The Labyrinth of Suffering


Photo by: Juseph Elas
Photo by: Juseph Elas

There are books that will make us cry, books that will leave us wanting to bite for more, books that will make us think of life’s possibilities; inspiring us to search for meaning and purpose and there are books that will transport us from Panem, to Hogwarts, to Forks. All these sort of books have moved us, shaped us and changed us thru and thru. Their words have become the bones of our daily conversations, their phrases became the cornestone of our wisdom and their paragraphs became the story of our lives – like they were written specially for us.

But there are books that will keep us searching for deeper understanding. The world, as we know it, is a ball of questions that if we try to solve one, it will only lead us to another and, possibly, a lot harder than the previous one. There are books that will make us question all previous truth we hold most valuable. There are books that will urge us to take a second glance of our past and appreciate that page of our life.

Looking For Alaska is that sort of book.

John Green left us some questions at the end of that wonderful, and as what Chicago Tribune wrote, “compelling. . .brilliant [and] insightful.” book and I will try to answer some, if not all, of them.

1. Is forgiveness universal? I mean, is forgiveness really available to all people, no matter the circumstance? Is it, for instance, possible for the dead to forgive the living, and for the living to forgive the dead?

I think that it is human nature for people to forgive – regardless what it will take for a person to earn that forgiveness. Forgiveness is a phase people are taking to move from one point to another; it’s like winter kissing the hot pains, caused by summer, away. And once the pains are gone, Spring comes in, ready for yet another phase. And yes, it’s possible for the dead to forgive the living. Miles Halter spent weeks chasing the ghost of Alaska, trying to look for answers for the latter’s demise while hoping that he’s less guilty about it. Whether he was less or more guilty, regardless if Alaska was angry or not, Miles found that Alaska forgave him for all – for screwing up his life, one way or another. And Miles knew it in his heart because he finally found peace and answers – slightly unanswered – but answers.

5. How would you answer the old man’s final question for his students? What would your version of Pudge’s essay look like?

In twenty years of my existence, I have always been constantly thrown into a cavernous pit of melancholy. Often times sanguinity, but mostly melancholy. And it altered my views about life. If you would ask me, my life’s recipe is always a pinch of happiness and kilos of poignant misery. I have no point of reference about how the winter feels like; wearing fancy jackets that falls down to your knees, scarves that matches your likes, while walking the streets of your town, a cup of coffee in your hands. I have no idea what it feels like to celebrate brotherhood, given that I have a crooked relationship with my brothers. I have little to none concept of enjoying the crackling fire on the fireplace and enjoying happy stories thrown by your mum or dad about their day’s course.

What I only got is a book telling me those sort of stories. And that’s what I like about reading books; they have the ability to bring you to places you’ve never been to before, places you could only imagine while dreaming. They have the disobliging habit of making you see what’s out there, giving you the sole definition of “to infinity and beyond.”

I have been crashed for so many times that you might ask, what kept me going and rising above the ashes. Paulo Coelho once quoted, “the secret to living life is fall seven times, but rise eight times.” and “if you want something, claim it! And the universe will conspire for you to achieve it.” Those kept me thriving in this world that seem to reject me as an idea, as an opportunity, and even as an option.

The labyrinth is the teacher, whose mood is the determinant factor for me to graduate in college; the traffic in the morning on my way to school, the guard at the university who won’t let you in if you’re not wearing your I.D., the smoker who seemed unaware of the ‘No Smoking In Public Areas’ city ordinance, the people who treats me unattractive, the pimples that keep on popping out of nowhere, my inability to think fast in times of critical circumstances, my admission that I suck in grammar, the possibility that I will not be able to watch One Direction perform in Manila, and my life’s insecurities.

Above all these, I kept and will keep going. Clinging to the Divine to give me strength to carry on, asking for help that I’ll make it through one wall of the labyrinth at a time. No one is born bullet proof. They just learned how to combat their own labyrinth. You master how to put down a wall, you’ll master how to get out of the labyrinth of suffering.


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