Posted by: nastypen | March 8, 2008

Letters to My Selves

30. There. I am 30. No fireworks. No rumblings and gaping crevasses. It’s just me stomping away my 20s and teethering into my 30s. Confucius said that when a man turns 30, he must make a stand. Well, I’ve already held my ground on what I believe in since my early 20s. I know what to die for and for whom shall I die for.

I have new eyes now. So, I write letters to myself or rather to my selves. At 30, I know I have had several lives. Not in the schizophrenic sense but in the sense of a life well-lived and unafraid of trudging on to the next chapter.

Letter to the 15-year-old me

Dear Chong,

You will start shaving next year. You will bleed and you will think that you have done it wrong. You will stare at your self with cuts above your upper lip. The red lines do not scare you. Then you wish you had a goatee. Don’t worry, by the time you turn 30, you will have a lush forest dangling from your chin.

Before your father will die, and he will suddenly do so, he will look at your face and say that you have the face of his family. Your father will beam proudly and smile. By the time you reach 22, Chong, your father will have passed. You will inherit his beard, his smile and his laughter.

At 15, you dream of becoming a pilot. Even a doctor. An archaeologist even. A painter? A cartoonist? You will laugh at this. At 15, you would have finished reading Greek mythology and you immerse yourself in Ancient Egypt and Roman Antiquity. Next year, when you’re 16, you will find out that you like art and you are surprised that your art teacher said you have promise in this field. Growing up, you always admire the art of your friends, Chong.

But it will be you who will sustain that love for the visual arts. You will have that magazine you bought about how to paint when you were 15. It will still be perched among your books. Find comfort that art is going to be the most consistent thing in your life.

Letter to the 30-year-old Chong

Dear Chong,

Your dad was right all along. Remember your hatred, your heaving emotions that you were so suddenly uprooted from your comfort zone in Cebu to have you transported to the white and cold suburb of Ottawa? You were so foolish. You thought it was the end having to be physically separated from your friends. You will have realized that that time away from Cebu is the longest time you spent with your father. And he said some wise words in short a time.

At 30, you still have some vivid memories. He said friends are not always there that they are not forever; it will just be you who will fend yourself. At 30, it is true. While you have quite a number of friends, they are sources of pleasant conversations and reminiscing. You would have shifted your focus somewhere else.

At 30, you are still grappling the fact over adult responsibility. You have made peace that material accumulation, while desirable, is really nothing. It amounts to nothing.

You are so nonchalant about the word “career.” You know you are fortunate to have realized in your 20s that you do not define yourself with a job title. That’s just constricting and sad. Better yet, you do not have a need to define yourself to others in the first place. You cannot stop the opinions of others, but you can start running with such a ferocious sincerity to a life that should be loved with a big smile on your face. Let others eat your dust.

It is a formidable feeling that as you enter your 30s, you do not need others to define you. Friends do not define you. Your salary does not define you. Of course, you know reality will just bite you, Chong. It’s ok, you have had so many scars and you will have more. What is reality but a boring playground for the unimaginative?

Letter to my 60-year-old self.

Dear Chong,

You are still alive? that’s amazing!

I still can’t believe you’ve reached 60! Chong, if you reached 60 and are reading this now, we should celebrate. You thought you will die way before 50 which is most likely the case. Well, let us just speculate that you reached 60.

So, how was life? Did you paint the visions that have kept you awake? Did you hold on to the the dream job that paid shit? Does daddy still visit you in your dreams? I just hope you have not lost your talent for remembering. People cite your storytelling capabilities. You have a memory so full of details that some may be as well passages from a magical realism novel. Written those graphic novels already? Painted the walls of your house with a pet labrador and an English bulldog?

I hope it’s not true what the soothsayer said that you will have four children. Do you remember that day when this fortuneteller, the same one used by bored high-ranking military and politicians’ wives, was adamant that you will have children. “FOUR!?!” You screamed and turning pale, “How on earth will that happen? Immaculate conception?!”

Well, if indeed you reached 60 and had children, my congratulations. Well, if you reached 60, I hope your health is well. Did you achieve those abs that you see on infomercials? I can hear you laughing. I hope your laugh didn’t change. Well, if it did, let’s hope your laugh became louder and more infectious.

I know you will think that you did not have a life filled with laughter. You’ve had sessions with frustration, dejection and pain. But you laugh and, thank God for this, you make other people laugh as well despite your morose episodes. At 60, I hope you know what is the measure of a man, Chong. You know all along it was not the muscles you pack, nor it is the degree of possession. Life is more than a report card, after all.

So, how did you measure your life, Chong? Well, whatever the manner it may be, life is still here and you’re walking and laughing and that is good.


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