Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Posts tagged ‘work’

​Vacation Forever

My seatmate kept me awake on the bus by loudly talking on her phone. Smartly dressed in a light brown office coat, she assured authority as she kept on instructing her colleague to close an order because she was getting late to the office. She was almost slumped sadly on her seat while her young, tired face starred at the window longingly. She made a number of calls to her boss, clients and other VIPs. Her tone, which shifted from being demanding to apologetic to friendly and then strained, revealed that she was vexed out in her job. Her stressful aura made me think about my hierarchy in the office world. The first thing that popped up in my head was never go up the ladder. I did not want to become like her.
I never desired to be on top of the career niche all throughout the ten years I’ve been working. All I wanted was a decent job and a good pay. I had this fear that when I get to the executive position, I’d loose my freedom, my social life, and my sanity. 

I only had this ambition to get into heights when I took a job in a media company. I did get a high-end job as a segment producer in a huge media outlet. This was my chance to become a popular reporter! In the end, I was not able to handle the toxicity of this job. 

Every time I feel bored or jaded in a job, my initial thinking was to resign and leave this toxicity behind. I’d change gear in my life plans, believing I’d be able to survive by becoming a missionary, a YouTube star, a philanthropist, an artist, or a hobo. I envisioned myself living daily under a grove of coconut trees while drinking cocktails before a clear, blue sea in the Bahamas. I breathe the air of freedom every time I resign, waving my arms like a freed slave from a maximum institution. However, this season of paradise is being slapped down by the reality of being financially empty. 

I was struggling during the first time I’ve resigned. I tried venturing into agriculture but was not successful in culturing earthworms. I tried doing freelance jobs but I was too scared to face foreign clients. I thought of becoming a missionary but there was no confirmed calling. Being a bum made me a bit depressed for a while. My savings were almost gone. I had realized reality at its finest. I need to look for a real job.

This is a dilemma for most millennials like me. Unlike the former working class, our minds are not wired to survive in one industry alone. We have multiple choices to choose from and we want to try all of them. When we are forced into hard labor, we give up. There is a gap between the older workaholic bosses whose excessive hardwork was able to build empires and the young freedom-loving yuppies whose existence is fueled by an unrelentless sense of exploration, passion, and entitlement.

My mother always remind me, “A rolling stone cannot gather moss.” Perhaps we need consider well before taking an offer. We need to switch off our dreamy selves before we embark into a decision. We need to learn how to be patient, to persevere, to find joy in every circumstances. One day, we have to pass down every valuable legacy to the next generation. If we keep on escaping every defiance in life, the next generation would learn nothing but escape and the underestimation of reality. Life is not made of holidays and sandy beaches. I had learned this the hard way. I have learned that I would be able to pursue my dreams when I have the right resources and I am focused with an orderly life goal. But I hope every industry, every executive and every boss would learn how to value their own workers by not pushing them into toxicity. Besides, we don’t need pushy bosses and loads of work to prove our worth. We, human beings, are more valuable than the services or the products we could produce and deliver for this rueful world. 

Leaving Neverland

 The deep voice of Uncle Ben resonates from nowhere, “Where there’s power comes great responsibility.”

I turn away from the door to run back to my bed that is now running away from me. I try to spin some spider webs while the ground gives way into the deep abyss. I scream but no voice comes out of my open throat. The alarm goes off.

BANG!

My head spins as it hits the roof of the double decker bed while I reach for my phone. I was in my boarding house. I am on my own.

Welcome to the independent life. A life without Mom and her cooking. A life without my comfy bed and my hugging companion, Eeyore. A life where I have to stand alone and make my own decisions.

For the first time in my 31 years of existence, I have decided to move away from home.

Sounds ordinary, but it’s one of the dilemma of those who belong to the so-called Peter Pan generation. Going independent is a leap of faith to the likes of us.

Being in the Peter Pan generation sounds funny to some. According to social scientists, this is the new “adultescent” generation. We are the 25 to 40 year old age bracket people who are afraid to grow up. We change from one job to another. We don’t marry early. We don’t want to have children of our own. And we live with our parents.

Changing all that would mean bigger responsibilities. 

I don’t really have a solid conclusion on how this Peter Pan generation came up to be. Living with parents until one gets old is embedded in the Asian culture. But it has gone way beyond exaggerated as most of us have become dependent on our loving parents whose hands were not made of iron just as their predecessors were. 

I wonder if we have been too pampered by the generation ahead of us. If you would look back at the generation living in the 1950s (ever seen some flicks from Sampaguita Pictures, anyone?), parents are stricter and harsher. Some of them don’t give entitlements or even choices to their children. They have the authoritarian mindset which came straight from our Spanish predecessors. They got strict daily timelines and opposing them would mean punishment. Some parents would not prioritize their children’s education, more so their dreams. Yet, my Mom, living with such parents herself, would yearn for the simplicity of those ages. Radio and television were considered luxury. A short black and white episode of the Road Runner was enough to keep her entertained when she was in elementary. They didn’t have preservatives to worry about. Children could have nature as their playground. People can stroll safely under the moonlit night without fear of muggers (unless they were overly fed with a diet of aswang and capre stories). Choices in life were not so complicated and men lived in grand contentment. 

Then come 1970s and 1980s. This is the generation who have been opened to more choices, more opportunities, and greater prospects of prosperity. This is the generation who did not want their children to experience the harshness and the poverty they have endured during their youthfulness. They have built more movie houses and added color to popular Darna flicks. The human palette wanted a boarder menu that’s why they added burger and fries to their diet. They wanted their children to play more dynamic toys by introducing Nintendo and G.I. Joe action figures. This is the generation who wanted to see grander horizons. This is the OFW generation. And that almost faded picture of your mustached dad wearing oddly-sized bellbottom pants and Ray Ban shades while proudly grinning in the middle of the empty, sandy background in Saudi Arabia is living proof of this generation.  

Then the millennials were born.

If the OFW generation were given more choices, these choices doubled for the millennials. From schools, toys, malls, restaurants, movies, activities, and more stuff, our eyes ogled as we confuse ourselves by choosing which is the best for us (which would still depend on the budget). We are living in a world that has suddenly become fast paced, right after our OFW dads and moms have brought in the luxuries and competitiveness of the global market. We wanted to achieve more, that’s why we multitask (like watching TV with a burger in mouth while putting clothes in a running washing machine). We tend to move faster because we think everything is urgent (except for EDSA). And because of the vast list of choices given to us, we have a lifetime to choose which would match our passion, capability and needs. This is the reason we can’t settle down. And yet most of us are afraid of the more essential responsibilities in life. 

I don’t mean this generation is lazy. In fact, we are active, sociable and passionate. By the time we reach 30, we continue to explore ourselves by travelling, learning new hobbies, or showcasing discovered talents. But we are afraid of deeper connections, higher promotions, or breaking off from the comfort zone. When one gets married, here comes bigger responsibility. When one becomes the boss of a company, here comes bigger responsibility. When one owns his own house and lives alone, here comes bigger responsibility. We are afraid of making mistakes. We are afraid of judgement when we screw up in our responsibilities. That’s why we’d shy away from them. 

But that should not last forever.

One day, Peter Pan has to leave Neverland. The magic of childish freedom and fairy dreams did not keep Wendy and the Lost Boys in the island forever. Soon enough, the boy in green tights will realize that their wooden swords were nothing compared to an opponent bigger than Captain Hook – and its name is responsibility.

It’s not an enemy. It’s a friend. But most of us – the so-called Peter Pan generation – believe we are not worthy of it. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid it would turn against us and kill us completely if we don’t meet its criteria. 

Wrong. It’s the mindset of perfectionism, which we don’t admit, that’s killing us.

Even Dr. Strange himself, a brilliant man, thought he has to be ready before taking up a bigger responsibility. Talking with the Ancient One for the last time, she told him she does not see his future but she sees in him a purpose.

“But I am not ready.” He admits.

“No one is ever ready.” She answers.

It does not take one to be ready to grow up. It does not take one to be ready to become more responsible. It just takes courage. Deciding to jump into it is death defying. Getting there is fulfillment. 

And yes, I feel fulfilled when I could handle my own budget, do my own shopping, and finish washing my clothes. Getting into a whole new scenario in life is a leap of faith for me. Deciding to live alone is just one step into bigger destinies. And I have to take them one step at a time. 

But still, I can’t wait for Saturday. No matter how I prepare food for myself, nothing beats Mom’s friend rice, hotdogs and eggs for breakfast.

​For the Love of Coffee

One cup for warmth

Two cups for friendship

My cup of coffee always honored at my presence

Without you, I’d be desolate at my office table

The living savior of my mundane hours
Coffee, coffee, you make my nerves alive

A little sip would brighten my weary eyes

Silencing my thoughts during the dead of the night

Lulling me to sleep in a rainy day
Coffee, coffee you will forever be

Whether instant, brewed, with cream or more cream

From Vietnam, Korea, or in the heart of Dublin

You will always be my steaming cup of coffee

The Ringing Crisis

​I yawned as I waited for someone to reply on the other line. It’s not a call center job, but I was required to make follow-up calls to overseas customers to confirm some missing information in the probate accounts I handled. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and it was just the middle of my shift.

An airy, ghostly voice answered on the other line, “Helloooooo…”

My heart jumped to my throat. In a matter of three milliseconds, I debated against myself whether I should hung up and forget this account. It was 2 o’clock in the morning and weird things happen in the middle of my shift.

Trying to hide the nervousness of my voice, I promptly asked, “My I speak with a relative of so-and-so?”

The mysterious caller cleared her voice which turned out to be a husky one, “I am her sister.”

I was relieved. This is why I hate taking calls.

Ever since the beginning, I have the fear of talking on the phone.

I don’t have any genetic or scientific explanation for that. Every time I make a call, receive a call or just have a phone over my face, it’s like facing the greatest nightmare of my life. Somehow, not seeing the person I’m talking distracts me. I’m a visual person, I could concentrate at what I hear when it is associated with what I see. Staring at a blank wall while hearing somebody babble on the other end would cause me to day dream, especially if my mind would be confused on what to say next.

We never had a landline at home. The old folks did not see the necessity of it. Owning a phone only happened once. That was when my sister ordered an internet phone line at her house where we used to stay while her husband was working abroad. But even that was not of much use unless we needed to call a government agency or book for a room for a Baguio vacation (which happened only once). Still, I hated the experience of taking a call because I believed every caller makes a weird, gargled frank at my ear (which really never happened).

Thank goodness for cellphones. Receiving and sending text messages were less frightening for me. I believe it gave me more time to think over what was written (although I would overlook at them like a dyslexic at times) and carefully compose what I want to say. More so, calls are more expensive are text messages. Not until those unli calls and postpaid mobile lines came into existence…

This I had to endure at my former media career. Calls, which were always a part of this seemingly-glorious industry, made me mortified until I became numb with it. But I couldn’t be numb forever. Calls can range from placidly dumb to unnecessarily urgent. Soon, such calls made me a nervous wreck. I shudder whenever I hear that shrill voice on the line…

“Where are you now? How come your subject has not agreed on the interview?”

“I have not received a reply from you and our ratings have fallen and the boss made a scruffy feedback!”

“Scrap that! We got more important stories to air.”

“Where’s the script you’re working at? I need that NOW!”

There goes the triggering point. I knew I had to change my job and my phone (as well as that alarmist ringtone). Calling me would never help – it never did. It’s because my mind would play when I receive calls.

I guess calls are for emergencies. I’d rather read silly shoutouts on my smartphone than get a call, whether it be nice or alarming.

I wonder if I would get over this fear of calls. I bet no hi-tech innovation could ever take that out of me…just yet. So, don’t call…ever.

Growing Up Late

imageI couldn’t wait to come home on a Friday. I’ve missed my mom over the week since I moved in to a friend’s boarding house last Monday. For the first time, I gathered my courage to live a life of independence. I consider this as another breakthrough in this season of change…and, just so, it’s a beautiful breakthrough.
I am already 31 but there are just normal things for grown-ups that I couldn’t dare face. It was at this stage that I realized that I need to workout and I need to have a regular dental cleaning every six months. It was also at this stage that I have to get out of my comfort zone and live independently. I have to do this as I begin to work at a new company in the heart of the busy Ortigas suburbian jungle, where monstrous traffic choke EDSA endlessly and expensive UV express rides drain our wallets ridiculously.
I need to move in to a nearer place to keep a clean slate from tardiness. I have wasted enough time travelling and sleeping in the bus while missing my social life. I don’t have to wait until sixty to know how I have missed so many dates on my calendar.
But the first day of independence was quite a dread. Without a mom who would cook for me and nearly having nothing except clothes for the next four days, I was nearly battered with homesickness.
I missed my own room, I missed my stuffed toy Eeyore, and especially my mom and this place I call home. I tried to sleep at my first night despite hearing the mosquitoes buzz tauntingly at my ear. I tried to dream the night away while wondering what to eat the next day.
My mornings became easier during the following days. I familiarized myself on how to get to the office easily, kept myself neat and tidy at that short travel time, and shared my breakfast time with the other trainees at the office pantry. My mind began to plan on what I need to buy and looked for a zumba class at a nearby mall.
Here I stand as a late bloomer. Still, I enjoyed my first week of independence and I’m getting used to it. But as much as possible, I need to get home on weekends so I could bring all my dirty clothes to the laundry. Now, that’s a good reason to see your folks.

Serene Disturbance

Let me sleep, sleep, sleep
Even when the cars keep on whirling
In the city made for breaking
While the people keep on stomping
To the beat of machines humming

Let me sleep, sleep, sleep
Eyes now blank to the flashes and winks
Of blatant liars with saintly faces before lenses
Ears deaf to the noise and screeches
Of outspoken spokespeople pretending to be preachers
I carried the burden and depth
Of wonders and cares of both historian and sage
But my shoulders cannot adept
To the shifting changes in their weights

Let me now sleep, sleep, sleep
To the sugarcoated field of lies
Do not let me hear the intrigues in disguise
But could I wake up when it is thier turn to sleep, sleep, sleep?
Perhaps it shall only be when they have torn this world apart at once

Then so…
I must never sleep, sleep, sleep

To Dance in the Maddening Rain

Dancing in the rain
Such is what the weary keep in vain
For the sake of this silent hope
To water what remaining passion
Gagged by stress and pain
Silenced by pressure and competition
Strangled by envy and fear
Pick up these cluttered papers, I plead
To forget what was mauled by empty wisdom and vanity
Do endlessly throw them up in the air
So I can dance in the maddening rain

Tag Cloud