Manila is cold. The weather has started getting chilly, and the days are shorter and grayer — dismal little pockets of hours spent existing in a vacuum.
Traffic increases tenfold during this season because everyone is shopping for gifts, clogging up roadways, stressing out over schedules and bonuses and transportation. The malls are frightening meeting places for mobs of consumers. The tiangges as well. And everywhere there is music — Ray Conniff, Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis — crooning about sentimental feelings and snow falling on quiet little towns.
December is my downer. It brings back the memories of college days spent wondering when this loneliness would ever end. And it did when I finally tied the knot. Suddenly I had someone to share the season with. And it was fulfilling, serene, quiet. And it is in the past. I miss my baby.
These days, I wander around malls, finding myself in the aisles of the housewares section, realizing I have no home to shop for, no kitchen utensils to replace, no wife to cook for. And it depresses the hell out of me.
My choir wants to go caroling and I can do nothing about it. Even though the songs turn my mood 7 shades of blue. So I end up getting monumentally irritated at tiny mistakes in pitch and rhythm, spiraling downwards into a pit of self-centered crankiness. I cannot stand teaching Christmas carols during this period of depression in this empty, gazing void I feel within me.
Meanwhile, the Sold out Band is busy as ever, playing for community Christmas parties, ministry appreciations, and various other CFC activities. There isn’t a week when we aren’t shuttling back and forth between gigs. This helps take my mind off the loneliness, in fact it distracts me from the raw, blinding numbness. Which is a contradiction, isn’t it? How can numbness be felt? Don’t ask me — I’m venting here.
Don’t even get me started on Christmas gifts. Because I have yet to start myself. Which is a change from my usual obsessive-compulsive behavior in the past. It’s just pretty hard to care right now. And this might be one reason why I am sleeping so much. In slumber, there is no pain. Although, even in my dreams, I get this nerve wracking anxiety whenever I’m about to wake up.
So what is there to do? Pretend I’m fine, or simply give in to the blues? Distract myself with activities such as shopping for gifts which I don’t feel cheerful enough to give? Concentrate on making music while Christmas carols fly through the air infecting one and all with vague feelings of shallow joy? Sleep through it all? Drown emotions in alcohol, or blood-soaked videogames?
No, I know the solution to this; the trick is to concentrate on others instead of myself. After all, isn’t that what life is all about?
IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by rudy.kleysteuber https://flic.kr/p/5J6RDT