Monday, May 23, 2011

№ 8. Workaday Ephemera

The fundamental blocks of life can be found in the small things we accumulate.

These are things I have accumulated over many years. Now they are coupled with my history.

When I wake up in the morning, I first see the Jose Rizal poster. Often, I overlook how its yellow skin has mellowed with urban soot. I hurry up with the morning ablutions and get fresh corporate uniform.

Then, just before I run off, I grab the blue mother duck with my left thumb and index, noting how this tilts the weight down to the opposite side, where the lone duckling sits---left behind by the train of siblings. I tuck my leftover receipts under that blue metal paper weight. And then, finally, zip off. 

In the evening, I grab the Brendel CDs and listen to Beethoven’s Appassionata or some other loud but decent music. 

I shift to the playlists and do some clean up--- receipts, files and bills. Then I finally sleep, with the same Rizal staring blankly at or watching over me. Same difference.

All in a day’s worth. This subset, multiplied by 24 hours, 7 days, 52 weeks or 365 days of iterations.

From the top: blue pottery from Sagada, buttons that fell 
off from old clothes, fondue forks, corks, pod from 
Makiling's giant Ipil-Ipil, an old subscription receipt
circa 1969 issued to my mother, Brendel CD and 
Entablado's Jose Rizal poster.

Over the years, my possessions have become familiar through use and disuse. Somehow, that’s how “friendships” with things flourish. They all start out as curious acquaintances and slowly mature into objects of sentimental value.

On the skin and deep in the soul of this array of shapes, my senses have slowly etched my routines and memories. Random encounters have accrued my personal data in their hard drives. Random Access Memory (RAM)? 

Daily life frictions perhaps render life's terrain permeable to the inanimate and vice versa.

The terracotta pig from the Natural History Museum in Chicago, miniature vases from Vigan, bamboo letter opener with Mangyan scripts, bronze piece from Suluand deer wood sculpture from somewhere.

I remember the last lines of the movie Stranger Than Fiction, narrated by Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson). 

“As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. 

And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And, so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.”

I wonder. Which of these things would one day save my life?

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