About ten years ago, I included traveling solo on or before I turn thirty in my list of to-do’s. Early this year, it dawned on me that I have only until this year to fulfill this goal and so as planned, I packed my bags a day before I get the big three-O and headed to Camiguin for a much-needed respite.
Away from the hustle and bustle of city life and the demands of my job, I spent my first two days volcano trekking and falls-and-cold-and-hot-springs-and-island hopping, while the last three days were for “me-myself-and-I” moments as I did nothing but nap on hammocks while my favorite sound of the crashing waves lulled me to sleep. It was a truly unique experience, especially since during this trip, I went on “digital detox” (read that as going “offline” from the world), and lived on a treehouse and by the beach without television, or even electricity at some point (more about these in my future posts).
As I had a lot of time on my hands, I was also able to reflect on what the past three decades of my life had taught me.
Faith is everything. In myself. In the people I love. In others. In God. Because I wouldn’t have gone this far if I didn’t believe in myself. And I wouldn’t have stuck to my loved ones if I didn’t trust them. My faith in people makes me believe in their capacity to be and do good, while my faith in God keeps me grounded and going.
Family is love. Yes, we did not choose them, but because we did not have a choice, we learn how to accept and love them as they are. Stitch said, “This is my family… Is little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.” My family has had its share of struggles, but it’s the same family that has and will always be my home.
Friends are the family we choose. So Edna Buchanan said. And it’s true. I have been told many times that I am choosy with people, but this same trait is the reason why I am surrounded with TRUE friends who share their lives with me in whatever moment of happiness, sadness, craziness, etc. we find ourselves in.
Life, like happiness, is a matter of choice. While we do not have control of life’s circumstances, we always have a choice on our attitude to everything. It’s not about the cards dealt to us, but what we do with them. I’ve had my share of “bad cards,” but I did not let them cause my defeat. I even emerged a better life player because of them.
Be yourself. I know this is a cliché, but this is one challenge everyone goes through. We all want acceptance of or at the least, understanding for who we are. I have done things – even bent myself out of shape at times – to please people, but this is not really necessary. As Dr. Seuss said, “Those who matter don’t care, and those who care don’t matter.”
Any relationship entails risks, and pain. Just because s/he loves you doesn’t mean s/he won’t hurt you because wittingly or unwittingly, s/he will. More often than not, our loved ones are even the ones who cause us our greatest heartaches, and we have to forgive them for this, and move on. After all, the world does not stop for our grief.
Truly loving a person sometimes entails excusing the inexcusable in him/her. It is not turning a blind eye to his/her frailties but seeing beyond the imperfections and beholding something totally beautiful.
It’s not enough to be kind to others, we must be kind to ourselves too. We all make mistakes. And despite our best efforts and most fervent of hopes, we fail. I used to be overly critical of myself. I was my worst enemy, but over time, I learned to do away with self-blame and self-pity. They’re self-destructive.
Expect nothing. For someone who grew up aware of people’s expectations of me and who has had her share of disappointments, I know that expectations place unfair restrictions on people and ruin spontaneity. Live without expectations and you will find that life and people are full of pleasant surprises if we only let them be.
Keep peace with the person that you were, are, and will be. In 2010, I wrote, “Closure isn’t just about putting an end to the vexations of the mind, heart, and soul. It is also coming to terms with the difficulties of the past and from hereon, beginning a life of acceptance, gratitude and learning, and in so doing, achieving the serenity we so long for.”
Age is just a number. I am thirty, and I may live to the ripe old age of ninety, but there will always be a child in me who will view the world with childlike wonder and still believe in happy endings. I will act my age, but I will not let my age hinder me from doing what others think I cannot do.
It’s been a good three decades for me, and now I look forward to more years of living life to the fullest.