The art of forgetting | Inquirer Opinion
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The art of forgetting

Life can be exhausting at times (if not most of the time) that forgetting becomes a much easier way to remember what life was once: an exciting journey for the wandering soul. But in a world where time doesn’t pause for anyone, we become like mice trapped on a wheel, trying to catch up with our lavish dreams, only resting to eat, drink, or sleep. In the process, we forget to live. We end up devoid of meaningful memories. Every day is the same as yesterday, or tomorrow, and nothing really matters except for that distant future and a few of our loved ones, maybe. As days pass, we witness life transforming into “hunger games” of sorts, where people fight for survival and evade death to live one more day.

Still the world goes on. The calendar changes. Nothing is constant. A problem today may no longer be so in the same day next year. (Even if it will be, the fact remains that a year has abruptly passed and we survived.) So why not pause for a moment and look around? The world is a great puzzle waiting to be figured out. Why not forget tomorrow and just live for today—I mean live, not survive? After all, the world will not rest a minute to celebrate your success or mourn your failure.


So give yourself a break. Let go for once. Give these steps a try and walk yourself into momentary oblivion.

First, go explore nature where counterfeits are few, like Panglao Island in Bohol. Walk on the sand and feel the white grains under your feet, gliding and twirling between your toes to the rhythm of the waves. Or listen to the sea as you lie flat on the shore. Then smell the breeze and taste it—salty, like life, like love. Let the sea remind you to season your journey.


Next, get lost in the sea of people. Traveling the invisible pattern of life can be so monotonous that getting lost is a reminder of how short life is, yet how long time can be. Wandering is a cheap luxury for those who have mapped out their lives on a tight budget. Walk the streets and lose yourself in the maze of bargain stalls. But don’t put your headphones on and shut out the world around. Rambling voices on the street, the honking of vehicles, or even the shouts of fish vendors can evoke a nostalgic feeling of… I don’t know, you decide.

Then meet people. Introduce yourself as Anna to a stranger and Jamie to another. They will never know who you are, anyway. Remember that you’re trying to forget even yourself. Have fun, laugh at silly jokes, be intense with religious and political discussions. But never forget to respect other people’s opinions, or embrace the you that you have discovered while talking to an interesting stranger.

Yet, in the midst of a madding crowd, remember to nurse moments of solitude. Feel the music in your ears. Let it flow through your veins until it beats with your heart. Dance like no one’s laughing at you. Jump like no one’s standing next to you. Shout like no one’s annoyed by your shrill voice.

Next, indulge in delicious seafood or that exotic Filipino dish you never knew existed. Or risk having that nauseous feeling welling up in your stomach as you try the notorious balut. Forget the first time you smelled a duck embryo through a crack in the egg and remember how sipping its juice is not that bad after all. Though you didn’t really eat that unborn fellow, pat yourself on the back for braving it.

Also, explore the world beneath the horizon at Balicasag Island. The 30-minute-or-so boat ride from Panglao will be worth it. Greet the wind as your boat escorts you to the island. Drink in the fresh salty air. And catch sight of flying fish. Then, when you reach the island, try not to frown on how underdeveloped and rocky it is. The treasure underneath the horizon is what you came for. Rent snorkeling devices, and make your way through the water world. You’ll see countless fish swarming toward you as you open the sachet of pale crackers. At 30 feet deep, meet fish of various sizes in different colors. Don’t worry if you can’t identify them all. (I couldn’t, and didn’t try.) And when you suddenly realize that you’ve come to the end of the reef and might be swimming above an underwater precipice, try not to freak out. Take a moment to process the fact that you’re floating above a hundred-or-even-thousand-meter-deep ocean. Then ask yourself: “How can something be so beautiful and so frightening at the same time?” The dark blue sea contains the most beautiful fish and the most dangerous beasts. You might be frozen with fear of possible sharks, and yet you’re fascinated by the mystery hovering in the depths. Decide to just stay where you are for one more minute, and be bewildered at the school of fish swimming out of the darkness.

If you have energy left after a tiring day, dive into the darkness of the sea at night. Go farther away, where beach lights no longer reach the waters. Try to forget your fear of sea urchins or snakes (or sharks) that constantly lurk in the corners of your imagination. Sometimes, darkness is your friend. It hides the things you don’t want others to see—your awkward swim suit, for example. Let go. Let your body float on the surface and your eyes feast on the beauty of the starry sky light-years above you. Thrust your wrinkled fingers at the moon’s light. Then close your eyes and let the gentle tide wash your shivering body back to the coast.

But don’t forget to wake up the next day. At 5 a.m., to be exact. Sit on the oceanfront while waiting for sunrise, or follow the footprints of someone who woke up earlier than you. Better yet, try to do cartwheels while waiting. But limit them to three or the world will spin and leave you flat on the sand, lightheaded. Then, at 6 a.m., behold the sun lighting up the horizon. Catch your breath as it breaks the darkness.


Lastly, breathe. Forgive all the painful memories. Forget the many bad yesterdays. And look forward to better and sunnier todays. And maybe, when you have forgotten, you will finally remember who you really are, and where you really want to go.

Jocille Ann B. Morito, 26, is an entrepreneur and freelance writer.

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TAGS: Balicasag Island, Bohol, forgetting, nature, Panglao Island, solitude, travel
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