Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chasing muses

published 14 February 2016

The term “friend” is an equalizer. It puts on the same category your immediate family, your partner, your relatives, your actual best friends and barkada, your dentist, your landlady, your schoolmates from high school you were never close to, your sixth-grade adviser, your colleagues, your boss, people you met once or twice and struck an interesting conversation with, your crush, your ex, and that fellow whom you’ve consigned to the friend zone. 
There are ways to group these “friends” and tailor what each group sees or can post on one’s wall, but who wants to go through all that trouble and think about who can see what every time you make a post? The assumption is, if it’s out there, it’s there for the world to see. 
The word “share” also means more than uploading a photo, ranting against the traffic, expressing or posting a link to an article you found interesting. Taken together, all these posts give our “friends” a pretty good picture of the kind of person that we are. And if they’d still like us to remain their “friend” or at least continue following us. 
The assumption is we do not bend our truths or embellish our realities. Yes, sometimes we talk about how challenging we find our jobs or how proud we are of our children. But that’s people being happy about their lives and sharing it with those whom they consider their friends—yes, I ditched the quotation marks.
Sometimes, however, part of human nature is to raise other people’s esteem of us. Who does not want to be perceived in a good light? Sometimes perception is as important as reality. 
But then some people go too far.
What do we do with those whom we know to exaggerate the facts of their lives so that their lives appear more prosperous, more successful, more stable, more charmed?
The natural impulse is to unfollow or unfriend them—and then once in a while shake our heads at how desperate they are. That’s also human nature—staying away from the things that bring us stress or irritation. 
What would be a cause for worry is when these people are family members we’ve known a long time, and their persistent desire to exaggerate or embellish their actual situation has been a pattern over the years. How do we help make them realize that they do not need to resort to these because we love them anyway?
Nobody’s life is perfect. There is a lot of happiness and love, but there is also sadness and anxiety and inconsistency and conflict and wrongdoing. 
Real friends do not care that you are not perfect; they care about whether you are real. And they will love you anyway.
•••
I have to do a mea culpa here. I have been disappointing some readers and myself as well for my failure to write a column for several weeks already. 
I could go on and on. I could say the past few weeks have been crazy, exhausting physically and psychologically. I could say I’ve had a lot on my mind. I could say I have had to attend to many things on all fronts.
I could say I have not been inspired in a while. 
But many other people have been busy and have not been inspired as well, and they have somehow managed to deliver. 
The truth is there is no muse in what we do. Writers’ block is a luxury, one that people in this track I have chosen cannot afford. There will not be a lack of topics, people to talk to, opportunities to explore, points of view to assume. 
One just has to step away from it all and drown out all the noise—and then many things will become clear. 
I close with these lines from Rainer Maria Rilke to remind myself of and celebrate my one true love:
“There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?”
Eight years ago, I started a blog called “A Resounding Yes.” I will get back to it soon, as well.

adellechua@gmail.com

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