Author Topic: “The Two Hemispheres of Me” by Antonio Calipjo Go  (Read 10613 times)

Joe Carillo

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“The Two Hemispheres of Me” by Antonio Calipjo Go
« on: October 21, 2018, 02:31:59 PM »
The Two Hemispheres of Me
By Antonio Calipjo Go

The Forum is featuring this surreal personal essay by Antonio Go, retired academic supervisor of the Marian School of Quezon City. An advocate of good English usage, Mr. Go has been waging a lonely crusade against badly written English-language textbooks in the Philippines for many years now. Several of his no-nonsense critiques have appeared in the Forum’s “Advocacies” section.


I went down at sunset to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs near where the cottage I’ve rented cowers, wanting to escape the heat of the day, to get away from it all, to forget the past, that house of sorrows, that temple of sad.

It is twilight, the time of shadows, here where I am at the meeting place of the elements of earth and water. The vast expanse of the sky unfolds before me like a mad artist’s giant canvas, with all the warm colors brought to a hot and turbulent boil. Standing here at the edge of the no-man’s land that is the shore, I witness the landscape change as many times as the tide turns, an area in a state of ceaseless flux. The beach is an undecided bride, one moment betrothed to the sea, the next minute beholden to the land. The sea hungers for a foothold upon the shore; the parched land thirsts for the cool waters of the sea.

The restless listless sky and the shifting skittish shore, how well they reflect my dual  nature,  mirror  my  two  halves, symbolize  the  two  hemispheres of  me. I harbor a secret that only I, in all the world, know of, a secret I will not bring with me to the grave, a secret I now lay before you.

  IMAGE CREDIT: ARTWORK BY BRETT WEIR*

Within me live two animals—one is good, the other bad. How they could have co-existed this long inside this body, undetected  and  unseen  by the outside world, is beyond my comprehension, as they do indeed make so much racket, what with the two quarreling and bickering, all of the time. Their undeclared rivalry is like  a  third  presence everywhere we are, charging  the  atmosphere  with their unspoken rancor everywhere we go. Much like the battle between light and dark in the sky at twilight, much like the tug of war between land and sea upon the shore, the incessant fighting between these two pets of mine create in me the notion that it is me they control, not the other way around. And so these days I often get the feeling of extreme imbalance, the sense that I am neither here nor there, not east of the sun, not west of the moon, possessing two poles but no equator.

I realize that it is not the heat of the day I’ve come to escape—it is the fire burning inside of me I have to control. It is not the past I’m running away from—it is the present I have to confront.

In the half-light, the lines blur between light and darkness, good and evil. A part of me at times wants to soar like an eagle, but then the other part decides it would rather stay on the ground and crawl, to grovel there on the floor like a half-breed dog baying at the half-moon, halfheartedly. Even the wanting in me to flee or to stay—even these involve making a decision, a choice. My heart is a place of eternal change, of bargain, negotiation and compromise, my entire life nothing if not a balancing act.

A distant church bell tolling the hour of the Angelus and the mournful lowing of the fog-bell from a passing barge out there in the bay drew me to the memory of the people I have loved and not loved, to the remembrance of the things I have done and not done. Early on in my life, I’ve done some pretty bad things, but I’ve also been, once good, very very good. Over the years, I’ve managed to rein the urge to wreck and ruin, to keep the badness in me at bay, much as you’d handle a pet python—very carefully, under sturdy lock and key. I’ve learned to reconcile my dualities, soldering my divisions to a placid and pacific whole.

It is an indigo night—not quite blue, not yet black. The tide flows back to the sea, taking away all that is sad from me.

In the end, you’ve just got to take a stand, you’ve got to make a choice. Two veins emerging from a single heart, diverging into separate woods—which one to follow? Two vines growing from a single seed—which one to nurture? Which of your two pets—Gollum or Smeagol, Jekyll or Hyde—do you love more? Which will you feed to fatten or starve to strangle? What brings out the Beauty in the Beast that lurks in you and me, that lives in all of us?

Who will prevail? The one its master unleashes and releases. The one you give free rein to, to let wander freely across the meadows of your mind, to let course through your veins like a river in flood. Who will emerge the victor? The one you allow. The one you permit.

“The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”—Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago                       

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*For this contributed essay by good English advocate Antonio Go, the Forum took the liberty of using as thematic visual this captivating artwork by the Zurich-based German artist Bert Weir, 38, a full-time artist who exhibits both nationally in Switzerland and internationally. The untitled 2016 painting was done in oil, aerosol and mixed media on aluminum. Brett’s work is available to view on his website, brettweir.com.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2022, 01:06:31 PM by Joe Carillo »