The Sound, the Fury, the Incendiary Despair

20 09 2008

I’ve just completed taking the makeup exam for a subject I’m taking this semester. I’ve given the other subject up for lost – I’ll take it again in due time. I’ve just had lunch at the (now) luxuriously-priced Chocolate Kiss Cafe (so you probably know where I am now) – their Sour Cream Cheescake is still to die for…if the whopping price of 95/slice doesn’t kill you first. There was a time it was in the 60’s range (almost a decade ago!); now, for that price, all you’ll get is their signature iced tea which employs pancake syrup as a sweetener.

One thing, though – listening to Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings while eating the cheesecake was a heartbreaking experience.

To be sure, I am proud to have the University of the Philippines (Diliman, no less) as my alma mater – but nowadays, I dislike coming to the campus alone (and my choice of company is woefully limited): there are far too many ghosts (the emotional kind). Every nook and cranny of the campus brings back memories of some sort or other – some funny, some good, some bad, many bittersweet (more bitter than sweet, nowadays). Frankly, I’d rather not have any of them at the moment. It’s all too depressing.

“Shouldn’t you be rehearsing The Orchestra?” you might be asking. Yes, but thanks to exams, I have to entrust the musicians to my assistant for the time being. He’s a good fellow, too be sure – but I just feel like my place is there, with them, cajoling the strings for a more cohesive sound, than here in this half-empty internet cafe, blogging.

The Orchestra is currently polishing a piece entitled Fureai from the anime Romeo x Juliet; I hate the title – it sounds to much like furry and fry to be taken seriously – but the piece itself is oh…gorgeous. The melodic lines, the counter-melodies, the textures, the sonorities…sometimes its all too-much to endure. At the cadences, when the percussion section let’s loose with the cymbals and timpani invoking lightning and thunder and the bass drum releases its signature boom, only to be met by the strings and woodwinds (and brass, if we had them) in what is to me the most emotional melody I’ve encountered this year…why, it’s like getting shot through the heart. The first time I heard it, I couldn’t sleep for two days – I just kept playing the piece over and over on my phone/mp3 player.

Oftentimes, when I’ve had a rough week, rehearsals with The Orchestra is most therapeutic – the cloud of depression dissipates in the face of some 20+ adolescents asking me to tune their instruments or whining about how difficult the piece is (usually an odd mixture of both). And then of course, when everybody finally gets their parts right…ah, I have the coolest job in the whole wide world.

But I have no such solace now. Today, I must face the ghosts of my past…and the ghosts of what-could-have-been. They are legion.

I once told a colleague during one of our informal dinner gatherings that there are times when I would gladly give the wisdom I’ve gained from my most heart-rending experiences in exchange for never having had the experiences at all; to be able to see everything and everyone with innocence and wonder instead of cynicism and jadedness.

I know it is a foolish wish, and I’m glad God knows better than to grant it – but allow me to say that it is during times like these that it is extremely difficult for me to see His hand in all this; what I can see with my own two eyes is nothing but darkness and despair all the rest of my days – struggling to hold on to the light, with no end in sight to the labor, to the pain, to the crushing loneliness that nobody seems able to comprehend, let alone remedy.

All around me, those whom I have known enter into love and happiness and sunshine (my college roommate – who is related to one of my co-teachers in a way too-convoluted to have been possibly made-up – is getting married in December; the same roommate who, when we were much younger and way too-foolish for our own good, juggled no-less than three girlfriends all at once. He even had a shrine to one of them on his desk.) – indeed, those whom I have loved now move on to new loves and new lives where I have no place, and I am left outside among the lengthening shadows and the gathering darkness and the bitter, biting cold – to deal with mind-shattering memories alone…always alone…always alone.

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

…The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

~ from A Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda

Congratulations to you, former roommate, and the rest of you – remember me in the wind-driven rain, in the rolling thunder, in the silence of the deepest, darkest night.

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6 responses

23 09 2008
meow

it saddens me when i read of your sadness and loneliness. as your friend, i want to somehow remedy it, but my attempts have not been successful. i guess they never will be. as you’ve said, the loneliness is always there; it keeps you needful. i just hope and pray it makes you grasp more for God and that in Him, you find comfort and joy.

friends, they come and go. some do stay. but for one reason or another, a lot come and go. i’ve had my share of those. it hurts, and you miss them. but the good thing is new ones come along. moreover, there are always brothers and sisters in Christ around you. also, you’re a teacher. you are a part of the lives of so many students. — here’s another attempt at convincing you that you are not alone and relieving your loneliness.

23 09 2008
romea

“…there are times when I would gladly give the wisdom I’ve gained from my most heart-rending experiences in exchange for never having had the experiences at all; to be able to see everything and everyone with innocence and wonder instead of cynicism and jadedness.”

thank you for those words sir.
i don’t know any better, but i hope you find what you’re looking for, someday. 🙂

’til when are you not gonna conduct rehearsals?

8 10 2008
janna

at least you have the company of music. if you find yourself on campus again, i’ll be around. i don’t have a life.

22 10 2008
janna

since i couldn’t reach you by phone, i guess this is the next best thing.

i wish you not just a happy birthday but joyful years ahead filled with hope and love.

i miss your jokes and stories. thank you for taking the time to share yourself with people like me. i’ll probably see you in december if i’ll still be in the country by then.

^_^

27 10 2008
sillyserious07

at the risk of sounding insensitive, i should say you articulate your state of heart quite beautifully, my friend. many a writer would give arm and leg to summon words as potent as yours to describe their own melancholy 🙂

27 12 2008
december

hey, love the naruda poem, i totally adore him-perhaps because i simply love tragedies more than comedies 🙂 , there’s a newly released naruda book of poems, i would’ve bought it-had it not been over a a thousand 😦

anyways, it’s really great to finally meet you and have a chance talking with you- thanks again for spending precious time with my clients-next time you have to sing solo 🙂

despair is something i relate to so i would like to recommend you Piper’s Hidden Smile of God and be blessed!

a blessed, joy filled new year 🙂

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