Tonight I shall leave Manila and go wherever it’s quiet.
I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for two hours now waiting for something to happen. Occasionally I would check mails, read some Facebook statuses of friends and other ‘friends’ I got no idea how we became friends, and browse random sites that eat up much of my time. I originally planned to spend this morning recording papers of my students, computing grades, and fixing drafts of grad school requirements due next week. But the web beckons with so much promise and invitation the little control I thought I have is of no match to this beautiful hole that sucks everything in, as it feeds on my time like a flesh-eating bacteria lurking on this part of my living room.
It’s a battle that’s waged in many fronts; in fact, I am currently thinking of the best strategy on how to escape this vacuum whose suction is too powerful I predict that I shall waste another precious hour staring at a broken pixel of my screen. Behind me is a stack of dirty dishes waiting to be washed and a bagful of a three-week worth of laundry waiting to be taken downstairs. And how stupid can I be for having allowed it to slip me that the laundry service will be closed until Monday next week? And, I need to mop the floor, dust the furniture, arrange my books, and drop by the library this afternoon to return 10 overdue books.
I have not done this for a long time–staring in front of my computer aware of the the fact that if I stayed here longer than necessary, I shall need to readjust all the other things, miss other appointments, and sacrifice the already little sleeping time I have doing those things I could have already finished had I been not too weak to resist this idleness.
But isn’t time only an abstraction? It’s not something that can be ‘wasted,’ is it? If I sit idly here for the whole day, it’s immaterial because I shall be given another set of inexhaustible time tomorrow (but isn’t the word tomorrow an admission that time is culturally material?). Can time be given away? Funny how we view time this way as if it’s something that can be saved like money or a broken relationship. Funny how we view our time as a precious entity (so long as it’s our time), as if it’s a currency that can be exchanged. We all feel terrible when we “waste” time. But when we simplify all these abstractions, time will then be all about, in its most fundamental, being here and being dead the next moment.
Should we decide to use it on inconsequential matters–say doing what I mentioned a while ago, writing this post, or reading this post–have we really wasted time? I looked around and saw the rest of the day.
I cannot stay here.
The much, too much a cacophony of noise on my Facebook page brought me back here on my blog to write again. To do the quieter act of writing that I miss a lot. A writing that’s less angry and bitter. I have gone sick of what seems to be a pressing need for everyone on my Facebook news feeds in expressing his thoughts on almost everything.
Nowadays, one’s silence is considered scandalous, the highest and the worst form of apathy. No one has the right to be quiet anymore lest this silence be interpreted as complicity. Of not doing anything to correct the wrong. I suggest we stop or slow down a little, and ask ourselves where this loquacity has led us. It has made us too busy to listen, too self-conscious, too full of ourselves; oh how we enjoy staring at ourselves being reflected in our witty Facebook status. Our Facebook status has become the quickest way for us to be heard, perhaps the only one thing that empowers us in this space that functions best at deadening our senses. Our only pathetic agency. And the likes are concrete indicators that somehow, somebody’s listening, reducing us all to likes, reducing all existentialist questions to questions of likes.
This ephemerality of our chosen medium, of posts being covered, superseded by other posts supposedly more important than the ones before, not necessarily contending against each other but definitely competing for our fleeting attention, has been a bane to us. This ephemerality has brought us nowhere. Although we have this comforting feeling that as a species we’ve made giant progress, in truth we’re deeper into the void we’re made to feel we have escaped.
We’re still lost, maybe even more lost this time. We’ve lost touch of what we truly value. Reflectiveness is a forgotten value of our time. We’ve all fallen victims to the medium. We fret about concerns of deciduous significance. The present is the only thing that really matters to us. We’ve lost hold of our past. And how we dread the uncertain future. The only thing that’s real is this invented present.
All this because of our grinding desire to be heard now, of a want to express what’s currently in our mind lest it obsolesces the next minute, where we are currently at lest time steals it away from us, who we are currently with lest this person abandons us, what we currently eat. Now this is truly sad. Everything is too important, too important we cannot entrust them to our memories.
Perhaps, this is why I am back here now. I want to relish this page and its beautiful silence that I missed so badly.
By now I should already be in my warm room in Cornell sipping hot coffee, maybe sleeping, compensating for my lack of sleep after more than a day of journeying from Manila to New York, or probably daydreaming about my talk on Sunday. Instead, I’m now in a deserted bus terminal in Syracuse, shivering, waiting for a 3:30 am trip to Rochester, or just waiting to be mugged like how it is in the movies. From Rochester, if I get very lucky reaching it, I shall wait until 8 in the morning later for a bus bound for Ithaca.
This is the most recent misfortune in a string of misfortunes.
I left Manila on February 27 on an Emirates flight going to Dubai that had to layover there for 8 hours (!). I did not realize before purchasing the ticket that I would be spending eight hours figuring out the best way to position myself in those narrow airport seats attempting to sleep knowing fully well that I can only sleep horizontally.
At least this decision to take the Dubai route was something I feel could do nothing about. Since it’s the cheapest among my three options that time.
I forgot to bring my suit which I carefully ironed the night before I left. This means I shall look like a naked banana on Sunday. Thank God I remember to stash a necktie in my shoe.
From Dubai, I was asked, and gladly said yes, to give up my seat for a family of three that wanted to be on the same row, then only to be seated next to an elderly Indian couple who seemed to be fighting each other over everything.
Did I say I spilled hot coffee on my crotch? And since it was too much of a hassle to request the couple to stop fighting for a moment and let me pass, I endured the pain of the heat and the later uncomfortable feeling of the soaking sticky liquid that’s beginning to dry up and stain my gray jeans.
As I am getting off from a shuttle at Port Authority in Manhattan from JFK, just when the van was speeding off, I found out that my pair of wayfarer were missing.
And now. Caught in this cold Greyhound bus station in Syracuse, many miles away from my real destination, I have no idea how to get to the next bus that will take me to Cornell. But I am feeling these misfortunes will soon end.
It’s cold. But at least I got this for a view.