Wallow, be still, get it together

12:00:00 AM

A while back, I spent a random Monday evening with my good friends Luckie and Chari in a serviced condo in Makati. It started out like the normal laugh-out-loud catching up, and then it evolved to a deeper and more conversation as the night wore on. Chari slept rather early, leaving me and Luckie to carry on talking about what I was going through.

I was in a bad place for a while, and few people even realized it because I was so good at putting up a tough front. On the surface, I was great. I was having fun, I was enjoying my life like the average 26-year-old woman in the city. But deep down, I was grappling with some personal demons. I'm sure a lot of people can appreciate if not relate to that, which is why I decided to write this post.

Luckie's not the type to mince words, and so I got a pretty good scolding that evening. He was worried about me, because for some reason, he could really see through my happy face (I guess it helps that he majored in psychology, and he, too, had his share of ups and downs in life). At the end of our talk, I concluded that I should get my shit together. But when I said that, Luckie said no. He told me that there were two things I needed to do before that.

(photo from the internet)
I can say without ego that I am quite gifted at putting up appearances. My friends could see right through me, I know, but I'm still able to fool most people. Sometimes, I'm even able to fool myself. But just as life, itself, is temporary, so is the act. Sooner or later, we have to tear down the facade and confront what we've been trying to hide from.

And then it occurred to me that I haven't really cried in a while. I suffered a huge loss, but I didn't even shed a tear over that. It's easy to overlook the importance of wallowing, in our haste to make the most out of life, out of time. But sometimes, all we really need is a good cry; as tears flow, so does pain and hurting. So I did it. On Black Saturday, I watched The Blind Side on my computer; that movie restored my faith in humanity, and made me cry buckets of tears in the process.

My friend Jerry told me that he read an article that says all you need is 18 hours of uninterrupted, self-inflicted drama. It sounds tiring, I know, but that's the whole point. When you get out of it, you'd be so tired, and you just might find yourself wondering what it is you've been mourning over in the first place. Or even if you remember what it is, you'll probably wonder why you felt so sad about it.

So I indulged myself. Not the full 18 hours, of course. All I needed was two, partly because I'm young and resilient, and because I'm actually quite logical for the average creative person. Besides, I went all out; I wasn't just crying, I was bawling. It would have been embarrassing if someone saw me, so it was a good thing I had the condo to myself then. My eyes were so swollen after, it looked as if they were stung by mutant bees.

Yes, I looked awful on the outside. But deep down, I felt better. Calmer, even. But it was Holy Week, and I had Easter Sunday to stay home, so I had the luxury to be still.

Be still
(image from the internet)
Time passed rather slowly from Black Saturday to Easter Sunday, so I adjusted my pace accordingly. I read a book. I drank a bottle of beer, and then a cup of tea. I wrote on my journal and for my blog. I cleaned the condo, focusing heavily on the kitchen. I listened to classical music (Tchaikovsky, mostly, plus the Sherlock soundtrack). I did fretboard exercises on my bass guitar.

I know that sounds like the opposite of being still, but hear me out. One, I didn't leave the unit. I stayed put, and I didn't feel the need to step out. Two, I didn't burn through those tasks in lightning speed. I did each one really slowly, indulgently, and I savored every minute of it. And three, even after all those in-home activities, I had enough time in my hands to sit around and do nothing.

Actually, I used to do this a lot, but with so much on my plate at that time, I had less opportunities to just be still. I had to rush from one place to the next and do one thing after the other, and of course, there's still that young person in me that needed to go out and have fun with friends. It's good to hang out with people, but sometimes, what we really need is to stay put and be with ourselves.

And that's what I did. I took the time to be with me, and I enjoyed my own company. Without wine and/or beer. Without cigarettes. Without my phone. Without my laptop. Without my fountain pen and journal. I basically unplugged myself from everything, and no, I didn't feel bored at all. I felt that I was once again at peace. I was home, both literally and proverbially.

Get it together
(image from the internet)
With this serenity, I found what I needed to get myself together. So I went back to my routine, starting with a list of the things that I had to do. Coming from a state of stillness, I must admit I was a bit sluggish at first. But since I managed to get rid of my hang-ups, my issues, and my other self-inflicted distractions, I had a better and clearer outlook so I easily got the hang of things again.

Before that weekend, I was a mess. I was doing all sorts of crazy things, and not the good kind. Relative to Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, I was still okay, but I was on a downward spiral that it wouldn't have been surprising if I ended up the way they did. I was out of control, and I was really starting to hurt myself with the things I was doing. I was in a bad place; I put myself there, so only I had the power to get myself out.

(Kudos to Britney, by the way, for turning her life around, and good luck to Lindsay, I hope she makes it.)

I guess I figured things out by wallowing and then being still before even trying to get it together. Good things take time, after all. And time was exactly what I gave myself that weekend. I tend to pressure myself to just "snap out of it" when I'm feeling low. Most of the time, it does work. But when it doesn't and I force it, things just tend to get compounded like credit card interest rates, and before I know it, I'm drowning.

In conclusion

Wallow. Be still. And then, get it together. You don't learn much when you're in haste. In his novel, Slowness, Milan Kundera said that "the degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting." Don't pressure yourself to skip the first two steps in the interest of time, because it is in wallowing that we understand what we went through and why it was necessary, and it is in being still that we come to terms with what we've become. From there, we can take steps to become better people, better human beings.


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Hello, reader! Thank you for wasting your time reading my blog. I do hope you enjoyed whatever you stumbled upon. :)