Monday, June 16, 2008

Have a Job and a Smile

By Matthew

When life throws you its cruel twists of fate, all you can really do is accept it.

My dad lost his job. Again. I’m estimating this to be the 3rd one in the past two years. This trend tends to leave my future college endeavors uncertain. Sometimes I wonder what God is doing to us, then immediately the answer comes in a sepia-toned flashback of my mother telling me that, “He has a plan.”

I just made a typo there that I automatically fixed, but originally the quote read, “He had a plan,” due to my inept keyboarding skills and lack of sleep. Reading the typo again, I begin to believe it, then shake it off and chalk that one up to the late night I’ve had. Yet, things like that make me realize how shaky I’ve been in all things, non-religious especially. I’m 19 going on 20 in a few months and doing the same bit that most of us are told to do… work and school. Case in point. The shakiness of both my job and education make me drown in a haze of confusion and indecision. There’s an ever-present nagging… nay… biting question that haunts me when I try to predict the future through that haze and confusion in my crystal ball…

“What to do and where to go? What’s an able-bodied and skilled young Filipino American to do with his future?”

Trying to view myself from an outside perspective, I notice the uncertainty of it all. Religion, school, future, family, careers (not in any particular order)… all of it laid out on the weighing scale after all the tireless exercises and training. And all the laziness and overeating, knowing that you worked as well as slacked off (hoping more of the former than the latter), but also knowing somewhere in the back of your hopeful little head that the numbers will always come out the same, and are still as always… uncertain. Somehow they’re never leaning in one direction and are always totally unsure.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...” as Frost told us, and as I am a yellow man in that yellow wood, I’d like to just sit and blend with the scenery than take either road, thank you very much, but that’s beside the point. Besides, I feel quite certain that both roads could make me equally happy and equally frustrated at the same time, one of the only things that I am sure of.

My family life is an example of this whole diverging/uncertain theme that I’ve serendipitously conjured. My older brother, 22, is a hard-working, extremely gifted artist and helped found an Internet startup company that’s getting some pretty big clients. He’s worked with big Rock/Rap/Movie stars, in a nutshell. And although we’d all like to think that now he can support the family, nearly all the money goes to support their fledgling company.

My younger brother, 18, likes to do things his way. He works when he has to, and is very fun and unique and is going off to Seton Hall Seminary to be a Priest. I still stumble trying to refer to him as “Father.” Even more disheartening is that I’ve learned that Priests have to take a vow of poverty (so much for money for us poor).

While all 3 of us have our similarities in our personalities, the career choices of my brothers obviously run at opposite ends of the spectrum. By this fall my younger brother will have moved out to do his bit at the seminary, and my older moved out a year or two ago. Leaving me, an uncertain yellow man in his diverging yellow wood. What to do? I’m sure we’re all asking ourselves this and because of many other uncertainties, I feel that this divergence and unsteadiness is especially prominent in my life.

So how does one go about deciding their future? Well, to answer that would repeat the lessons of “follow your dreams” and other such things that are true but need not be stated here for fear of sounding trite and way too corny. Instead, I’ll just tell you to laugh at the shit life throws at you. That is almost as important as the follow your dreams lesson. Because you can’t be taught on how to make decisions on a future that’s just as uncertain as your decisions (if that makes any sense). All you can be taught is how to laugh it off and live with them.

When my dad lost his job… I smiled (not in his face of course), because what the hell else can you do? I felt bad and I tried to console and that’s about the best I can do at the moment. I don’t see the situation as anything to smile about, but the way life throws this shit at us makes me smile. My ex, who’s still a great friend of mine, wondered why I was so darn okay with it. What am I supposed to do? Cry? The most helpful thing I can do now is shut my ass up and work harder to pay for my college tuition, don’t ya think? So after all my philosophical nothings about uncertainty and dilemmas, I just gotta tell you, laugh it off. Just laugh at the irony of life, it truly is funny.

So why am I going off like this without any decisive conclusion? Is it because I don’t have a good answer for you all and I’m trying to cover it up with bits of wise sounding proverbs? Maybe. Am I forever doomed to be indecisive in all things? Why not? Or is it because I’m just a bad writer? If so, then I’m glad to have at least narrowed down my future by one less occupation.

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