Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chained in Change

Metanoia , a religious term I was introduced to when I studied in one Catholic school. It’s a Greek term which literally means ‘change of heart.’ This is usually accompanied by a life-altering experience - similar to the agnostic Saul’s conversion –becoming the pious Paul when his sight was brought back by a man of God.  

In my opinion, a person would change his ways only when faced with a majorly crucial event such as being grazed by a bullet, the unexpected demise of a beloved or simply put, when faced with one’s mortality. Smokers cease nicotine-inhale after learning of a lung complication. It is a reason why I think the senile frequent the church more than the youth. It is through this logic that I’m left to wonder how my life has changed since I found out I’m HIV-positive.

Life before was pretty hectic. I was juggling school and work. Whatever meager time I have left, I hang out with friends and did my thing –performing, that is. Sure, I get some shuteye – in the office lounge, in between LRT and MRT rides (while standing!) and during my classes. I ate when possible, gulped paltry portions of food during office lunchtime so I can get the essential zzzs.

Now I wouldn’t say that I had myself banged by every hot-blooded Pinoy when the urge came (did I just reveal too much?) but I had to admit that my sex batting average borders on just plain hedonistic. Prophylactics then were something the dominant one insisted because, frankly, I didn’t really mind. I mean, a few millimeters (or the lack of it) between skin doesn’t really make much of a difference right? I’m the proverbial pleaser – always service with a smirk. *wink

HIV was a thing that happened to other people -something that brushed my superego in moments of random mulling. It was something briefly entertained after the rough and thoughtless orgy of good-looking guys, only to be just as hastily disregarded by the stronger id.

Two years ago, I took the test that every gay guy aspires to fail. No one really expects to ace it in the first try but unfortunately I did – with a cheerfully low CD4 count to boot.  So yeah I went through the five stages of grief from denial to acceptance (well okay sometimes I go back to bargaining part.) At which point, I realized some drastic lifestyle change is inevitable – unless of course I prefer to expire with the horrendous TB and meningitis.

And so lifestyle overhaul it is: eating more fiber from fruits and vegetables, taking supplements for the immune system, working out 3-4 times a week, getting the recommended dose of doze, avoiding alcoholics and managing stress.

Now as I sit back and ponder, I realize that other than these minor alterations, I realized that nothing much has changed. Did I encounter a Paul-like conversion – becoming less promiscuous and more monastic? Do I feel closer to the Higher Being or am I better person now than I was before? Answer.. no.

While I live healthy and more responsibly, I’m still the same person I was a few years ago. True, my immune system has been compromised but my mortality hasn’t.  i'm still existing with the same issues and enjoying the same pleasures - HIV didn't change that. Maybe a bullet graze will bring about my metanoia. But cross our fingers that it won’t come to that.

"Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine." 


  1. Bruce,

    What I find interesting about these life-altering experiences is how people define themselves by it: how changed, or not changed they are.

    Reading your story, I find it interesting how you defined these changes in your life as minor. =) I mean, you did write about it as your second entry. That must mean something for you. =)


  2. Ü it does and your discernment is commendable.

    my dissatisfaction over my 'unchanged' state most likely stems from my christian upbringing. i feel that hiv demands some spiritual repentance which oddly enough, hasnt manifested yet. so there

    and thank you kane for following this blog. i am a huge fan of yours. Ü

  3. Metanoia is such a beautiful word. Like luminous, and divine.

  4. when are you writing again? im waiting for further amusement. =)