When Everything Seems As It Should Be

Thursday, October 1, 2009

“You have a perfect life, a good man, a stable job, good friends, a loving family…”

How many times have I heard this, and how many times have I been thankful for it? Countless times, of course. And yet…

Of course there would be the inevitable “and yet..” We’ve grown accustomed to people complaining so much, that we are almost taken by surprise (or more often, envy and irritation) when someone tells us how wonderful and amazing their lives are. I honestly don’t know what started it, but mankind seems to be always drawn to negativity, always thinking about what is wrong with their lives, that they forget that they’re truly luckier than they see themselves to be.

But that’s not the way it is in my case. I know. I know it, I do realize it, and I sincerely appreciate all the blessings that has been given me. I am thankful for them each and everyday. But.. but I’m not happy. Oh yes, I smile, I laugh. When asked, “How are you?” I say, “I’m fine, I’m doing well, thanks for asking.” But recently, or rather, occasionally, I’ve been plummeting to random moments of depression, which appear to have no valid excuse to be present in my life at all. What more could I want? I guiltily ask myself. If I’m not satisfied with what I have right now, then how would I know what would really make me happy? To be free?

It was on a sunny morning, while I was on the way to work that I was feeling so low and thought of these. Those ideas were really bothering me, seeing that I really had nothing to worry about in my life except that maybe I’ve made the wrong choice or that my father had done the choosing for me. But despite that I knew, as an adult, that I had to be thankful for his guidance and that so far, I still feel that I have been brought up correctly and that maybe.. maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. Or maybe I’m supposed to be somewhere else but I don’t have the courage to make the decision myself. Or maybe following another path would make me unhappy. Clearly, I was very confused.

It so happened that that afternoon I decided to read, at last, one of Paulo Coelho’s books. (You’re already probably thinking, oh she’s just gonna blab about how Coelho enlightened her and changed her life, but honestly, I don’t care two cents what you think) I know they’ve been around for quite some time now, but I never got around to reading more of them, in fact, I only read the Alchemist, nothing else. Randomly, I chose The Zahir.

My eyes literally grew in surprise as I read page after page. There, among those sentences are the ideas, the musings that had become my personal Zahir for the past few months.

In his first chapter, about him being a free man, he said:

“I heard other people speaking in the name of freedom, and the more they defended this unique right, the more enslaved they seemed to be to their parents’ wishes, to a marriage in which they had promised to stay with the other person “for the rest of their lives,” to the bathroom scales, to their diet, to half-finished projects, to lovers to whom they were incapable of saying “No” or “It’s over,” to weekends when they were obliged to have lunch with people they didn’t even like. Slaves to luxury, to the appearance of luxury, to the appearance of the appearance of luxury. Slaves to a life they had not chosen, but which they had decided to live because someone had managed to convince them that it was all for the best. And so their identical days and nights passed, days and nights in which adventure was just a word in a book or an image on the television that was always on, and whenever a door opened, they would say:

“I’m not interested. I’m not in the mood.”

How could they possibly know if they were in the mood or not if they had never tried? But there was no point in asking; the truth was they were afraid of any change that would upset the world they had grown used to.”

And then on another chapter:

“No one should ever ask themselves that: Why am I unhappy? The question carries within it the virus that will destroy everything. If we ask that question, it means we want to find out what makes us happy. If what makes us happy is different from what we have now, then we must either change once and for all or stay as we are, feeling even more unhappy.”

Have I found out then, what makes me unhappy? Is it that, I am not truly following my heart's desire, that I am not following the path that I have meant to take, and am only ambling along as people direct me to?

I am afraid that I wasn't really supposed to take up Architecture, and this is something I've never told anyone but Jay. I never, ever wanted to doubt it, but when I was in 3rd grade, my father told me that I would make a good Architect someday, that my talents would be perfect for such a profession. And so I asked and saw and got interested with Architects, and that's when my dream began. So does that mean I was supposed to have my own dream? My father didn't even impose it on me, it was just a suggestion, but from then on I made it my goal, without really fully understanding what I should be doing and how I would be getting there.

If I have to "change once and for all", what else should I be then? I tried to think of what I wanted to be, when I was way younger, and I could think of nothing, absolutely nothing, except that I wanted to be an actress, ("gusto ko maging astista" haha. funny. but yeah, I did.) or a model (funnier, as if i'd have a chance). So scrap them both, what else should I be doing with my life? [edit: I remember that I dreamed of becoming an Archeologist too, but I guess aside from loving History, that's just too much Discovery, NatGeo and History Channel for me?]

I do want things to change, but I never had the courage. Until now, I still don't. Knowing that I have to is small comfort, but someday, I wish to take that leap, too. Coelho makes sense, but for now I want to believe the monotony of my life is because of the work I am in, and its environment. I think it is even precisely that which drove me to this muddled state, just because I have begun to feel so very very bored with it, which almost has nothing to do with Architecture anymore.

I WILL leave, and I will take it from there. I WILL be an apprentice somewhere that would allow me to exercise what I've learned, and if by chance I would still not feel happy, then it really would be time to reevaluate whether I should carry on or not.

-September 23, 2009

** I wrote this as a draft but didn't reach a conclusion until a few days later, after typhoon Ondoy struck. The drastic turn of events brought about by the hurricane had an impact on me; it didn't affect me directly but a sudden awareness of death, suffering and misfortune made me appreciate life all the more, and realize with shame that I was being self centered again by thinking only of my own unhappiness, when a lot of people are dealing with tragedies that are infinitely worse. I saw how sheltered I have been, if things like these shook me up, what chance do I have then, If I was one of the victims of Ondoy, when everything was a matter of life and death, and if you do survive, a question of whether you'll recover everything you've had before is something you would have to deal with afterwards?

My prayers go to every victim of Ondoy. I hope the Philippines recover, and learn from this disaster.

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