Dear Mr. Baz Luhrmann

I think you owe me an explanation. I think it was you, sir, who said that it was okay to not know what to do with your life “because the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives” in a “song” addressed to the ladies and gentlemen of the Class of ’99.

In 1999, I was 15, and I told myself, I’m going to be a sportscaster if only to be able interview a certain Ralph Rivera. He was the most charming professional basketball player here then, and I was so certain I would marry him someday. I didn’t marry him of course, but I didn’t get too depressed over it because after I admitted to myself that a five-footer standing side-by-side with a 6’1” man isn’t too flattering a camera framing for a wedding photo, I realized I didn’t want to be a sportscaster anymore. At 22, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to be a film director.

I’m now 26; I’m not a film director and I don’t know what to do with my life.

So sir, may I ask: Did the people you knew who didn’t know what to do with their lives at 22 still didn’t at 26? Or did they finally figure it out at 24 then go on to climb Mt. Everest, or become a lawyer of a celebrated case, or the best heart surgeon in the country, or a philanthropist who builds homes for the poor in the morning and takes M.B.A classes in Economics at night? If they did, especially if one of them became a sportscaster then married her high school celebrity crush, then great, I’m doomed.

You might say I’m being overly emotional over a song that’s not even half as popular as your Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet, but I think I have some solid basis for panic after hearing your song again by chance today. I’ve listened to your song a number of times, but I feel like I’m hearing your advice on knowing what to do with your life for the first time today. When you know what to do with your life at 22, it’s understandable that I’d only remember the “don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours” part. It’s called selective memory, and being in love, sir.

I used to be so sure, sir, you’ll be proud of me. I was so sure, my friends were sure for me too. I was so sure that I didn’t care if it didn’t pay much, if it didn’t pay on time, if I’d have to look for other side jobs to earn while I wait for my actual paycheck, if I had to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning then sleep at nine o’clock in the morning of the following day and do it for three days in a week, or if I’d be called “tanga” (“stupid”) or “ang tanga-tanga mo” (“you’re very stupid”) or “ang tanga mo, umalis ka sa harapan ko” (“stupid, get out of my face!”) because not being here is not an option. I was so sure, I didn’t have to ask for anybody else to assure me, because even if they won’t, I was still so sure. I was so sure that even I am perplexed why, and how it is possible to go from being that certain and passionate to now. When exactly did I begin to doubt myself? I’d say probably when I realized I already lost whatever brilliance I was told I had, but even that I’m not sure of.

I think I feel guilty because I feel I owe my passionate, hopeful 22-year old self a lot. I’ve always wanted to become a director, and I’ve pursued that for the longest time; having not even 1/100 of that passion now just doesn’t feel right. I know how feisty my 22-year old self can get; she could be berating me now. I’d berate her back, but I’m 26 now; I’ve learned to choose my battles. I know I’ll lose this one against her.

So I listen to your song again, sir, and I reach the part where you say, “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum” and I feel like you’re virtually laughing at me at this moment. So are you saying, sir, that I have nothing to worry about at all? That it’s perfectly okay to be 26 and clueless about what I want? To be so sure at 22 then begin to doubt myself at 26? Sir?

Please say yes, sir.

Then I’ll promise to send you a copy of my first film, just don’t pressure me when.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Jay Cruz says:

    Dear Antoinette,

    I was a big fan of that song when I was 27, i guess. My life hardly make any sense then but i was at the edge of something i knew i am passionately willing to die for! o ha! passionate na, willing to die for pa!

    it took me ten years to sit on top of that dream and fight teeth and nail for it no matter how my friends and loved ones think it will not amount to anything later on. I remember my live in partner telling me… you will never be a great dancer! But look where I am at forty. Finally i am travelling the world to dance as a solo artist and also earning money as an acting coach in the movies. Two seemingly disconencted worlds but that seeming disconnectedness make up and give me that edge over some other people in the business.

    it was the hardships i went through and I paid for in ten years taht is giving me this unique capacity as an individual now. because i worked so hard for it! because i had several deaths and several moments of doubt that a future will not be possible.

    its an archetypal movement as i said! the hero’s journey who questions the world and its ways that consequently internally questions who he is, is the necessary spiritual journey. outside to inside. then the self crystallizes and you will emerge and then re arrange the world after you have already rearranged yourself internally.

    26, is soooo young! be happy and thankful you are taking that journey now. But be wise and critical and also practical. the real visionaries see the world as it is and deal and plan for a future.

    if you want to be a director, then plan to be one. arrange a future and it s possibiities. go to where that dream might lead you. take an acting class, take a directing class for theater, work with the best directors, tell them what you want to do in the future, accept bigger responsibilities so you can test yourself and expand your capacity. big dreams entail big responsibilities.

    plan it. the universe will conspire once you are prepared for it.

    fnally my favorite quote from goethe and wh murray

    Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

    Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

    and so the providence is with us always


  2. ilayaonline says:

    dear J,

    the second paragraph almost made me cry. thank you, will also give you a copy of my film if and when. haha.


    p.s. someday i’ll spend a christmas in amsterdam too. taray!

  3. Diane Villanueva says:

    dear mr. baz luhmann,

    thank you for re-igniting the passion of Ms. Tonette not to give-up on her dream to be a director. By now maybe you’ve already received a copy of her films.


    Salamat kasi hindi ka sumuko, at nag-conspire ang universe to made you who are right now. DIRECTOR KA NA! nakakatuwa basahin yung mga storya mo dito way back 2008…2011 may doubt ka pa rin sa sarili mo, 3-4 yrs later…(di ko tapos basahin yung 11,12,13,14) na-achieve mo na yung sariling full-length film mo. 2015 may sarili ka pa teleserye while juggling movie for MMFF and book signing, planner in the making pa…

    I’m quite sure by now hindi na below the minimum ang savings account niyo po, and wala na kayo guilt feeling to buy the shorts sa ZARA. nahihirapan na lang kayo ngayon kung paano matutulog ng 8hrs.

    Salamat sa pagpapaligaya thru OTWOL.

    Sorry sa pang-aabala, natutuwa lang talaga ako.

    1. ilayaonline says:

      Oh wow. Naluha ako dito, pinaalala mo. Salamat. 🙂

      1. Diane Villanueva says:

        sorry I forgot to say, I’m SURE Mr. Baz Luhrmann, your friends, Alexis, Chard, Ma’am Anne (kung sino man po sila) ✌ of course Direk JOYCE, your MAMA and PAPA, is so PROUD OF YOU. nakakatuwa talaga na may mga pangarap na natutupad.

  4. Reblogged this on Written by Mary and commented:
    Nasa stage ako ngayon ng sure ako, pero hindi ko maitago ang doubts sa sarili. Why o why world?

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