Blank is context

How foolish of me to think I could actually leave such an important part of my life behind. Writing has always been around, a constant companion swatting my head back to sense when I need it the most. It’s just that lately, I haven’t done much of it — actually none of it at all, unless required.

Maybe taking this plunge is my (overly-dramatic, as usual) way of seeing if this is something I’d really want to keep around. Not that I could ever stop lugging around a pen wherever I go, it’s just that lately, I’ve been fueled by this sense of urgency, maybe an early onset of senioritis, and I feel like I have to make decisions about my future — which suddenly seems so tangible — immediately.

Then again, I’ve always let myself be enamored by things, hobbies, people, just because I never really understood what it’s like to be “moderately” interested. I’ve always gone in with full force, and I found that whatever it is that I fancy, I let it consume me. This is a really dangerous tendency, of course, since fire always gets extinguished, and I either end up being reduced to ashes or starting another not too long after the last one has been put out.

I remember being a kid and being scared by possibilities. It’d either take me a second to tell you what my favorite color is or what I want to be when I grow up, exhilirated by what is to me certainty at such a young age, or I’d change my mind the minute a teacher moves on to another student, fidgeting in my seat until I inevitably burst out with a range of new answers, from green to astronaut to magenta to lawyer. I would, and sometimes I still do, feel a sense of incompetence for not really knowing what I want — or rather, knowing all too well what I want at a given instant, an instant being a day, a month, or three years, only to doubt this soon enough and completely switch gears.

But isn’t it a characteristic of youth to have this yearning to see life playing out from different angles, to want too much, to completely abandon previous modes of seeing once a better view comes along? A few weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that age matters after all, and it’s absurd to stoop down to someone’s level or to tiptoe just so you can look out from another person, another generation’s window. While it’s all and good to know that everyone goes through the same phases anyway, I feel like I must let these whirlwind affairs play out instead of wanting always to extract answers. No one can deny they make for good stories, too.

What comforts me is that whatever I do, wherever I find myself, at the end of the day I arrange words in my head, most of the time unconsciously, wanting only to recreate the scenes on paper. Memory is just that, isn’t it, a patchwork, units of thought called schema that we arrange over and over again as if a puzzle, granting each piece color or scrubbing them clean? Writing is this perpetual effort to fit pieces into place, only with an urgency that doesn’t die out, as natural, as innocent, as breathing.

So put the word down on paper:
From there your cities build.
             Blank is context.
White and fruitful void.

            – Gemino Abad, The Future Is First Shaped By Words

The minutes leading up to sunrise were the coldest on Mt. Talamitam. That day, you held my hand as the sky was being ripped by pretty strips of dawn, like flesh being torn by a knife, but instead of blood, out gushed light, and morning exploded. You kissed me, and there it was, finally. Warmth.

But then you let go and skipped over to a rock. You wanted to pray. Faith gripped you the way fear did most people — you’d close your eyes and murmur a novena for lost souls. Sometimes, like that morning, you’d ask me to join, but I’ve long lost interest in things divine. Not too long ago, you started including me in your prayers, hoping to force a miracle. I laughed in disbelief.

Meanwhile, I thought of summits as holy grounds, and just like that, we were bound together in a fellowship of sorts. You carried the weight and I followed your footsteps, fallen leaves crunching under my feet. I held onto branches and on to you to hoist myself up. I scrambled up rocks and with words. You, on the other hand, smiled through brisk assaults and have been through this a thousand times before, telling me to pack only essentials the next time. It took a while before I realized that up there, with you, I didn’t really need much else.

The minutes leading up to the sunset are the most beautiful here, but you will never get to see. I remember your hands clasped in prayer as day tucks comfortably into night, ushering the stars to their places and darkness to its reign. The sky steals back all light, all life, and evening sneaks in without a word, like eyes closing and denying any more sights,  surrendering to eternal sleep.

The mountain thinks it’s the same. But without you, it’s wrong.


Mt. Talamitam. 2013.
Apologies to Dean Young.