12 June 2010, possibly the happiest day in my recent history. On the surface, it’s just a day when three friends did some gaming and watched a movie, but for me it was far more. This is the day when my two best friends from high school, Robert and Bryan, and I had a nostalgia trip unlike any other that went before it. Possibly, we might not have anything like this ever again this side of eternity.
The day started out normally enough. The plan was Robert, Bryan and I will play a round of Dungeons and Dragons-ish role-playing gaming. (I say Dungeons and Dragons-ish because we were using Bryan’s home-brewed rules system that borrowed from old school D&D, the Microlite system and other things that he got from other systems or came up with on his own. But the genre is still medieval fantasy.) then later watch the A-Team movie. I drove with Bryan to Robert’s place where we played the game and had a blast. We were later joined by Dennis, another of my good friends from high school. We were playing a combination of silly and serious, a series of fumbles and failed dice rolls and some minor successes which lead to a good gaming session. But we had to cut it short because it was getting late in the afternoon and we still had the plan of watching the A-Team movie to execute. Dennis had to leave at this point.
We packed up or stuff, still talking about the events that transpired in our collective imaginations through the role-playing game that we played. Then we went to one of the nearby malls where Robert did some grocery shopping first before we all proceeded to the theater. Inside, we were rather disappointed that it looked like we were the only ones watching the A-Team! But, no matter. We were packed with our burgers and fries and drinks. We had left behind for a little while whatever was troubling us. We were ready to be taken back to what we enjoyed more than twenty years ago. We were ready for The A-Team!
Boy, we were floored!
Perhaps it was God who arranged that it would only be us and a few other people in the theater because we were really laughing so hard at the movie it would have annoyed those around us. I know I was laughing hard! And it’s not laughing at the movie in the sense that it was so badly made that one couldn’t help but laugh at it, despite the fact that the makers of the movie did not intend it to be funny. Not at all! It was entertaining! It was funny in all the right places and serious in all the right places, faithful to feel and the spirit of the A-Team TV series that we grew up with in the 1980s. This modernized version is a true homage to John “Hannibal” Smith, Templeton “The Face” Peck, Bosco “B.A.” Barracus and “Howling Mad” Murdock. They got the characters right. They got the team spirit feel right, a far cry from what the revival of “Mission Impossible” became. They got the humor right. They got the overall feel right. And the suspension of disbelief is just right. A realistic film this ain’t, but that’s the way we like it! (I mean come on, if I wanted realistic action, I’d watch the news!) If the producers and the director of this film made any upgrades or improvements, they made all the right ones without taking anything from what made the original series still resonate with people of my generation even after two decades. Let’s see any present-day telenovela or TV series pull off that stunt! Even after the movie is done and we were driving home, we were still talking about it!
That is when Bryan noticed it: we were re-living our high school days! During those more carefree days, we would role-play in the afternoon, and then watch TV shows like the A-Team in the evenings . . . and then copy the day’s assignments from more studious classmates before the bell rings for the first class. (Yes, we were not model students back then, but we did manage to graduate from high school and college, though with some wear and tear. But that’s another story.) The evening just turned into something truly memorable for us, especially for me. When we dropped Bryan off, he called to us, “Oy, may assignment pa tayo bukas!” to which I answered, “Kopyahin na lang bukas!” We laughed at that.
I just re-lived the past. I had just gone to a place where I could touch one point in time where I was truly happy. My then 14- to 15-year-old self may not know it yet, but it may be that is as good as it gets. It is being happy in an unadulterated way. It is true, though, that there were times when I felt happier, like those times that I fell in love with someone really special. But those episodes of happiness always had a mixture of sadness to them, a taint of ill feelings, a shadow of tragedy that ruins the ecstasy that could have been enjoyed. I so long for such carefree joys again, and God was gracious to let me have this one day with two of the best buddies a man could have. But one can only live in the past for so long. Though I could have days like this, in varied degrees of remembrance and joy, I know they will not last. Even now, as my energy level drops to dangerously low levels, I realize that those days are gone. Though I can recreate them, I cannot enjoy those days as I used to, for I am no longer the same person I was who once enjoyed such things. And there are some things that simply cannot be recreated.
But those days can be remembered. And so long as those days are remembered, and remembered fondly, those days are not truly dead. At this point in my life where I have nothing to look forward to and thus am tempted constantly to despair, God, in allowing me this remembrance and recreation, shows me that it is possible to be that happy. At this time where I see that my future holds little promise this side of eternity—and I do so long for eternity with my Lord—God has let me touch base with my happy past, perhaps showing me that there is potential for happiness in the future.
Happy past and uncertain future merged this night in the present, and I am glad. God made His encouragement clear through Hannibal Smith when he said something like (I’m not sure of the exact words.) “When there seems to be no plan, trust that there is a plan at work.” From what little I know of God, I am certain that with regards to my life as well as the history of the world and the cosmos, He will one day say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”