When I was twelve years old, I used to go out into the creek behind my grandma’s house and pretend that I was a traveler who had been in a terrible accident and was now stranded out in the woods or on some unknown island. My plane had crashed or my ship had sunk, and I was alone, a sole survivor – unless I had a friend over – and my only hope for survival was to find food and shelter.
Indeed I had a tremendously fulfilling childhood. I spend school breaks on my grandma’s farm roaming over few acres of land. I rode four wheelers, explored a different creek every day … Me and my cousin left the house when we woke up and we were gone until our Lola called us for lunch hours later. And after eating, we’d go back out until dark. Our imagination filled the hours.
But now things had change, having survived my first formation year, I realized that seminary is the place that tries to strip my creativity and imagination. You’re not allowed to be crazy and inventive. You’re required to follow a strict set of rules and if you deviate, the prefect will give you sanction. It’s even worse now days…there’s two sessions of Karate that until now my legs still hurts (ouch!). What do most seminarians do all day? Sit in uncomfortable plastic chairs and memorize names and dates only to regurgitate them later?
No wonder why some of us can’t solve minor problems when they crop up. We’ve never had to use our minds – they’ve only had to exercise our mimicry and memorization skills. If we’ve seen someone do it before or we were once told how, we can do it. If not, we freeze up and look for help. We are too afraid to try new things; we’re afraid to take risks.
Indeed, the part that’s hard for me is differentiating between adult and child. When I leave my house and step into the “real world”, I’m expected to leave that child-like outlook behind and take on my responsibilities and be an adult-a seminarian. My Lola usually says: “When you’re in the seminary, you’re expected to work hard and be polite, respectful, efficient, and mature”. Now, it’s not impossible to do all these things – I like to believe I do them all quite well. What’s hard though is maintaining a self-image. I’m not this adult I pretend to be here.
I don’t know that I ever grew up enough to be this adult I pretend to be. To me, it’s just one more role for me to take on while I’m away from home. It’s a heavy part to play. Sometimes I want to cast it off when I know I can’t. Children hold nothing back – they have the ability to see the world both as it is and as they want it to be and they call it as they see it, no matter which way they’re viewing it.
If I were given the chance to go traipsing through the creek with a friend or two, pretending to be pirates searching for the cave concealing our hard-earned (stolen) gold, I’d jump at the chance. I guess I write because I’m not given that opportunity anymore. I can still imagine it even if I don’t get to go out and do it.
For me, everyday is an adventure waiting to be discovered. I met lot of interesting people, went to different places, fostered great friendships, and –I hope- made a mark in the lives of some people I met.
Despite the schedule we had to keep, it didn’t feel like tiring at all. Yes, there were days when I could sleep close to midnight. Some people tried to discourage me and belittle my chances of becoming a priest, but I persevere…and will still keep on trying.