“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” – Mark Twain
I consider honesty my best and worst trait. Save for things that are disclosed to me in confidence, I can always be relied upon to tell the truth. My brutal frankness may leave others cold but at leas, I can go to bed at night not worried about what lies may unravel while I sleep.
I don’t know exactly what led to the development of this trait. Perhaps it’s something that runs in our family like brown eyes and cancer, maybe it’s Catholic guilt, I distinctly remember hearing my grandmother say “Ang sinungaling, kapatid ng magnanakaw” and being chilled to my bones. I was four that time and I told myself I never ever want to be that type of person. I’m not saying I’m virtuous; God knows I still have many lifetimes to live before I can be like the female character in Sidney’s Arcadia (incidentally my namesake). What I am though, is baffled. Baffled at the great lengths people go through just to keep the truth under wraps. Do they not get exhausted with constantly having to fabricate things? It’s not as if a single case of deception could cover your ass for the rest of your life; almost always you have to come up with mini lies just to “support” your main falsification.
And at the end of the day, it’s not even worth it. The truth is going to come out anyway and you will be the fool with no friends and no credibility.
I wish my reason for being forthright can be fully attributed to a desire to be noble, but it’s more for the fact that I cannot trust myself to remember one tale after another. The tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive will eventually entomb us. Just tell the truth and save people the trouble of having to sift through your bullshit.
I see you thumbing the rosary beads and you hurt me with each Hail Mary you whisper. How can I make you see that no amount of prayer can alter the reality you try so hard to deny? In between mysteries you look at me with such disappointment that I find myself feeling disappointed also – disappointed for my decision to be honest with you the way every child should be honest with the woman who carried her for nine months and fed her from her own breasts.
The flickering candles on the altar make shadows and I am reminded of how long I have kept my secret in the shadows, this secret that has filled me with shame, dread, confusion, and now, heartache. You look up at the statuette of the Immaculate Conception and your eyes beseech Our Lady to give you an answer. I have been searching for the answer to the same question mother, ever since I was in high school and found myself feeling different when I smelled Stephanie’s hair. Subsequent events forced me to contemplate and go to confession several times a month, but the only person I owed a confession to was myself.
Your eyes well up with tears and so do mine, yet we cry for different reasons. You weep for the daughter you think you have lost and I ululate for the selfish prayers you continue to make, along with the masses you offer in my favor. You ask the Holy Spirit to remove the supposed confusion in my mind, you beg Saint Jude to provide me with a man who will make me the person you want me to be, and you implore Our Holy Mother to take back the day I told you the truth.
Meanwhile, mother, I only have one supplication: your understanding. But I think you prefer to stay in your personal limbo.
You knock on my siblings’ door to invite them outside and pray for me but I am beyond salvation. We are beyond salvation.
And so I leave you to your litany.
“The infinite is in the finite of every instant.”
“Is that all there is?” I would often ask myself this question after a heavy meal or a long day. Sometimes, this question would even take a philosophical turn as I try to analyze life and figure out why we human beings never seem to be satisfied with what we have.
True, we have our needs and as thinking individuals, we cannot help but be ambitious, strategize, and plan ahead. But are we doing so at the expense of the present? My mother is an advocate of living in the moment. She told me that if there is anything that life has taught her, it’s that it’s pretty simple. She also told me not to look so far ahead that I lose focus on what’s happening right now. Being the overachiever that I am, I initially took her advice as lack of support for my vision but now I am beginning to see her point.
Somewhere between the hastily-gulped morning coffee and rush hour traffic, I realized that our entire lives are made up of bits and pieces of experience that are wonderful in their own right. I guess in my hurry to move on to the next goal or the next thrill, I fail to see the wonderful events that are unfolding right before my very eyes. I’m not saying I have lost the will to dream or create goals for myself, I am human after all and the only time I will cease to be ambitious is the day I cease to exist . I have just decided to stop looking at how events or people fit into my plans or schedule. There’s a sense of magic in realizing that the infinitude we all crave is actually encapsulated in various moments that are seemingly finite. A four-year relationship filled with its ups and downs, a kiss shared under the September drizzle, a soulful gaze into the eyes of a person you’ll never see again – these things are beautiful because they are bound by time. We can choose to be bitter when things end, or we can choose to be grateful.
“Is that all there is?” at times, yes, that is all there is and that should be enough.