October 12, 2003 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Musings and Epiphanies, Something | 1 Comment

October 10, 2003

There is so much of the world to see. But I have known no place aside from the labyrinthine roads of Manila. I know very well the scent of her soot, the color of the dirt on her face, the stench of her mouth and the faked warmth of her embrace.

Sometimes I wish people could fly, or I were a mutant who could teleport just so I can see Paris in summer or New York in autumn. I suck on my cigarette, cock my head up to exhaust the fume and I see an airplane taking off at night and long to take that last flight out of Manila and never come back.

Sometimes I imagine myself walking down a busy street in New York. I am lost in a sea of people who are taller than me, people with red, orange, blonde, black or brown hair, and I am suddenly aware of my skin color, my eyes, and my race. Would it make me distinct or just more self-conscious? But I have to admit, that�s not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes, I imagine settling down in some place like Norway, in those times when I hate the sun and wish I didn�t have to be anywhere near the equator. Or maybe live in the wilderness of Alaska in search of the Northern Lights and an epiphany or two. Any place where it�s freezing cold and I can use heaters and don�t have to rely on human warmth to keep me from getting numb.

Or maybe in some wet, damp city like Seattle or Vancouver or London where the brooding, intense, introverted part of me can fit in perfectly with the constant downpours.

But If I do leave, will I find what I am looking for? Will I land a job that engages my mind like a brilliantly laid out puzzle? Or will I end up washing dishes instead in some rundown fast food joint? Will I fall madly in love with a handsome French poet or end up bed hopping with the same old shit heads that abound in this city? Will I hone my words and turn them into a bestseller? Or will I end up wasted and wounded; an unpublished upstart who thinks the world owes him for putting down his words into paper? Will I fit in or will I just be a casualty of bigotry? There is too much fear in me to step beyond the comfort of my comfort zone to risk planting new roots somewhere else.

Manila is my �context�, and everything in it � friends, family, work � are the factors that intersect and relate to help define, expand or limit my sense of self, and my ability to exercise my personal freedom. What happens when I take myself out of that �context�, and place myself in a new environment? Will I be free enough to see for myself who I can be?

People I know who have gone abroad are almost invariably vocal about their desire to come back home. The reason they left were primarily economic in nature, and after realizing dreams aren�t easier to chase anywhere else, they begin to long for the madness of the home country. But my motivation is equal parts emotional and economic. I do long to find a job that pays big, considering I feel undervalued in a market where I am dispensable and there�s probably a million other people who can replace me. But part of me wanting to get the hell out of here has also to do with a sense of helplessness derived from not being able to fully realize my potential as a human being. There is an untapped potential in me that isn�t merely hindered by economic hardships, but also from a basic sense of incompleteness and bondage. Bondage to all the things that keep me grounded.

Which makes me wonder: is there really freedom in leaving?

I�m really not in a position to say. But this I know: more and more often nowadays I look around me and I tell myself that this cannot be the future. There has got to be more to life than hacking speeches for a politician, puking my guts out on Friday night binges at some club, overdosing my stomach with caffeine on weekday nights and fantasizing about guys whose names I couldn�t screw the guts to ask.

Maybe, just maybe, if I leave this all behind I would learn to appreciate what I have now only when I realize it�s all gone. And from there I can be free to build up from scratch and assumingly make fewer mistakes. Maybe I just take the phrase �burning bridges� too seriously. But the thought of starting anew someplace else where nobody knows you and where you come from has the word �exciting� written all over it and it does make me think.

It makes me think about my place in this world, in the over-all scheme of things. When I feel like I don�t belong or like I should be someplace else instead of where I am, I often think of another city. Any city aside from Manila and I feel like I�m more at home. Some call it wanderlust. I call it soul-searching. Where do I have to go to be happy?

But don�t get me wrong. I do enjoy the company of friends. I love my family. I like my job. But it�s me I�m having difficulty dealing with. My context unsettles me with its bland familiarity. I am dissatisfied with the routine I have settled into. There is no incentive before me that would make me kick myself in the butt. I am not challenged. And I take this to mean that a radical shift in the way I look at the word is in order, and I can only do this by heading off into the unknown, by literally exploring the world and settling down somewhere else.

If life is indeed a road, I feel like I�m going down a highway driven by inertia, not by a clear desire to head somewhere. Now I am at a fork, and it�s time to put on the brakes, look both ways and see what�s in store for me down the other road. It could be a dead-end, but as they say, every minute spent living is another chance to turn one�s self around.

I realize that just as in anything else, it�s not about the destination as much as it is about the journey. It doesn�t really matter where you�re going as long as you enjoy the ride. And if putting some fun back into driving means putting on a pair of wings and flying, then surely the impossible doesn�t have to seem ridiculous.

So maybe it isn�t about the �where� as much as it is about the �how�. I can go any place if I really want to but I guess that still wouldn�t make me happy. But I�ll die if I don�t at least try.


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  1. Love your work! I am trying to create a blog too!

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