Friday, June 21, 2024

Residing in Antiquity


All That Jazz

Michiko Je M. Bito-on

The transience of life is best exemplified by the coming and going of the seasons, how one seamlessly passes unto the hands of the other – the fate of our daily toil. We fail to appreciate this gradual shift in our universe because we engross ourselves in personal affairs and in preparation for the hard days ahead. It is also perhaps fair to blame that our senses are not afforded the privilege to witness the change in     colors that were once stellar some odd years ago. Our humanity has given us the unusual privilege to stand as markers of the change we wish to manifest around us. In a few decades, the hair atop our heads will turn an ashy gray with age and our hands will become gnarly from hard work. Our priorities will change and the things that captivate us will become nothing but nostalgic memories. All of us will all arrive at this point someday since nothing really lasts forever, not even diamonds.

Not many in this generation value what came before them. The relics that people took pride in now remain as pages of old textbooks stored away in the public library. In efforts to keep the past alive, experts replace wooden flooring damaged by pests with the right equipment and polish old ornaments to render them anew. Artworks from long ago are preserved, thanks to a new combination of ink and paint to breathe life into them. Blemished gems and broken chains are soldered back to their original form through the expertise of a jeweler. Cryptic literature can be deciphered, translated and simplified fit for the consumption of today’s readers

Though artifacts can be conserved, there is something about taking away bits and pieces of these ancient objects that make them lose their soul. Old houses may stand after restoration, but they will tell no more of children’s feet making loud thumping sounds as they play and of the young girl who looked out the Capiz shell window to hear a short serenade from her suitor. Paintings and sketches may become more striking at first glance, but they will not anymore tell of the artist’s inner struggles and inspirations in order to complete the composition. An old necklace may look tasteful on you, but it will not speak of how your grandpa danced the night away with your grandma on their first wedding anniversary. Centuries-old literature still provoke and intrigue great minds of the present but they will not be enough to understand the elation and despair the writer clung to in the company of his beloved as he set his strokes on paper.

The essences of untold stories or rather, what is left of them now resides in antiquity. These are legacies tying their lives to ours. For the most part, our ancestors have nonetheless been successful in reminding us of their prior existence. The great decision to make now lies in whether or not we are willful enough to do the same— tying our lives to the ones after us—in whatever way we can. There is more to this life than sticking to the moniker of being the Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once) generation of neon lights, pretty faces and stardust. Restless as we are, there is a heritage of fiery passion, resilience and positivity that we can very well cultivate, spread and preserve. Do not get caught up with the precariousness of the world but with the quintessential, the worthwhile and the universal.


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