Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

04 February 2023

The divine comedy

Many, many years ago, when community management was barely a thing and I was in the vibrating potential of my 20s, I went to New York to provide live social media coverage to a major advertising awards show. The bloggers were all put up in a fine hotel and given access to rare and special people to facilitate our coverage.

But things started going wrong almost immediately before the first day of work. I can't remember all the details. My wireless internet router didn't work, my Macbook Pro failed me and the Genius Bar took it away and said it would be out of commission for several days. I provisionally bought a new computer which they told me I could return after the week was over, minus the return fee, which I chocked off as a rental fee.

I didn't know New York that well, and barely had the funds for these emergencies. All this running-about, trying to get my shit together before the event started, was taxing. But finally it was done, and I got to my hotel and touched the key card to the door. It didn't open.

That is when I pressed my head to the wood and burst into tears.

It happened that, in the room next door, a housekeeper was just coming out. She dashed across to me with a look of alarm and buried my head in her copious bosoms.

"He hurt you," she said with conviction. "I'm so sorry, love, so sorry he hurt you."

I relaxed all my weight into her and kept on crying. It didn't seem important to correct her. In a way, a he did hurt me: Steve Jobs.

I blubbered about my door key and she sorted me out and ushered me into the room, tut-tutting the whole time, tucking me into my bed like a little rolly-polly.

The rest of the week went fine. But thereafter, I had the strong feeling that I was on the hotel's suicide watch. I came home every day to a pyramid of chocolates and handwritten notes from housekeeping. The staff kept calling to "check in." In the midst of all that stress—the week did not turn out so great in the end, though it had nothing to do with my work, nor anything I could have done—I felt loved and held by strangers.

This is how I feel at this moment. I'm standing at the very edge of a private endeavour I've poured months of myself into. It twisted my life around, made things chaotic, and at the same time I kept encountering people—improbable strangers and professionals—who seemed destined to help me succeed. Kisses from the universe.

Now we're nearly at the end, and success does not look like the most likely possibility. The grief sits heavy on my heart. There's one last salvo, then few remaining paths. It will be over, and the machine will simply stop.

Discovering what we truly desire, and why, is a transformative act. We spend so much of our lives being encouraged to measure and temper our desires against the societies and norms we grow up in; to deviate from this single-mindedly, in the pursuit of what we alone want, is a radical thing.

But desire is not equivalent to entitlement. You are owed nothing; the universe is not a meritocracy, and I'm not even convinced that a meritocracy is an ideal. Desire is merely a compass. You follow the direction where your heart beats loud and strong, and that's important; it vitalises you.

I have finally arrived at the place I've struggled with finding for the past three months. I cannot control this outcome. It has nothing to do with me "rising to the occasion" or "meeting the challenges." This is not a gauntlet for the gods. From my vantage point at this moment, life is playful, our time here a series of games. We learn things or don't, we feel things or don't; there are no wrong answers, only experiences and new possibilities, and all that enriches the cosmos. 

It's about us, sure, but we can't forget the macro sense of who we are. My life is about me insofar as that I'm living it, but I extend beyond my body. 

I am kapwa: I am me and you, me and the community, the community and the environment. I extend to my interactions, known or unknown, and cannot be divided from this fertile, murky mess in any meaningful way. So this story can only be about me in that sense. It's me as the cosmos, not me as a small slice of anxious ego wanting a happy ending from a very narrow spectrum of perspective.

I brought up the story of that woman and the hotel because it's on my mind. It feels related to this moment. Over the course of this project I've met with many forms of chaos, but also many people that, for a multitude of reasons, I believed were signs I was on the right track, and a "positive" outcome to this project was meant for me. They were strangers who became friends and they fought for my interests and still do, or spontaneously reassure my fears without me asking them to, or answer questions I didn't know I had, seemingly making the path clearer ahead.

All this time, I thought this was about me getting the right ending. But this isn't about the ending at all. It's specifically about those interactions. All those years ago at that hotel, everything went wrong but I felt held by strangers, cradled by the universe. I feel this now: As the project slowly unravels in front of me, as hope begins to rise softly from her chair and move toward the door, I realise I'm not alone in this room, have never been alone.

I am still held by strangers. I am still cradled by the universe. And this says more about my value to myself, my value to everything, than securing the fucking outcome. Though losing it, to be frank, breaks my heart. 

I can feel it: softening me, making me more malleable, relaxing my muscles with the grief. I bury my head in the copious bosoms of the universe. May I be worthy of the gift of the hands that go on holding me, and moulding me.

It is beautiful to be here. 

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