“When I was a young man, I had liberty but I did not see it. I had time but I did not know it, and I had love but I did not feel it. Many decades would come to pass before I would understand the meaning of all these and now, in the twilight of my life, misunderstanding has passed into contentment… and liberty, time and, love, once so disposable are the fuels that drive me forward… and love most especially, for people and for the vast and wonderful world that gave us life… and keeps us guessing.”
I’ve always admired the kind of writer or speaker that can make use of inspirational remarks from trademark figures in history who have made a significant impact—from Winston Churchill to Socrates, to various famous authors. I pulled the above from a video game called Assassin’s Creed.
I had just recently gotten home from a one year assignment in Portland, Maine USA. This was part of a rotational assignment that my company, Texas Instruments, initiated for a couple of its employees to be exposed to the other side of our manufacturing process.
Early in my year, I was closed to the notion that this experience was merely going to be a temporary thing. I had a daily routine: wake up, work, come home from work, gym, eat, sleep, cross the day off the calendar and repeat. I had followed this religiously for a long time, having months pass me by. There were people who would invite me to gatherings or events, which I would hesitantly accept or just pass altogether. My reasons were petty and many: I had to video call people back home at certain times; I had to do chores around the apartment—anything that would help me shield the truth that while I was physically there, my heart remained back home here in the Philippines.
I had love, but perhaps I didn’t know it then. I had time, and before I knew it, it was over.
Sadly, I only began to realize just how good I had it towards the end of my journey. After all, 1 year can be but a fleeting moment to some, or an eternity to others. I took time to reflect on the many wonderful experiences I accumulated in my time abroad. How can I ever forget my first bite of Maine lobster? I always say that the best lunch to have there is a good old heavy 1 ½ lb lobster with butter sauce on the side, complemented by a hot cup of clam chowder and a side serving of corn. That would instantly make my day and empty my wallet.
The fear of driving in another country consumed me in the beginning but as the months went by, I found peace in driving myself across states. There is a certain serenity to having the New England mountains flank you on either side as you listen to your favorite playlist. It was during these moments wherein I began to appreciate the beauty of it all.
Lighthouses. One in particular is the symbol of my year just because of what it means to me and how perfect it looks. I am so thankful and lucky that this view was only a 10 minute drive from my apartment. It’s the perfect place to just reflect, sketch or write songs.
Then, and probably most importantly, there was the change of the seasons. You see, being in Maine for one year gave me the opportunity to witness it all—from the breathtaking foliage of fall to the howling white yet strikingly beautiful chill of winter to the rebirth in spring to the ever familiar scorch of summer. It was symbolic of my time because as the seasons evolved, so did I.
While these were all so important in building my experiences there, I can say that what truly defined Maine as my home would be the people. From day one, they had been nothing short of warm and welcoming in ways that I totally underestimated. They took me like one of their own and treated me like I had been living there my entire life. It started at work, where my co-engineers selflessly took time to get me up to speed. It continued at church, where I would spend Thursday nights and Sunday nights with my parish choir (some of the sweetest and most adorable families I’ve met there). I felt it among the numerous people I met in our Toastmasters club and among my friends and family whom I would travel the country with. Then there was Scott, my mentor at work and one of my best friends there. He taught me many things about our industry and about life but there will always be one line he said among others that I will never forget, “Speak with confidence, not with fear.”
He instilled in me a mindset of self-belief and the confidence to trust in my abilities. I will always be thankful for that. Of course there are so many more people that I’ve had the privilege of meeting that impacted and I’m forever grateful for their existence. By being so welcoming, they accepted me with open arms and allowed me to share and experience my story with them.
I had love, and I chose to love back. I had time and I made the most out of it.
More than a year on from leaving my motherland, I stand a different person. I’m still the same Rajie, true to my core but hopefully showing more muscle. I’m still the same person but with a different and fresh outlook on life. I understand now that no matter how temporary the moments are, the memories last forever… and I feel, it’s memory that is the only way to beat the boundaries of time. This notion of memory pushes me to jot down quotes I hear from people in conversations (it’s a little personal project I’ve been continuing), so that down the line I can look back and remember that this saying meant something to me someway, somehow, during some point in history. It is memory that pushed me to take 3,709 photos while I was there (now I know this can be few or many depending on who reads this), so that I can frame fragments of time forever.
I have the world ahead of me but if there’s anything I want you to take away from this article, it’s that you have the world ahead of yourselves, despite some of you readers probably doubting it. Remember that we are always younger than we will be tomorrow. That idea is the universe’s way of telling us that it’s never too late to do something worthwhile. If one year can change my life, then find the time to elevate yours. Take a jump! Vanquish your demon! Pursue a dream!
Liberty is the freedom to dictate what your life holds. Time is the medium that makes you realize that memory is golden and love is the force that binds it all together. Guess what! We have them all.