the realist versus the romantic

Yesterday’s post was quite emotionally. I felt beaten up and defeated. I hate feeling that way and I hate it when I feel helpless. I’m often the one who cheers people up, gives them hope, and filled with wise words to say about soldiering on. I had none of those qualities to give to myself yesterday.

So I called a friend for some emotional back-up.


JC, Gabe, myself, and Pia back in December of 2009 on our way to a friend’s beach house in Batangas (photo by Dara Villonco)

But I didn’t ask for comfort. Thankfully, I stayed away from that impulse. I called someone who had answers. She didn’t have easy answers. She didn’t have answers that would make me feel better. She had something more important to me. She had the other side of the story. She had the information I didn’t want to hear. She offered me a different perspective and a different point-of-view. I think that’s why I called Pia last night. I didn’t want to be told everything was going to be all right. I wanted to be told her perception of the truth. I wanted her to tell me what she knew and how she saw the world.

I didn’t seek out comfort. I sought out more perspectives. I sought out a different way of looking at the world. I didn’t want to retreat into a safe space. I wanted to understand and to learn.

I’m happy that I chose that path. Even defeated, I still had the strength of character to seek out the truth and I take comfort in that.

Pia Morato is a great friend of mine who is, currently, in the middle of things. Her family, her work, and her advocacies puts her right at the center of this maelstrom of the political environment and this change in the tides of the Philippines. But before all of that, she has been a good friend since 2008 and when I met her, she was going through a difficult period in her life and she was starting from ground zero.

We immediately became friends and we would spend a lot of time together talking about ourselves, our plans and dreams, and about the world.

She has told me that she had come to me a lot during her rebirth and her growth into this new and wonderful thing that she is now and that I’ve given her a safe space to vent and to bounce ideas off of and to push her to believe in herself.

Last night, the tables have turned as I called her for the kind of support I was looking for.

While we were talking, it dawned on me that I was no longer the realist that I’ve always claimed I was. I always thought that I was a realist with romantic inclinations. I always tried my best to see the world for what it was and then find ways to insert the romantic somewhere there. Sometimes, I would find a way to romanticize the reality, no matter how bleak it was.

But as I was talking to Pia, I discovered a different side of me. I discovered that I had gotten so affected by everything that is going on in the world today that I retreated away from my realism and ran straight for my romantic side. My realist self would have looked at the way things are now and found solutions. It would have adapted and survived and found a way to thrive. But yesterday — and maybe even the past few months — it was getting harder and harder to see the world the way that it really is because that meant I would have to deal with it.

So I had somehow retreated fully into my romantic self and it had dictated the sort of things that I would hold on to and when faced with the horrors of everyday life and what I see in the news, it assaulted and offended my romantic leanings. It made me more vulnerable to the pains of the real world.


Pia and I meeting up for lunch last May of 2016.

I tried to escape the reality by becoming more romantic and, in doing so, it made me more susceptible to the blows of the savagery and the evils of this time period. It made it harder to bear.

This is the tough part about being a Piscean. There is always that open door into a fantasy world where I can just go through and escape and not have to deal with things. That option is constantly open to me and I have to will myself to stay away from that impulse. Everyday it is a battle to stay away from escapism.

I am always afraid that I might rush off to escape and then never come back to deal with what must be dealt with.

I’m so happy that I got to talk to Pia again last night because it was talking to her that I realized what I had done to myself. I had let go of the realist in me and retreated into the romantic. I wouldn’t have noticed it had I not talked to Pia. She served as a fantastic contrast that allowed me to see myself in a different angle.

I caught myself as I was trying to escape.

There’s no escaping what is.

Deal with it.


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