24 December 2013

Confessions on Living a Lie

Originally posted in http://chroniclesofdreams.blogspot.com last 1 March 2007

One thing that often gets on my nerves is how people respond to the question “why do you study?’ especially how you could easily classify majority of these people into three groups according to the answers they give.

These are the Dreamers, the Oppressed, and the Martyrs. The Dreamers are those who emphasize the need of a good job and their hopes for a better tomorrow. The oppressed are those who feel that they need to study because their life depended on it, or simply because their parents made them study. Then there are the martyrs, who find it their duty so they could someday repay their debts to society, to family, and to God.

Really, have you ever heard of any lamer excuse for living?

Yes, life. For the fundamental stages of a person’s life, studying occurs in school, and if my comrades in this epic battle against terror teachers and mountains of requirements have only the aforementioned motivation for staying in school, then it is really a mystery to me why they still haven’t all dropped out.

Yes, I admit. I too was a dreamer, an oppressed, a martyr. Looking back to what I have done with my school life, I wonder if maybe I’m just weak, because you know what? I gave up.

For nine months, I stopped studying. Yes, I still went to school, and sometimes to class. I copied notes and shared what I understood with those who needed it. But my “studying” stopped there. I left test questions blank for lack of interest, and failed to submit my requirements because I no longer really cared. I skipped class, slept in class, daydreamed in class or didn’t go to school for days. The only things I ever worked for were group projects, burdened by the thought of dragging other people down.

Do you wonder what I did with all my newly found free time?

On my own, I lived. I lied down on the benches and stared up at the dusty sky, under the shade of the mango tree ridden with higads. I sat in the gazebo watching everything that’s happening around me, seeing a teacher trip or friends moving into a group hug. I walked around the school grounds and took in all the sights, smells and sounds – even the not so pleasant ones.

Whenever I had company, I lived. We would joke around, ask questions, talk. We would laugh, reminisce, and cry. We learned things we would never have found out listening to 1-hout lectures in our classrooms, and these are the lessons we cherished. It was because of these talks I got to know myself.

It was then I realized my mistake. The reason for my apathy is not of any medical nature, nor is it any form of delinquency; I just didn’t have any reason to study!

Thirteen years of school, since the dawn of my youth. Being a Scientian, I was obviously a bright child. I entered school without hardly knowing how to speak in full English sentences, and ignorant of the Filipino language. Thirteen years, I struggled with my natural laziness to keep my grades up.

Why? This I would confess in paper only once. Growing up, with the idea of being “the making and unmaking of the family”, is difficult. There is and always will be an image to maintain, a standard to set, a responsibility to fulfill. There will always be expectations, and nothing you do will ever seem to be enough, for each success will set more goals, and each failure will seem to garner more disappointment.

It was a tragic system that made one feel like a dog, having to go through the entire reward-and-punishment system. Each success would be awarded with a momentary breather, and every failure would tighten the hypothetical grip around one’s neck.

I studied to make my parents proud. I tried everything to make them proud; I tried to do everything I can, because I knew I can. Yet, with all the intelligence I have been gifted with, I failed to see that what I was doing was wrong.

For nine months, I dwelled in the shadows of failure and apathy; I swam in the waters of disappointment; I walked in the valleys of mediocrity. I took a break, shut out the world, and went on an internal journey, and re-emerged into reality a new being.

Why does this new person study? It’s simple, because she wants to learn. Because she is willing to spend five more years of her life trying to discover herself, to travel through the streets of conventional and unconventional education, in order to discover life.

This person wants to know life – how to stay happy, and make others happy; how to love selflessly and be loved back; how to remain in control of the things that need to be controlled, and how to surrender to the things that were meant to be; to live, love and die.

School, with all its nonsense subjects and requirements, is utterly pointless and useless, and a definite waste of time. It rarely teaches us anything we can use in real life. But the different people we meet along the way, along with our triumphs and letdowns, are the things we must truly study.

We study life because we wish to live. The moment we give up studying – the real studying – is the moment we die. We may live, but we are dead nonetheless.