Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learning and Living

I sit here, exasperated, confused, not knowing what to do with my life.

I have spent the better part of my life (seventeen years to be exact) in school. One school year will end, another will begin, and the cycle of homework, deadlines, and exams will start all over again. It was always straightforward, even taken for granted. There were moments of existential groping, but there was never a question of what I would do, it was always studies, school, education, but there was never an urgent “Okay, what now?”

Last March 2, I was thrown into the water unprepared. On my last day in school, the rush of ecstasy was quickly doused by the icy hands of reality. I was running this race all my life, and suddenly, I was at the end of the line. No more straightforward life for you. You’re on your own now. Sink or swim. The moment I went out of Mogwai’s in Cubao after delivering my last ever school presentation, I could swear that I heard a voice screaming, ‘And that was it!’ Until now, I still feel aftershocks of disbelief.

It’s true, man is condemned to be free. When freedom was as limited as it was back in high school, things were simpler and much easier. The freer a man goes, the more complicated life gets. Such is the irony of life. Freedom, I realize now, is like a bright, blinding light. The path is just so clear that you don’t know where to go anymore. There are countless paths to choose from, and you will never know which one is actually the best. In life, nothing is ever completely measurable. There is no direct cost-benefit analysis, no comprehensive SWOT analysis. Life’s just one big gamble.

We practically spent the last seventeen years to raise our odds in the great gamble of life. All those years spent studying not only gave us tools for the intellect; education was itself the tool that constantly chiseled us to perfection. All those late nights mastering algebraic expressions and memorizing chemical symbols, all those tears shed over failed exams and laughter shared over buzzer beater submissions, all these made us live to learn so that we can learn to live.

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