Saturday, April 16, 2011

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           How do you say goodbye to the life you’ve had? How do you turn your back to eight years of your life? How do you cut a great career short when it is about to bloom? How do you justify uprooting yourself and starting all over again?
           These are the questions that haunt me now. What was once something far off in the distance is now right here staring me down in my face. I thought that I had enough time to prepare for it but now that it is here, I realize that I never was.
            By the grace of God, I have lived a charmed life. I was blessed with a strong mother who showered me with just the right mix of love and discipline. I was given a love for letters and books which broadened my mind to better understand the world. I was blessed with an inquisitive mind and was shown a path that never wavered through the years. I never experienced abject failure in my endeavors.      Even when certain troubles came, they were often trivial and easily hurdled. I did good, mostly.
            The first twenty one years of life passed by like a breeze. Childhood was a dream, elementary days a charmed interlude filled with great memories. High school was a rather fast affair but filled with wonderful friends and precious memories. College was just fine with its share of regrets and wishful thinking, completely normal emotions to feel when caught in the cusp of young adulthood. I emerged unscathed and stronger for it.
            After that, it’s one blessing after another. I never did have to look for work despite my rather below average efforts in college. I became a teacher (though I never envisioned myself as such when I took up tertiary education) and did well by it. My students still know me and every once in a while, they connect from out there from their corner of the world warming one’s heartstrings. It is the greatest vindication for a teacher to be acknowledged by ones students and I was never short on that.
            Yet, I must bid adieu to that stage in my life.
            Eight years passed by so swiftly. I finally leave my twenties with its rather carefree nature to tackle the seriousness of true adulthood. Middle age beckons just around the corner and one is faced with the reassessment of one’s life. While my current life is considered to be a success (which I don’t deny), there is a deeper longing of self that must be addressed. I want to say someday, when  the twilight of my years come knocking, that I truly lived my life.
            To touch lives as a teacher is a privilege and many would do anything to be that one. This is one of the things that hold me back.  Am I turning my back to this great calling to satisfy a selfish desire? It is not easy to answer. I probably will wrestle with this decision for the rest of my life.
            I wish that it is easy to rationalize decisions. I wish the world was perfect and that choices didn’t have to be made.
            Yet choices must be made.
            And goodbyes must be said.
            I think all persons are allowed to be selfish just once, and this is for me.
            I once thought that I’d follow the ideal path to adulthood. Graduate without a hitch, pass the board, find a job, save for a house, look for a woman, have a kid, raise a family, then enjoy the rich rewards when old age comes. I finished the first steps without a hiccup.  And then I reassessed myself and found myself woefully unqualified for the middle steps. (LOL). That’s the downside of having a mind overanalyzing everything. It has the tendency to convince itself that it is not prepared.
             And honestly, I am not prepared. Marriage is not for everyone. Family life is not for everyone. Some are destined to spend a life in solitude, to take the road less travelled. While I may have the financial clout to support a family with my job and the maturity of mind to see that marriage is a working compromise (and not a fairytale story), and I believe the making of a fair father and husband, this path was never meant for me.
              As Tarja sings it, ‘I walk alone’.
              There is a dream I have. I see a small house beneath pine trees, a simple house with a study and lots of paper. It has a work shed at the back strewn with carpentry tools and half finished artworks. The cozy den has a violin stand near a dormer window which overlooks a sleepy Beetle parked inside a cobblestone lawn. If you look beyond the Beetle you see a small farm with fresh greens sprouting from the loamy earth. Beyond that, you see majestic mountain ranges draped in fog. Obscured by them but visible in clear days, the wide expanse of the blue and majestic sky.
              I see myself there, writing when it strikes my fancy or hammering away at some imagined masterpiece that would be junked by others. I can almost feel the cold night as I pull my parka around an old body while managing an amateur tune from the trusty violin.   Outside, the song of the crickets would be at their loudest and beyond the night the stars awake.
              That is my dream. To retire at fifty and not continue to slave away for some cruel taskmaster in order to put food on the table or pay for a never-ending mortgage. I cannot commit myself to a life of labor (well, not all of my life anyway, LOL). I see the rat race that is life and I see that it is not for me.
              It is a selfish dream.
              ….
              I probably could reach these heights on my current job. Reality, however, is different. While the career maybe glamorous, the remuneration is not. Life is not an equation in which variables once solved make everything fall into place. It is an ever shifting theorem that continues to adapt to the forces where it is exposed to. I have to adjust to those changes.
             And the reality is, there are certain sacrifices which must be made if one is to realize one’s dreams. Even when it means uprooting one’s life and starting over again from scratch.
             So I must take that step.
             This moment, however, feels me with melancholy.
             There is sadness when one reaches the crossroads of life. There is always sadness.
             …
             The years pass swiftly. Ten years is just one hundred and twenty months. Days pass by like the flickering of a candle’s flame against the wind. Who we are ten years from now would be the result of the decisions and choices we make for the next days of our lives.  Life is awfully short and sooner than later we come face to face with our mortality. It is an inevitable confrontation which will test our wills.
              I faced that and I realize that time is getting shorter.
              There is a time for everything.
              While it maybe vanity to chase after the wind, there are some things that must be pursued while we still have the strength and the passion.
              I will be chasing mine.
              And to do this, one must say goodbye.

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