Worm’s Eye View: Secret ambition


LAST Monday, when I saw my first-ever column in the opinion page of Panay News, nostalgia struck, with images – long forgotten in the dusty corners of my mind – rushing back into my mental screen.

At first, I couldn’t make heads or tails of them. But, ah, when I took a closer at them, I saw nothing but a scrapbook of images tucked neatly in cubbyholes, as vivid as they first occurred to me – a lifetime ago.

A mosaic of images that reminded me of my secret ambition: From dawn to dusk, in my dimly-lit room, I stayed in my cockroach-infested room, basking in a world of books on philosophy, religion, history, politics, classic literature – and yes, not to mention my encyclopedia, my dictionary and my thesaurus. Literary gems I stumbled on my path met a cruel fate for, at the end of the day, they found themselves ripped off the books they saw print and rammed into the pockets of my Levi’s 501 jeans – to be dissected, analyzed and savored all throughout the day.

After assimilating all literature that struck sensitive chords in me, I imitated the styles of their authors in my journal-writing, mimicking the music in their language, the depth of their thinking, and the logic in their arguments. Scribbling non-stop 2,000 words everyday on my journal was my idea of fun at a time when boys my age worshipped Michael Jordan, Bruce Springsteen and Bo Jackson.

Yes, I epitomized oddity – the epitome of an oddball that I appeared to be in the eyes of my peers. But I loved it– yes, every minute of it meant the world to me because it represented a step-stone to my secret ambition: To become a writer. No doubt, it consumed me, with all my waking hours only devoted to the furtherance of my evolution into becoming a writer.

Psychologists taught us that obsessions carve deep mental and emotional grooves in our being, leaving their DNA and indelible imprints in our consciousness. And this I believe as I can prove to you now that I even remember the dates that marked the beginning of that dream and its “end” – May 26, 1986 and April 29, 2002.

Believe you me, from May 26, 1986 to April 29, 2002, I just focused on becoming a writer. And like all dreams, it also had a price. As I did nothing but read books and write, I became a financial parasite.

First, all throughout that period of time, I didn’t have any serious economic objectives. To keep body and soul together, I only did odd jobs– here, there, everywhere. But I was happy. To me, that was my idea of heaven: a penniless vagrant basking in books, writing and musings. But like the dinosaurs, that “lifestyle” suddenly met extinction on April 29, 2002 – the day my son was born.

Armed with nothing but my ubiquitous paperback, I surveyed the nursery room in that decrepit Las Piñas hospital to check out my “offspring.” And as if by cosmic force, I was able to identify him even if there was nobody who helped me single him out of the little creatures inside their cribs inside that nursery in that languid summer afternoon.

Yes, when I saw my son, something in me radically changed. “I can’t allow my boy to be as poor as I am,” I remember telling myself. “That boy should be rich before he turns 20.”

Right then and there, I vowed to set financial goals and achieve them at all costs. And sadly, that sudden twist of fate necessitated that I shelve my secret ambition of becoming a writer to pave the way towards my financial independence.

Today – a little over 12 years since I shelved my secret ambition – I have finally become a writer – with my children financially set for life. Truth to tell, I can now do whatever catches my fancy. Aside from being a writer, I am also in organic farming – but that’s another story I will tell in tranches in future columns.

Indeed, life today is speech yesterday. No matter how labyrinthine the path to the reality of our dreams may be, we become what we once said we would become. For even after my angst-ridden journey through journalism and business to build nest eggs for my children, my mind still ensured the attainment of my secret ambition against all odds even if it had been shelved for over 12 years already.

Now, armed with what Ernest Hemingway called a “built-in shock-proof shit-detector”, I can’t wait to get warmed up in this journalistic firmament before I could let it all hang out, so to speak.  There are so many things to write about – what with political issues bursting at the seams of our threshold to differentiate horse manure from vanilla ice cream. Writing is still the best profession in the world especially to those who are gifted enough to do justice to it not only as a craft but as a tool to ferret out the truth in the haystack of lies./PN