The heat is so unbearable today. I feel baked. I have no energy to eat, to work, to write. This makes me miss the mountains fiercely.
I grew up in the city. The same goes for my parents. When I was much younger, this made me sad because every one I know goes home to their parents’ province come summer. I was one of the few who always stays behind because we have nowhere else to go. My grandparents on my paternal and maternal side do have lands in other regions, but both of my father and mother are not in touch with their respective clans. Hence, it’s the city for the rest of us.
As I grow older I realise that living in the city is not for me. I love Manila—but I am getting tired of the noise, the pollution. I need the quiet.
In all honesty, I never thought I’d be attached to the mountains, too. I’ve always wanted to live by the sea. (I still do.) These days though—I find myself missing the fresh air, the pine trees.
Last year I had the idea of moving to Tagaytay and leaving Manila altogether. I know what you mean when you say that your place now starts feeling less and less like home. My problem is that I don’t think I’ll be able to leave soon.
Have you ever read The Prophet? I find this passage to be apt today:
Then a mason came forth and said, “Speak to us of Houses.”
And he answered and said:
Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?
Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.
But these things are not yet to be.
In their fear your forefathers gathered you too near together. And that fear shall endure a little longer. A little longer shall your city walls separate your hearths from your fields.
And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors?
Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?
Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?
Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?
Tell me, have you these in your houses?
Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master?
Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.
Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.
It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.
It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.
Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.
But you, children of space, you restless in rest, you shall not be trapped nor tamed.
Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast.
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.
You shall not fold your wings that you may pass through doors, nor bend your heads that they strike not against a ceiling, nor fear to breathe lest walls should crack and fall down.
You shall not dwell in tombs made by the dead for the living.
And though of magnificence and splendor, your house shall not hold your secret nor shelter your longing.
For that which is boundless in you abides in the mansion of the sky, whose door is the morning mist, and whose windows are the songs and the silences of night.
— from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Good morning, M.