A sense of reality

Something in me stirred.

After a short-lived but intense burst of astonishment, I become all-too-aware like all the switches in the world flicked on, unfastening bolts of currents, and, swiftly, everything is illuminated. Like all the lanterns of the universe burned in precisely choreographed combustion. It was exhilarating. Saddening, too.

I was watching a DVD of Closer, a movie which, for the longest time, I have postponed seeing. It is so many things to different people. Cynics and jaded people (AMEN!) would hail it a piracy of their private lives. Romantics would view it as one complex but fascinating puzzle. Realists would declare it an honest mirror. Absurdists will proclaim it as a study of stark reality. Every acclamation about this multifaceted composite of modern relationships is well-earned. The movie never loses its rhythmical series: brisk, sly, funny, bleak, cruel, honest, blunt, unapologetic and above all, mystifying. This is the kind of rabid writing that makes people like me insecure. It never revels on profundity but you feel the looming sadness, the yearnings, the melancholy and the imminent gloom hovering above the characters’ heads. You root for them, you want them to be happy, but like you, they are as confused, fumbling around, making the most of what they know. They are no longer confined in celluloid fiction. They inhale the same air, their breathing, rising and falling to the slow rhythms of your pulse. You are one with them in confusion and desperation.

One brief scene flashed that floored me: Anna hugging herself in the partially lighted attic. I gaped. Mike Nichols has just plagiarized my life.

The scene wasn’t protracted but the sensation it enthused in me disengaged a twinge of recognition, making the fleeting moment seem too personal. It hit me like a a sudden downpour of anvils plummeting towards my head. In that attic I see myself balled up. Staring vacuously, consumed by meaningless thoughts, kissed by possessive silence.

It is in this attic where I can similarly breathe freely, where I am free of any form of judgment except my own. It is where I go to avoid, to think, to reflect, to wallow, to be lost. It is where I can be the real me, stripped to the core, with nothing to apologize or make amends for. It is where I deteriorate into a beast, or get reacquainted with vulnerability. It is where everything liquefies, with nothing to hinder my thoughts but the sound of my own well-paced shallow breathing. It is where I am emancipated from weariness of choices or grope for meaning. Or, at times, it is where all notions of significance are rendered unnecessary.

Everyone has a perfect private spot. Some people have secluded hills, beaten old paths, hollow trees, consoling meadows, beachfront cottages, an unblinking gaze, or the warmth of an embrace to get lost into. I have an attic in my head. To other souls it’s dank and inhospitable. It’s reeking of depression, guilt and indelible melancholy. It’s not the most flawless space in the world.

It’s not a home — a home is what you temporarily occupy. It is a room of sadness that you inhabit all the time. You may be sidetracked and laugh for a moment, but you’ll know when it’s time to flee unto the room of discontent, look at yourself, and see incandescent sadness smiling back.

You return the courtesy with absolute comprehension. You wistfully smile back knowing you’re truly home.


About Kenneth Theodore

I translate ethnic slurs. View all posts by Kenneth Theodore

9 responses to “A sense of reality

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