Some kind of Paradise
I was waiting in line for my driver’s license feeling as one must feel given the circumstance of strangers caught somewhat unwillingly in a crowded place; all quite unsure of how long the wait, how slow or quick the time.
As it turned out, we all did not wait too long. The wait, just right. Nothing untoward. No machine breaking down. But long enough for me to overhear the conversation between two men next to me. One complained about senior citizens and why they don’t have to wait as long as everyone else. He complained most likely because he was not a senior citizen himself. But how he proffered his case was what struck me: “Mo suyop man sad na sila!” (They also sniff shabu.) He continued by claiming they did this to forget their troubles. The man next to him agreed.
Being a senior citizen, I wondered if perhaps the men were referring to me. I smiled to myself unwilling to break through the invisible wall around me. As their conversation progressed, I began to understand that one was quite a big Duterte fan and looked forward to trains running everywhere, “especially in Mindanao,” as a precursor to Paradise here on earth for the Philippines. Okay. Fair enough. And then he opined how the Bus Rapid Transport system (BRT) would have been in Cebu already, “Kung wala pa babagi niining bakla nga Michael Dino…” (If that gay Michael Dino had not opposed it…”
And then I really had to laugh. To myself and silently, to be sure. I know Michael Dino is not as the man claimed. But the dissonance was simply too interesting that I found myself silently being entertained. Such that time moved too quickly. Soon we all stood up in line to claim our licenses.
I left thinking about Paradise and Hell, and how we might all be there already, right now, depending on what goes on inside our heads. I imagined myself with the same texture of logic as the men who sat talking next to me and cringed. How one thinks leads to how one must feel. And if I thought like that, then I would feel as if I was living in Hell. And now I wonder if Paradise and Hell are not places but states of a person’s mind?
After all, Paradise cannot be an endless state of static perfection where no problems ever come before us. That would be boring, wouldn’t it? Better a “perfect reality” where the person understands the true state of reality and moves to solve the problems there. The perfect reality ought be a mix of opposites: joy and sadness, problems confronted vs. problems solved, good vs. bad, a romance of order and chance. Hell can only be the state of ignorance, perhaps of stupidity, where the person is divorced from knowing the true state of things. And since Paradise can only be a collective of people, then Paradise must be us, together, doing battle with ignorance until we understand the true state of things. And that way being more aware, we can then work to make our world better. And if we are already doing that, then this must be as close to Paradise as we should ever hope for. At the other end of that: To battle ignorance is to save people from Hell. This Hell!
I found myself smiling the rest of the day.
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