People are not very different from books, especially those people I meet. Sometimes you breeze through some seemingly inconsequential literature only to stumble upon a phrase that would make you stop and think. Sometimes it would take an entire book to fully appreciate its impact but often times, a line or two is enough. Not all people in my “library” are exciting reads nor do they all offer inspiring thoughts or life changing aspirations. Some, sadly, are not even books which I can keep. But I am quite sure that each of these person have left an imprint. Not exactly a memory, just an effect that may not even be intentional, well perhaps the contrary is true if I consider the “Writer”.
In 2010, I decided to enroll in a french classes on a whim. I thought I was just about to learn a language. I never thought that I would also be opening up myself to a whole new perspective. Aside from the things I learned in class about culture and life outside of the Philippines, my interest in traveling was very much piqued. It was not just the cultural exposure that got me interested, it was also the people who I met in class. They come from different backgrounds; some have traveled but some have not but what they all had in common is this dream to explore and experience a life outside their own.
I never thought much about it because, you see, I had this idea that only people who have lots of money can travel. Much of my thoughts on travelling are usually set aside on a bin that is labelled, “when I win the lottery” or “goal after 10 years”. In short, traveling was not exactly on my priority list. I know some might it a bit dumb if you are from a well-off background but money (or the lack of it) is some thing that I take into great consideration for such expeditions.
Now going back to my french class, I have the pleasure of meeting a person who’ve had such an impact on me. We never became close or anything, but one thing she really emphasized on was the importance of travelling. It doesn’t really have to be overseas nor does it have to drain your bank account. She shared to us how she and her husband have been saving up for a trip overseas. I’m not sure but I think she mentioned Rome or Italy as a possible destination. But one thing can remember from her was this idea of saving up for a trip.
Now this may sound like a no-brainer now, but at 22, I thought that this was such a novel idea. It wasn’t so far-fetched anymore. At that time, I had a job that actually provide for my needs and a little extra to fund my other interest such as taking up a language course.
My journey didn’t start right away. If you were thinking that I actually dropped everything that I was doing to get to the earliest flight away from Manila, you couldn’t be more wrong. I sat on it mostly. I mean, the idea was there, the inspiration was there BUT I really didn’t feel any urgency to do it. I was more like a complacent boxer on the sixth round. Dancing to the tune, Dodging, playing tag at some point, it is still clear that I now meant business come the 11th or the 12. I had a virtual list of things to pay and save for before making a serious decision to travel. The opportunity to do it so was high, but again, NOT on my priority list.
Now fast forward to 2012. I said to myself that this was the year. I’m really going to do it. I really, going to push for it. By hook or by crook.So what happened in 2012? Nothing. Not much for me, I tried some things which worked and didn’t work. But I was basically almost where I started.
Also, this was the year that my remarkable classmate died. Car accident. In her early 30s. No more Rome or travelling. Gone. Just like that. And there I was waiting to for the very last minute to pounce. We were never really close, more like acquaintances, which made it more odd how I kept on obsessing about our conversation about savings, the future, travelling and other things. I would have loved to ask her tons of questions about her travel experience but that would never be. My reaction to her passing was a bit harder than expected possibly due to these two reasons: first, it felt like she is one of those genuinely happy person who has some much more to offer to life and second, her death made me realize how that the final blow can come at an early and unexpected time. It was a very surreal moment to feel depressed and inspired and determined at the same time. I realized that I have been dancing far too long and too far out. I already had the right idea planted on my brain but I was never really determined enough to act on it.
You are again mistaken if you thought that the shock would have drove me to the nearest travelling agency that same week. However, this time I felt that I had a really deeper purpose of embarking on an adventure. It took me a couple of months to book a flight but it did finally happened. I went to Thailand last month and was able to go on my first plane ride. It was indeed possible.
Paolo Coehlo rambled on on how the stars in the universe would align to give you your hearts desire. In my case, the right people circled around me forming this positive energy the made me feel like my universe is indeed expanding and that the list of things possible has just grown exponentially. People at work and in school not only influenced my desire to travel but also introduced several opportunities that I would have never recognized even if it danced naked in front of me.
Books may provide a lot of motivation and stimulation but I never realized that my personal relationships with others other than my family and close friends could have such profound effect. I know I mostly spoke of travelling but I think it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Their word, manner of speaking, random act of kindness, a person’s life (or its loss) can touch us in a way that is both mysterious and mesmerizing. I can spend my whole life in wonder and awe but above all I learned how important it is to act on these inspiration — to get out of the couch and actually do something about it.
After all, We Only Live Once.