Questions in a Rainstorm

Sitting on a porch rocking chair, in the middle of rainstorm Nona in Sabang, Naic, Cavite in the Philippines. The rain picks up, wind brings some wetness to my hand and the book I’m writing in. A dog curled up checking itself for any creepy crawlers. The sound of raindrops accumulating in the shutters, the rustle of leaves moving in the wind, the sound of family chatting in the background.

I am sitting alone, surrounded by the happenings of the world. Where am I in this space?

The rain falls more heavily, wind lifting pages of this book. I tap my foot. The dog looks my way shortly, interrupted from his struggles against his fleas, and quickly goes back to licking his legs.

It’s not a question of belonging. Belonging infers purpose, a matter of things being where someone or something else intends them to be. I don’t belong here in the Philippines, nor do I belong in Rosemead or San Diego or Long Beach.

The clouds drift in the sky, moving in a general direction. Do the clouds belong in the sky? Do they move because they belong somewhere else? As a cloud spreads itself as raindrops, do those now belong on the ground?

Asking questions is a way to get information. But sometimes we ask questions for information we don’t need at the time for addressing the matter at hand, and sometimes we misuse that information. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions, and then think we got the right answers.

A second dog takes his spot in a lounge chair. A cousin and uncle walk by, discussing plans for building and developing the land. A sound of an airplane zooming by in the sky. Was that plane delayed due to the storm? Will my other cousins’ flight be delayed due to the storm warning level? What’s the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 storm?

When I am alone, I find myself asking questions to myself. This might be a common habit for everyone, or maybe I’m on the more inquisitive end of the scale. I don’t really expect all of these internal questions to be answered and put into use. Which questions are more important, and for what purposes?

“Where do I belong?” is a wrong question for me at this time. A better form of this question is “Where do I want to be?” These questions are similar, but they focus on different responsible actors. “Belonging” emphasizes forces external to me, whereas the latter question emphasizes my own inclination.

As a soon-to-be 5-year employee of a reputable company, part of a larger worldwide corporation, I find myself comfortable with a decent salary and full benefits package.

What is prompting me to even consider leaving? A sense of discontent at work. Co-workers’ interests and motivations varying significantly from my own. Over-burdening of responsibility because I want us to do better, to solve problems and help our customers succeed. Lack of compensation compared to others who have less merit and commit less effort. Instability in our industry with near-term windfalls. Not wanting to rely on a 401k retirement plan, nor having to wait until retirement age to reap its benefits.

What actions can I take to alleviate the situation? Change my expectations of myself and lower my standards in work ethic. Change my co-workers. Change my company. Become self-employed.

What are the causes of the situation I find myself in? Having to work with people I don’t want to work with. Having to work at times and for a duration I don’t agree with. Having to do things in ways I don’t want to do them.

Can I control these issues? I’ve asked to change teams or team members, but have not received any change. When working in a large company, I am subject to standard shifts with a target retirement age. I also have to do things in accepted ways, even if they are not optimal. And no matter how hard I work, I still have a fixed salary, where performance appraisals and adjustments are not completely merit-based.

My parents come by. Seems like the family is going out today, shopping and probably more eating. Another cousin comes by. Seems like some are planning on paddling a boat in a nearby lake recently filled with rain. I sit here, rocking in my chair, watching some low and fast-moving clouds, hearing light rain pitter-patter, wind playing across the leaves of the trees. Seems like I could sit here for a while, thinking, observing, being.

It’s not a matter of where I belong; it’s a matter of what I want to do. It’s a matter of doing, of playing what I want to play, how I want to play, when I want to play. It’s a matter of winning, first for myself. Can I do that where I’m at now? If not, what do I need to change to give me better chances at winning?

A moment’s peace, a quiet calm in the storm. A motorcycle rumbles in the distance. Where is it going?

Where am I going? Where do I want to go?

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