I don’t really like doing household chores. Thus, it is to no surprise that when I finally decided to do some general cleaning of my condominium unit, I found myself sneezing due to three years or so’s worth of dust accumulated under my bed. (Just a disclaimer, it’s not that I’m not really cleaning the space under my bed. I occasionally use our broom, but in the lamest manner.) Until now, my nose is still screaming in rebellion.
After my bed, I have to move next to my closet, where I found around ten clothes which I have not worn for the entire 2009 but are still there. It took me around five minutes before I finally decided to take them home back to Malolos City.
I then moved to my side-table drawer, which I had great difficulty opening. The moment I was finally able to, tons of paper popped out of the small space they were cramped in. Here, I saw my old Asian History (Hi16), Polymer Chemistry (Ch141.85/MSE121), Engineering Management (MSE161), and Engineering Composites (MSE151) syllabi. I also saw some long tests — both top and just-passing marks. There were some doodle and reflection papers as well (majority of them heavily crumpled). Also, there were some paper works from the Science and Technology Cluster (STC), Ateneo Chemical Society (ACheS), and the Philippine Association of Chemistry Students, Incorporated (PACS, Inc.).
My general cleaning was greatly delayed by these previous academic materials. Unlike my clothes, I was sort of reluctant when I stashed them in a big trash bag and dumped them away. Come on, they were the sources of my sleepless nights and party-less weekends. Like how Hannah Arendt describes Socrates as a gadfly, these academic materials have once stung me tirelessly. I just learn how to overcome them every end of the semester.
As an intentional object, I am a historic and temporal being as well. A being’s history is heavily influenced by the tradition s/he is formed in, but personal history can also produce an object that wouldn’t be a part of any tradition. (Moreover, personal historicity doesn’t develop in the same way as tradition.) My existence can thus be described as a linear progression of events, with a possibility that some activities may occur in repetition, as stated by Heideggerian philosophy.
The repetition here for me would be the so-far-seventeen years (counting from Kinder to Super Senior Year) of academic training I had to go through. Yet, my schooling (this term arises from Mark Twain’s quote) is linear. I would have not known about fracture mechanisms and quantum dots had I been stuck with memorizing the 26 letters of the English alphabet or the multiplication table. The past shapes the present which molds the future which curls back to the past. The cycle is endless.
To any individual, this means that by the time he finishes around two decade’s worth of schooling, he should have mastered his chosen field. Well, true enough, that’s why there are who you call “doctors,” be it of philosophy (PhD), medicine (MD), law (JD), etcetera.
Everything about life is not dictated by the book however. Education is different from schooling and the latter must not interfere with the former, as Mark Twain says. As a social being, his interactions with his fellow individuals mold his character. Through his daily encounter with them, he gains experiences. These experiences are carved in his subconscious as “memories.”
Still, no matter how philosophy claims to be more superior than science (which I highly disapprove haha), man is of scientific composition. There is such a thing as “information overload.” His brain can only hold as much stuff. It is for this that the term “letting go” was invented. For a better term, let’s go back to the previous paragraph and call these bits of information as “memories.”
College life was one huge roller coaster ride for me. When I was a freshman, I thought that studying for Pre-Calculus (Ma18) exams would be as easy as cramming for my high school Analytical Geometry Finals. That was until I got my first C. It took me a whole year before I was able to finally adjust my study habits. But then again, when I thought I’ve adopted to tertiary schooling already, I realized that I was not really that entirely correct. Struggle was the key to surviving this tough war. Also, school is not confined to just boring academic lectures as well. To learn more about real life, one has to go out and join organizations, to explore their other interests as well. That is how I got to extend my network of friends.
But schooling is never easy, and most of the times, you have to give up a great deal of things in order to progress. As I skimmed through my old 2008 Starbucks planner (which I found unwanted at the very rear of my side-table drawer), I saw some notes about planned high school tropa gimmicks which I have to cancel because of school work. There were also family outings that I cannot afford to attend, as hell weeks have dictated me to stay in my condo unit for the sakes of academics over the weekend. There were even some block galas that I was not able to join, for the same reasons previously stated. Instead, all I have during those days are Larry (my old Acer laptop) and my school books and class notes.
It’s not that I am complaining though. Looking back, I find myself laughing at how way back then, I was so stressed with laboratory reports demanding full-blown reaction mechanisms and reflection papers requiring to cite three philosophers. Those were the experiences which when I go down from the hill (as Ateneo’s school hymn goes), will double up, as dictated by the linear progression of time. The amount of sleepless nights I will be experiencing may even be exponential.
But as what I’ve learned from Western History (Hi18), we must forgive but we must not forget. While the brain can hold only a limited amount of memory, our subconscious and unconscious are infinite vaults. Maybe that’s what the true meaning of “letting things go,” we allow suspended thoughts to settle down — away from the surface. In the concept of chemistry, we transfer ice floating in water to a glass filled with benzene.
And as such, in as much as we want to forget things, we can only go as far as to hiding them from our plane of vision. However, like the invisible winds, those thoughts will still be there. The microwave, infrared, ultraviolet and other invisible electromagnetic spectra are as ever present as visible light.
As to those papers in my side-table drawer that I found, they may be away from my room now but they’ll still be at a dumpsite or a recycling plant here in the Philippines. If by chance I manage to find them again, then my future would have curled up to the past again. Hopefully along the way I have acquired more papers and learned more lessons.
For now, I am forgiving them for making me always deprived of sleep for the past five years. I am forgiving them for letting me miss precious weekends with my relatives and friends. What I need to do now is to move on and “let go.” The bittersweet memories associated with them shall not be an extra luggage I have to carry as I move on to a new chapter in my life. However, I will not forget that they were once part of my life.
I think this is the first step I need to take in my New Year’s promise of learning to forgive myself.
So there. To those papers I once abhorred, though your physical forms may rot, your essence will remain in my unconscious for eternity.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why it’s a present. — Master Oogway, Kung Fu Panda