My Symphonies: “Svefn-g-englar” by Sigur Ros; “Girl Out West” by Speck Mountain
You know, those stars up there, they might not even exist. I mean, it takes so long for the light to travel here that the stars themselves, they could be gone by now. You know? It´s just weird, but they are like a message from back in time. The universe is bigger than we can imagine. I guess it just kind of puts things in perspective. All the stuff that we think is so important when in reality, it’s not. It’s nothing. Our planet, nevermind, our species, you and me, we´re nothing. We´re like a blip in time. We can´t worry. We just have to lie back and enjoy the ride.
– Jasper Herman, 90210
I can’t seem to unwrap my mind around the fact that graduation is in one month, exactly. I’ve been going back and forth with the list every pre-graduating student mentally makes when he’s nearing the end of a tunnel. Although, I think the list I have come up with so far isn’t entirely helping me clear up my mind about the big future plan— that blueprint for the brighter tomorrow, as some put it. Instead, my list ended up as a thread of reminiscence, rhetorical questions, apostrophes, metaphors, realizations and declarations.
It would be a baloney for me to deny the fact that I am stressing out. Because it is true. I’ve been pulling my hair out and punching myself in the throat over the past fourteen weeks (figuratively speaking, of course). It’s actually painful to constantly analyze my life and my emotions in the context of pre-graduation blues. Wait, did I just say “blues”? Okay so yes, I did. I mean, that’s me. The last month in each chapter of my student life is always dreadful. Yes, I get all giddy and excited about moving on to the next step along with my unicorn friends and octopus fathers-in-law (reference to my make-believe companions in life). But at the same time, I tend to turn into this massive tumbleweed of extreme emotions: I begin to detach myself from my classmates, hate everybody, hold my middle finger up even to the innocent inhabitants of the earth and cry without any conscious reason.
I’m used to this, though. I just keep my focus on the good things that come with my hormonal student-life hostility. What are these good things, you may ask. Well, these are the priceless things in my list. My very own pre-graduation list:
Kenn’s Pre-grad List:
1. People in the city are simply richer, smarter, busier and fancier- but not necessarily happier. Three weeks ago, I decided to have a long walk on both Burrard and Robson. Now I love this place not because I am a Starbucks-addicted young tycoon who thinks the restaurants and boutiques on these streets are “beyond comparison”. No. That’s not the case. I love Burrard and Robson streets because of the distinct unforgettable memories I made there last summer. I was telling one of my classmates, Audrey, that sometimes I miss those streets so much I can hardly stand it. Her response? “Then go be there.” Sounded quite reasonable to me, so I ecstatically hopped in the train towards Burrard station. It was a sunny little winter day. I was there standing inside the vehicle, listening to “Cold Dessert” by Kings of Leon, ready to revisit a fresh past on downtown’s streets. When the ride was over, something cinematic happened. The moment I got off the train, everything literally became a blur of fast-moving black-and-gray images. More than a hundred people crowded the station– some getting in and some getting out of the train. I found myself feeling light-headed and out of balance as I marched towards the escalator. I took a deep breath, removed my earphones and let my eyes flutter open. I saw a little boy wearing a turquoise jacket getting dragged by his mom up the stairs. I looked around to see dozens and dozens of people mostly in suits, blazers and work uniforms- all in a rush, many on their phones discussing matters that sounded urgent. Not a single smile from any one of them. Not even a glimmer of content. I looked down and saw the little boy in turquoise again and I saw the only colorful thing in the entire motion picture, holding tightly on the hands of his mother as they get overtaken by the soldiers of the city. In that moment, I felt so strongly, that this isn’t who I am. This isn’t even who I want to be. Marching with a hundred people who are so used to such life, who are so conditioned to the society and who are all going somewhere to be productive? It made me feel so alone. I was the only one, apart from the boy, who had nowhere specific to go. I was the only one without a calculated purpose that day, the only one without a homework to submit, or a project to finish, or a deal to close. I was the only one in that march who wasn’t marching. I was instead gliding, floating and dreaming– fascinated once again by the humans of my time.
2. I have 921, 758 deaths and only five lives. Sometimes I just stare at the blank tv screen and I see a meditated photograph of the ocean. I would then look out the window and realize how much I miss feeling alive. Truthfully, I feel most alive when and only when 1. I am having a walk on the beach with the view of the sunset, 2. I am laughing hysterically with friends and family, 3. I am gazing at the night sky on a starry night, 4. I am bonding with my pet cat and 5. I am sitting on an old tree’s branch eating fresh mangoes right next to someone special. I know these moments so well because these moments contribute greatly to the person I am today. These are the moments that shape me and continue to nourish me through my years. These are the moments that remind me of what’s important to me, of what I love the most about breathing. These moments are my lifetime vaccines against futility, convolution and adversity. These moments are what I am made of.
3. Are we humans, or are we dancers? I say I’m both. Everytime a teacher or a classmate tells me I am hardworking, my insides manage a skeptical grin. Some tell me I can’t seem to relax, slow down, lay back and breathe. It has even been an issue brought up in my Singing and Voice classes. And it’s true in the literal sense, too. I mean I do have a verbal diarrhea every now and again, and I constantly feel grumpy and stressed out. But if you could read my mind, you’d know that my internal struggle towards a bigger energy is so disturbing and so indescribable that my dour appearance is but a poor mirror of it. I choose not to open up about my real thoughts in class simply because I do not trust myself with them. I am scared of my own thoughts, yet at the same time I embrace them; so much so that I am not willing to share them to people I know are less likely to understand. Sometimes, when I say in class, “I can’t seem to slow down”, it actually means I can’t seem to stop deliberately over-analyzing life in general and whether or not I will have the courage to fight against the conventional standards and live the simple life I know I want and need. My speech is quick, my facial reactions unplanned, my emotions rushed and my visible presence aloof and indifferent. This is why I write. It is only in writing that I am able to entertain my thoughts one at a time. More importantly, it is only through this medium of communication that I get to encounter life at a fairly rational level- the rest is chaos. It is official. Writing is the only thing that keeps me sane.
4. I am a man of no plans. Contrary to popular belief, the story of my life is written in real time. I have no concrete agenda when it comes to “success” as viewed by the society. Questions like “So what are you doing after graduation?”, “Got any work yet?”, “What kind of actor do you want to be?”, “Are you moving downtown by then?”, “So you’re saying you will work here for eight months. Where will you go after?”, “Are you planning to be a part of a web series or something? Like, what’s your strategy?” are all laughable to me. Not in an insulting way. It’s just that a big part of me finds humor in my lack of direction in life. I know that it is crucial to at least know what you want. But I already know that. And I know who I am. And if life takes me on a different spin tomorrow or thirty years from now, there will be no regrets. I may be a giant ball of question mark, but I get to know the world in a way I never would had I been born to live and die as a sturdy period or a loud exclamation point.
5. Life is a free verse prose-narrative written by a three-year old starfish with a brain tumor. Why are some people white, and some black? Why do some people believe in God while others in the Big Bang Theory? Why are some people so easy to get along with while there are some who are so intensely annoying you just want to grab them by their nipples and give them axe kicks? Why are there people who were born rich and famous while others have to technically excrete blood and sweat to get on even just a slightly higher ground? Why are there people with ten fingers while some with eleven, or nine? Why are there class valedictorians who end up waiting tables and dumb high school slutbags who now own a villa somewhere in Greece? Why are there people who haven’t smoked a single cigarette in their lives who have lung cancer, and others who do all sorts of smoking and drug abuse and manage to live without complications until the age of 92? Why are there so many innocents stuck in jail cells and so many criminals planning on their next dirty deed as we speak? Why does the six-month old baby die? Why does Burundi suffer so much financially while Dubai just carefreely throws itself away at 828-meter tall buildings and dancing fountains with camels on parade on a year-round sunny season? Why is the earth so big only five percent of its total oceanic area is explored? Why do some people dislike beer while others drink it eight times a day like water? Why are gummy bears so freaking irresistible? Why are there deserving people who have empty hands and lazy-ass hipsters who are given so much in one way or another? Why are there no stars in Surrey? Why do birds suddenly appear? — It is obvious. Life has no rhyme nor reason to it. We desperately turn to Religion, Science, Literature, Government Laws and Societal standards to try and make sense of the universe, but that’s the thing the majority do not understand. The universe is way bigger than we can imagine. Yes, you may be able to explain why birds suddenly appear or why there are black and white people through Physics and Anthropology, but you will never be able to rationalize the why’s in the full sense of the word. Why as in “how come?”, why as in “to what extent?”, why as in “for what possible reason?” Why?.. as in “WTF?!”
6. Even the stars die. I have been and always will be in awe at the massiveness of life both in the visible and the invisible sense. I am 19 years old, Filipino, unemployed, still living with parents and brothers, a writer with a recurring existential crisis, passive-aggressive, a self-confessed literary activist, and one the most unstable human beings you’ll ever meet. This is me. I can say a million other things about me in here, but that’s not the point. My living condition, my financial status, my emotional progress and my favorite past time are nothing compared to the dangers and beauty of the universe. I do not live each day towards a bigger goal. I do not wake up each morning to build a tower I can stand on so I can look down on those whose towers had crumbled down, or those who haven’t built one yet. I do not breathe to have a better tomorrow. I instead live each day with literally millions of wonders, as I lay down on the sand facing the ocean, knowing that right now is the better tomorrow. Just me. And the universe. Together as one.