Saturday, January 29, 2011

"To Map-making!"

There's a scene in Anthony Minghella's visually exquisite "The English Patient", based on Michael Ondaatje's book of the same title, that I can't forget.

Katherine, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, is with the crew of men made rugged and even cuter by the desert: the would-be patient played by Ralph Fiennes; her husband, played by Colin Firth; and a few others. They're all gathered by the campfire, wrapped in blankets to keep warm against the desert's nighttime chill, and passing the time with wine (or maybe whiskey) and telling each other stories. After some round of speculative fiction they come to tales of adventure and daring into unmapped territories — it may have been their jobs were to the map the North African region and its nearby deserts. This is all so hazy as its been a while since I'd seen that movie but I remember vividly that towards the end of that scene, they all make a toast: "To map-making!" someone says, raising a glass. And in the darkness, their faces glowing by the light of the campfire, the rest echo him, "To map-making!" and raise their glasses as well.

At a time and place when so much was to be discovered, and that the only thing you were guaranteed on any attempt to do so was that there would be danger, this strikes me as a beautiful and romantic statement to make. A seemingly throwaway toast with a world of pioneering adventure and history-in-the-making attached to it. I would have loved to be around that desert campfire somewhere in the North African Sahara, in the closing month of World War II, taking a break from literally mapping a place otherwise relatively unknown to the rest of the world.

I'm remembering it today because in two hours I'm going to make a different kind of map, one better suited to my life and times and circumstances: I am me, I live in a city, and these days most of my hourly challenges aren't about whether not a lion will leap at me from a bush (not that I ever really had to worry about that, even in the old days).

In two hours I'm going to make a map of the year ahead with two girls, Luz and Pinky, both of whom I deeply admire for their sense of daring and adventure. I can't share their stories because those are theirs to tell, but I will say this: they've dared travel far and wide, and dug deep wherever they went.

Instead of a desert we will be in the cool confines of a coffee shop in Burgos Circle, The Fort. And instead of campfire, maybe a little afternoon fondue. But there will be coffee and there will be tales to tale. And places and lives to be mapped out.

Another drawing/mapping/visualizing day. These are the things that make me really happy. Happy Saturday, world!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Night, Another Dream

Woke up several times in the night after what seemed like episodes of a dream.

At 3:30 I woke up from a somewhat stressful one — there had been an earthquake, a very strong one and long one, that started to bring down the buildings across the park. Then all of a sudden, the ceiling above me began to cave in. There were two sisters with me in the apartment, and I grabbed them both towards the balcony so we could escape. I pushed one out, but a slab of cement blocked me when I tried to make my exit. She then had to slip a hand through the crack so the other sister and I could emerge. When it was over, we were relieved to have survived, and saw that the earthquake had damaged only four floors — the 14th to the 19th — of one side of the building. The other side was not as lucky. While the skeleton still stood, everything had been gutted. It seemed like the aftermath of a fire more than an earthquake.

Then was another dream, a completely different one, and all I remember of it is one scene. I was drawing on a large table inside a warehouse and across me was a friend. She was busy doing something as well. Then in came through the large doors a person for whom I've been angry with for the better part of last year but for whom I'd been feeling a bit magnanimous towards lately, as though in my bones he's been forgiven. He came in and started to apologize; but the friend I was with started mouthing off a litany of his transgressions and calling him names. It was then that he started to back off and leave, and it was then that I started to suspect that if he hadn't been interrupted with a landslide of accusations, I would have been satisfied with the closing of that chapter. I stared wide-eyed at the friend who was still talking, half-wanting to yell, "Shut up now!"

I'm going to have to do something to keep up with all these dreams loaded with meaning. My subconscious seems to be working overtime, delivering messages to my conscious brain.

And there's the physical aspect. Before hitting the sack last night I was still reeling from overeating. Rissa treated me and R to a steak dinner at the Highlands Steakhouse in Mall of Asia. Rissa and I had halved a serving of a rib-eye, but still, with the soup, salad and side dishes, plus a bottle of beer, it was a bit too much. We had to have a round of coffee before going home and even then I felt stuffed to near-vomit point. This is really no way to eat and I was reluctant to sleep feeling that round. I dozed off close to midnight anyway and the dreams began.

It's common knowledge that stuffing your face bears down heavily on your liver and pancreas, and that lots of men starting in their thirties die of pancreatitis, their deaths chalked up as bangungot. And once in Siquijor, a faith healer/masseur named Junel told me that, judging from my muscles and joints, I had to pay more attention to my pancreas.

Warning bells? Note to self: heed them, please.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Drives You?

More from the dream world:

Some nights ago I dreamt that I was driving a Hummer, or something that looked and felt like one, big and bulky and occupying too much space on the road. When it came time to park, I couldn't do it, simply because the hulk of metal couldn't fit into any of the available spaces. I tried and tried to find the spot where I could fit, to no success. And I felt frustrated; frustrated that my vehicle was too big and thus I couldn't finally stop and get on with my business.

My dream discussion partner was quick to google and report back with: driving a car or a vehicle in dreams is related to how much control you are able to exercise over the direction of your life.

Then last night I had another dream. This time it was my sister who announced that she was going to drive us somewhere, and I yelled, "Shotgun!" My brother, therefore, had to climb into the back. And I was surprised that my sister could drive confidently and with ease, deftly maneuvering the steering wheel as we backed out of a driveway. Suitably awed, I asked her with a small voice, "Is it scary to drive?" And she said, "No, as long as you know what you're doing."

Sige, interpret. Process. Kape.