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and why it’s immoral.
“As a result of his experiments he concluded that imitation was a real evil that had to be broken before real rhetoric teaching could begin. This imitation seemed to be an external compulsion. Little children didn’t have it. It seemed to come later on, possibly as a result of school itself.
That sounded right, and the more he thought about it the more right it sounded. Schools teach you to imitate. If you don’t imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything – from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
You know the feeling. That instance of impact of slightly reheated slimy coffee that has gone untouched for three days (or you don’t know how long it has been standing there, really, breeding colonies of bacteria and fungi), on your unsuspecting tongue, well not exactly unsuspecting as you are still able to keep a semblance of a well-kept apartment, so you have an idea what you will get yourself into and probably how long it has been since the last time you brewed coffee; still you go on as it doesn’t matter now.
You have an interesting idea in mind, something unique, life-altering if only it were given an existence that can be grasped by the senses, your computer is on, Michael Buble is filling the place with his velvety singing. You just need your cup of coffee to complete the feel, so you can finally see in writing that idea gestating in your mind for the past thirteen minutes and is now ready to be C sectioned or be given birth naturally (This metaphor bothers me, but I think it sounds nice. I’ll wait, fifteen minutes, perhaps. If it still sounds interesting to me after reading my final draft, then the metaphor will stay).
But your cup. It is giving you that gnawing awareness, warning you, of a forthcoming melee. Between your stupid self and the radioactive content of your mug.
But you had it before, back when a 3-in-1 would do, back when you didn’t know the difference in taste between a five-peso-per-sachet mixture of sugar and artificially flavored coffee declaring itself “Italian taste perfected” and the overpriced but definitely more decent tasting signature coffee sold in a nearby coffee shop chain which high school students from an exclusive Catholic school located across, wanting to look cool, sip affectedly with a stick of cigarette in between fingers during breaks from their dull afternoon classes.
You know how it tasted. How evil it tasted. That mixture of 3-in-1 dissolved in tap water heated below boiling point gushing from your dorm’s rusty 1950s lead pipes. You know how it tasted after having stood on your study table for two days undisturbed, ants free diving in it, vacationing while their queen lay waiting for her loyal worker ants to bring back the loot.
But like then, you choose to ignore because there are many things in life that simply can’t wait. A great idea is one of them, unfortunately this time. And so, you sit in front of your ailing computer, ready to tackle the mocking-as-it-has-always-been blank, white space. And you begin typing on. It runs smoothly, your mind, that is; writing never felt this good before. The idea comes out as if it is unencumbered by the circuitous organelle-dotted canal that connects it and the bright and brave world outside.
Then you think, “where’s my mug of coffee?” You extend your arm; take hold of the handle of your favorite mug without looking, your rapt attention on the screen. You bring the mug close to your slightly parted lips. The stench gives you some warning, but you opted not to take heed. Your idea is approaching its most crucial leg, you can almost see the head. Then you take a sip. No, a gulp.
Then you know how stupidity tastes.
I find the way I pursue fitness these days almost too religious. Due to the recent freedom I acquired, of course with so much misery it has caused me, I have now more time in my hand to work on my pecs, abs, glutes, and all those other muscle groups whose other half of what they are normally called in an anatomy class in the university are amputated and replaced with the more fashionable -s and -es suffixes.
I’m at the nearby gym for two hours every night, from 7pm to 9pm. I rest on Sundays. Even God rested on the seventh day. I’m already beginning to see visible effect. I feel pride whenever I see my reflection in the mirror, sweat bestowing my growing shoulders and arms that beautiful glisten one can only achieve after having spent hours pumping iron.
I train regularly because I’d rather fill my free time with something that benefits my health rather than spend it on useless pursuits such as daydreaming or watching online porn. Of course a man my age will never admit having enough free time. One’s worth after all is measure by how much time he spends working and keeping himself productive. And I have not outgrown this fallacy, hence the almost dogged adherence to routine.
But, it seems to me now, that this has nothing to do with routine, or any reason that runs along the same vein. I think that what keeps me from abandoning this routine is because until now I, and I’m not sure if I will ever be, am unreconciled to death.
It’s my hopeless attempt to hold death and its advance party, led by aging, at the gates. One morning, I woke up and saw myself looking intently at the reflection of my yet-to-be washed faced in the mirror. I was surprised me to see myself looking shocked and awed at the sight of fine lines on my forehead. Fine lines were never an issue before. I’d stay in the sun for many hours oblivious of the effects it will have in my skin all because of that golden tan that made me look healthier than I really was.
Suddenly lines became everything. And I am faced with aging and it visceralness.
I can’t stop myself from smiling reading memoirs of my students.
Normally (and I find the manner I overuse this adverb peculiar), I wait for two to three weeks to gather my dirty clothes for laundry. This was not the case before. Not so long ago, when I was still living in Mandaluyong, no matter how late I went home or how preoccupied I was with work and schooling, I made sure I had already taken my laundry to the shop below my building before Sunday. This was to make sure that I had enough space for other things in my 3.5 square-meter room in a unit I was renting that time.
Now, however, I let my dirty clothes accumulate for three weeks and sometimes a month before I take them to the laundry shop just across the building where I am staying. And it is disturbing sometimes how the cabinet where I store them gets too full. I always have to kick the doors with so much force I inevitably hurt my right big toe.
Having my laundry done regularly has become a burden to me. It’s also exhausting sorting them.
Seriously, I got nothing really to say in this post. I just thought of writing something tonight in my lame attempt to free my thoughts of the nothingness it has enjoyed basking in for the past days, perhaps weeks. It’s amazing how the human mind degenerates the moment we let it succumb to the comforting hum of routine. Some less tactful people would call it rut; I would call it comfort.
I haven’t done any substantial readings for weeks now. I find myself hopelessly looking forward to the end of the week when it’s just Monday. I guess it takes so much honesty to admit that nothing much is happening in and to one’s life. That’s exactly what I feel this time. Nothing is happening. To me and to my dirty clothes.
I need to have them washed soon.