|Quest for that yellow umbrella on a sea of black|
My friends say I am an optimist. I think so, too. I think that if I weren’t, and given what I have had to deal with since I was a kid, I wouldn’t be here today.
Key to being an optimist is the belief that sooner or later everything is meant to fall into place. We may not know how, or when. It suffices we believe – no, we know and claim – that it will.
Let me cite a few examples.
I did not go into journalism at once after college. I felt I needed to find gainful employment and working at a newspaper would just pay a pittance. I also had young kids whom I could not leave when there is a coverage. Mom was a reporter, herself, for Standard and for other newspapers, and so I knew what the demands of the job were like.
And so for nine years I wandered from job to job. Some engagements lasted two years, some, just a few months. I was in business and in government and even in a cooperative. I wrote stock market reports, speeches, many other things. It did not help that life at home was turbulent and dissuaded me from contemplating an actual career. Until one afternoon I got a call: somebody wanted my resume and samples of my work and asked if I could meet him for an interview. That somebody became my first EIC.
This was how I got started with Manila Standard. I am still here, more than 10 years hence. We have many...ugh... complaints, my colleagues and I, but we stay on because at the core we love what we do.
Twelve years ago I started plotting carving out a life of my own. I even tried to effect this change from seven time zones away. Alas, I always fell back into the hole.
Actually, wanting to carve out a life of my own took even longer, perhaps five or six years before I actually started plotting. I remembering cradling the infant Sophie in my arms, putting her to sleep, while lying on a hammock by the garage of our old residence. I could see a patch of sky when I looked up. In the daytime there were clouds against the blue. At night, there were stars. Occasionally I could see an airplane passing, blinking in the dark.
And I thought to myself: Is it all there is to it? This life I used to be excited about? Will I just die like this not knowing what it is to thrive, to really live, to have a spring in my step?I could not immediately say what day of the week it was: each was as bleak as the one before it.
It was only in July 2007 that I mustered up the courage to do what in my heart I was meant to do – live, with my children, on my own terms. I have not looked back since.
Yet another example was my pursuit of a graduate degree.
I had amassed most units for an MA in applied business economics, but failed to get the degree. Several years later, I got into the UP College of Law. Any person less stupid or less distracted would have jumped at the chance to finish and excel. But again, for a myriad of domestic reasons, I was unable to continue. I did not even make it to second year.
Still, I had always known I was cut out for higher studies but I had no idea where, or what. Development economics, perhaps, in UP, since all I really wanted to do was make a difference?
One day in late 2010 a colleague asked me why I was not applying for the MA program in my school. I honestly did not know that there was a masters program in journalism – in fact, for undergrad, I shifted out of Communication (and into English literature) because I felt comm was too broad and all I really wanted to do was write.
I snagged the fellowship and earned decent grades, building my knowledge and contacts along the way. Wouldn’t you know it, the same department offered me a teaching post for its undergraduate journalism subject. I am now typing this entry from my desk at school. :)
Finally, leaving town.
All my life I had lived in Valenzuela City, but I knew that at one point I must move out and settle somewhere else. It made practical sense. Valenzuela is at the northern tip of the metro, traffic was terrible and it is notorious for the flooding. It’s not just me to worry about, it’s the kids, too because they’re grown and going out a lot, themselves.
I stayed put just half seriously considering options. The places we were looking at were too pricey. Can I really manage to move cities? In my heart though I knew I wanted a change. In my mind I wanted a great view, great ventilation, and a functioning kitchen. Home after all is a place you can't wait to go to.
And now we live where we live.
Now again I am at that point where I know I am meant to be somewhere else but I do not know how on earth I am ever going to get there. It is just too difficult, and I am just too human, and often I feel I am just too worn down to fight.
Control freak that I am, I also cannot seem to accept that things and situations have always been there and I have no power to change them.
This is now why I feel I have no recourse but go back to believing that things will eventually fall into place. Otherwise, I will lose my mind.
Perhaps the outcome that I want will happen. Perhaps the universe will take care of all the big and little aspects of my dilemma and voila! I will get as I wish for. Perhaps the right people will grow some spine and act on what they say they want to do. Perhaps all the duplicity will stop and we can trust that people are who and what they say they are. Make choices and stand by them. Because I am who and what I say I am and I stand by the choices I make.
Or perhaps something greater is in store. Something I cannot contemplate or fathom or know, just yet. Perhaps it will be immensely better than what I think I want. Ah, I tingle with anticipation! But I am also mad with impatience!
Where I am now is unenviable. This is a place of uncertainty, insecurity. Despite everything I still think I am blessed. I am able to imagine a future date when I am no longer here, when all questions have been answered, when I am exactly where the universe wants me to be.
And then I will say, with a chuckle: “Aaaaah, so this is why I was such an idiot back then.”