Journey into the Wilderness

The first night was bad, the next was worse, the third was enlightening and the last was awesone. The four days I spent without electricity went exactly like that.

It was a crazy idea. I didn’t know if I could make it. I knew it would be painful and difficult—almost impossible—but I had no choice. I had to do it.

The first day was bad.

I woke up in a hazy sweat. Without electricity, I was not able to use the air-cooler or the electric fan, and it so happened that that night was hot. I was forced to go to sleep in my boxer-shorts as wearing more than my skivvies made the heat unbearable.

It was still hot.

Somehow, I managed to fall asleep, but after some time I began hearing a peculiar noise. It was something I don’t often hear, but I knew what it was—what they were: mosquitoes. I quickly rolled out of bed and in the darkness tried to locate the mosquito repellent. “Begone by Baygon,” would have been a pun I would have normally concocted for such an occasion, but I wasn’t in the mood. I was itchy, scratchy, sweaty, dirty and a little bit ticked off. I put the lotion on and sniffled at its smell. I don’t like it, but I need it was what I was thinking.

At 6 a.m. I woke up, there was a silhouette of my body on the bed from my sweat. I felt I didn’t sleep at all. I took a cold shower and brushed my teeth. No breakfast since I couldn’t use the microwave. I took the stairs down. I live on the 9th floor.

School went and gone and I was back at the condominium. I took the stairs up. I live on the 9th floor. It was getting dark.

No electricity, meant no light. I had to use candles. The apartment looked oddly nice in their flickering, golden-yellow light. I began to understand why candles are said to be romantic, they make everything look sublime.

It was time to eat and so I cooked. That first night, the problem wasn’t cooking the viand, it was cooking the rice. It has been more than a decade and half since I’ve used anything else besides a rice cooker. I had to think back and visualize how I did it before. Surprisingly, I succeeded with a modest amount of “tutong” as a bonus. I felt like I just won something.

That night went similar to the first, but I was getting used to it. Something different was that I attempted to use “katol”. I really went old-school. I can’t remember the time when I last used one of these. At first I had trouble separating the two coils coiled together in a ying-yang fashion. I used two.

When I woke up, it was not from the sound of my alarm clock. Something was burning. It was the papers littered across my room. It is a good thing I am very sensitive to smoke, or something worst might have happened. I quickly doused the heaping pile and went back to bed.

That morning I found my room was a disaster. What was worse was that all my pants and other clothing I hung at the back of my door smelled really awful—like katol. “Great,” I muttered. “I’ll need to wash these,” I said in complete knowledge that this feat would require the manual, archaic, “kus-kos” kind of laundry. I was not amused.

Again, school was uneventful. But I knew that when I got back home, only darkness and suffering awaited me (not to mention the arduous journey up) and by then, the withdrawal symptoms came about.  That faithful Tuesday night will live in infamy in my mind.

I was extremely bored.

I never realized how reliant I was on technology. From keeping in touch with the people I love or just merely passing the time, I was completely at its mercy. I was tempted to just break the fast. In the first place, no one would know, right? I began to imagine how it was to be able to freely watch shows on the internet or on television and to be able to see where I was going—to be in the light again. And the cold drinks I would normally been able to drink: a cold glass of Nestea Iced Tea, a very cold tetra pack of Zesto manga or grape flavor, and avacado shake with as much ice, sugar and cream I would care to put in it… my mouth watered.

At the promise of the cool and refreshing drinks, I almost gave way. But something my father has always told me, “what you spend the most time with is your god,” at that moment really made me think. Believe it or not, while I was sitting in my dark and dreary living room, I had a “reima”, greek for “divine revelation”.  Technology was my god.

The past months flew by in my mind, as though I had a powerpoint presentation going on in there. I saw that, although I identified as a Christian, having been raised in a Christian home with two loving Christian pastor-parents, I haven’t been living the tenets of my faith. Yes, I read my Bible and prayed, but all that was done out of a sense of responsibility—not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I know all the doctrines and have been trained in apologetics (how to argue as a proponent of my faith) so I knew that what I had was nowhere near what the essence of Christian life required: A personal relationship with God.

As these thoughts came into mind, I began to pray. Not the memorized and structured prayer I often use, but rather a conversation between my God and I. Although I received no audible answer to my many queries, it felt uplifting. I felt, once again, connected. Not to the world or to anyone, but to a greater being, one that transcends all creation and yet, I regarded as my best friend.

Before I knew, it was 12:07 a.m. of Wednesday, July 7, 2010. That night, I slept well.

When I woke up, I felt more refreshed than ever. In fact, I felt so refreshed that I forgot to look at the time (or remember what day it was). I had a Physical Education class on 9 a.m. and it was already five minutes past eight. I was already terribly late. I’ve always had a saying, “Better absent than late”, and so I just took a day off and didn’t bother to get up from bed till about 10. I made brunch (breakfast and lunch) out of an omlette and scooted with a bounce in my step.

And before I knew it, I had six hours to go till my fast was over. Wednesday night came and went with me, in my apartment’s veranda, surrounded by candles, and reading a good book. I slept very soundly that night as there was a good breeze outside and the usual pests were curiously absent. Divine providence, may be. I was just thankful.

With a few hours to go, I felt this experience was something I needed. I’ve been so engrossed with everything happening aside from what hasn’t been happening in me. I never took the time to self-examine. As Littlefoot’s mother said in the Land Before Time, “Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen carefully,” we should all take time to re-examine our lives. If I, in all the sweat, tears, mosquito bites, burnt food and boring nights, found something I’ve lost, who knows what you may find if just you try.

[Pictures will come later]

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