Returning a Gift

A good friend today blurted out to me all of his pains on feeling he has been betrayed by people and by certain causes.

His predicament came at the time when classes are about to be wrapped up, when our cares in the classroom must be put to an end, and when all our labors in the academia for five months must be offered to the altar of wisdom.

The friend came with full composure.

He is that: poised despite the feeling of panic, calm despite his own terror within.

He is an artist, this friend.

Sensitive and caring, he has the capacity for mindfulness, absorbed in the details of things, and yet able to see the bigger picture without losing sight of what a good word could do to produce something enchanting and magical, something that would turn the world around one more time.

He tells me: a person returned his gift to her.

I told him: it is strange.

He said: she asked for that gift.

I told him: then take it back.

Then came the long, silent pause.

I did not want to invade him as he sought his refuge in the silences of moments. I let him be, and I remembered the same feeling I felt when I went through the same experience.

Our stories run parallel now, and the shenanigans of finite time come to haunt us, overtaking us from moment to moment, and giving us all the self-doubts we need to affirm the authenticity of our dreams, desires, visions.

In our work with the academia, some things are black.

Some things are white.

But in between are the grays of all kinds, all hues.

The in-betweens are real, and the hurts more so.

Academics wear many kinds of masks and play many kinds of roles.

Trained to think, sometimes their thoughts wander, and these go to the far reaches of another universe until we realize they are not themselves any longer.

Some academics have resorted to looking at the world from the perspective of convenience and comfort, and from their angled perspective of greatness.

Some have this wistful thinking that their eminence must be recognized all the time, every time, and failure to do that means a failure to acknowledge your debt to them, your debt of gratitude that should not die but should live on and on, forever and ever.

It is the same malady we see among many writers, Ilokano or otherwise, but more so among Ilokanos.

Some can afford to come up with a systematic campaign to destroy you.

Some have the capacity to smear you with all the dirt and mulct they can get to destroy whatever reputation you have got.

In cahoots with all those willing mindless souls on the Internet, they can cannibalize you, body and spirit, and destroy you by all means.

This friend looked at me straight in the eye and tells me, ‘It is not worth keeping, this gift that was returned to me.’

I tell him, ‘Keep it forever so you remember that some people have pained you and you will gain from this pain.’

‘Yes, you are right,’ he tells me. He takes the gift returned to him and puts on the shelf of his office, that shelf that he sees everyday that he comes to work.

As he arranges his books, I look at those majestic Manoa Mountains with the clear skies as their backdrop.

The scene invites.

It is lonely at the mountaintop. 

Hon, HI/May 10, 2013

No comments: