(Preamble: Written when my Uncle Jaime died in 2000. Reading this again made me think of the pessimistic outlook I had. Time flies and so does the attitude. Read on.)
He died at the age 54. He lived a simple life, a silent life. After his mother passed away ten years ago, he became alone. No wife to love and no children to look after and take care of. His life revolved around his little sari-sari store in Angeles City and a pack of Hope cigarettes a day. His life was simple. His life was silent.
In his wake, there were only a handful of relatives and friends who mourned. No one was crying. The wake became a venueto update their respective lives. It was a reunion. Not even a single word was mentioned to describe how he lived his life in their conversations. I think no one remembers or even knows.
While looking at his lifeless body, I asked myself if he lived his life in full? Was his life meaningful or absurd before succumbing into the world of the non-living? I could not tell since I’m also confused if my life has meaning at all.
His death affirmed the feeling of absurdity within me, the self-pitying awareness of my unhappiness. Nothing can be lonelier than to be conscious of the meaningless reality, to know that everything means nothing.
Being a yuppie at the age of 24, I think I’m already suffering from mid-life crisis and by the time I reached 48 or less, I would be in the same place as he is now, within a golden box surrounded by flowers and bright lights.
My life at the moment is being defined by more than eight hours of toiling in the workplace in one of the companies in Makati, brewed coffee and Albert Camus. Like my uncle, I’m not married and without social life. I can say that my life is less simple but more silent than my uncle’s and I’m only in my middle twenties.
This notion or feeling of absurdity was not preconceived but it’s the product of my unpleasant experiences in the past that I have no control of. Ironically, these said experiences created who I am now. The sad part is, I’m aware and my uncle was not. Because of this I’m struggling to live my life each to day to find that meaning or purpose of my life.
The death of my uncle made me realized one thing that I have equated meaning with happiness. Perhaps his life was without meaning but he was happy. He was happy simply because he was not looking for meaning rather he just lived life each day. He was already content with his little sari-sari store and he no longer desired for anything more. At first I described it as hopelessness but it was not, it was just his idea of happiness. Or perhaps it’s already the meaning of his life.
Jocel de Guzman
December 31, 2000
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