What I Think About When I Think About Writing (Many Thanks, Murakami!)

I trashed my midterm exam on Ethics yesterday. Hooray!

I was suddenly reminded of Ancient Philosophy last semester where I too messed up with what could have been a good philosophical essay. I was dumbstruck in the first few minutes the professor handed us the question sheet. I scrolled the items from 1 to 7, then 7 to 1, stopping at No. 2, breathing deeply, desperately, closing my eyes carefully, not wanting to be noticed or seen, clutching the pen with my shaking hands and writing unknowingly with my flimsy fingers. Tears began to cloud my eyes until I realized that it was beads of cold sweat forming pool in my empty forehead.

I’m always afraid of something. My fragile heart is too crowded with a fear so suffocating I could hardly breathe. I am too afraid, the kind of fear that is both inexplicable and unknown, that I ended up getting dropped off the class roll last year, the consequences of which I am suffering this present semester, the regretful pain I am bearing each and every waking day. Heaven knows it was a tormenting semester. But does it make it any easier knowing that this semester is a living hell? 

I looked over to see their heads bowed down in their desks, pens clicking the smooth surface of yellow paper, time ticking away every crucial second exhausting every iota of thought and idea all in the name of a passing grade in Ethics. In the midst of the deadening silence I figured: Nobody pays attention to emotions when midterm exams come. Nobody remembers the pain of last semester’s burden nor the horror of last year’s ghosts. When the questions arrive, people answer them accordingly; the way it was instructed, the way it was learned. Nobody answers a pending question with another pending question or with another hanging  thought. Nobody treats their philosophical paper as a page from somebody’s diary where thoughts and emotions find their resting places.

Sure, I trashed the exam. But I did so in all honesty, no cover-ups, no pretense, no masks. And even if it made me one hell of a bastard for not worshiping Plato, at least I did well with an open heart.

I could only hope that when my professor finally reads my paper, he’ll see past the letters and see the girl who was once lost in translation and time but gradually found herself back again enough to write her own philosophical paper and stand on it. Though the work was written in poor parchments by a mind that has yet to discover the entirety of philosophy, that work was still as honest as it could ever be.

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