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Wheel of Time May 25, 2013

Posted by Janjan in I, Lawyer, Seriously now….
1 comment so far

I first started reading the Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series back when I was 15 years old.  I was a high school senior, soon to leave for the United States.  It was a book recommended to me by my friend, Badong Reyes, who piqued my curiosity by talking about the One Power, Aes Sedai, Rand al’Thor, Mat Cauthon and Nynaeve Al’Meara.

Because of its unique fantasy elements, good writing, and strong characters, I immediately took to the story and eagerly read each and every chapter of the books during my college days.  But looking back, I realized that maybe it was because I saw so much of myself in the personal circumstances of the main protagonists that I was drawn to the book.

Back when I started, Rand al’Thor was still a sheepherder, the son of a farmer.  His friends Perrin ay’Bara and Matrim Cauthon were a blacksmith’s apprentice and a horse trader, respectively.  Rand was unofficially betrothed to Egwene al’Vere, and they were fostered / bullied by their village Wisdom, Nynaeve al’Meara.  They were all simple folk leading simple village lives, not knowing of anything other than a quiet provincial existence.

All that changed when the bestial Trollocs attacked their village, the Two Rivers.

Rand and his companions found out, through the explanation of an Aes Sedai, Moiraine Damodred, that Rand was meant more to the world, that he was the “Dragon Reborn”, a messianic creature that was prophesied to break the world and save it.  Hence, the forces of the Dark One were doing everything they could to destroy the village and destroy Rand in the process.

Hence to protect the village, Rand had to leave, together with Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nyneave, accompanied by Moiraine and her Warder al’Lan Mandragoran, and a gleeman, Thom Merrilin.

It felt a lot like my life back then.

There were so many changes happening to me.  Cebu and the University of San Carlos-Boys High were the only homes I ever knew of, but  I left them to immigrate to the United States, only to come back and go to college.  After a few years, I graduated, worked at a bank, and quit that to study Law.  In a sense, I was growing up together with the main protagonist, Rand, who himself was going through so many things on his way to prepare for the Last Battle.

In a sense, I was the “wool-headed sheepherder” that Rand was, and I could relate to his ordeals:  realizing that he was a man who could channel saidin, facing eventual madness; suddenly becoming some sort of nobleman and important person; fighting the Forsaken and handling one of the most powerful sa’angreal in the world; until officially, he became recognized by the world as the Dragon Reborn.

While my own struggles were nothing as dramatic, nevertheless, I could relate to the sense of strife and despondence that Rand was facing and recognized the demons that he was struggling with, because I was fighting them too.  From being the shy, introverted and socially awkward loner that I was in my Boys High days, I started mingling with other people until during Law School, I became some sort of campus personality.  And just like that, I learned what it was to be popular / infamous, to play sports, to hang out with the cool crowd, to push myself academically and intellectually.  From being the spectacular underachiever of Batch 1995, I was the guy who managed to survive law school while studying full time, working 2 jobs AND being an active leader in both Lex Circle and Bar Ops.  I played the Game of Houses in the hotly controversial atmosphere of campus politics, and danced the spears in becoming active with basketball.

Like Rand, I was changing.  A part of me was elated to see the world at the other side of the fence, but a part of me hated the turmoil that change and infamy brought about, wishing that I could go back to being the wool-headed sheepherder that I was.

I quit reading the Wheel of Time (and all sorts of fiction) when I got to law school, which is as well because Robert Jordan also slowed down on his writing.  By that time, I had already gotten to Book 7 of the series and Rand al’Thor had become the King of Tear, Perrin married and became the Lord of Manetheren, Mat had sounded the Horn of Valere and became the General of the Band of the Red Hand, while Egwene became the Amyrlin Seat and Nynaeve married Lan and discovered that she could Heal stilling.

It was only when I became a lawyer, having practiced for 7 years, before I got back to where I left off.  A total of 12 years, in other words, since I witnessed the turning of the Wheel of Time.

When I went back, Rand had become a hardened despot and tyrant, unwilling to listen and feel emotions.  He’s also gotten raving mad, sometimes fighting with the voice in his head, Lews Therin Telamon, for control over his own body.  By Rand’s logic, he had to become hard.  He had to stop feeling, so the pain, fear and worry wouldn’t paralyze him when he needed to move and make important decisions.

It was only then that I began to see the parallels in Rand’s life and mine, and it struck me because at that point, Rand was my least favorite character in the story.  His arrogance annoyed me.  His constant drama was wearing down my patience.  I realized however that it annoyed me because at a sub-conscious level, I saw so much of that arrogance and drama in the person that I had become.

My life had become harder at this point, in the sense that the pressures of litigation and law practice were like a sword constantly hanging over my neck.  Like Rand, I had changed.  I was no longer the carefree youth that I was, I had to become someone that the world needed me to be, and in that, I longed for freedom from the constant war that I was locked in, with myself, with other lawyers, and sometimes, with the people that I lived or worked with.

I finally finished the book a few days ago, and I leave it up to you to find out what happens to Rand and the other characters in the Wheel of Time.  Let me just say though that it’s a relief, and if my life does parallel that of the Dragon Reborn, then I look forward to my own happy ending.

Suffice it to say that Rand changed, and so I am changing as well.  The story ends with the breaking of the Age and leaves with the dawn of a new one.  Perhaps this is to say that this is likewise a new day in my life.

The wind blows northward over the dusty roads of the south, passing by the sleepy butandings of Oslob, the crackling ovens of Carcar where pork rinds undergo the process of changing into delicious chicharon.  It blows over the busy South Reclamation superhighway, over cars driving back, eager to go home, and it blows past the small town that has the audacity to call itself Cebu City.

Inside Sacred Heart Hospital, the lawyer looks up from his laptop, as if sensing the passing of the wind.  This wind, it was not an ending.  There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.

But perhaps, it was a beginning.