Seven months into quarantine and my vision has never been the same. Since most of my days now are spent at home, my screen time has increased exponentially. “How many hours do you spend looking at screens each day?” my optometrist asked.
“Four hours?” I said, feeling shame crawling up my throat.
“Really? Just four? Including the hours you spend watching TV?”
“Uh, seven?” I said embarrassingly.
My astigmatism level has increased, making my eyes more sensitive to light and my headaches more frequent. In fact, I’m writing this with a warm microwaveable pillow on my head to ameliorate the pain on my right eye.
My vision’s blurrier than ever, but not as blurry as how days have turned into an amalgamation of many yesterdays. Just a few days ago I had to ask, “What day is it today? The 2nd?”
“It’s the 4th,” said my fiancé.
“October 3 po,” corrected one of our house angels.
Remembering hasn’t been easy. The days have been flying by so quickly yet oh-so-so sloooowly at the same time. In my clearest moments, however, I remember many minuscule yet important things: from old songs I used to love to words I used to associate myself with but I now know I’ve outgrown.
Amidst the blur of my days in the past months, I see myself again in my most vulnerable humanity. Layers of pretenses drop away as I melt into the day, aimlessly scrolling to feel at home with myself.
Despite my eye troubles, I giggle at the irony and truth in being a so-called healer in pain. I also celebrate that these days, I feel more at home with myself.
In the moments I’ve spent decompressing through the infinite scroll of my screens, I found what I’ve always wanted to see: what can I always say yes to? Where do I recognize myself the most? Allowing the answers to unfold before my eyes has been a pleasure. In the words of Rilke:
“I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Three months ago, I opened a small shop. A move I hadn’t planned and only did on a whim. It revealed itself to be a healing and expansive decision. My relationship with money has positively shifted, I’m more inspired, and I feel more empowered than ever.
I found myself recollecting photos I’ve taken of pottery, sculptures, and paintings during my past travels. Suddenly things made more sense: the shop is an expression of what I’ve always found joy in. Colors. Art. Design. Beauty. Curation.
It’s a concretion of the medley of my interests, the flavors of my explorations, as well as textures from nature I’ve always delighted in. It’s a way to remember who I’ve always been and to recognize all of my mysterious becomings.
In the morning I make a mental list of things I’m grateful for. Some days are not as remarkable as the others, but gratitude shape-shifts and it only needs a few moments of sincere attention for it to evolve in depth and form.
Some days my gratitude is more general: I’m grateful for good health, family, and love.
On other days I’m more specific and hopeful: “Thank you for allowing me to rekindle and further explore my interests in the arts.” (Isn’t gratitude a more reverent form of remembering?)
In this infinite scroll of life unfolding, I find myself coming home to myself. Each day, over and over again, I make my way home.
It never looks the same–but it’s home.
The pandemic has been especially hard on a lot of Filipinos. Let’s take care of one another. If you’re willing and able to, please consider donating to:
Kaya Natin to help healthcare workers.
UNHCR to support the displaced and affected by COVID-19 in Mindanao.
Strays Worth Saving to help support shelters taking care of stray animals.