Originally posted on May 2, 2011
by Pat Nogoy SJ

You Change My Life In A Moment
Janie Fricke

The night’s disguise was filled with clouds
My world with mine was filled with grief
I couldn’t count all the lonely hours
Spent with memories and tears

I never thought I would see the day
When I could throw all my sorrow away
But then you came and you showed me the way
You have made all those times disappear

You change my life in a moment
And I’ll never be the same again
You change my life in a moment
And it’s hard for me to understand
With the touch of your hand
In a moment of time
All my sorrow is gone

I never thought that I could change
Could change so much in so many ways
I’m still surprise when I look in my mirror
To see that I still look the same

You change my life in a moment
And I’ll never be the same again
You change my life in a moment
And it’s hard for me to understand

With the touch of your hand
In a moment of time
All my sorrow is gone

“All real beings, including not least our own very selves, are for us human knowers always a shifting blend of known-unknown,of chiaroscuro,light and shadow.”

–Norris Clarke, SJ

The Movie

Last night, I finally had the chance to watch the sequel of one of the surprise blockbusters of Philippine Cinema, A Very Special Love. Many told me that the sequel was not as good as the first—good defined as entertaining, quality of acting (I do agree that Sarah has unforgivable incidents of exaggeration in her portrayal), and corny quips (irritating ringtones of Bebe Ko and Sarah’s “breakdance” routine towards the end in her effort to win John Lloyd back). But these shortcomings did not distract me from appreciating the film to the point that I even felt it surpassed the previous one by miles. Character development and brilliant dialogues in critical points of the relationship between Laida (Sarah Geronimo) and Miggy (John Lloyd) throughout the movie were thought-provoking. Just like the first, this sequel stirred up and verbalized concrete and serious issues about love. And how the characters responded to these issues that are also ours (since art imitates life) made me love the movie.

Laida and Miggy made a significant albeit life-changing decision by saying Yes to one another. This Yes tantamounted to a lot of adjustments to include the other–frequent calls and texts checking on the other person, increased time spent in being together despite work and creatively celebrating dates and important occasions. The desire to be with each other was severely tested and compromised by the increasing amount of work and personal issues each has to deal with. The breaking point came where Laida felt she was giving more into making the relationship work compared to Miggy due to the latter’s accumulated and frequent incidents of broken promises. Laida was certain of her love, that her world revolved around Miggy. Miggy, on the other hand, was certain of his love, that he was giving his best. Sadly, Miggy’s best was not enough for Laida.

Measures and Wagers

It is difficult not to count especially when one feels shortchanged in a relationship. There is a pressing need for reciprocity (for what is better than mutual exchange?) It is tiring and even painful when the love given is not echoed back. It is like an arrow mightily shot into the howling wilderness.

Here lies the rub for isn’t loving precisely giving? Isn’t love supposed to be an arrow flying into the distance without hope for return? True. However, the demand of reciprocity is only a tool to indict the other party for his or her failure to even shoot an arrow. If the other declares his or her love for me, why doesn’t the arrow reach the space of my wilderness, the target of my heart? As Laida goes: pakiramdam ko mas mahal pa rin kita.

This charge is too much to swallow especially for a person who is also certain of his or her love for the other. As Miggy defends: I am giving my best. And here lies the rub again, for the arrow has been shot a lot of times. They just miss the mark. And Miggy goes further, I am not like you who have the capacity to love this way Can differences in capacities be acceptable excuses? Am I to be punished for my natural limitations?

The kernel of the struggle for reciprocity and burden of measurements is suffering. The pain of letting go by letting the Other in schools the lover to the reality of the Yes. Embracing the Other entails surrendering even of one’s own plans and will. Embracing the Other includes trekking to the frontiers of the unknowns. It even extends to the afflictions that these unknowns may bring (may it be the future or the Other himself). Embracing the Other pertains even to the suspension of knowing, of grasping the Other, tossing the lover to the torrent waves of the chiaroscuro that leads to experiences of doubts and even skeptic unbelief. This situation of de-centering, of loss of control, and zero-visibility, is a perfect condition for suffering. Suffering is the jolt that awakens the lover from the romantic shade of saying Yes. The reality is this: saying yes—to love—is tantamount to suffering. And suffering is frightening.

Experiences of suffering (especially in cases of failures, disappointments, depressions, and rejections) triggers self-defense. Self-defense is expressed in the condition of certainty. The failed lover or beloved, in the act of protecting the self, holds on to the shield of guarantee in loving again. However, a more devastating irony treacherously lurks. For as long as the lover or beloved continues to put on the armor of certainty, the more they unknowingly deviate from their true essences as lover and beloved. In the end, the very conditions they imposed negate their very own being. Verily, no one can serve two masters, he will either love the self or lose it to gain the other.

The wager of the first yes that gave birth to togetherness still persists in these incidents of suffering. Miggy puts it well when he asked Laida, “So what do you want to happen?” The question remains: to love or not to love. And though the situations are different since a lot has happened, the conditions and type of answers still resemble a wager. In a wager, measurements do not matter since uncertainty persists. Patterns of past experiences may prove to be unreliable. What really matters is the now—the present—which is only answerable by a Yes or No. This present stands on hope though, albeit a precarious one. For hope reveals itself to be the promise of change.

TO BE CONTINUED: Measuring Love II

About Pat Nogoy

Pat was sent to Zamboanga to teach high school students. Despite this mission he shares in the Society of Jesus, he also discovers that philosophy left a trace that continually gives. Time and again, this trace asks him to engage life deeply especially Zamboanga (its cultures, places, and peoples) and prods him to share his reflections. Aside from thinking and writing, he enjoys his other jobs as moderator of the high school choir and of creatively seducing more men to help make God’s dream a reality in the present as Jesuits.

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