When Passion Takes Flight Later in Life | Pinay.com
Back in high school, I thought I was going to be a fashion designer. Every day I drew models and different outfits that I fancied in my head, putting together a collection that never made it to the runway. Many years later, my imagination kept running, this time sketching stories. I became a writer.
This happened over a decade after I completed my bachelor’s degree in computer science. Fashion, computers and then stories—there were other things in between. It’s safe to say that before I found my calling, I was blissfully lost. While others graduated from high school knowing exactly what they wanted to be—doctors, entrepreneurs, ballerinas—I didn’t. I was about to enroll for a premed course in Manila when my eldest brother, who was living a fruitful life abroad backed by a computer science degree, convinced me that “comsci” was the future. Why not, I thought even when I didn’t know how to use a mouse back then. And even when half the class dropped out the next term, I hung on, summoning machines with a language that I didn’t quite get. It never occurred to me that there was another language so powerful that it could move hearts. I pursued the IT industry half-heartedly, started a few businesses, and dabbled in events management. I did everything except shine shoes.
For years I drifted along not really unhappy, but there was always that quiet questioning. Was I wasting my time? Where was I going? And then I met a writer who told me I should write although he had not read anything I wrote, which was then just my journal and my weekly grocery list. See, unlike most wordsmiths, I was never the writer growing up. I never tried to contribute to the school paper, although a couple poems of mine have curiously seen print. This one I still remember:
I wish I was free
Like a bird in the tree
Soaring in the air
When the weather is fair.
But how can I be free?
I guess, I’ll just be me.
Surely that explains why I never pursued poetry.
For years I was deaf to the call of the Muse, wanting me to tell her story. Neither did I notice the hints—the hundreds of letters I wrote to friends that get passed along like bad young adult literature and the library cards that always get filled. The questioning continued even when I got into feature writing and took up creative writing for my master’s degree. My classmates were born writers who talked about Dalisay and Gardner in awe. I didn’t know who they were. And then I met the Penman himself, author of over 20 books, holder of 16 Palanca Awards, Jose Y. Dalisay. He said my story was an ace for him (alas para sa akin). And then I soared.
It was really when I wrote that I was freed, lost in words and worlds. Over a thousand published articles, memoirs, and short stories later, I often wondered. What if I had heeded the call of the Muse earlier? I took flight a little later in the game and I know I have a lot of catching up to do, but I believe starting earlier wouldn’t have made me into a better writer. I’d like to think my writing wouldn’t have seen as much depth and meaning. Because it was from all these years of wandering aimlessly that I had found my inspiration, my truth, my voice. It is the same with photography. As far as I can remember, I never went anywhere without a point-and-shoot, but it was only two years ago when I discovered that I can also tell stories through light and shadow. I love moving people through images and seeing them light up in front of the camera. Self-taught, I’ve managed to gain some clients for portraiture. But still insecure behind the lens, I ask, what if I’ve learned the poetry of pixels much earlier on in life? Maybe my images would be lifeless. Only the greatest Creator knows the answer. All I know is that this my pace of flight and I am comfortable with it. And who knows what I will discover in the future gliding along? I’m open to anything—even sky diving.