I’m Just Not That Into It

Friends who I talk to/chat with regularly must know one thing about me: if we are discussing about a particular topic and there is a sentence, phrase, or even a word that struck me and made me think, chances are I would write an entire blog post about it. I may not discuss it with them further, but if it stayed with me long enough, there will be a consequent post. It’s nothing personal, really. I think it has just become a habit to construct arguments around certain general topics. Others call it overanalyzing. I call it brain exercise.

So I was talking to a high school friend earlier and we were just goofing around talking about how to declare your love to someone. I showed him an awful Tagalog story I wrote in college entitled Kung Bakit Mahirap Bumasted, and he told me jokingly that I should write something like Kung Bakit Mahirap Mabasted. I replied in jest that, never having wooed anyone, I wouldn’t know what to write because I don’t know how it feels. He told me to try it sometimes and I told him, hell no. I would never be the first to tell someone I like him. It just seems weird. I told him that I will probably do it only if I’m like 99% sure that the guy likes me too. He told me, “That’s not love.” Maybe not, I said.

Yeah, maybe not. Maybe, most of the time, I just don’t care enough to make a big deal of how I feel. Or maybe it’s just the traditionalist in me. I still believe in courtship—and I mean proper courtship. Not the i-like-you-i-like-you-too phase, then, BAM! You’re officially together. I want someone to convince me that we should be together; that it’s worth taking a risk. Not because we both know we like each other. Mutual affection doesn’t necessarily translate into a successful relationship. And it’s not wooing when the guy already knows the girl likes him. It’s less effort for him and he gets cocky because he knows it’s a sure win. I mean, seriously, no.

Or maybe it’s because I don’t have a purpose for letting that person know. To take it to the next level? No, thanks. I don’t necessarily want anything out of it. Liking a person and wanting to be in a relationship with that person are two different things. Others may argue that, yes, nothing necessarily has to come out of it—just the relief that you’ve finally admitted it. Well, I don’t think it’s a relief so much as major awkwardness waiting to happen. Once you say it, it’s out there hovering around you like a big metaphorical question mark. I just can’t find the logic behind admitting someone you like them if you don’t want anything to happen. It defies the very sense of the act.

But, let’s look at the other side of the coin. If, hypothetically, Guy tells Girl that he likes her, does his courage equal to love? Is it the same thing as risking to get his heart broken? Is it love when he saunters blindly through a maze of emotions, not knowing when or how he will get out of it? Is the relationship less likely to fail?

Honestly, I’m confused. Maybe he’s right that it’s not love when you can’t risk rejection, when you always have to be sure first. Or maybe it’s Occam’s Razor once again—that it’s not anything complicated at all and you’re just not that into it. But at the same time, I don’t think love can be reduced to something as trite as boldly declaring your affection out of the blue and expecting nothing in return. Because you always expect something—even when you don’t tell that person. And anyway, talk is cheap and people change their minds all the time.

But hey, who am I to tell others what counts as love and what doesn’t?

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Truth and justice

I’m not the most religious person in the world. I’m honest enough to admit that. I haven’t even read the Bible in its entirety and I don’t know all the apostles. I just know enough to try and be as nice as possible to people and not cause anyone inconvenience or harm. I mean, you don’t have to be a devout Catholic to know that screwing with people is wrong.

But if there is one thing I like about being a Catholic, it’s going to mass and hearing a really good homily. I think that priests are similar to Literature professors. After all, the Bible is like a really complex piece of ancient literature that should not be taken in literally. And if there’s anyone who could shed light to the masses about what it means, it should be the priests.

As I said, the homily is my favorite part of a mass. I love the lessons. I love the deconstruction of a scripture down to the word, its implications and relevance to our lives today, and how it could shape us, if we allow it. For me, it’s not a matter of faith in the Catholic Church so much as really understanding what’s being said in the Bible and being guided by it to live a life with the fewest casualties possible.

But that’s the problem sometimes. There are times when I attend a mass (which is not often, I admit), and the priest just downright destroys my faith in my religion. If there is anything I can’t tolerate, it’s discrimination and arrogance. Arrogance that other religions are not at par at whatever it is we think we’re prevailing in. I just don’t understand that part—that sometimes it feels like a contest against other religions. Why? None of us will come out alive in life anyway. We’re all headed towards the same fate. We already know we’re all going to die. Why still make other people’s lives miserable along the way?

But anyway, the homily. I love priests who actually discuss the scripture and not merely tell people what it means (or what they think it means). I like it when after a mass, I leave wondering about what the priest said. I like it when people make me think (not a good thing with other, err, topics though). My favorite priest is still probably Father Mark Lesage. Back in college when my friends and I used to attend the novena masses leading up to the parish feast, Father Mark Lesage sometimes initiated the mass. Unfortunately, the last time I attended his mass was in 2007 (I know).

Despite the time that passed, there is a particular sermon he gave that I could not, and will probably never forget. Father Mark Lesage doesn’t speak Filipino fluently, but he is still understandable and it was delightful when he did. What he said was about truth and justice. He said that truth has now become a relative concept, and most people don’t put a lot of thought into it anymore, that it has become merely a word. But what gives life to truth is justice. His exact words were, “Ang katarungan ang nagbibigay buhay sa katotohanan. Ang katarungan ang mukha ng katotohanan.”

And I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said, even after I went home that night or the following days after. Up to now, actually. When I look back to what he said, sometimes I think maybe he meant that it doesn’t matter if you know the truth if you’re just going to keep it to yourself. Because it doesn’t give it justice. There is no justice to keeping mum when the right thing to do is to speak up and tell the truth. But then I think about the people who are too afraid to talk about the difficult things that happen in their lives. I don’t necessarily think that they are evading justice. I think it’s sad though, that we don’t have the luxury to always tell the truth even if we want to. And I wonder what would make it okay again to be honest to other people, especially to the ones we love.

The Way I Look at It

Life is a big playground. You feel very small when you look around you, but you still think it’s all a great adventure. There will be bullies who will try to punch you or trip you on your way to the sandbox. You may end up with cuts and bruises, or come out unscathed. Either way, they will always be jerks and you will always have survived.

There’s a minimum height requirement to minimize injury when you fall, so don’t worry. Everyone will (most of the time) come out of the playground alive. There is security to monitor child activity—moms, dads, older brothers and sisters, babysitters. They keep a watch on you but they trust you enough to keep their distance and let you play. The best part is when you look at them and you see their smile of encouragement. But despite the splendor of it all, it’s never only fun and games.

For instance, the sandbox is a pit for discovery and imagination. The thought of creating something with your own hands, save from a few basic tools—it’s amazing, no matter how temporary your creation is. It’s even more fun when you have friends to help you make something. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by supportive and nurturing people.

So, the sandbox is good, but try to avoid the swing set. It may give you a certain kind of exhilaration. But the truth is, you don’t really get anywhere. You just keep going up and down. And the higher you get, the higher the risk is of falling. The seesaw, however, is an excellent choice. It gives you two perspectives: what if feels like when feel like you’re on top of the world, and when you have your feet flat on the ground. Plus, it lets you appreciate your friends when they are at the top.

The monkey bars teach you a very important lesson—to hold on for dear life when it matters, and let go when you’re too tired and you’re already at the end. It teaches you common sense: why hold on when you can already let go? Why let go when you’re in the middle of the ride and you know you can make it to the end?

Riding the merry-go-round is a bittersweet experience, but it’s my favorite. You’re moving and staying where you are at the same time. You go on in (what feels like) an infinite ride and you see everything and everyone else in the playground pass you by. And you realize how fast life goes by, how it feels like you are running out of time and how it kind of makes you sad, what with the poignant music playing along and the dancing lights in the merry-go-round.

But you feel relieved when the three minutes is over and you get off the ride. Everything is still more or less the same, and there weren’t big changes that happened while you were gone having the ride of your life. The alarm from your earlier realization fades a little bit and reaffirms you that you still have more time that you knew you had. And somehow, that’s enough to make you feel okay.

We are not broken

We are the What-Ifs personified. Those who have loved and lost; those who have loved alone, gained nothing and still lost everything in the process; those who have not tried but claimed to know the perils of being in love; those who have forgotten what it feels like and live in constant wonder.

Many think we’re weak, that we are near the edge and about to fall into an abyss that we have created ourselves. They are wrong. We are comfortable in the profundity of sadness and we understand happiness. Those make us who we are, not our broken hearts and our tear-soaked eyes. We are not broken so much as we understand ourselves better than other people understand themselves. It may be our biggest misfortune—to know who we are and what we want—but that knowledge does not break us.

The biggest sacrifice of knowing oneself is also the biggest prize. And so we are not broken. We are whole, only flawed, like everyone else. And we keep looking—not for the one who will make us complete, but the one who thinks we already are.

Before I possibly go to jail

To say that today has been a sad day would be an understatement. The entire nation was threatened to be shut up by monsters who fuck things up unthinkably worse than any civilian’s comment or response in social networking sites. The sad irony is that also today, aspiring politicians filed their candidacy, excited and all giddy from their lust of power. I don’t know about others, but there is something very fucked up in that picture. But really, the saddest thing of all is that there are people who don’t seem to care that much. Seriously. And these are the people I see who post very personal, almost inappropriate status updates; people who write down nearly all their thoughts about random things and post it on their walls; people who don’t seem to grasp what privacy really means. These are the people who don’t care.

So who’s really to blame? The people who have a lot of stupid things to say on a regular day and decide to shut up when it really matters? The government who somewhat acknowledges this and didn’t think anyone would really pay attention to an issue this serious and scary? That one person who is so mind-numbingly incompetent that his actions are almost laughable if they weren’t so infuriating?

Personally, I hate this. I really hate this. And I think we’re all to blame, one way or another. Whether it’s posting something inappropriate, tolerating other people who do it, or worse, turning a blind eye to important issues—we have contributed to this entire mess. Granted, our leaders are not the smartest ones when it comes to public service. But if we think we are smarter or at least smart enough, why did we let this happen? Why did we let it come to this?