12 June 2012

What Makes You Happy?

In the absence of a clear cut map in achieving my existential purpose, I resorted to piecing together fragments of advises people have been throwing at me since Day 1 of my sensibilities. I guess, our memories can be faulted for being so emotionally programmed - retaining only bits of information that have managed a strong impact on one's person. Seems that for most times, little life lessons get washed away into the big, deep ocean of our minds. Retrievable through extensive excavation, but with no guarantees of success. Other times, people's philosophies overlap into a confusing debate of what's right or wrong - the goods and the bads - the blacks and the whites - and safety of the grays in between.

In a fairly recent discourse with my dad, we've managed to touch on several issues regarding my life and future. And as much as he has given me his thoughts on matters, his wisest action (though not very relieving)is to leave the decision onto my hands. Pontius Pilate.

Again, I would live to delve into the concept of everyone going through a "solo flight" through life. Sometimes I wish I can find the auto-pilot button somewhere. Despite how our choices would ripple out into our web of connections, the most important consideration is "what makes you happy." Dad, though not outrightly pointing it out, implied how he can give me a set of limitations and corresponding penalties for all my "wrong doings", but despite those hindrances, it is my will that will set me out if I intend to strive and attain what I want. Parents, people, laws can only set out the guidelines and the consequences resulting from deviance, but life itself has no rules. The game of life is as exciting and varied as you want it to be.

Reading George Martin's Game of Thrones and Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth, one gets thrown out of their comfort zones into absorbing behaviors that are grotesquely barbaric, but completely feasible and frighteningly understandable given the period. They're not right, but in those times, what does it mean to be "right"? What is "right"? Quite often, I find myself floating back down into Milan Kundera's world of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". How comforting it is to be understood by someone who can pen down your feelings into paper.

Society dictates the status quo, the norms and the proper etiquette and habits, but we know ourselves too well to know what is best for us. We can either fall in line, marked with a batch number and dispatched for public consumption. We can opt to go left and right, winding around some dangerous road and disappear from worldly knowledge. We can rocket ourselves to the moon and find the hidden Transformers space craft. We can start a war, or preach peace, or become a solution. We can struggle to survive or survive to struggle. Live to love or love to live. And in the end, it is a mere question of what would fulfill us, as a person.

What makes you happy?


Green is my favorite color. And for a myriad of reasons, I'm sure, that I cannot seem to muster out right now.

Green is alive. Green highlights beauty, though not necessarily be the object of beauty. Green is fickle. Green is selective. Green can be evil and jealous. Green can be healthy. Green can be malicious. Green can be environmental.

 Green is often misunderstood.


Today, we celebrate the Philippine Independence Day - that momentous, though seemingly hypocritical, occasion when the Philippines has declared independence from all the nations that have prostituted it.

Despite the special celebration of this non-working holiday, I find myself tied down and boggled with an enormous work load that refuses to take its weight off my chest. My brain feels like a shapeless mush being zapped and resuscitated with whatever will power is left in my person. Honestly, I am mentally fatigued and emotionally stressed. I guess this little experiment has gotten a bit out of hand, and the results I have wished to achieve from these measures seem to have deviated from my expected outcome. Draining myself into exhaustion, though for a period, has successfully stopped me from dwelling too much on my emotional combats - has backfired and inundated with me a whole new set of chest-gripping fears and nauseating symptoms. I have tried to avoid emotional crashes prior to sleeping, but overworking myself has merited me less sleep, laden with a jumble of work-related, list-making dreams. In my wake, I find myself curling into a ball and struggling against an intangible pair of hands around my throat. And I say, when I've regained my composure, all for the love of life and work.

Thus I begin to question if this is truly the thing I deem right for myself. With work, you'll have money and with money, you can buy independence, and with independence, eventually happiness. How much independence is there in a situation where you zombie-ly drag your feet to the office, cajole frustratingly with colleagues who 90% of the time think you're a bit too alien for their comprehension, massage your brain with an overload of information until you realize you've practically bruised it black and blue and then in the late hours of the night, scrape yourself off the pavement onto a public vehicle to commute home. Rinse and repeat. And when you get your paycheck, you realize that you don't have the time to do the activities that you want. Sacrifices have been made for the sake of ambition. I say, let's raise that flag of independence high enough so everyone can see. I am a working woman. I get paid. I have money. Honestly, right now, I just feel like a whore.

In the streets, there just seems to be a hundred signs reminding people to say "No.". Say "No" to drugs. Say "No" to abortion. Say "No" to oil hikes. Say "No" to graft and corruption. But these are the bad things. How about your dreams, little girl? How about making it big, little girl? How about saving up for that rainy day, little girl? And this little girl was taught to say "Yes", because I am ambitious, because I want to experience new things, because "there is so much more to life than" what I got right now. And the cycle continues. Not fully digesting the fact that too much of anything can be detrimental until its too late to turn back.

Often times, I've been told to find the balance, not to bite off more than I can chew, temper your ambitions. I guess, right now is the time that I ought to learn that lesson. My boss, a practical though sometimes devious man, has one special reminder that I try to keep to heart.

B: Expectations from you? I only have one. I want you to wake up every morning with a desire to come to work. If you want to come to work, you'll do your best and when you're at your best, that's when the results come in.

I wake up everyday, with an optimistic thought in my head that I can contribute much to my job. And because of such, and because I've finally found him as an ear to hear out my suggestions, I felt empowered to take on my day's work. But I guess, ambition is usually the strong point as well as the weakness of the young. Once you've progressed into a longer, less fruitful tenure, you realize that you're at a dead end and that life will just flow in and out like clockwork. Nothing will change until the battery finally dies out on you and someone else will be hired to take your spot.

Try to imagine being young in the company of pessimism. You hear them chatter, "So what if I give my best, I will never get anywhere anyway.", "I am not of the "promote-able" race. If only I have chinky eyes, maybe that would make all the difference." And although you know they mean well in aiding you, you also acknowledge the disappearance of initiative and drive in themselves (especially seeing your youth with more years to taste and run and experience). At times, this can be very contagious.

In school, I've often felt the barbaric mental race to get to the finish line in one piece. You battle your way through sleepless nights, piles of reading materials, and maybe a whole pitcher worth of caffeine. And when you finally make your case, presenting them to your judge and master, you take that sigh of relief and wait fidgeting for your grade. And when you receive that passing mark, you would feel an overwhelming sense of relief and success envelope you like its one of the most remarkable achievements in your life. At work, it becomes a completely different scenario. Or at my work, to say the least.

With little promise of a promotion and an assured pay every month, employees eventually would lose their battle spirits. Their battle scars are for naught and complacency is the best medication for such troubles. Dealing with onerous and painstakingly meticulous details become burdensome and somehow should be omitted out of the equation, if possible. Little issues become overtly exaggerated cases of insolence and stupidity. And with such a workforce, you are bound for stagnation.

I guess, being young and noticed for my contributions, I began to push myself to this point of physical, mental and perhaps emotional atrophy. A person can only have a certain degree of economic utility before he crumbles down into an absolute pile of garbage. In a sense, I am struggling to keep the balance. So with this scenario, let me highlight the two kinds of people I see - the overworked and the complacent. It is only recent that I've attained the overworked status, of which, I initially was very grateful for. As time progressed, I find that it was more than I bargained for, and I fear, there is no one I can request a share of load with. Everyone seems preoccupied with their little tasks and personal dramas and unspoken enmities.

At the expense of my social life and health, I have sacrificed a good deal for my work - and all for the sake of ambition. The thought hits me though, should any ill fate befalls me - what would happen? The company will merely get another ambitious creature to fill in my shoes and BAM! I'm as good as another folder in the cabinet. Thus you ask, how much should you give?

As I've found in the internet, quoted by Pearl Bailey, "A man without ambition is dead. A man with ambition but no love is dead. A man with ambition and love for his blessings here on earth is ever so alive." and Frances Burney writes, "A youthful mind is seldom totally free from ambition; to curb that, is the first step to contentment, since to diminish expectation is to increase enjoyment." There is nothing wrong to be ambitious, it is the dream that we build for ourselves in realizing who we can become. But once it begins to overstep one's personal space, binding you away from things that can make you alive - alive in the sense that your senses are heightened, that your love is free to wander and your soul is at its peak in unveiling life's mysteries - then perhaps that ambition is meant for the dead.

Ambition should aid in the achievement of independence. But quite contrary in our present modern lives, our independence seems to be at the mercy of ambition. And in certain cases, we realize too late that they are two brothers helping each other out - not a father and son tandem. They exist simultaneously, and the overindulgence of one can mean the loss of the other.