It’s okay, that’s love

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1.
Walking to the lecture hall, I tell C. how I worry that I’d end up finishing more Kdramas than books this year. I should read more books and watch less TV, don’t you think? C. says, don’t think of it as a lack or loss. You also learn through watching, don’t you?

2.
This past weekend I watched how love is built, shared, and tested by a psychiatrist with genophobia and anxiety disorder, and a bestselling crime writer with OCD and schizophrenia, even as they deal with work pressures, family troubles, heartsick friends, faithless ex-lovers, and childhood traumas involving domestic violence, parental infidelity, arson, death threats, and murder. As the plot, which began as a light-hearted rom-com, took a dark turn, and for a long while refused to look back, I thought, “It’s Okay, That’s Love” is a misleading title for that show. Or is it.

3.
The thing is that we’re all struggling, some with more success or more difficulty than others. What is it that gives strength even to the most miserable?

4.
It would be nice to struggle through life with the certainty that the person I love also cares deeply about me. But can I love without caring? Can I care without understanding? Can I understand without listening? Can I listen well without first muting the voices in my own head, with their unfounded assumptions and shaky conclusions, their quick judgments, their anger, sadness, and fear? Can I mute them without humility? Can I be humble without recognizing that in loving it’s never just about who I am and what I think and how I feel and what I need and what I want? Can I recognize this without also accepting uncertainty, vulnerability, disappointment? Can I accept these without surmounting fear? Can I vanquish fear without trust? Can I trust without assurance? Is that what faith means?

5.

My friends… The next time you are suffering, if this suffering was caused by the person you love most in the world, have recourse to right action and say the fourth mantra: “Dear one, I am suffering deeply. I need you to help me to get out of this suffering. I need you to explain this [the situation perceived to be hurtful] to me.” This is the language of true love.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, You Are Here

6.
In one scene, Jae-yeol tells Soo-kwang: in a relationship, the more powerful one is neither the one who loves more, nor the one who cares less. The more powerful one is he who can love without needing anything in return. A person who can love without clinging is a person who is free. He can be kind and understanding and generous because he does not fear losing himself.

7.
This morning, my sister, while brushing my hair, after cooking food for me to take home to my apartment: “You poop. Meme loves you even if you’re the poopiest poopyface.” I thought it was the sweetest thing anyone had said to me.

8.
Last week, as we were walking to the lecture hall, I told C. how I’d outsource my emotional life to TV and focus my energies on cultivating my mind. I said, dispassion and intellection — these would be my telos! C. just chuckled.

9.
In the still, quiet darkness, where she stands between his body and the wall, he flicks the lighter on to illuminate her eyes, and, smiling at the embers kindled there, whispers to her throat, One moment. It takes but a moment to fall in love again.

tonight the moon was too bright

The FX I was riding from Fairview to Philcoa hit a woman. The impact was so great the front-end bumper of the van crumpled, the windshield cracked, the woman’s body flew three meters from the vehicle. I was in the passenger seat. The driver looked crazed. The first thing I did was get out of the van. I wanted to remove myself from the site of death. I walked to the side of the road. The only other passenger wanted to leave immediately. I said, Ate, let’s stay and wait for the police. People surrounded the body and didn’t let the driver get away. There was much shouting and honking. Somebody said the woman’s skull was cracked. Somebody else said she still had a pulse. I am trained in basic life support and first aid but I didn’t touch the body. I didn’t want to gaze at the body. I held the shoulder of the other passenger, who looked like she was about to cry. The police arrived. They took some pictures. They made some calls. They didn’t mind us. Ate said, let’s ask them if we can leave. I said, maybe they need our testimonies. We walked towards the police. I did the talking. The woman had sprinted across a part of the road no pedestrian should cross. The traffic light was green. The driver had been driving too fast. He had been pushing almost 120 kilometers per hour in a road that allowed only sixty. But it was a quarter to eleven and the road was dark and relatively clear. The driver had been hunched over the wheel and looked only at the road. The driver looked manic, crazed, and he had been driving too fast, so fast I was conscious of my body in the vehicle speeding. The moment I looked at the speedometer and saw that we were going over 100kph was the moment I realized we were going to hit a woman. Her body suddenly in front of the vehicle, the green light still bright, the vehicle going too fast to stop. Her body flinging. The policeman said, even if she jaywalked, it was still the driver’s fault. He had his eyes on the road. The policeman told us, you’re free to go. Ate and I rode another FX to our stops, but I haven’t gone home. I keep thinking of the speeding van, the body sprinting across the road, the body illuminated by the car lights a split-second before she hit the van or the van hit her, the body twisting, splayed facedown on the asphalt, illuminated by a street lamp, a sari-sari store’s fluorescent bulb, Christmas lights, LED from smartphones filming the body, and above the din, the sin, everything, the moon, full, too bright. If only the van or the body weren’t moving so fast, if only the driver or the woman didn’t only look ahead, at one point in the road, maybe we could have avoided a collision. It was such a meaningless death, such a stupid way to kill and to die. We say “Ingat” to each other all the time, but why are we still so careless?

This is just to say: Sometimes

I read this blog to catch up with the persons that I have been. Sometimes I do not recognize my voice in what I have written. There are essays I wrote two or three or five years ago that still make me cry. There are one or two things I wish I had done differently. There are persons I can remember only in my words. There are certain sorrows I should not like to forget. My feelings in the morning are often different from my feelings before bed, generally I feel sadder upon waking, though I find that it is more convenient to weep at night. This morning I thought it would be best for me to live in seclusion and alone, but tonight I thought how wonderful it was to come home to a house lit with people. I like that I have a room which only I enter. I like the notes, tables, and diagrams taped to my walls. I like that no one can tell me what to do or how to live my life, even if that also means I am seldom asked how I really am, or if I have already eaten. I write because nobody asks, sometimes I prefer it this way and sometimes I do not. I am an excellent listener, but I am not a very good friend. I expend so much energy caring for myself that often I have little left with which to comfort other people. The company I keep is small. Noise in every form appalls me. I have to remind myself to be kind. Sometimes I feel like I have more thoughts in a day than some people have in a month. I wonder if I live too much inside my head. Some nights I am convinced that no one is going to love me, sometimes this alarms me and sometimes it does not. I know that I am getting older, but still I get reminders that this is so. I want a love built like a shelter, a favorite hiding place. I want a love I can sleep with beneath the covers of a book. I want a love I can hold by the hand and walk with for hours under the sun, rain, trees, and tears. I want a love that is constant and fervent and sure, not the kind that makes me feel like a dog begging for scraps at a table. Maybe I am not lovable, or maybe I have not met someone who would consider me enduringly so. There is someone I should want to forget. There is someone to whom I would like to say, Forget me, even if it seems the forgetting is done. I keep misremembering my age, I think it’s because I am unsatisfied with what I have accomplished. There are things I would like to change in the world. There are very many things I wish I could be better at, even if I like the person I am becoming now. If I should die tomorrow, I would like to say that I am at peace with how I have lived my life, though I find nothing admirable about it. I worry that perhaps I forgive myself too often. I know that I forget too easily, because I do not have any regrets.