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)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Passion Versus Peace

Last night I met up with Migs and Corporate Closet. The two had very interesting updates on their love lives. They’ve blogged their stories already so I will not talk about them here (just click on their links above). Instead, let me ruminate on something that’s been bothering me for quite some time now.

I noticed that whenever anybody (including me) goes kilig over someone, my knee-jerk reaction is to flee the other way. It has actually become worrisome for me, all this reflexive, self-aware warning lights flashing. What’s happening? Am I turning allergic over something most people desire—those kilig moments? Am I turning into a kill-ig-joy?

Upon further reflection I realized I now have this inherent skepticism and wariness over intense emotions. Let me clarify: when I say “intense” I mean the high highs and the low lows of emotions, and I’ve experienced that a lot. I’m Piscean, I’m very sensitive and emotional (zodiac non-believers can drop the first part of this sentence and it’ll still hold true). They’re the type of emotions that made me want to shout out to the whole world, “I’m in looove!” or wail to the high heavens, “Why meee?” Intense emotions make me skittish, di mapakali; I want to text him immediately even though we both just put the phone down a mere second ago. Giddy, head-buzzing, butt-turning “intense” passion is what I’m referring to.

There’s a difference between those “intense” emotions and those “deeply-felt” emotions that give one a sense of pervasive calmness and serenity. I remember sitting on a cottage in Tagaytay looking at the view of Taal Lake when suddenly my mind went all blank and calm and a sense of oneness with the whole universe took over. It was so awe-inspiring and overwhelming yet oh so peaceful and uplifting. It was as close to a rapturous experience as I could ever get.

I realized that “intense” emotions come and go, but once they go we spend our lives trying to experience them again. It’s like a junkie in need of an immediate fix. It’s a drug that makes us want to repeat the highs again and again. I wanted to feel the rush again.

I realized that “deeply-felt” emotions also come and go. But there’s a big difference. I felt as if touched by the Divine, and that feeling can only be savored as a gift. It may come again, or it may not. I can only be thankful, and let it go at that.

Letting go. I think that’s what’s been fueling me these past several years. I’ve always been single all my life; when you’re single for 41 years you learn to adjust. One of the things that I had to resolve is my need/want to be with someone. Yes, everyone wants to have someone whom you can share your life with. But what if you haven’t met anyone who fits the bill? I don’t think lowering your standards will help; you’re looking for a long-time companion, not a quick bang in bed. Besides, I don’t think my standards are way too high as to be unrealistic; if you look at my closest friends, you’ll see that while they’re not run-of-the-mill ordinary, they’re not quirky out-of-this-world types either. And I have taken chances at going beyond my usual “types”, and they all ended up going nowhere.

So what do I do when I’m the only one left on the bus station and everyone else around me has found a ride? Despair is not an option; sungitness is ugliness. I’ve gone the cynic route too. Hah! Love will tear us apart, again. Again, it just leads to unhappiness and sungitness and ugliness.

Meanwhile I’m sensitive! I’m emotional! I have needs! So I keep falling head over heels, left and right. There are those who start off great, and then ka-pow! He already has a boyfriend na pala. He’s just interested in me as a friend. He’s just being friendly. He’s just after sex. After 41 years the pile of rejection letters aren’t that funny anymore.

Am I unlucky? Am I cursed? Am I doing it wrong? My golly gosh! Others have been doing it much, much wrong-er, and they get to snag a BF or two. Or three. Sometimes at the same time! So I’ve decided that the questions “Am I unlucky?”, “Am I cursed?” and “Am I doing it wrong?” are not worth asking.

So I continue to wait. But waiting isn’t exactly easy when you see people around you getting hitched one after the other. And you see couples getting together for all the wrong reasons then breaking up painfully. Or you see seemingly perfect pairings that come apart.

After 41 years I’ve learned to adjust to the waiting. And one of the things I’ve latched onto is (irony alert!) the value of letting go. There is value in detachment. Or in the words of our lola, “there’s no greater power than the power of goodbye.” I think I got that when I stumbled upon the teachings of Buddhism.

The Four Noble Truths are one of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings. The Four Noble Truths are a formulation of Gautama Buddha’s understanding of the nature of “suffering”, the fundamental cause of all suffering, the escape from suffering, and what effort a person can go to so that they themselves can “attain happiness.”

The Four Noble Truths (excerpts lifted from Wikipedia):
[1] Suffering exists in life. A more accurate simplification of this truth is “Life is full of suffering.”
[2] Suffering is caused by craving. Put very simply, it states that suffering results from expectations linked to our desires, and our attachment to those desires themselves.
[3] To eliminate suffering, eliminate craving. The third Noble Truth reflects on the belief that suffering can be eliminated. It asserts that it can be done, and that it has been done.
[4] To eliminate craving follow the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

It does not espouse dedma-ism, which I think is a mistaken notion of detachment. Instead, it says to eliminate craving. And to do that, one must do right. What prevails is not what you want, but what is right. (CC, this last sentence is specifically for you, hahaha.)

Furthermore I prefer the Desiderata route. Passion can still have a place in the world; it can fuel the creation of great works of art. But it should be tempered with moderation. After all, real sublime art is already around us, not just in Tagaytay; one can find it when one is at peace with the world.

And the phrase “world peace” gains new meaning.

* * * * *

Whew, that was tiring to produce, much less watch! Now don’t get me started on “emotion versus intellect” or else The McVie Show will implode.


Anonymous said...

wow. this is the post that i need right now. it puts a lot of things in perspective for me.thanks a lot.

closet case said...

HAHAHA. may dedication pa! hmmp!

thanks, mcvie. i guess you just HAD to get it out of your system. that friday night JUST WASNT enough. hahaha.

i believe that there is a place and time for everything. (ano nga palang quotation naman eto???) a time for the wild swings of emotion, a time for peace and solitude. allowing ourselves to experience the joys and the sorrows ( the peaks and valleys) makes us appreciate the peace (the plains) of our lives. ultimately, its the control of self that matters. knowing when 'to get off the bus', and when to catch the next one... or when to simply wait at the stop.

sus. i miss him pa rin. WAAAAAH.

joelmcvie said...

CC: "With every thing, turn, turn, turn / there is a season, turn, turn, turn" is the song. Which in turn, turn, turn is based on a passage from the... drum roll please... BIBLE! The Bible trumps the Desiderata any time, hahaha!

Seriously, I'm not saying "Nay!" to the peaks and valleys. It's just that you actually are IN LOVE with those peaks and valleys, at the expense of your commitment to your hubby. You're addicted to the feeling of "being in love", to the point that you went against a promise. Going against your word in exchange for... what? What's more important for you, those peaks and valleys, or your reputation as a man of your word?