“We all come from the sea, but we are not all of the sea. Those of us who are — we, the children of the tides, must return to it again and again until the day we don’t come back. Leaving only that which was touched along the way.” -Chasing Mavericks (2012)
You see, I was never the type of person to believe in structure, the type to conform to societal norms. Believing that for a person to be truly happy, he or she must not live within boundaries. I have since adapted this mindset upon receiving my college diploma. After 4 years of being kept inside the university’s walls, I was finally free.
“Welcome to the real world,” they said.
Back then, the real world for me was taking photos for a living and exploring places I’ve never been to using the money I had earned. I managed to keep this going for half a year. I frequented places such as Baler and Zambales, with each trip being better than the last. It was during one of these trips that I made the decision that, whatever it took, I’d get myself to live by the beach. It wasn’t long after making this decision that the opportunity for me to do so arrived. Everything was set; I’d earn a living by being a barista in a local coffee shop and one of the owners would help me look for a place to stay. I was so sure that I even told some of my closest friends that I’d be moving out of the city.
I was finally going to live the dream.
While waiting for that day to arrive, I got a text from one of my friends. He invited me to go on a camping trip in one of the islands in Zambales with a few people he met the night before. He told me that there wasn’t any electricity or cell service on the island and we’d be staying there for three days.
It sounded like a recipe for disaster, but I was up for it.
It was during my trip to this island that I learned more about myself than I ever had. I’ve never felt so alive. I’ve never felt so human. There was this person I met on the island, and his name was Peter. Peter was an artist, a photographer just like myself. We talked and not long after, our conversation turned into something much more substantial. It was during this talk that Peter made me realize that every person we knew and each person we’ve encountered is going through something, good and bad. He made me realize, too, that with whatever you do and whatever decision you make, there will always be that one speck of negativity from your elders, your friends, and yourself. But he assured me that with whatever you do, nobody can mess with your mind and lead you off track for the simple fact that it’s yours and nobody else’s. It’s only you who fully knows who you are as a human being and that it’s only you who understands your thought processes and decisions.
Simply put, you are you and no one else’s.
Hours passed and I found myself alone in the ocean, watching the sunset. I couldn’t let go of the realizations I had while talking to Peter. It was during my time alone that I had an awakening or enlightenment – or whatever you want to call it. I thought to myself that by finally living my dream, I’d get to be truly free. Free from the city, free from worries, free from whatever society told me I should be after graduating. But then I thought, this would also mean that I was free from my family. I then realized that it was too selfish of me to move to another place and leave my family just like that. I definitely had to fulfill my duties as a son and repay whatever sacrifices my parents made for me to be living such a beautiful life. I then thought to myself, “You can’t have this life yet.”
As quickly as making the decision to leave the city and live my dream, I decided to let it go.
Fast forward to 6 months later, I’m now earning a living as an Accounts Executive, doing everyday tasks I never thought I would. I never even thought that I’d be able to survive having to do a set of tasks which, surprisingly, I’m starting to enjoy. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by without me thinking of how I could’ve been by the ocean and not having to worry about anything. Whenever I tell people this story, they tell me that I should’ve just left or how they wish they could do the same. I jokingly tell them, “Life happened,” because I don’t think that they’d fully understand why I chose to stay. They wouldn’t understand what went through my head when I decided to set my dream aside, what my real reasons were, and what my game plan was going to be.
And to be honest, I’m happy with where I am today.
Each day, I pray that my passions take me where I want to be and hope I never lose sight of how I want to live. What keeps me driven each day is that I’ve already had a glimpse of how my life could be. It’s only a matter of time until I can really live in an island and for whatever reason there may be, this is my “real world”… for now.