I haven't written anything for two weeks because it has been difficult for me to ride the flow again emotionally. There were more random fits of crying than usual, mostly due to loneliness. Mostly due to the anguish that comes with the desire to craft a life of independence and autonomy contradicting with the human need to be loved, understood and known deeply.
I am grateful that I am among people whom I can be lonely with, whom I can stop by the hall or locker rooms or cafeteria and just break down with abandon. This is one of the reasons why I know I am in a much, much, better place. I think there was someone who said that the theatre is a place where people can be alone together - and that's pretty much how I feel about my life and my class at the moment.
Some new things:
1. Poetry class
We finally have poetry class this spring semester! I've been looking forward to this so much! I've always wanted to be a poet but never knew how! We have to turn in a new poem each week. I bought a new blank notebook and I write poems about anything - even shitty ones. I need to write poems in my life right now. I need tools to articulate all these experiences. The things I see and feel within a single day these days are more full than a life in a week in my previous life.
My first snowfall this year happened last Sunday, January 17, 2016. I was in my room and I looked out the window and I realized I was seeing small flakes. I ignored them at first and then when I looked closer and longer I realized they were not dust or rain but snow. I was so happy. I went out to go to church and I saw white snow on the ground covering the cement, the plants, the tops of cars, my feet leaving footprints on the white.
I did not fully understand why I was so happy to see the snow again. Upon sharing this experience with my best friend, he reminded me that my Juilliard Journey has been a year, and the snow reminded me of the first time I came to "Narnia." He was right.
Looking at the snow, seeing New York in white, reminded me of the first time I stepped into the city, miserably cold and full of uncertainty. And yet, like many great love stories, what reminds you of the first time only reinforces how things fall into place and how things are meant to be.
Juilliard Audition Anniversary
There is a place that one must go to to find silence, or just to get away from everything for a while. And you need the quiet to think, or to take a breath. You need to do it with people who are like you, who understand you, whom you belong to.
I think my biggest takeaway from this experience is realizing that I am already loved. I've been unconsciously searching for it throughout most of my early adult life and it has contradicted with my other needs such as having a career, an individual journey, or a personal autonomy.
It's an interesting thing, love. I often associated it with some form of ownership and attachment. These days (or ever since I got here) it has revealed itself by having people behind my back ready to breathe out wind behind my wings during times when I would rather fall back. They're not exactly there to provide intimacy, but it might be sort of the universe's way of telling me that it'll give me the tools and conditions I need now in order to move towards the path that is laid out for me.
What I asked for mostly was silence. Often my heart and mind get clouded with thoughts and feelings so much so that I cannot see or hear what my soul is telling me. I've read that there are omens and signs that come to you and you only have to listen to be able to see them. And for the past two months I'm afraid I have been unable to see them because my mind and heart were in a dark cloud. As it slowly clears up I want to be able to follow the signs more obediently.
I've been giving myself permission to stay longer in bed than usual and savor the freedom of getting more sleep. I've also given myself the gift of turning off notifications from Facebook because there is little in that app that contributes to my spiritual happiness.
And so I turned to movies, reading and writing. I've also started drawing again upon coming across this article about a Mexican-Canadian illustrator who created a cartoon called "Imaginary Friend" to help her handle her thoughts.
1. Soul Mind Heart Food list:
Gypsy (1962): Full Movie here
Fugitive Kind (1960): Full movie here
The Judge (2014)
Heneral Luna (2015)
That Thing Called Tadhana (2014)
Roman Holiday (1953)
Eat, Pray, Love (2010)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes by Anita Loos
An Octoroon by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Your Illustrated Guide To Becoming One With the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa
The occasional NY Times Newsletter
2. Family Stories
I spent the first half of my vacation in my Tita Lea and Tito Danny's home (with my cousins Jerel & Jericho) along River Edge New Jersey. After one of our dinners, they showed me pictures of their wedding, their courtship and the first two times they visited the Philippines with Jerel and Jericho.
I consider Tita Lea as one of my badass relatives and the first who packed her bags and left. My favorite part of her wedding story was that she bought her wedding dress in a mall the day before her wedding. The store person gave her a $4 discount because there were missing buttons and she had to sew them herself.
I love that narrative. I used to love weddings as a child because of all the free food and the decorations during the reception (I've been a "flower girl" for a couple of weddings as a girl). When I became an "adult" I've been invited as a guest to a couple. As I grew up, my perception towards weddings with all its hoopla, tradition, "must do" things, and the seemingly inevitable domesticity that followed repulsed me. But Tita Lea came to New Jersey in August 1987 (at 23 years old), married Tito Danny at November of the same year and never looked back. In the beginning they had nothing. And I loved to hear a narrative of a union that followed no one's rules and forged a new life of adventure right after.
I often equated marriage with "settling down" and slowing down. But in Tita Lea and Tito Danny's case, their marriage was only the beginning of something. It seems to me that the real adventure in Tita Lea's life began when she left home.
3. The Hero's Journey
I came across this TED Radio Hour Podcast about "The Hero's Journey" over the break which I listened to while eating breakfast. The term, "The Hero's Journey" was coined by a mythologist named Joseph Campbell who connected similarities among the stories of ancient heroes. You can watch a short and cute video about it here.
"It's a fundamental experience that everyone has to undergo. Where in our childhood, to get out of that dependency, psychological dependency, into one of psychological self-responsibility - requires leaving one's conditions, finding the source of life to bring you forth and resurrection. And that is the basic motif of the Hero's Journey."
According to Joseph Campbell, the 12 steps that comprise the Hero's Journey are the following:
1. Ordinary world: Living a dull life
2. Receiving the call to adventure
3. Refusing the call to adventure
4. Finding a mentor who will help the hero answer the call
5. Crossing the threshold
6. Tests, Allies, Enemies: Overcoming challenges
7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
8. Supreme Ordeal
10. The Road Back
Without being too specific I found several things in the different stages that resonate strongly with the recent events that have taken place in my life. And there is something very fundamental about the human experience that the Hero's Journey articulates. You can probably find connections between the 12 stages and the narratives of The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Matrix, Harry Potter, Mulan, Hercules, etc.
Regina De Vera
I am a Filipino actress alternating between New York and Manila. I received my acting training at The Juilliard School. Take a look around!