Tonight is a night of rekindling

The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Season of Goodbyes

Happiness is a choice, I’ve been told. And for a while, I did try to live by this, convinced that it really was up to me to choose to be happy or not to be happy. And as far as I was concerned, everything was fine. My life was quite comfortable, complete and well-ordered. I didn’t understand what it was like for some people to be depressed or, worse, suicidal. I simply couldn’t fathom how and why they could possibly run out of things to be thankful for and glad about, when even just waking up in the morning was already a miracle in itself, already reason enough to celebrate. But after having to go through what seemed to me like a season of goodbyes, I came to realize that happiness is not so much a choice as an opportunity.

There came a point in my life when I was forced to let go of a lot of things even before I was ready. I couldn’t help but feel like something was lacking, like something was missing, although I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what. It drove me crazy just trying to figure it out. Every day was a struggle. I saw my glass as neither half-full nor half empty, but bottomless. I knew I had a good life, but I just couldn’t feel it. I lost my faith, my belief in a lot of things (and people), my natural high. I lost track of what I was living for. I lost myself.

I did everything I could to get rid of such a wretched disposition. I struggled to focus on the so-called bright side, I tried to uncover every possible explanation as to why this and that needed to happen, I forced my life to be flooded with several supposedly effective distractions. But still nothing seemed to be enough. There was never enough reason to stop denying, never enough strength to proceed, never enough pride to stop suffering.

It was exhausting. It was like swimming upstream, going against a raging current, or forcing a drop of water from a broken faucet. I couldn’t simply choose to be happy because happiness wasn’t an option readily presented to me. I didn’t have the ability to manipulate my present circumstances and change things in my favor. I lacked the appropriate resources, so to say. It was impossible for me to provide myself with what I didn’t have, to create something out of nothing.

It all seems so exaggerated and melodramatic, I know, especially for someone as young as I am. Looking back, what I went through was actually nothing compared to what other people have faced and endured. But pains of the heart are great masters of treachery and delusion. They have a way of tricking you into believing that your wounds are the deepest and that the damage done to you is absolutely irreparable. They can have you trapped inside a black hole, where a “bright side” is impossible to even think of.

Up until now, I still haven’t completely rid myself of the melancholy, I must admit. Feelings of sadness still hover every now and then, especially when all the workload from school gets a little too toxic. But despite this, somehow a kind of joy still manages to abound. Simply put, at this point, I feel happy for the most part, but not because I choose to be, but rather because my current state of affairs finally allows happiness to rise naturally.

It has been about five months since I first entered college. For five months, I have been exploring an unfamiliar world of new beginnings and of infinite possibilities and opportunities. For five months, I have been with people who are so steadfast in fighting for things they know in their hearts are right; people who, with seemingly unfathomable courage, willingly dive into the swirling pool of life head first, eager to embark on journeys into the unknown; people who don’t just wait for things to happen to them, but actually make things happen for themselves.

After seeing this kind of scenario every day for five months, my perspective changed. I was inspired. It seemed to me that the rest of the world was finally cooperating to give me every great thing that life had to offer. And so I allowed myself to partake of things that I used to neglect and ignore. I allowed myself to embrace anything and everything that threatened the normality of things, to leave my own comfort zone and just wander in and explore new worlds. I allowed myself to be overwhelmed by the vastness of life, to take risks, fight more battles and seize more opportunities.

The whole “season of goodbyes” thing wasn’t easy to live through. Nonetheless, it’s a phase that I wouldn’t skip, or trade for anything in the world. It compelled me to both learn and unlearn so many things. I have come to realize that happiness is an opportunity that can be seized, not an option that can simply be chosen and forced upon oneself. I have discovered, too, that life’s ventures may at times expire, but they never run out. And the best way to increase one’s opportunity for happiness is simply to just carpe diem all the way through.

Angeline Dellosa, 18, is a first-year physical therapy student at the University of the Philippines, Manila.

First published in The Philippine Daily Inquirer, 04:22:00 11/22/2008



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