Letter no 44. The Perfect Life of Louie
On a round table, things got square. On both ends we were talking as if Plato had never lived.
It was a very deep conversation, one of the intelligent talks I’ve had in my life. A friend I saw accidentally while crossing the 32nd street of Makati had extremely grown. From highschool baggy jeans to a slimfit jogger which plain white button down shirt was tucked in just fine, paired with leather boots and Vietnamese hat, he looked so dashing. My friend, Louie, was once a highschool underdog, a thin poor kid who was never given a chance by those bully varsity jocks. I thought at first glance something was wrong, but loh, something was right I should know by that moment.
My eyes couldn’t believe it. And before I could say something, he noticed me too. It was great seeing each other again after about 10 years almost. It was like looking back, enjoying the perks of being highschool, and all of the sudden, College has just ended. That’s how quick life snaps before us. And there we were, crossing the busy commercial streets, tracking our independent road to the success we vowed during the highschool commencement exercise. He was never even in the list of honor student by then, but I knew he has that potential somewhere in the outside world. He is a guy driven by perseverance and not by homework marks.
After some long-time-no-see hugs and cheesy smiles, we sat down on this teashop just across the 32nd Street and thought of maybe catch up of our whereabouts. We both ordered tea latte under his favor then he got some magazines from the counter stand.
“So Louie, it’s been a long time. What do you do in here? You look so much different now.” I started.
‘Well, Uhm, I work as a fashion director and stylist in a Publishing Company. It’s a quite tough job..”
“Wait what… Fashion what..?” I interrupted as I couldn’t exactly process in what he had just said.
“Did you just say fashion director? Oh my Lord that’s a great job. I mean look at you. See how bankable you look like. This isn’t you. Ha ha” I attempted a punchline. I’ve known him as a silent type of guy who never buy jokes but I still tried.
He just grinned and went on.
“Yeah yeah, ha ha. Well apparently. I got in. I got the job and it was fine, been a little busy these past few days booking clients, arranging photoshoots, meetings here and there, learning everyday. It’s tough, but it’s fun I must say.”
Who would have thought that someone like him would land in a fashion industry. I mean it’s just amazing to see a person all grown up and buckled with such principle. This guy didn’t finish college. He got kicked out of college because he never go to class, after which he became part of a dance crew, swaggin his life out to some contests and pioneered a subgroup for contemporary dancers. He was persistent at his own risk. Very brave.
“Well yeah, so how did you land the fashion world? Are you still dancing?” I curiously continued.
“Yeah yeah, you remember the UPLB Lights still huh. I still supervise the group. So I never went back to College when I got kicked out. I have this principle, great things are learned when you are willing, not when you are forced.” He answered.
UPLB Lights is the name of the contemporary dance crew he’s pioneered and still going. And he was sent to College with a degree he never have wanted.
“So I found a way out and look for a place where I can be happy. I worked as choreographer while I wasn’t doing anything. But money isn’t a tree that bears fruits. I also auditioned to some big crews you see on TV, I failed twice. And then I realized, no, you don’t really look for happiness,.. you make one instead. You don’t fit yourself into something you don’t belong. And you don’t stop till you find it. On that point, I was caught in the midlife crisis, do I go back to study and get that diploma of something I am not, or enroll myself and waste money to get a diploma of a degree I really wanted, or maybe totally get out of either and look at the world differently.” He continued.
I was getting on my nerve that time. It was a such an inspiring line.
“So I risked an OJT in Mega Publishing. Luckily I got in. Maybe they picked me because of my style. And then I went on, focused myself on work, got good feedback from the management after 3 months, and they absorbed me. So to cut my story short, I started as a staff, transferred to editorial, team, learned the art of writing, still dance on a weekend, got some opportunity to travel, interviewed people of all walks. In 2009, social media started to boom, and I thought I wouldn’t want the social media to just boom alone by itself, I had the thinking, why can’t I boom along with the social media. So I used it. I then started blogging about my life, my walks, my life as a writer, my life as a fashionista, my life as a dancer, and even my sad life of not graduating College. And you know what, that made me be featured in one of the Magazine Programs on Lifestyle network, and my followers slowly soared from hundreds to thousands. And I never stopped. I gathered connections, I built partnership with my followers and before you know it, yes, money is a tree that bears fruits, but it only bears when you take care of the roots, when you pour water on it. The point is, you don’t need papers to succeed.” He continued.
“And I landed a position in a creative team, started as a production staff, then moved to client relations, attended shoots for commercial, hunted models, got involved in the modelling world and became a director after few months, pretty much all around. And I realized, God this has been perfect. I am earning in three ways and I am happy. And that’s what’s important.., you know, just being happy.”
I saw the real passion in his eyes. The once shy voice I knew was there right in front of me lecturing about life, a perfect life.
“It’s been a perfect ride, and all the imperfections made it perfect.” He concluded.
We were talking a lot about life and those golden highschool days before we realized that 2 hours had passed. And then we bid goodbye.
In my mind, I came to a simple point, when money and passion become an issue, you consider passion instead. Because money can’t make passion, but passion can make money in the long run. It was a very healthy conversation I would never forget.