Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


When I was in third year high school, my 94-year old grandmother died of old age on Dec. 26. We all were expecting that; weeks earlier she was talking to people long dead. But a day after, my 4-year old brother unexpectedly died of some liver disease. He was already sick even before Christmas, and my mom had brought him to the hospital for a series of tests to figure out what was wrong with him. The doctor kindly deferred confining him until after Christmas. When we opened his toys that Dec. 25 morning, he was too weak to even smile. Two days later in the hospital his heart failed all of a sudden. And just like that he was gone, his toys unused.

When I was in first year-college, a taxi trying to beat a red light hit my best friend. His head smashed through the windshield; his legs were broken in several places. He died mercifully on the way to the hospital. The doctor said had he survived, he would have been a vegetable crippled for life, given the amount of damage on his brain and feet.

Because I encountered death at an early age I was forced to get a grip on major losses in my life. When my dad died three years ago it was painful. But in a way I was also happy that he was already at rest and in peace.

The more I encountered death up close the more I realize how death is really a part of life. And whether you believe in an afterlife or not, each and every death reminds me of two things.

First, what matters more is not the length of stay in this oh so short existence, but the quality of life. Now, we may have different ideas of what kind of living constitutes a “quality life.” But whatever kind of life we believe is worth living, let us live it as best we can. I personally am not the intense kind of guy, so there are days when I feel like I’m just coasting along on existence. But I’m fine with that. A life is made up mostly of the small, inconsequential stuff instead of the huge, life-changing events.

Second, a very important lesson one can learn is letting go. With detachment comes power and peace. I’m not talking about power as force; rather, it is more of empowering oneself. And there is peace in knowing your place in the larger scheme of things. Detachment doesn’t negate feeling sad that someone died. But it helps one move on and continue living.


Anonymous said...

insightful yet pragmatic post joel.


aryo said...

Sigh ... sigh..

Sometimes people treat letting go as insensitivity, or worse, lack of love or longing for the person lost.

They don't understand that there are those like us who grieve just as hard inside but would rather face life head-on rather than just wallow in sorrow and relish nothing but the past.

josh said...

Your piece made me think of my own death (morbid ba). saB ko na nga sa mga friends ko, when i die, i cremate nyo nalang ko, i just dont know kung saan dagat o bundok ibudbod. ganda naman u said "death is really part of life".

little tiger said...

Thank you for your words of wisdom!

joelmcvie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joelmcvie said...

ARYO: Sometimes I wonder if people who refuse to let go of the dead are:

[a] Unrealistic. Hello, patay na po ang tao! Kahit anong gawin mong pag-hold on, hindi na po yun babalik. But that person can always "live on" in your memories. So if the dead can "live on" then the living should all the more "go on living," di ba?

[b] Selfish. Bakit ayaw mong pakawalaan? Kinuha na nga siya ni Lord, tapos ayaw mong ipamigay siya kay Lord? Ang suwapang mo naman.

[c] Guilty? Baka feeling nila hindi nila minahal ng lubos nung buhay pa siya, so they make up for the pagkukulang after-the-fact. Sayang naman ang effort.

Supply your own theories. :-)

amateur misanthrope said...

Wow. I love this post. (You should put a label to it para madali siya ma-retrieve. in case folks want to read it again.)