College is a grueling phase of determination, a long-lasting event wherein you’d watch tidal waves of alternative futures rush over to the shore and lap on your feet precariously. From afar, you are agape at the enormity of these waves, tumbling forth just like your dreams, so promising and very much full of illumination. At that distance, you clutch your heart in your hands and whisper to the wind, “This is it.”
But then the waves close in, revealing fissures of uncertainty that you never saw coming. You are dumbfounded, and suddenly, entirely unsure of everything.
The waves are coming, there is not enough time.
You take a trembling step back; then you are running—retreating from the future you might have had.
That’s how it feels like, how it happens. How you could be so stable at one point and then teeter at the next. Every now and then you are seized by the hands of regret; strong hands that weaken your very own bones, turning them into molten minerals rapidly erupting from the craters of cowardice embedded on your skin. Your limbs flail into the most awkward directions, no longer succumbing to your own control, empty of will and determination. You are a ghost of Why The Hell Did I Not?
At some time this week, I have been asked about my favorite book (by a slambook, that is), and the only answer I could think of was Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I haven’t even yet finished the book then, but I answered it anyway.
You might think it’s stupid to pick a book for a favorite if it hasn’t been read fully yet, but I had my reasons:
(1) The path of the heroine, Esther Greenwood, is heavily laden with crossroads; she is a huge, dense ball of indetermination herself—kind of very much like me right now. It’s difficult not to find myself fusing the strands of my story with hers.
(2) She wants to be everything. Now I think (and so does the editor in the magazine she has worked upon) that’s pretty much poetic, and that it’s my only answer to what I really want to be.
(3) She is an English major and an aspiring writer which of course, would definitely hit a soft spot in me. I am a sucker for anything writing-related.
(4) Hers is a case of extreme loneliness. Refer to the second sentence in Reason #1.
In the book, she turns all haywire and insanity. (And I really do believe she is having a breakdown, but she has pulled herself together quite inhumanly well I can’t really say she’s crazy.) It is a mixture of so many frustrations and disappointments and also boredom, all of which would loosen her bolts. But I admire how she can always pull through, despite trying to kill herself and all.
I’m not really sure of the motive on why I am writing a sort-of-review about The Bell Jar and is placing it side-by-side with my collegiate regrets and ramblings. I speculate that it is because Esther Greenwood is an echo of a future I don’t want to be become. Her writing is often rejected.
The thought of rejection sucks all motivation in me. It’s a black hole of despair where I couldn’t let myself sink into. I am but a prey to cowardice.
Esther talks about the bell jar: its descent and her imprisonment.
I am within my very own bell jar at the moment; trapped, alone and unyielding. I am encaged, a bird with its flight encumbered.
Right now, I cannot yet feel its withdrawal. Soon, perhaps. Soon, once I learn to set myself free. The only person standing in my way is me (How Black Swanesque!).
Here is a letter to the person who has catalyzed this realization:
Dear Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar is a very great gift to the world, thank you very much. I know I have flinched and cringed at the bloody parts, but I am glad you have gotten around to sharing them with me (although you wouldn’t have known that then). It was tough being one with Esther, but the experience has taught me one thing: I am my own freedom. It is sad to know that you have ended your life—but maybe that was the only way you could have gotten rid of the bell jar. Nevertheless, your death has not come to waste, for you have, with the power of your words, taught people to seek freedom which can only be found within them. You shall remain a cornerstone, little yet able to graze against the thoughts of those who venture along the path towards liberty. And, you write so tenderly, it’s beautiful. With Much Gratitude, Sjerlive Dioneda