THE TIMES AND TRIALS OF AN
An Autobiography by Gizel Kho
Life is a race. As many people have pointed out and even quoted, many aspects of a person’s existence is in the form of a race, a race with time, a race with technology, a race with each other, and even, a race with death. People spend most of their existence avoiding dying in many ways such as being healthy, believing in ideas and convictions, keeping away from trouble, and doing anything they can, just to be safe.
Winning this race is important, dodging away from death, making sure you outrun it, and while you run, you live your life until you get tired, and let death finally catch up to you. However, it is different in my case. In this race that I run, it’s as if death and I have become close friends, running together, side by side, sometimes I get ahead, sometimes he does, but most times we’re a tie.
The day I was born, death instantly greeted me with a hello. I was diagnosed with a heart condition that basically limits me from living my life. That was the moment I knew our “race” had begun.
My mom, being the paranoid mother that she is, feared the worst for me. Ever since I was young, I’ve met a lot of different doctors, been to a lot of different hospitals in the country, and wasted a lot of money for medication that never seems to work.
If I was born differently, I think I’d probably be an artist, or a dancer, or even an athlete. I think I have the kooky mind that could pass for the uniqueness of an artist. I believe I have the passion for music enough to be allowed to become a dancer, and I’ve been told many times that I have the body of a swimmer, or a volleyball player, or, as absurd as it may sound, a basketball player. Unfortunately, I can never find out if I actually have talent in painting because the scents of certain paints make it very difficult for me to breathe. I am not allowed to join anything that requires vigorous training or me having to exert a lot of energy, because I tire easily, and it would give my mom a heart attack.
During my grade-school years, I was so jealous of both my sisters, because they were part of the track team.All my best friends were varsity volleyball players, and I was always there in the sidelines, watching them, supporting them, and secretly hoping one day I could be like them. I finally convinced my mom to allow me to play a sport, it was just table tennis, but even with the minimal effort I had to give, she was still scared. I was not happy with the sport so I stopped. In a way, it made her glad, but I still felt a hole inside of me that made me feel incomplete. I grew up fearing of doing anything particularly physical because I was brought up to be scared of getting hurt.
As I was growing up, I also had a growing passion for football. I loved watching football games, I loved drawing soccer balls, people playing, and I even went as far as having dreams about it. My older sister, who at this point has tried practically every sport, was a football player, and I would try out her shoes every chance I get. I was jealous, and I couldn’t do anything about it.
THE TURN AROUND:
I distracted myself with different non-physical activities that would take my mind off of sports that I wanted to play and things that I wanted to do. I became a writer, and a photographer. I fell in love with film-making and I taught myself how to play different musical instruments. Despite all of those new-found passions, I craved for more. I wanted to prove to everyone, and most especially, to myself that I can do things. I can do whatever I want to do and I should not care what my doctors think.
I joined the inter-barkada basketball for girls when I was graduating high school and I had a fulfillment that couldn’t be comparable to anything else. Turns out, I don’t get tired easily when I am enjoying myself.
My condition hasn’t worsened in any way or shown any symptoms. I’m not in anywhere close to an operation, and I’m pretty sure I won’t depart anytime soon. If anything else, I feel so much better now than when I was younger, and I promised myself, that instead of wallowing in my self-pity, I’d rather not let anything get in the way of my happiness.
I’ve decided to look at everything in the humorous way possible. My mother’s constant paranoia is considered funny in my perspective, and I never take my limitations seriously. I figured, to hell with what everyone says! I’ve been scared my whole life and I didn’t want to be anymore.
To consider myself as an actual “adrenaline junkie” would be quite ambitious. But in my case, simple mocks of my existence give me the rush, the happiness, the exact life that I have always missed.
Today, I like doing extraordinary things for myself. I’ve finally played football for fun, and I do it every summer whenever I join the Gawad Kalinga Bayani Challenge. I am a part of this organization that requires strenuous activities such as building houses for other people, but I am very happy I could do it. I occasionally play basketball and volleyball in our club’s sports fests, I also have become very good with Frisbee. I ride the bike with an unimaginable speed, and I jump into pools from second-story terraces.
I travel to far off places with my friends, and sometimes on my own. I taught myself how to be a free diver, and whenever I could find time, I spend most of it underwater. I hang around mountains and beaches, trekking, camping, diving and appreciating nature as much as I could.
I wanted to stop death from winning in our race, I wanted to be miles ahead of him, and since I can’t do that, I’ve decided to tease him, surprise him, every once in a while, give him a tap in the back, and finally, look him in the eye and tell him that I’m not afraid of him.
This race won’t be over anytime soon, but while I’m still running, I’m finally living.