Saturday, September 26, 2009

When The Phone Rings

There is nothing like a phone ringing at the crack of dawn that turns my blood to ice. It is perhaps the saddest thing about reflex, it kicks in much faster than logic. I know there is no reason to fear the sound of a telephone ringing but I react to it like I operate on pure instinct.

Fear is learned and so it can be unlearned. I am confident that anyone, including myself, can pretty much unlearn anything. Too bad it is never easy. I think it requires at least twice willpower and time. The end result is not about having a clean slate because all that was learned served their purpose. They cannot be truly erased. This is why it is much harder. It is like removing a part of myself in the process.

For me it is not just about the sound of the phone as it peals into the quiet of the early morning hours. It is about that child in me that woke up in a dark night not knowing that it would be her first encounter with death. A child may be incapable of fully grasping situations but he or she can pick nuances that create strong memories.

Over the years, most of the shocking news of emergencies and deaths of those close to my heart happened cloaked in the darkness of the night or just before dawn. This is why I try to keep my cellphone on when I sleep. I think cellphones are kinder. They give this feeling that it is not going to be a total blindside. Seeing a name along with that ringing lessens the feeling of foreboding. It gives a sense of being prepared for something I do not know.

I turned off my cellphone last night and woke up this morning with the sound of a phone ringing. Everybody was sound asleep and our land line just kept on ringing. It reminded me of the last time, a few months ago, when I woke up in the dark and learned that my lolo is gone. Little wonder I was hesitant to answer that call.

I realized one thing from that call I answered this morning. I cannot turn away from whatever it is that I fear. Not everything that comes at me in the dark is to be feared. I could pretend not to hear and wait for the sound of whatever it is that wakes me up to stop. But if I do that, I am not only delaying the inevitable but I am shielding myself from knowing what I may need to learn in that exact moment.

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