Of Red Horses and Men

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I’m a city girl at heart, always have, always will be. My version, though, doesn’t involve leisurely strolls on wide sidewalks, sashaying in between high-rise buildings with an iced latte in one hand, my phone in the other — well, at least, not all the time. My city also involves evading muggers, dirty footbridges, standing room only in buses during rush hour,  knowing with utmost certainty that global warming is not just science fiction in a packed jeepney when squeezed between giggly students and a young man headed to yet another job interview also sweating for all they’re worth and poverty staring you in the face everyday and having to deal with the gnawing guilt of being unable to do anything. Manila, despite the allure of the business districts and the gigantic shopping malls, has a thousand faces — you choose what to see. I’ve seen most if not all.

And it is with this in mind that I headed to Cubao Expo last night for a breather. I actually needed a drink, and some time on my own to think. I’ve found that beer, pen and paper are the best tools for fast recuperation, and I was losing time, I needed at the very least, an intervention.

See, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been enamored by concerns either petty or juvenile or both, and I was getting sick of the vanity, really, the very act of allowing myself to indulge, day in and day out. I needed to snap out of it, I haven’t been feeling like myself anymore, and really, nothing and no one is ever worth this much anguish.

I thread through the streets of Manila six days a week and I see the good and bad — but I can’t pause to marvel at beauty or feel genuine indignation for the injustices we can actually prevent anyway, all because I’ve stopped caring for anything else besides myself and this monstrous need to be adored and valued and showered with adulation by anyone, really. It’s pathetic — how we, for all that we’re worth, for all that we are, bring ourselves to ruin by indulging in our conceit, anchoring our days on how much or how little love we get.

They make it seem sublime in the silverscreen and in paperbacks, and there might be some truth to that, but I like my balance, even more than anything. Having to preserve it actively and consciously to feel the least semblance of sanity threw me off, I truly needed to reevaluate what’s important to me. I shouldn’t have to clamor and beg and rationalize and overthink — I am too proud, and too much of a believer in right timing and Taoist notions, for that.

I say this not out of spite, but really, we shouldn’t have to force things, much more, people, into our lives. Let’s leave it at that.

After about a hour and a half of simulatenously people-watching and transforming teenage angst into words, I looked up and saw a friend who then brought me along to the neighboring bar where other familiar faces apparently were for hours now. They were four, five years older; I was a wide-eyed Philosophy freshman when they were seniors. It was good, unexpected fun with great, witty folks — and came at the time I needed it the most. Isolation, in my case, is just a laughable myth, and perhaps this is why I’ve felt so bad about my equilibrium being disturbed: I forgot all about the things that mattered to me, how the world is a huge place and each of the seven billion a new face, and there was I, sulking about, well, boys. Pathetique.

I’m at my best when I am assured of what I am, what I want, and my reasons for desiring. I’m at my worst when I am dazed and confused about anything. I’m all for surprises and accepting all that comes — and leaves — my way. Getting what I want and wanting what I get has always been a good rule of thumb, the Stoics’ twofold way to happiness has always worked for me. What we don’t get, what isn’t there for us, perhaps because it isn’t deemed appropriate by cosmic forces, shouldn’t be forced into our orbits.

This, too, shall pass. It always has, it always will.

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One thought on “Of Red Horses and Men

  1. Ria Pavia says:

    I understand what that is all too well–the need, that is, to have space for oneself outside the house. Even if you have the most private room of all, it’s still within an environment with people who know you or think they know you and it’s still mentally stifling.

    Glad you were able to catch a break. Doubly glad you shared it here, because it has inadvertently reminded me that taking time out for oneself literally separate from everything is not bad at all.

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