You may have missed: The Most Important Question

Written September 25 last year —

Towards the end of last school year, a student asked The Most Important Question Ever.

“Sir, is it true that as one grows old, he becomes more practical?” Somehow he looked guilty. ”I am just worried that when the time comes, I will lose my ideals.”

What ideals? I asked.

“That there are things I want to do for this country. That I want it to be better.”

I recall fumbling for an answer. Caught unprepared, I didn’t have anything coherent to say. Or more likely I wasn’t ready to say what I really wanted to.

At that time, I was at a crossroads. The economic downturn left so many in a bad place, myself included. I was about to send myself off to graduate school, but my savings were nearly wiped out (one month I spent more for gasoline than food) and the prospects of finding a new, more fulfilling job simply wasn’t there. I was also at a sore spot emotionally. Despite being given a position of authority and responsibility in the school, support wasn’t given to me by the higher ups when I needed it most. It was demoralizing. It felt futile to dream, taboo to hope.

It was so difficult to answer that student because I just wanted to give up. I just wanted to take the easy way out and quit. So the plans I’ve set for my batch wouldn’t push through? “I’m sorry. It was beyond me.” The stress wasn’t worth the pay check. And the call center seemed so attractive all of a sudden. I was ready to say, “Yes, it is true what they say about growing old.”

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

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