In 1994, after returning from a year as a volunteer English teacher in the boondocks of the Philippines, I was a year out of college, with no money, no job, no career to speak of, and an uncertain future.
Inevitably I would meet up with classmates and contemporaries who would end up asking the usual questions: “Where do you work now?” or “What keeps you busy?” or “What are your plans?” And I didn’t have an answer apart from “Living the life!”
Ha, what a slacker this guy.
Not having a job while my peers were beginning their rise up corporate ladders was maddeningly frustrating. Mostly because I wanted a lucrative paycheck myself. But I realized I had opted for the road less taken by volunteering for a year.
And despite everything, I did have one valuable treasure to my name. I came out of the volunteer year with a girlfriend whom I met because she too had taught English for a year in the same program I was in. This very woman would, many years later, foolishly choose to become my wife.
“So Many People Ask” was written as a response to all those questions from my peers. There’s a little nod to Stephen Bishop in the lyric and melody construction. Or maybe I’m just imagining it.
I did get to record a very rough version of this song for our wedding giveaway. Because yes, dear friends, my wife and I put together several songs – all of them original compositions – as gifts to our wedding guests back in 2000.
So there you go: think twice before asking someone fresh out of college what their plans are. They may end up writing a song about it.
Here’s the song:
So Many People Ask
Words and music: Lionel Zivan Valdellon
1.So many people ask me where are you heading? And right now are you still staring at nothing?
Do I look like I have a crystal ball? I don’t have answers at my beck and call.
But I guess I never really knew ’bout anything until I met you.
2.”So are you working?” and “What are your plans dear?” Superficial questions in my ear.
When will someone ask if I’m in love? Or what I think about peace from above?
But I guess they don’t know better ’cause they’ve never ever really known you.
Oh yeah, everything’s fine, so fine, you see I’m unemployed but happy.
Tell them that my whole day is bliss ’cause I know
That you’ll be there with me.
3.So many people ask me where I am working. And do I feel that I’m amounting to nothing?
Well many seem so discontent with their lives. They don’t have joy and they’ve got nagging wives.
Well, I guess I’ll take my time ’cause I’m just fine enjoying these days with you.
After a while their questions naturally fade away.
Because I just smile and then they ask me if I’m okay.
That’s when I know deep down inside that I’m right:
Because with you there my future definitely seems bright!