Imagine what it would feel like if every time you stop to think, you just want to stop thinking. Every time you stop to think, you create the problems that didn’t exist in the first place. Every time you stop to think, the world gets a little bigger, life gets a little tougher, and you, you get a little smaller. You get smaller and smaller to the point where if you fall into that rabbit hole you call a brain, you can never get out.
Well she? She felt that all the time. In fact, that’s how her brain worked. Ever since she was little, she was always ten steps ahead of everybody and everything. Truth is, she knew how it would all end before it even began. Ten steps ahead, as if life were a game of chess, and she was the game master. Never did she want to be one, but she continued anyway because, heck, she already knew that nobody could beat destiny at its own game.
And when something unknown to her was forced into the arena? Anger, worry, fear, and panic came crashing down on her like that house of cards she was so determined and anxious to hold together. She hated herself for not gaining control of the situation. But she was always ten steps ahead, and so instead of lashing out in public and making things even worse, she’d chuckle, say it was no big deal or that you can’t have success without failure. Then she’d smile, keeping all the anger and worry and fear and panic inside a small drawer in her mind and a little box in her heart. Keeping them there as if to remind herself that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Isn’t that what they all say? So it must be true. But she knew the fallacy in the words she thought, and still she kept everything hidden and locked up. Why? She didn’t want people to think she was different. All she wanted to do was fit in. Discover where she truly belonged. And then? Be happy.
But she was always ten steps ahead and she knew that fairytales were as misleading as broken road signs, and that there was no happily ever after. She wanted to believe that there was no such thing as forever, that ‘this too shall pass’ but she was afraid she was right when she thought that this ugly, awful feeling inside her would last forever. Now, that’s not the forever anyone would hope for, I bet.
And when she wraps herself up at night in that little blanket she’s had since she was a baby, she’d ask herself how a world so beautiful could be so depressing. She’d ask why the world that showed her cotton candy and chocolate could give her rotten apples and burnt toast. Every time she’d hit the hay, the Sandman would never pay a visit and instead, her constant companions were her thoughts, worse than knives or bullies or spoiled yogurt, and the whole world would come whirling down on her like shooting stars that went out of orbit. But she was always ten steps ahead, so she looked not beyond the stars or past the solar system. She looked a little closer.
And the only things that have kept her sane were the clouds. They knew how she felt. Clouds might just be the most misunderstood creations of nature. Maybe even more misread than words. And that’s saying a lot. Clouds, you only notice them when they are in the way. You only stop to look up when clouds begin to coat the sky and conceal the sun and pour down rain. And you think to yourself, as you hasten towards the nearest shed by the gas station, “Hay nako, sagabal na naman tong ulan na to.”
Robert Frost once wrote that he knew what the flowers felt. Well she? She knew what the clouds felt. And so she kept her head in the clouds because she thought that that was where she belonged. But she couldn’t stay long either, because her heart recognized how lonely it was up there. She was not a cloud. She knew she was a person, and she had to at least try to fit in. But no matter what she did, she never found a place. And so she went back to that rabbit hole, and continued to do what she knew would kill her: she started to think again.
She started to think, and remember that fear and anger and worry and panic that she kept prisoner in her mind and in her heart? Well, they finally broke free from the chains she thought would hold them forever. Or at least until she found a solution to her self brought dilemma. And she began to break down. She was like a tree in a storm. So steadfast, so resilient, but when the flood gets too deep, and it sees its whole world drowning in the tears of the clouds, its roots start to let go. It falls. She let go, and she fell, and she cried.
What if, there come’s a time when chocolate can’t fix that crack in her heart? What if, she already stopped caring for the achievements and the honor? What if, she finally believed what’s been pounding her in the gut for so long: that the world has no problem at all; that the only problem was herself? What if, all she really needed was a hug? But then again, she’s always ten steps ahead, right? Why didn’t she think of that? I guess that’s what’s been haunting her in the first place.
(Credits: All photos were taken during our family’s visit to the Pinto Art Museum.)