For the past eight years of being a pool player, and four years of being the founding president and representative of UP’s student organization on billiards, the first duly-recognized in the Philippines, I’ve been touring billiard halls around the Philippines. For the first time in my life, I witnessed somebody in the pool hall taking drugs!
I want to ask them on why they were resorting into sniffing those illegal drugs. Does their play in billiards improved when they took one? I still beat them badly in games, but I noticed that they emboldened themselves into taking me on, even though my reputation on billiards was well-known on the places I frequented in…and even in distant places where I once played and hustled players – stories that became legends to some of the people that I encountered.
In my home turfs – the pool halls that I frequented to – when I was given a chance to play, I always had the tendency to play with my prey (my poor opponent). I’ve been doing that to practice further my hustling skills and acting. I played nonchalantly most of the times, except on shots needed to secure victory. My playing time got shorter and shorter as people who get to witness the way that I really play refusing to have a match with me anymore. I have to give them a hell of a disadvantage (Rotation: 80-40, 90-30 an 70-50; Ten-balls: 6-10, 8-10, and 9-10) just to make the match fair in their perspective.
That time, that guy developed the courage – maybe because of drugs. I now had the opportunity to assess what drugs, and generally vices (smoking and liquor), do to people when they play. I don’t really take him seriously at first…intentionally losing easy positions and missing easy pots. However, I somehow feel threatened when he suddenly potted four consecutive balls, and I have play a little serious to fend off the threat. I quickly left the pool hall, when he was about to consume more drugs, because I don’t want to get myself further involved.
Should I report these activities to the authorities? In the previous week, the barangay officials hunted a teenager – who just went out of rehab – who went nuts again after taking drugs. That guy was once my schoolmate. The guy that I played with was also an acquaintance of mine. That was the contrast of my personality: I am a distinguished member of the Academe who had also acquaintances with delinquents. My connections to people were noticeably diverse.
I was thinking of all the possibilities: (1) My relations with those delinquents will be strained and they would resort to retaliatory actions (those guys were the most notorious in our place) (2) All hell will break lose. They would pick on me the moment that I whistle-blowed. (3) That pool hall will be closed.
That is what is f*cking frustrating about establishing relationships and connections with people: they think that it was a contract that should be beneficiary to both parties. We do not have the courage to voice out their wrongs, because our wretched and out-of-date culture prohibits antagonizing people, and those who do, were publicly shamed. WE DO NOT WANT TO STRAIN RELATIONS.
In this case, what I feared most will be their possible retaliation, and not straining my connections with them. I do not fear cutting off their connections, because they were dispensable.
Last month, due to the frenzy on social media during the election period, I unfriended a total of 350 friends on Facebook. I had enough on the lies, the fallacious opinions, and the rabidness that they shown on the media. Those who remained to be my Facebook friends have told me that I was became the subject of discussion of those that I unfriended. Here is what they say:
(1) I was super-sensitive or pikon. Nope, I realized that these people can no longer be reasoned with. I called for a healthy discussion with them. They do not want to. And that’s it.
(2) I was being immature. Nope, I was mature enough to wait for their arguments.. but what did I received: smart-shaming comments, ad hominems, and false dichotomies. And what is it of being matured? What is the definition of being mature? Being normal? Why chase to be something that is not really defined? I do not want to live my life to be someone that they want. I have my own threshold of being a non-conformist. I am my own person. I am not part of the driven cattle. Do not tell me what to do!
Your connections with people are not your everything. We do not owe those people anything. We do not die when we sever connections with them. We have to be brave. We have to feel the pain of severing those connections. They can be replaced with better people. That is part of life. That is the real essence of moving on.