Posted by: nastypen | June 3, 2008

Assimilate “or” Die

I hate it when an officemate asks me to draw for their child’s stupid school project.  I hate it.  I remember back when I was an editorial cartoonist, I was busy developing a cartoon for the fifth time that day because I have been censored by the publisher when an officemate dropped by bringing cartolinas, pentel pens and asked if I could draw her daughter’s story book of Cinderella.  By “asking” he shoved the cartolinas on my drawing table knocking my editorial cartoon to the floor.  I thought this is the reason for my four years at the College of Fine Arts.  To draw officemate’s children’s projects.

I could have refused.  But no.  That guy who asked me holds a lot of strings even though I was in middle management and he was below me in office station.  He has the power to talk to subordinates and give me hell.  Besides, if you’re in an office, you have to exercise pakikisama for survival.

My mother always chastised me growing up for my refusal to the societal pressure of “pakikisama;” that’s a Tagalog word with several layers dealing with being a team player and assimilation. She harped about how it will be difficult if I didn’t do “pakikisama.” I just thought to myself if I survived violent bullying alone, what’s life going at it alone?

I never liked the idea of group mentality. I thought group projects were most of the time a bane. I recall a classmate on film class accusing me of not listening to others and I stuck to my vision. Wala kang pakikisama. “You don’t get along” he remarked. Then, my film teacher praised my uncompromising nature. He said “Even he does not listen to me. I like that.”

This is perhaps I cherish the art of cartooning, writing and painting because of their solitary nature.

Just the other day, I was chatting with a friend.  He was telling me of a friend of his who also worked as faculty for UP who had “other skills.”  Ergo, these “other skills” were put to good (ab)use by the system.  I thought maybe next time in my resume I should jot down under “other skills:” homoerotica, oil wrestling,  and sleeping for at least six hours.  Let’s see how am I going to be of (ab)use to the system.

So, lately I start to feel resistance for this “need” to be part of a group. I get invited to a party, I coyly refuse. I was asked when will I hang out with a friend, I think what for? I got invited to an exhibit, I just thought of the difficulty getting there and I didn’t even bother. I was told there was a “cool gathering,” I think I’ve wasted enough time with other people who would make an effort to be cool.

I think that’s it. Why would I, for the sake of pakikisama, want to go meet up with someone and talk for hours about nothing and realize later on those hours could have meant a painting? Why hang out and bitch and moan when I could have read a great novel?

I DO go out. But not that often. Perhaps it is aging.

I mean in my 20s I organize reunions among my barkada; I drop by all these parties back when Malate was cool and devoid of emo shit; I gab for hours with friends until the restaurant forced us out; I drop everything to go to gatherings; Damn it, I used to have birthday parties!  Going to these gatherings were expected of me and people had this notion that I am the life of the party.

Now, when I go out, close friends of mine know how difficult it is for me to commit. Sometimes, I don’t feel like it. Mot of the time, I AM busy. I make time for myself. Yes, that sounds really selfish but I can’t be a doormat at work or the token clown at parties all my life. If this is aging and this is how my 30s shall be, I wish I was 80 already.

Friends of mine who are in the corporate world have this quizzical look when I told them I just spent most of my summer vacation at home. What, you didn’t go abroad? Eh, don’t want to spend. Why didn’t you just go to Boracay? Each time I go there I hate the place even more. No parties, not one? Partying is overrated. they would just bristle and scoff at how I wasted my “free time.” If they had my “luxury” they’d make the most out of it.  They had this sort of expectation that since I have “so much free time,” I would be all over the place.

Well, I do make the most of it….it’s just that not with other people. I told my sister the other day that the past two months were the most productive times I ever had in terms of art. My right thumb is sore from all the carvings I did. The other day, I brought a pile of rubber slabs for my rubber cut prints. I was never this free from frustration and insecurity when it comes to art. I just take my carving implements and hack away and I could do this for hours. Sometimes even losing sleep and I have the widest smile even. My mobile phones are silent and I don’t check if there are any messages. I just do what I want to do.

But I don’t want to make this a renunciation of society and friends. I still go have fun with other people albeit in lesser frequency and shorter time periods. If a close friend like Blas or Nemcy texts that they want to see me. I go see them….most of the time. If a friend flies home from Dubai or wherever, I go to that reunion. Of course, I can still enter the realm of “pakikisama.” It’s just that I don’t make it a central issue anymore. I don’t want to be extreme and lock myself in my room. How will I watch Batman in the big screen then? hahhahaha. I still love people but I choose my time with them more consciously now.

I see myself more in this room placidly alone and enjoying my pet labrador Onyx’s snoring. I don’t even turn on the television because other people’s noise grates my ears. I don’t yearn to go out and “experience life.”  Hell, I’ve never been more alive.

For me, it’s simply assimilate AND die. So , here I am living.

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Responses

  1. Been awhile since I post my comment in your blog entries. But putting it in “documents”, you know I’m happy about and for you now. In regards to your new-found love-art linocuts. You are indeed in love and relaxed with that art form you chose. It’s no joke on your part carrying and buying such heavy slabs and quite pricey in total from QC to Makati knowing you’ll be unknowingly tortured by the jologs crowd in the area 😉

    Basta, alam ko, masaya ka, support ka namin. I do understand the change you chose. I find it really soothing and de-stresser to you. I’m glad you found another source of happiness and hopefully you’ll find more 😉

    *hugs*

  2. Oh and about the “pakikisama”, it does suck at times specially when those you have to share such thought don’t really recognize that you’re “nakikisama”, because known or not to them, there’ taking advantage.

    So, can the world blame us if we curse and snap back at them?

    As far as I know isa lang si Mother Theresa and she’s with God na.

  3. Ang hirap no? People misunderstand what they think is “unproductive” free time. I too relish on my moments that I am alone as it affords me the best time to meditate and cry out to God. Some of my friends would tell me that they try their best to get out of the city to get their bearings in life. Most of the time, I just shut up now because I don’t want to hurt their feelings too much. For I think that all one needs is to learn how to utilize the free time we have to learn to know God and know ourselves more deeply. We become far more interesting people when we know ourselves more, because then, we got more to share to others when we meet up….

  4. […] Spontaneous Idealists attach great value to their inner and outward independence (YES YES…ASSIMILATE AND DIE!!!!) and do not like accepting a subordinate role (I don’t like being a leader, but I detest […]


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