Spring blooms elsewhere

Here, alas, summer hath not “all too short a date.”







Notes on training in the exercise of solitude


From a Facebook status update posted on January 11, 2015:


I went on a guideship climb with Trail Adventours in Mt. Batulao yesterday. Since our group had a number of first-time hikers, the other guides and I paid close attention to participants who needed more assistance. There was one girl whom I stayed with a lot–during ascents and descents, she seemed so scared that she couldn’t stand upright and walk, and just slid her butt along the ground, so I carried her bag and held her hand throughout much of the climb. I held her hand high so she wouldn’t try to bend over to touch the ground or blades of grass and lose her balance, and gave her tips on footing and what to do when she’s starting to slip. It struck me, though, that by the end of the climb, she still clung to my hand. Obviously, feeling secure about footing doesn’t happen in the course of one climb, but the girl got me thinking about this holding-hands thing and its relation to my own “issues.”

As we descended the mountain, I thought about how one must learn to stand on one’s own feet and walk alone, because people won’t always be there to walk with you or hold your hand. This is a truism, yet it amazes me to know so many people who can’t be alone, who always feel the need for other people to walk with, talk with, eat with, who feel lonely and incomplete without another’s company and attention. I do not understand these people, or, rather, I do not wish to understand, and therefore empathize, with these people, because to do so would destabilize my fundamental acceptance of existential loneliness. We live alone and we die alone, and to say that we can share our lives with other people is not to say that they can live our lives, too. No, we think our own thoughts and tread our own paths and process our own lessons from living.

This existential loneliness pushes us to sociality, but it is what we return to every night, locked in our own heads, in our dreams. All company is fleeting, all sense of unity with another being or a social entity, a necessary myth we willfully suspend disbelief to be comforted by, to derive a sense of value from.

That said, sometimes loneliness makes me want to believe that this were not so, that one day, somebody would live my life with me. There are moments that bring this truth to the fore along with a desire to rail against it: getting off a plane from a long trip and wishing that somebody’s at arrivals, waiting for me; walking home alone at 3 AM from a night of working in a cafe; sitting at a table in a crowded restaurant, facing a plate of good food that’s too much for me to finish. I respond to this longing by planning another solo trip, or thumbing the whistle around my neck and securing my bag in case of an attack, or dividing the food on the plate into two and asking the waiter to have the other half wrapped. I breathe deeply and think that desired company is a gift, but I can do stuff on my own.


It’s a tradition for me to do something creative for Valentine’s Day, especially when I’ve no romantic partner to pass this Hallmark Holiday of Mass Hysteria over with. This year, I made a Relationship Venn Diagram to print, mark, and give to those who pry about the state of my heart:


My heart’s still pumping blood through the circuits of my body, thankyouverymuch, and I’ve been trying to raise my cardiovascular fitness by running.

Actually, I think I’ll do more running in the coming weeks to strengthen my heart, since I got the damn organ in a state of anaphylactic shock yesterday by pushing someone to more sharply articulate his rejection of my affection, so that I might finally jump from the intersection of “umaasa pa, i.e. tatanga-tanga” and “busy” to simply “busy” (the ultimate goal is, of course, to enter the “halaman” sphere of no desire but for gentle flourishing, drawing energy from the earth, rain, sunlight. Because fuck longing in its unsatiable behind). It was a selfish move, and I believe it pained him to say he could not love me, but I needed to hear it, I needed to kill all traces of the hope that’s infected me for several months, so it could stop producing toxins to our friendship. The treatment hurts, of course, but not as much as I thought it would–there’s something to be said for frequently indulging in pain that’s merely thought into existence, as a kind of pre-emptive measure against the onset of pain with more concrete causes.

So, that’s it, I prefer to think, I’m through. I’m setting arrested affect free to roam and starve and die–so I might grow.

EDIT (March 2015): That is not it, I am not through, this is more difficult than I thought it would be, are there no shortcuts to being halaman?


July has been a month of stress and puttering. Aside from work (teaching and grading, committee tasks, freelance editing and guiding jobs), I also met up with (a lot of) friends I hadn’t seen in a while, went hiking, practiced yoga as usual (I can now do the headstand without a wall!), attended workshops (one on storytelling and improvisation, another on art as meditation) and the English Department’s two-day strategic planning seminar. I made a website and wrote some stuff I haven’t pruned into bloggable shape. And I got a lot of drawing and painting and crafting done, because I turn to artsyfartsying to unwind. Below are some of my drawing, lettering, and upcycling projects.

drawings lettering upcycling