On Loop

That moment of total exhilaration, upon hitting the “Save”/”Send” button; a quick glance at the clock, the slow realisation of finality (It’s really over?!), a blank slate/a tabula rasa—a reboot is in order; a wave, in slow motion, made up of relief/anticipation/adrenaline/sleepless-caffeine-induced-hallucinations, comes washing over.

That’s been on loop in my head for nearly two weeks now.

And just the same way I murmur to myself, my own pom-pom wielder, each time I am 1 kilometer away from the finish line:

You’re. Almost. There.

Okay, distraction number 18934397547 over. Back to Me–versus–Cursor. 

Be firm and hold your ground when drawing the line between right and wrong—but never, ever, break their spirit.

I know nothing about motherhood, but—if/when the time comes—these are words of advice I will surely live by.

Alone

So be lonely. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.

— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat Pray Love)

And so, as of late, I am beginning to understand why the feeling of loneliness seems to be a rather alien concept in Filipino culture. This idea of loneliness could be better described with isolation and disconnected—and is hastily casted as a first world city emotion. And supposedly, the general assumption why this doesn’t thrive rampantly in Filipino society is because of the dominating presence of community and family, and that Filipinos just have other things to worry about. If you dig deeper into the dynamics of inter-personal relations, you might notice a strong, almost urgent, need for attachment. People meet, connect, then connect further, have a follow-through, then their friends connect, their families connect, and they are connected forever. I know this might sound hasty, but such seems to be the general process to produce the quintessential Filipino relationship (platonic, familial, romantic, whatever). Its characteristic is everlasting, rarely ever fleeting.  Be friends with a Filipino; share a really nice moment and agree on a mutual connection—you’re friends forever. You might not regularly maintain this connection, okay, but re-connect at some point and it’ll be as if there was never really a disconnection. The key ingredient here is: attachment.

Here is a culture that doesn’t leave room, space or time for one to be alone—as in, enough to actually feel lonely, in that isolated/disconnected sense of the word. My general observation is, we are culturally predisposed not to sit with this loneliness when it does strike. Besides the omnipresence of the family, to be detached let alone solitary for an extended period of time would be commonly regarded as, well, queer.  Of course, these are all general observations and postulates and do not attempt to represent any particular group, sub-group or the society in its entirety nor disregard the fact that this may actually exist within the same demographic of peoples I refer to.

Our culture of community is often described as tight and interdependent. I say, key characteristic here is: dependence.

I can’t help but wonder, as Filipinos, when are we ever really alone? In this socio-cultural context, what does independence even mean?

Essays in Love

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[…] One does not get angry with a donkey for not being able to sing, for the donkey’s constitution never gave it a chance to do anything but snort.

[…] The arrogance of wanting to be loved had emerged only now it was unreciprocated —I was left alone with my desire, defenceless, beyond the low, shockingly crude in my demands: “Love me!” And for what reason?

I had only the usual paltry, insufficient excuse: “Because I love you.”

Humour lined the walls of irritation between our ideals and the reality.

Now I vaguely understand how I got through 4 semesters of philosophy in uni (+ that one on existentialism in French). This book landed on my lap last Friday. It was devoured in less than 24 hours. I’ve had a keen interest in Alain de Botton and keep promising myself to get hold of copies of The Art of Travel and The Consolations of Philosophy, though never got around to. Essays in Love was his first book, written when he was 23 —and certainly my least expected weekend read (I never knew about it until it, quite literally, landed on my lap).

The book seems to depict the thoughts, questions and dilemmas that we may often dimiss as overanalysing doubts whilst we are caught in such amorous phases (of, you know, love). And while they may indeed spin heads and possibly induce some mental diarrhea, one cannot help but recognise (some if not most of) these supposed overanalytical, overrationalising thoughts that in the end, one way or another—if one manages to disengage from the mental centripetal force, actually do help.

And though de Botton proposes that Romantic Positivism nor Stoicism may not be the healthiest or best philosophical approach to, well, getting on with life and bouncing back post-love —I am certainly curious to see what actually does work for me. (Personally, good old ‘stoic and I have been fairing quite well).