To all aspiring wanderers,
I know how it feels every time you hear about profound and life-changing stories of people who have gone to so many places. I can relate with how excited you get whenever they mention their mind-blowing encounters of the exuberance of life and nature at its best. I was once a dreamer a like you, flipping pages of borrowed books and old magazines. I was also a big fan of travel shows and documentaries back then. Sadly, the idea of exploring places didn’t come easily so I temporarily set that aside and worked with perseverance to focus first on some personal and family concerns. I graduated and got a job, thinking somehow I would be able to support my long-time dream. Years went by, time flew so fast but the dream didn’t happen. And then one day, I found myself on my own father’s shoes. He was always there to fill them — until we lost him. I was not prepared for the role but I had to take on it. I had to sacrifice for the people I valued and loved the most. More than my dreams, my family is above important.
I’ve been writing on my journals daily since I was in senior high. It was a school requirement which eventually became a habit. And then, I learned blogging. I had no idea that through recording my personal life, I would already be taking the first step towards fulfilling the dream. A few days before I lost my dad, I came across a writing competition online. I tried my luck and submitted an entry. I didn’t lose hope since I didn’t think that I could make it, so why bother expecting and end up getting disappointed in the end? After a month, I received an email saying I was one of the chosen few. There, I met group of fellow aspirants and experienced travelers. I learned a lot from those people whose expertise were beyond unimaginable for me. They were the ones who told me that traveling didn’t need to be expensive, that I didn’t have to spend my long time savings over one luxurious getaway, that I can travel using my own personal style. After the said acquaintance trip, they became my friends. I went home thinking about their inspiring stories and the courage they had for dealing with personal issues without sacrificing what they loved to do and what they were passionate about.
That was enough for me. I learned my lesson and it was time to break away from my shell and see the world. My comfort zone was no longer doing me any good. Soon after all the realizations, I found myself writing a resignation letter for the company I was working in. Unsure of what will happen, I applied for a new job which I assumed could allow me to save and at the same time, fund my personal dream. Luckily, everything fell into place- and is still falling into place up to this time.
I am sharing this story to tell you that your dream doesn’t happen in just a snap of your fingers. But what is important is that you do not let go of it. Remember, I set aside my dream, but I did not forget it.
And now who would have thought that the little boy who was once a dreamer is now breathing the surreal feeling of excitement and amusement brought about by traveling– from the first airplane ride to countless more; from trekking some of the countries’ highland stunners to its breathtaking shores and coves; from chasing numerous waterfalls to soul-calming springs; from jumping off a cliff to diving the depths of the sea; from discovering ruins to climbing towering skyscrapers; from centuries-old churches and temples to mighty lighthouses that stood the test of time amidst wars and nature’s wrath; from staying in posh hotels to living with locals in huts and hammocks; from the deafening silence of far-flung places to the fine and pearly white islands reverberating the noise of the drums and amplifiers; from waking up at dawn to witness the melodramatic sunset. I still have many stories to share, but I wish this is enough to ignite your hopes and scatter the flames of your burning passion.
Don’t envy those people vagabonding the world, as long term traveling is not for everyone. Travelers with big backpacks may seem so cool but you should not force yourself to do the same. Aside from the heavy loads in their backs, they have significant amount of experience. For first-timers, enjoy your short trips first and when you think you’ve already invested enough energy and you feel prepared, step up and take the courage to spread your wings and soar high. Keep in mind that the best part of traveling is not how far you’ve reached, but the adventures and mishaps in-between.
Express your emotions and embrace the freedom to love. Traveling gives us the opportunity to see the beauty of everything, not just the places but also the people around us. I once fell in love while on the road and the feeling was incomparable. But sadly, it did not blossom as I expected. Am I sad? Yes! Am I broken? No! Because I took the courage to open my heart to every possibility of knowing someone deeply. It didn’t work out but I learned my lesson.
Do not be disheartened by the plans that fail. Accept your failures and move forward, take them as lessons so that you can become more cautious and open to possibilities. Sometimes, uncertainty can bring you further than what you had in mind.
Rockfall and landslide on my way to Sagada, Typhoon Mila, August 2011
My friends, may all of this remind you that traveling is not just about exploring places but also about discovering the inner you. It is true that every journey is life-changing, regardless of how near or far you travel, whether you meet a long lost friend or a total stranger. At the end of the day, your way back home will be the sweetest and most humble. You will arrive with peace of mind and life lessons, with a head held high ready to face the next morning of your new journey full of hopes– the journey we all call “life”.
Your fellow dreamer,