It’s surprising how it’s almost the end of March.
The last two weeks have been really crazy. I’ve been bombarded with tasks left and right, sleep has become a very elusive luxury, and some events that happened two weekends ago carried over to the start of the following week. I wasn’t able to properly rein in my emotions and it affected my thought process, to the point that I couldn’t think properly.
The days after that were of trying to do as many tasks as possible just to keep my mind off that issue. It’s become typical for me to sit in the office in front of the computer for hours, trying to force myself to come up with write-ups, then go home and do designs, presentations and book layouts for the church and friends.
Don’t get me wrong. I love doing those, and I appreciate that I have chances to expand my horizons by being constantly pushed out of my comfort zone. I’m given great opportunities to make a difference everyday and I’m really grateful and blessed for that.
But at some point you start to look forward to a break. The constant barrage of tasks exhausts you so much that trying to relax has become a work in itself. It’s not a good thing that you find yourself wide awake at 2am, yet your body is too tired to do anything productive, so you lie down with your thoughts going wild to the point that they consume you. And you drag yourself off to work the next morning with just three hours of sleep and those (mostly) self-induced thoughts beginning to bother you.
So last week I took a day off from work. I was feeling heavy and exhausted – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I was really close to losing it. I couldn’t focus on my tasks. I managed to finish them eventually, but it had been a total struggle. I felt like I had to be in any place but there. I needed a change of scenery even if just for a day.
Randomly, I went to Makati. I didn’t know why. I could have easily gone to some neighborhood in Quezon City, or even Laguna if I wanted to. But for some reason, I chose Makati.
Maybe because I needed to get as far as I can without really leaving the familiar. Makati became my second home when I was a new graduate trying to feel my way around the corporate world, a writer for a company that took a chance on my inexperience. And it became my refuge during a time of total confusion, when I left the halls of a school as a teacher to try it out as a yuppie in the urban jungle once again.
It was then I became sure that Makati is a city I can relate to, a place where I find myself always going back. Despite the frenetic pace, there are pockets of neighborhoods where it is possible to be alone with your thoughts and embrace the tranquility you never knew possible in this side of the Philippines. Legaspi Village in particular has become the venue of many afternoons trying out cheap restaurants and food stalls with coworkers, talking about travel plans and, even for just a few hours, not giving a care to anything at all.
I spent half a day leisurely strolling along the sidewalks of Ayala Avenue, looking at people rushing to and from the large automatic doors of the skyscrapers. In that morning I spent trying to clear my head, I tried to reunite myself with the city’s concrete and grasses, lost in thought about the weeks that were and where I’m going to take it from there.
It’s really easy to chalk up the heaviness and emptiness to God simply testing me especially since I’m in the midst of my fasting. But I’ve been hesitant to do so for fear that it would be a cop out and an accessible means to avoid responsibility and succumb to fatalism. Still, the more I waded through the frustrations and pain in my heart, the clearer my mind became.
As I was contemplating, I remembered what a friend said when I told her how I prayed to be emotionally tougher. She said, “Then you have to prepare yourself. You asked God for a stronger heart, He’s going to give you something that will really push you emotionally.”
It’s true. We don’t improve by going through the motions of things that have become stable. Sometimes, it takes a strong shove for us to get going in the right direction. And the resulting pain can be a great motivator in that it teaches you to appreciate life and suck all the crappy things along with the good. That which doesn’t kill you will keep you alive. The past two weeks showed me how being someone who is battling the demons within him without completely losing his mind can in the end be really transforming and liberating.
Because when things spiral downward, there’s really nowhere to go but up.