“I am not like them. I am divine. I was meant to work with my intellect, not with my hand. I sweat aesthetically, but since they do not see, they think I am a sloth.”
—National Artist for Literature José García Villa (1908–1997) on being an employee—
I envy our forefathers so much. So much. Many of them were renaissance men, classy people. People of culture, people of the arts, people of sophistication. They had so much time on their hands honing their talents, immersing themselves in the sweetness of ambrosia — crowning each other with laurel leaves after witty poetic jousts, mesmerizing crowds’ minds with unforgettable oratories, blurring the lines (that is to say, tints) between real-life colors and man-made hues on canvass, creating the grandest of monuments out of formlessness, and filling the air with heavenly music coupled with dazzling footwork and graciousness of body movements. Not surprisingly, most of these visual and aural delights are now immortal and highly celebrated to this very day.
But all that was an era of a bygone golden age when focus was more on society building rather than private enterprise. Today is rather different: all of us are being sent to diploma-mill schools not really to hone our talents but simply to become wage slaves in the future. And as wage slaves, we bargain not just for hourly rates but also for our personal time. Of course, much of our time goes to the powers that be. And usually, whatever talents we all have that are of no use to them are placed on the back burner.
I see little difference between chattel slavery and corporate employment. If you observe it closely, it’s all the same. There were just “improvements” to the system. Back then, slaves were fed with pieces of grub while we corporate folks receive hourly rates. Slaves were whipped to move wheels and axles for hours on end; corporate kids are not whipped to use computers but are being monitored by watchful workforce managers and/or productivity measuring clocks for eight hours. Slaves were given a few days rest not for their sake but for them to be recharged just enough to able to handle those wicked machines of production once more; we urban yuppies are accorded days off and a couple of vacation (and sick leaves) as a temporary respite. Slaves were utilized regardless of age or until all strength have been sapped out from their bodies; corporate kids can wait until retirement age before such thing ever happens, but at an old age still (usually 65). I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture by now.
You may point out that working conditions have improved since the Industrial Revolution. I might agree. Nevertheless, the underlying factor is all the same: we are still at the mercy of economic exploitation. If you don’t work, you don’t get to live life the way you want it to be. Or better still, you don’t get to use your talents the way you (or God) intended them to be utilized. Your talents are corporate property. They use you for their gain and not exactly for your personal benefit. They give you personality development trainings intended not exactly for you but to make you more efficient in production for them to be able to reap higher profits in the end. It’s really all about them and their bank accounts and stocks. They would simply fool you with “Best Employee of the Year” awards and those hilarious Six Sigma belts just to keep you under their control. Employee-corporate relationship is binded by money. There’s no love here.
This has been my mindset ever since I joined the labor force. I’ve been very cautious all my life because of this, that’s why I didn’t get along that well with my past supervisors/managers and colleagues. It’s really difficult for someone with a Commie background mingling with people stricken with sheep mentality in a capitalist environment. And my heart and mind are somewhere else. If some people think that I write rather well, I believe that I would have perfected this craft even more had I been given much time to polish it. But I didn’t get to have that privilege. Heck, neither could my kids. And so for years, I’ve been complaining to my wife, to close friends, and to God about this dilemma of mine, what I consider as “my personal cross”: being a corporate slave. Because all I ever wanted to do was to focus on what I know is my talent, or to reciprocate what our cultural-minded forefathers did a long time ago.
To put it more bluntly, all I ever wanted to do was to read, research, and write, to put forward my advocacy to the fullest, and to be just with my family and travel with them till our final days on this wretched realm. With beautiful people like Janet Nápoles around, I don’t really think this is asking for too much… is it?
“I really don’t ask for much. Just a chance to have my wife and children go through life with the least physical pain. That isn’t much to ask, is it? But in this bloody country, when a millionaire has a cold he goes right away to a fancy clinic in New York. And me, I can’t even afford to have my head examined. Hell, there’s justification in the old class struggle — I don’t care what you call it, but does a rich man have more right to live simply because he has more money?”
—F Sionil José (through Godo in “The Pretenders”)—
Several hours ago, I think my patience may have reached the end of the rope. I did something stupid (albeit somewhat satisfying) during my shift earlier: I just freaked out, made a mess of my office work, complained to my supervisor that employment is not my life, that I’m fed up and giving up, and then I promptly gave her my resignation paper, to which she immediately accepted. It was good news for her of course. I’ve been a headache there ever since, not just to her but to my colleagues as well. But it wasn’t the first time such thing had happened. My previous jobs were a train wreck too. All my life as a corporate slave, I’ve never fared well. I just went to work without any intention at all of climbing the proverbial corporate ladder. I’m just after the money to support my Bohemian aspirations. And each time I sit in my cubicle, I stare at my computer rather blankly, with much stoic frustration. My mind is somewhere else because my heart is somewhere else. So more often than not, I always get into trouble with the people around me.
And so now with my resignation paper in the hands of corporate ladder climbers, I think I am into more trouble than what I initially thought of had I just opted to continue going with the flaccid flow (which I couldn’t do so anymore). Good friend Traveler On Foot tried to talk me out of it and advised me to just distress for awhile. Travel on my own, he says. It might help me decide calmly. His advice just might work. But seriously, I don’t think that will help me in the long term.
As of this writing, my wife still doesn’t know about my resignation. I do not know how to open this up to her, especially in her delicate condition. And that’s what I’m really worried about first and foremost. For sure, concerned relatives will do the classic facepalm when they learn of this rather puerile move of mine. I am debt-ridden. I don’t have any fallback at all. I also do not expect any help from them (as if they would, considering the brashness of my decision). And contrary to popular belief, my family’s not made of money. And with this somewhat inciendiary blogpost out in the open for everyone to laugh at and mock, I don’t think any company would have the faith of even hiring me anymore.
I’m not getting any younger. I have lost so much precious time being a milking cow when I should be reading books instead (I couldn’t even finish the Fifty Shades trilogy yet, hehe). So I will follow my heart. I MUST follow my heart. There is more to life than corporate slavery.
But how do I do it?
And so my adventure begins.