I consider my life as a continuous adventure of risk-taking, contentment and successes. But it wasn’t always that way. During high school, I sensed that there was something bigger in life – something exciting and fulfilling – but I didn’t know how to go about getting it. Growing up in a small town in Occidental Mindoro where the norm was waiting for the day to be over, I strive to have a different way of life. I try my best to be an achiever – salutatorian of my high school class, a full government scholar during college and now striving to finish Graduate school. I’m not trying to brag here, it’s just that I thought that worldly success alone would bring me what I am searching for.
But after seven years of working as an employee, I have to face the hard truth that I am not on the journey I wished and planned. Though my work was sometimes exciting, I still wasn’t living life as an adventure. I always dreamed of being a professional mountaineer, a fiction book author, professional photographer and a teacher with a PhD. However, life doesn’t always go how we wanted it to be.
Sometimes, when I lazily wake up every morning, forcing myself to work, I had these funny thoughts, with a flash of miserable lucidity, that I was just fooling myself, but I did nothing. And for many years, I did nothing but drift. Like a driven leaf, I just do everything expected or demanded of me.
The deterioration of our ambitions
I remembered a phrase by a poet or maybe a Greek philosopher I read somewhere, something like “He who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence.” I was a mass of aspirations and dreams unacted on, of fantasies as unreal as those that awed me during childhood which was mostly spent in the farms. I always wanted to go somewhere, to travel the world perhaps, but suddenly I found myself paralyzed in a rut at the age of twenty-nine – making payments on an apartment room, receiving bonuses – (sometimes at the mercy of the management), going from my boarding house to office, to gym and back to house, going to occasional barkada out-of-town trip but mostly just imagining luxury vacations, daydreaming, escaping through books, blogging and surfing the net.
Working life itself was routine and habit: morning rush, breakfast at the office pantry, check e-mails, morning work routine, buying lunch at Lola Payat and Lola Simangot’s carinderia (that’s the name we gave to our nearby office carinderia), exchanging jokes about sex, clitorology and gossips at lunch, afternoon work routine and a quick barkada chismis before leaving office. Office friendships was surely based on that dismal reality which cost us nothing to share the workplace and life’s irony with which we viewed the mediocrity of our lives and the deterioration of our ambitions. In a company, where there is no such thing as internal career advancement but merely a training ground, we see in the other the mirror of our insufficiency. With identical correctness, we carried out our duties as employees, always voicing out the overwhelming sarcasm of our conversations - blaming HR, attacking Healthcare policies, complaining about unjustified salaries, etc. – but always never intended for a true complaint (maybe that’s how the corporate world works).
The curious case of Mang Frank
I remember Mang Frank (may he rest in peace). Funny old guy, started as a Recruitment Assistant, served a forced retirement (still in the same position) after serving almost half of his working years in this company and died broke the following year. I imagine him telling me, while sitting in front of his favorite old noisy typewriter: “Don’t get stuck in this rut, don’t let what happened to me happen to you, get out while you can – don’t cave in!”
I am hired in this company as his replacement but I actually avoided him on his last few weeks because I was so bored with the tedium of his increasingly disjointed stories, his detailed account of the intrigues and tricks he was victim of in the office and his very detailed sexual escapades. The years went by, I am just thankful I am not in that position anymore but still in the same group of companies. I go to work every morning, pay my monthly bills and trying to stretch the money till the end of every month, which is not always successful – life of a typical bachelor eh? So I was considering looking for a second job to have more savings. In this way I will not give up all the plans that seemed so courageous when I started working: preparing myself for a better career, say, university professor or researcher in some institute. But I didn’t have the time or the will, and my free evenings got away from me without me noticing.
I know what the ghost of Mang Frank would say: “What are you doing? Why haven’t you got out of here? How many more years are you going to take it?”
Once in a while I did go somewhere, but most of the time things doesn’t always go as planned. There are always set-backs and a lot of things to consider.
Life as an Adventure – One step at a time
Then it hit me. This is the adventure. This. This up and down, success and failure, back and forth – all of it is the adventure. All the time that I was looking for what I want, I was learning what it was to live a life of adventure. It wasn’t about being perfect, doing things right, receiving big salary, getting rich and having wild success with no downside. It was risking decisions, stumbling and falling short of my expectations as well as enjoying and building on my own successes.
As the famous Filipino salawikain said, “Habang maiksi ang kumot, matuto kang mamaluktot. Kung mahaba na at malapad saka na mag-unat unat” [Refers to situations when resources are scarce, one should learn to be thrift and adapt].
My adventure was really just beginning – I’ll just have to take it, one step at a time.
How about you, are you living your life as an adventure?
Are you satisfied and happy with your current situation?
Please share your personal thoughts on the Comments section below.
Image credit: Desperation by Antonina