The World Inside A Glass Bubble

man-in-glass-bubble

This is a dream I dreamed several years ago. I dreamed that the world is trapped in a huge thick glass bubble, spellbound by a dramatic but repetitious movie it is constantly watching. The multitude’s faces are anguished and world-weary in the dark, caught in the cyclical shadowy human condition. No one in the dark is aware of their predicament.

          I saw the whole world inside a dimmed movie house. The whole world was watching a movie. The movie screen looked like a giant computer screen. All eyes and attention were focused on the movie which was taken as real by the moviegoers. At one point in the dream, I, too, was inside the movie house and I could agree that the movie was very interesting, except that, I noticed, the plot was nothing new. It appeared to be an old story being revived over, and over again through different times and locations with a different set of actors acting the same roles. I was going to speak to the man seated to my right, to say a casual comment about the movie when I sensed he did not want to be bothered. He was laughing at what he was seeing in the movie. I turned to the woman to my left, but she too sent the vibes that she did not want to be disturbed. She was crying at what she was seeing in the movie. I thought it quite amusing that an exact same scene in a movie could make one cry and another laugh.

Crowd watching movie in theatre

          As I was watching the people watching the movie, it occurred to me that it was only their collective perception which was making the movie appear like real, for in my vantage point, as I watched them from outside the movie house, they are only looking at a man-made movie. Then I noticed that the movie house and the people in it were inside what looked like a huge bubble. I concurrently became aware of the distraught and world-weary faces of the moviegoers. I thought that as it is merely a bubble encasing the whole world, the bubble could easily burst and everyone in it would be freed. A closer look, however, revealed the bubble to be thicker than it initially appeared. It was a very thick glass bubble. Nobody among the moviegoers seemed to be aware that they are watching a movie in a dark movie house contained in a glass bubble. I thought, if only somebody would poke at the glass bubble to create noise, the viewers’ one-pointed attention on the movie would be momentarily broken, enough for someone to take notice of the confinement and inform the others. I had the idea of hurling a stone; even if it lacked enough impact to break the huge thick glass, it might distract some to notice their enclosure. I scrounged for a stone, but could not find any. And then, a most astonishing revelation took place: it was the multitude’s age-old, deep-seated, complex and tangled thoughts, which, over eons, consistently wove a membrane that solidified into an impenetrable hard glass bubble. I knew then that the bubble could only be cracked from the inside – from its very source. As this almost frightening realization struck me, my body involuntarily convulsed, and I awoke from the dream.

The world’s prevalent and enduring thoughts compounded, gained density, and formed a spherical aquarium-like glass bubble that confined a whole world which is totally oblivious of its confinement.

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Work Hard Then Die

Black cat

Once, in a family gathering, and so suddenly, a relative asked me, “What are your plans?”

I decided to ignore her and to not answer her question. I thought I didn’t need to explain my life to her and even if I tried, she won’t get it anyway. It’s just that we are not in the same frequency level and so our perception of reality, and of life, is starkly different.

I knew she wanted to ask if I am going to get a job, and if I have plans to marry. Does the latter sound familiar to many singles out there? 🙂

I suspect she thinks of me as a lazy person, or one who is without direction, or plans and goals in life.

I do not do ‘work’. . . . I only do what I want/love to do, and what I want/love to do, I do not define as ‘work’. There are things I love to do that are compensated with money, and there are things I love to do that are not compensated with money, but I do them anyway just because I love to do them. I have decided to follow this personal life ethic because I want to, and also because I believe that the foundation of true success is doing what you love to do. It may be a slow process, but at least it is a sure and enjoyable process.

And because of this life choice, I consider myself to be living with ease and being in the flow. Some of my friends think of me as simply lucky while family members are intrigued no end.

Before my current choice of lifestyle, however, I had been, in fact, a hard worker, a perfectionist, and competitive in my past endeavors. I only stopped being the previous version of myself because of a dark and heavy shadow that kept tugging at me. This dark and heavy shadow would not leave me – not until I confronted it during the time of my Saturn Return (29 years old). Such darkness and heaviness first descended upon me after my father’s death – when I awakened to the cruelty and absurdity of what we call ‘life’ is.

My parents worked very hard. I blamed hard work to be the cause of their deaths. My father worked very hard in another town while my mother worked in the fields from dawn to dusk. They worked really hard – just like their parents and grandparents and great grandparents down the generation.

Now, I’m not complaining that my parents were hard workers. They lived their lives the best way they know how, given the circumstances of their time. And I am very grateful for everything that they imparted to me – even if it is the lesson to not follow their steps as it is not always the best way to live.

After my father’s death, I still vividly remember when I asked my mother – why?

Ma, why was I born?”

What do you mean?” She looked at me in a manner that as if my question did not deserve to be asked.

I don’t know . . . but what am I born for? What are we people born for,” I asked, somberly.

Do you not like to have been born?”

I almost screamed to her, the painful question I had been asking myself over, and over again:

Look Ma, we were born, we grow up, we go to school, we argue and get insulted in school, we marry, we raise children, we work very hard, we get sick, we suffer, and then – we die – just like Father. What is it all for?”

I asked her with utmost sincerity, practically begging her to tell me the answer to the mystery of life.

Mother could not answer my question. She did not know the answer either.

So I went on with my life carrying that burden of a question on my shoulders – a heavy, sinister, shadowy entity following my every walk on Earth – reminding me if this is all there is to life.

I was sorry for screaming at my widowed mother, but I just really needed to know, ‘why?’

The Night I Started to Cry

I was fifteen when my father died. I was a clueless, spaced-out teenager secluded in my private mental world. During my father’s wake, people came in and out of our house. Many of them I know, and many I do not know. I watched, disinterestedly, as people cried and recited or sang their very sad eulogies.

I did not shed a tear.

My elder sister asked me if I did not miss my father. I just stared at her. I did not know what to say to her.

Yes, I did not miss my father.

People were crying because my father died. They said he passed on, finally, after suffering from a long illness.

He died and I did not cry, because I did not miss him.

I did not know what death means.

My father, because of his work, spent a lot of time away from home. He came home on weekends, usually, but sometimes, he showed up after two or more weekends had passed.

Many months have passed since my father’s death. It has been a very longtime; I started to notice his absence. I started to miss him, badly. I know in my mind that he had died. Everybody knows that too. I had seen him sick, paralyzed, emaciated beyond recognition.

For days, family, friends and strangers alike watched a gaunt body lying still in a coffin . . . and then, when the appointed day came, the men quickly lifted the coffin and hastened off to the mountains to bury it.

But for some reason, an unknown, mysterious reason, I expected my father to just show up – one day – just like the many weekends he always showed up, without fail.

A year passed and my father never showed up!

In that moment, I got it – what they say death means – it is the reason people got very sad and cried.

Then I started crying, every night, for many years.

 

natives

The River’s Journey

When I was not slumbering, I spent long hours sitting at the balcony looking out to the river of my hometown. Each time I sat there by myself, I imagined Grandmother telling me more stories about the River’s Journey.

“In its journey, the river undergoes many experiences and changes. It even changes its color and size. Here in our village, the color is usually what you see now, crystal and shiny reflecting the sun’s radiance. But depending on the life around it, a river may turn into other colors.

“In the olden times, when we didn’t have mirrors hanging on our walls, we went to the streams and rivers to look at our reflections. The river is our mirror ― as we are alive, breathing and moving, the river is also alive, breathing and moving. If you poison the river, you will in turn be poisoned by it. Like the healthy blood flowing inside our veins, the river is the blood of the earth, and as long as it is healthy and keeps flowing, all life on earth is nourished.

“The river may grow big and may also shrink. It may unite with other rivers coming from different directions. If they find a common ground, two or more rivers unite to form a bigger and a more powerful river. Joined rivers travel for a while, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, sometimes forever. Often, after traveling together, joined rivers separate and go different ways. But they would no longer be the same as when they first met, for they would have already given and taken something from each other. It is like in a family, or between friends.

“You find a friend to share your journey of life with. You and your friend walk some distance and you give and take and share and learn from each other. But a time may come when you may have to go your separate ways. When this moment comes, you would no longer be the same people as when you first met, for you would have added to each other’s experience in the journey.

“Maybe you have to part ways for the reason that you have different opinions on how to travel downstream. Perhaps your friend wants to explore more of the nooks and crannies of the big towns while you prefer to flow on the more laid back riverbeds of the countryside. You had a father, a mother, sisters, brothers and me. Some of us leave first. You continue the journey with your siblings, but as you are all grown up, you are drawn to explore different directions. Despite this, all of us, in the end, would eventually meet at the final destination and be reunited again as the one big family that we are.

Bakun waterfalls

Bakun, Benguet Philippines

 

“And when in your journey, you find yourself confused and agitated, or in a turbulent mood – when as if your emotions are like the river rapids – in a rough flow – so to speak, don’t resist where the current brings you next. Do not be discouraged or disturbed by constantly shifting landscapes. Does the river get intimidated and perceive itself a victim when an immovable giant boulder blocks its course? No, the river simply curves smoothly around the obstacle and flows on.

“Does the river cringe in fright when it finds itself standing at the edge of a precipice? Certainly not. The river takes a leap of faith; it is then that the murmuring river becomes the roaring mighty waterfalls! It survives the leap and discovers more of itself – its abilities and possibilities.

“The river knows that after a rough flow, a smooth flow awaits for it, right at the next bend. And when there is not much happening and the river is smoothly flowing, does the river complain of boredom? Again, no. The river takes such quiet moments as opportunities to get itself clear. So you see? The river yields and yet it is invincible. The river can tap into its ancient spirit’s wisdom, and know, that this is truth.”

“The river’s spirit is ancient?” I suddenly reacted.

“Only as a way of talking, we may say that some rivers are quite old, having been flowing on the surface of this earth for a very long, long time. Yet we may also speak of rivers which are newly fashioned. An old river has already smoothed and refined many jutting rocks and rough stones, so those parts of it coming later may follow the same path without wounding themselves too much.”

I sensed Grandmother’s presence and wisdom as I channeled more of her River’s Story in these imagined conversations. I felt greatly relieved from my illness of pathological pessimism.

Excerpted from: Becoming Mad and Asking Why the River is Flowing by Allu Kuy. 

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