Essays

An Ostensible Cheerfulness

During this pandemic, I haven’t written anything here that falls under my usual category of work, save for one. And I wrote it with much trepidation because I didn’t want to sow seeds of anxiety in an already anxious society. Since the lockdown happened, I’ve been writing on my journal, for my eyes only, because my thoughts were filled with concern and uneasiness that I didn’t want people to read them and then have their own concerns and uneasiness triggered. I have always thought that my writing should in some way impart something hopeful and inspiring; all the good stuff that people seem to keep looking for nowadays.

I realized that to be cheerful and inspiring in these difficult, uncertain times would sound too contrived and would look ostensible. I have a hard time taking people seriously when what they say sound contrived and ostensible, especially on social media and we all know there’s plenty of them around. I have decided since I started writing again last year that if it’s not my truth, then I won’t write it. There’s too much phoniness circulating already, and I don’t want to be a part of it.

At first, I have welcomed the quarantine and saw it as a means to regroup and to rest. To finally stop feeling worried on a Sunday night because Monday is just a few hours away. To finally see Monday as just another day of the week instead of a mythical villain that everybody loves to hate. To finally sleep in on a weekday without setting an alarm. To finally watch everything on my Netflix list. To finally cook a home-cooked meal on a weekday, not just on the weekends. To finally start cleaning the house that I don’t usually get to do because work always comes first. And finally, to finally rest and be still and not feel guilty about it.

But as the days turned into weeks, and those weeks turned into months, I began to feel the sameness of every day. I have often felt like a lost, aimless traveler walking through the desert as I search for my oasis, and ultimately, the end of the desert. It felt like I was waking up everyday to walk through the same barren landscape, the same wind-swept dunes, the same scorching desert sun, and the same sandy wind that gets in my eyes. And everyday as I wake up, I keep looking out into the horizon and try to see if this is the day that I reach the end of the desert, only to be greeted by the vastness of the desert with no end in sight.

I have come to know myself even deeper because of this. I have discovered that as dismal as my analogy of the lost traveler is, I have remained hopeful. I keep moving forward because I know that even though the end is not in sight yet, my life this time of year next year won’t be the same. How do I know? I don’t. I don’t know how things will be next year, but I do know that I am cradled by a good and generous universe and that I am being taken care of. How am I able to say this? Because I am breathing now; my lungs are doing what they are supposed to do. Because I have shelter and through the years I have built a cozy home that I love to be in. Because I have food and I have never been hungry even though it’s a time of crisis.

Even though I find myself walking through the same somber landscape everyday and I’m beginning to feel fed up with it as each day passes, I still find myself thankful for the small, seemingly inconsequential things during the different times of the day as I go on with my routine. I have always been vocal about my gratitude in my prayers but I feel like my utterance of gratitude during this quarantine have surpassed the quota required for a lifetime, if there ever is one.

Although I am getting sick of this long stretch of desert that never seems to end, of these dunes I pass by that all look the same, still the sun will set and the sun will rise and I will keep putting my foot in front of the other and so on and so forth until I find myself out of this barren land because I don’t intend to stay in the desert. And I hope you don’t intend to stay here, too.

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