Saturday, April 16, 2011

UFC 124 and Life

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I just returned from a whole day of catching up with former high school classmates and watching UFC 124. It was a necessary distraction for my life which lately has entered a stage filled with uncertainty. I went there not really expecting anything but left with a renewed sense of self. Well, not really self enlightenment for it was nothing of the sort but rather a reconnect with something I probably wouldn’t have connected with alone.

Unfortunately, Koscheck lost to St Pierre in the UFC main match. I guess age and a player’s one dimensional approach to a fight had something to do with it. Or maybe Freddie Roach is the best trainer there is. After all, St. Pierre won the bout through his pinpoint precision of his jabs and he was Roach’s student. I would have wanted Koscheck to win, him being the underdog of the fight but that’s how it went.

Out of the males of the high school class I graduated with, only four of us were able to make it. Many of my former classmates are either married or tied down by careers. Those who weren’t had other engagements which prevented them from meeting with us. I guess it reflects how transient life is. Circumstances always conspire to keep us tied down to certain paths and despite our best intentions to make room for impromptu gatherings like the one we had, our situations in life often prevent it from happening.

Life moves on... While we watched St Pierre demolish Koscheck’s right eye, others went on with their lives. While we reminisced upon old memories of high school, others made new memories somewhere else. While we contended with what it means to be bachelors in our late twenties, others contended with other more pressing concerns. And while we talked about a certain girl that kept us guessing about her circumstances, she is probably having her beauty sleep or contemplating her modeling career.

Life moves on...

Inevitably, of course, after the discussions about our batch’s lack of a Senior’s Night and the infamous CAT graduation fiasco, we settled on the ultimate question that beset men our age: stability. It was done on a roundabout manner as men are wont to do when they talk about this kind of thing.

Two of us are leaving successful careers for the possibility of something yearned for. I am leaving mine for greener pastures and my friend left his for a much needed break. Quite frankly, I have a nice career (well paid as to the standards of my current place of residence and very fulfilling) but it lacks the capability to support my dreams. I’ve realized that spending the next twenty or thirty years of my life doing the same things over and over again wouldn’t give me the retirement that I once envisioned. If I was to enjoy the twilight of my years, I needed to let go of it and risk a new path. Hence, I made my decision. On the other hand, my friend has reached a state wherein he faced a burnout at work. He had a great career, financial and stability-wise but he realized that in order to regain a sense of order in his life, a change of scenery was warranted. He needed a break.

Call it the pre midlife crisis we face. It’s quite normal, I guess for working men like us. We reach a point when we realize that there are certain things that must be tackled for us to make a life for ourselves. We all face it, sooner or later. What is unique about the two of us is the fact that we are both singles. We have the freedom to uproot ourselves and risk the unknown. Should this crisis afflict the married ones, chances are they would have hesitated and probably wouldn’t have had the courage to commit to the risk we are taking.

Which brings me to the second major thing that was tackled. 'It' was discussed in a joking manner (and in front of a Jack Daniels product) and rather unfortunately, I had to serve as the recipient of the discussion. It is simple, really. The topic was women. Yep, we men talk about women too when we get together; we just do it a tad different from the way women talk about men.

Three of the four of us present are bachelors. Two are good looking men (unfortunately that doesn’t include me) who are probably many a girl’s fantasy (the only thing going for me is probably my penchant at being good in my career and my noggin). Successful men who have the wisdom and the flair to go with their physical attributes. The fourth was a married guy, quite happy in it, I dare say and enjoying his stable married life to the fullest.

Despite what we bachelors say about the joys of single blessedness and such, deep down, we really hope for someone special to fill up the emptiness that fills up our lives. No one can deny the innate desire to have someone warm to share our lives with. Gadgets and gym workouts are poor substitutes to endorphin rushes. We need the real thing and while Jessica Alba and her ilk hammer us with their pouty lips and sultry eyes, we wish for Nena; the girl next door. Or the unmarried doctor up the street and yes, that married classmate from high school we never confessed our love to. Or that young one which bedevils us with her charms.

Man is not a solitary creature. He needs companionship to survive. He can choose to be silent with his feelings and suffer the consequences of these actions in his later years but when everything has been said and done, he pines after that love he never got to express. Or in some of our cases, we imagine the possibilities of the many ‘what ifs’ and regrets that remained unvoiced through the years.

Then there is the future. We count the unmarried among our batch and voice our opinion about who are the most probable possibilities (in an imaginary far fetched scenario, note imaginary); look at those married and wonder what would have happened had some of us had taken the courage to ‘fess up years ago and talked about the regrets we felt about the present now. We talk of ‘salisihan’ and the danger of love and misplaced romance, about Pedro and Juan’s right to a girls heart. We talk of women’s penchant to snatch the first men who offer themselves when they reach a certain age; of men’s downfalls and tribulations when they get hitched. And whether Nena is a supermodel now, transformed to the object of lust for other men.

I was the recipient of good natured ribbing much like the eldest being prodded to take the first foray into the unknown (although I was the youngest there, probably, my face does not show this though). They pushed girls (imaginary) my way and tried to figure out the best fit: an exercise of futility done for the sheer humor of it. I was bombarded with dating advice (most involving winking at girls and other verbal and nonverbal approaches not fit for writing) which was a funny exercise. Beneath the humor though and the casualness of it, the more serious aspect of it lay for all to see. Unlike women, comfortable in talking about things like this in a straightforward manner, we do it in jest.

We are at an age where we need to settle. If the KO line for women is 3 – 0, ours is 4 – 5. That leaves fifteen years give or take before we take on the mantle of DOMs. But that KO line is deceptive. As one of my friends said, when others are living their lives, we will only just be starting our lives. It is a risk and a tragedy waiting to happen. The long solitary road we live  is lonely, plain and simple.

Life is brief... It is as my favorite quotation says ‘a blink of an eye between eternities’. It ends sooner than we expect and happens even when we are least prepared for it. It is filled with regrets and untraveled paths; broken dreams and unrealized ones; unspoken loves and faulty romances. It is also filled with laughter and friendship; love and romance; Jack Daniels and red wine with chocolates. The good comes with the bad. Like the bout between Koscheck and St Pierre, it has its victors and its losers: continuous chapters in this saga we call our life.

And one looks forward to UFC 125. And hope that this time, it’s the underdog who wins it all.

(Addendum: for the love of God, can someone give Michael and Peter an update on Nena. They're dying to know what happened to our supermodel classmate...)


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