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Stepping Out That Door

Jan 3, 2017

Dear Diary,

I stepped out of my door, put on some shoes, and traipsed through the evening road for a neighbor’s funeral service.

My thoughts on death? There are millions of possibilities this person could and where would be the moment she shed her mortal vehicle. She could be born again somewhere. She could be in a different realm. In a parallel universe, she could be still alive dealing with leukemia. Anything is possible since she — like everything else we know and perceive — is energy.

But I will not talk about death and its infinite number of interpretations. I want to talk about the moment I stepped out again after long months within the safety corners of my house and realized I exist. And the idea of existence is both a good and a bad thing.

Getting out seeing people, a high school classmate, or a cousin next door musters incredible strength from my deepest within. I have social phobia to battle with which came to me three years ago due to deflated self-esteem from depression, one of the symptoms of noogenic neurosis. That fancy term was coined by Viktor Frankl, a reaction to one experiencing existential crisis.

I am afraid to step out as being someone already doing and thinking different from everyone else. I fear judgment, ridicule. See, I am used to meeting my neighbors’ expectations of me and even the people I never knew a spark of his or her life.

The moment outside in the road, there were snides, schadenfreude faces, asking me if I ever planned to go work abroad, I responded with “I can’t”. My reasons so hard and big for these people to digest and contemplate because in my community being an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) of this proud country is viewed as worthy of reverence. This is so far the highest Philippine standard definition of success — the Philippine dream. Kudos to anyone who likes that idea but not me. Basically, everybody is competing to fly out this country named the Philippines… for greener pasture, to send balikbayan boxes to loved ones and neighbors back here. That’s the Philippine dream. Not to sound bragging, I see myself thinking differently with eyes set on long-term perspective and the ever-changing economic climate which requires innovation from anyone who wishes to succeed in all areas of life. In this Digital Age, that idea becomes within reach. All I have to do is acknowledge it.

I slightly deflated from their evident pleasure by appearing like a failure in their level of thinking but the sad feeling passed as I reminded myself my goal is bigger than theirs. Risky — yes. Yes, I might fail, yet I know it is worthwhile.

I currently live in a provincial community where any creative venture is met with stigma. Be a nurse, accountant, a teacher… or take any religious vocation — be it a nun or a priest or any form of employment a council of people of the Industrial Age would approve. But time doesn’t stop. It goes on and on and it carries changes along. We are now all in the Digital Era since 1950s. Developments are happening quicker than getting an answer for a complex equation on a scientific calculator. Many jobs employed by humans will be taken over by AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machines in five years. It is no longer science fiction. For some not adept to change, this is bad news. For people like me who are ready to shed this paradigm to trek on the road to self-actualization then transcendence, it is a total go for holistic evolution through exploring hidden “talents” of self. This is a chance for humans to actually be humans, feel human. And maybe addictions and mental issues will phase off for people will no longer be forced to push down their humanity for the name of money. I never plan of crying over thinking my existence on Earth is phased out because my profession by diploma is no longer a hit on the market… or that it doesn’t bring fulfillment anymore for the unique soul.

Am I human enough?

Whenever AI will inevitably take over sooner, human existence will be redefined. Paradigm shift will be storm rage and met with various reactions — resistance and acceptance in various pictures.

So, when I step out, walking around as a human during Human Slavery Doomsday — not a piece of minor cogwheel, a robot — I will tremendously thank myself for deciding to live and breathe and think like a human.

I always dream about absolute freedom towards transcendence for everyone, shameless, unchained self-discovery by art or in any form of expression, when each hasn’t have to worry about stigma and daily trivialities to survive but to evolve in their own unique pace. No judgments, no stigma, no conformism, no fear, no hesitation. Such community would seem like chaos in these times, yet when practiced in full scale by the whole through the virtue of love and evolution, it wouldn’t seem to be. (I can be wrong, I may come out right, but I know it will inevitably happen.)

I also dream that someday, diversity of ideas and goals is a norm in the Philippines. Imagination and steel guts to work on dreams, to dip one’s fingers and toes to the unknown, to venture, to trek beyond borders of common thought into the void of pleasurable curiosity, to be shamelessly inquisitive and boastful in the idea of not knowing anything at all. And a free flow for diverse vocations and affiliations be pitched so as to have every venture and idea be known, seen, and celebrated.

As for me, I want to feel human, not this corrupt system’s machine, a piece in a rat race. I want to step out as a human as I always am — filled with wonders, art, curiosity, and boundlessly courageous to grow by expanding myself.

Then back to the sole reason why I forced to walk past the door that night, it was a neighbor’s funeral. Physical death. The material self decays into oblivion by time and the only thing left of one — of me — is the energy form of my existence, done with this life and ready for millions of possibilities of my next becoming. The idea of fear, of phobia, becomes a lie. I would thank myself for having the courage to step up and out that damned door and risk being seen as a human through and through.

Kudos to social phobia from existential crisis for being quite successful for hijacking me. I’m done with you!

Love,

Vittena Eloisa Tiongson Vibar

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