships, worked part-time to augment my income so I can support our family, and eventually graduated and got a relatively well-paying job. And all that because my anger to our situation and especially to our father fueled my intense desire to prove him wrong about leaving us. What better way to get back at him than to make him see us succeed in life without him.

Whenever I’d feel exhausted and hopeless, I’d hold on to my anger more fiercely as if it is the very source of my sustenance. My anger became the guiding light to my darkest days, the manna from heaven when I wandered in the wilderness.

What I did not notice was that as time passed by, as the three of you continued to perform excellently in your studies and mature into the kind of wonderful persons you are now, the lesser the flames of anger burned. The more we spend time together and the more we open up to each other’s lives, the lesser I felt the need to prove our father wrong.

Only now do I realize that I no longer look forward to getting even with our father. Only now do I see that the responsibility of supporting your studies and leading our family no longer became something I must continue to resent.

If I have loved you this much, if I have proven again and again how much of myself I’m willing to give for the three of you, it is only because you have reciprocated that love a thousand times more. If I have given up an awful lot for the three of you, it is only because you’ve consistently proven yourselves worthy of the things I’ve given up.

You make my life more fun and meaningful, and for that I am grateful.

For as long as I could remember

Maybe because I don’t know what it feels like to be affluent. Maybe because I wasn’t endowed with good looks that would make girls swoon. Maybe because I’m not particularly talented nor have something I’m really good at. Maybe because I’m a nobody, a simple guy with simple tastes and simple joys.

But for as long as I could remember, I’ve always believed that it’s not wealth nor looks nor fame that makes life meaningful. It’s love. And I’ve always wanted to love someone with every fiber of my being, to love someone even more than I could ever love myself.

How I intend to live my life

I don’t get many things right the first time. I screw up quite a lot. Sometimes I’m reckless, brash, insensitive, and emotionally distant. Sometimes the littlest of things make me tear up, like when I see a father lulling his baby to sleep, or when I see a hapless child begging on the hostile street. I’m a mixture of all these negative things and all the positive synergies; good and bad rolled into one. I’m a walking paradox, an exhibit of contradictions. And to be honest, I’m fine with that.

I have a lot of questions, and I know I won’t get all the answers. Maybe asking the right question is enough. I don’t know what the future holds — no one does. I don’t know what my legacy will be, or where I’ll go after I die (or if there will ever be a place to go). I’m still trying to figure it out: this world, my place in it, relating with people, love, apathy, death, life. I don’t know if there will ever be a time when I’ll figure everything out. I’m fine with that too.

I feel helpless sometimes, like the way one feels when there’s a sudden blackout and you’re in a new and unfamiliar place and you don’t know which step to go because you’re afraid you might accidentally bump into something and you might hurt yourself or someone else. Many times, this fear paralyzes me and makes me do nothing at all.

I don’t know a great deal of things. But if there’s one thing I know, it is this: that living in fear of failure or rejection or death isn’t the way to go. I might as well die than hide in my inner shell, afraid of the world. I might as well die than be afraid of life.

Life is meant to be embraced, every fucking aspect of it — the good, the bad, the in-between, the blah — and I intend to live mine screaming in exhilaration, both arms thrown up in the air, utterly relishing this roller coaster ride. 

Let this be my epitaph

HE LIVED THE WAY HE KNEW HOW.

That will be my epitaph. When people would speak about me at my funeral, I want them to speak about a man who has lived his life the way he knew how. That’s all that matters to me — that I have lived my life, the only fucking life that I have, the way I wanted to live it. That I became true to myself, embraced what I knew of life, and savored every breath I took.

What I detest the most is this idea of a “right way” to live. No, that is absolute bullshit, and I refuse to believe that. There is no right or wrong way of living. As long as one doesn’t break the law or doesn’t hurt someone else, then one is free to live his life the way he wants to live it. More often than not, we are too consumed about following the “right way”, about fulfilling our “mission”, about subscribing to the “right dogma”. I say that’s stupid, because who has the authority to say this is right and that is wrong? And would it matter what people say?

All that matters is what you think of your life. All that matters is what we think of the way we’ve lived our lives. Because at the end of the day, we answer to no one but ourselves.

And don’t you think it’s such a breath of fresh air? Such a huge relief that we are free to pursue what we want in this life? To me, it’s tremendously liberating. I’m free, free of all the pressures and expectations and missions and all the weight of this world.

I’m free to live my life, and I’m gonna live it day after day the way I know how. That is the only way not to waste it, I think. 

Musings on my comeback to Facebook

That I’ll be back on Facebook was something I thought would never be possible.

I’m a very stubborn person, and I pride myself with being able make a decision and stand by it no matter what the consequences are. When I deleted my Facebook account more than a year ago, I was so certain I want nothing to do with it anymore. Now as I’m writing this, it appears I’m not as very stubborn as I’d like to believe. Now that I’m back on Facebook, there goes my pride — flushed to the toilet bowl.

That I’ve mustered enough courage to make a 180-degree turn from the trailblazing path (so I thought) I have chosen to tread deeply bothered me. What does this comeback signify? Why the change of heart?

It would be a grave mistake to treat this comeback to Facebook as an isolated case. A fastidious introspection of my decisions and actions in the past posits a glaring disconnect between what I pride myself to be — that I’m too hard-headed so as to be unable to change my mind — and what I really am: a fickle, volatile wanker.

Take for example, my being zealously spiritual during high school and college. I could spew out bible verses after bible verses, and was so fired up with my faith I could ignite a conflagration if I wanted to. I wrestled with the world, with myself, to remain sexually pure, and even vowed to kiss dating goodbye.

Fast forward to post-college era: I can’t even remember the last time I prayed, and instead of kissing dating goodbye, I have mastered kissing my dates goodbye as soon as I’ve gotten what I wanted from them.

The more I glean and examine my previous beliefs, my written reflections, the more it becomes apparent that the glorious certainty that arises from a night of introspection is only but a passing show. The radiant glow that envelops me after triumphantly subduing an internal mayhem suddenly morphs into a dark shadow of guilt the next day. My beliefs, my epiphanies, are as fickle as the Icelandic weather, or the girl next door.

This ever-changing nature of self, this ephemerality and fluidity, has come into direct collision with my quest to finding my authentic self.

Be real, I always remind myself. Stay true to yourself, whatever that means, whatever that may cost. Fuck what people think.

But if the self is liquid, if the self changes with every mold, what then is the authentic self? Would it be a quixotic pursuit to find your one, stable, authentic self if you change from time to time?

My comeback to Facebook has led me to ruminate on these things: the fluidity of self and its constant undoing. Does my comeback to Facebook signify that I have betrayed my “authentic self”, the one who decided to get rid of Facebook more than a year ago?

Perhaps the answer lies in accepting and making peace with the liquid nature of one’s self.

When I decided to get rid of Facebook, I was being true to myself back then. I got fed up with the superficiality and banality that proliferated on Facebook. I was overwhelmed, oftentimes annoyed, by the deluge of nitwitted status updates. But mostly, I got fed up with myself, and hated myself for allowing Facebook to consume much of my time.

Although I found the Facebook-free life utterly liberating, I have to admit that it was also hard in the sense that most people I care about are hundreds, even thousands of miles away from me. They have been used to the convenience of Facebook in communicating and sharing their photos that it was too much of a work for them to send me updates and photos via email. I remember my siblings always prodding me to create a fake Facebook account (and I did create one) just so I could see their latest pics, and my Ate Violy expressing in her email how she wished I did not delete my Facebook account so I could easily see all the pics of her new house in Iceland and her vacation in Greece.

But that was all in the past. Now that I’m back, I’d like to believe that I’m being true to myself as well, the same way I was being true to myself when I deleted my Facebook account. The self that got rid of Facebook has now evolved. After more than a year of Facebook-free life, I’m convinced that I have finally learned to use Facebook for what it is, at least for me: a tool to communicate to the people I truly care about, and to be updated on what’s happening in their lives.

This clarity on the purpose of my use of Facebook entails that I create an exclusive group for the Facebook friends I deeply care about: my three siblings, my Tolo-Torres family in Iceland, a high school classmate in Singapore, an older brother (not by blood) and his wife in South Korea, and about five or so other friends. Also, I’m now excruciatingly selective on approving friend requests, making sure that the Friends I add are real-life friends — people I’d like to talk to in person (yes, there are casual friends to whom I don’t really give a damn about their lives). I rarely post a status update since I have this blog as an avenue to unload all my rants and musings. If there’s something I want to communicate to someone, I send a private message to that person. Or call, and meet up if possible. The principle I try to abide is fairly simple: use Facebook to communicate directly.

This method of Facebook use may seem extreme to other users, but it’s just what I need Facebook to be (lest I forget, Facebook has also been an efficient tool in stalking hot chicks and ogling at their profile pics, but let’s pretend I don’t do that).

More than a year ago, I deleted my Facebook account. Now, I’m back. Some time in the future, maybe I’ll delete it again, only to create another account years later. History repeats itself, right?

I believe in something today, write about it, and tomorrow I can’t recognize what I’ve written. It’s frustrating, this gnawing feeling that I could never be able to fully know myself, that I could never put myself in a box. But at the same time, it’s liberating, knowing that I could adapt, evolve, and change as time flows.

Even as I write these epiphanies down, even as I spin these musings on what made me come back to Facebook, at the back of my mind a familiar voice gently whispers: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Tomorrow, you’ll see, you’ll believe something else entirely.

That was all I needed to hear. Writing about my comeback to Facebook has been a pointless exercise in futility. I guess I better get back to my favorite pastime nowadays: stalking hot chicks on Facebook.

But again, let’s just pretend I don’t do that.