Today a friend asked me how my vacation was and all I could answer was that it was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Part of me felt guilty and selfish for not having been able to say “oh it was great”, after all, not every one can afford to put their entire lives on pause and just go on hibernate mode, right? But, well, I guess I couldn’t just say it was all great because it wasn’t. But then today, I realized, as my friend pointed out, vacations aren’t always 100% happy all the time anyway. More so, I realized that the reason why I couldn’t say it was perfect was because by taking pause, removing myself from the daily grind and just being by myself to some degree, it was a period of self-discovery, reinvention and, I guess, moving forward, which, I suppose, is never really easy.
Let me back track a bit…for those who have been reading my blogs, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that I had just let go of my preschool teaching job, one that I had done and loved oh so dearly for the past twelve years. In many ways, giving that up (although I was indeed looking forward to it because I was tired already) kind of made me lose a big chunk of who I have become. And so since I finished everything I needed to have done in the preschool on the 30th of April, and it was term break in the university I teach in, I decided to declare the first 15 days of May as my Eat, Pray, Love vacation. I may not be as lucky as Elizabeth Gilbert to have the chance to do it for a year, but heck, 15 straight days of no work should be good enough for the time being, right? And so on the eve of the first, I had posted on my Facebook page that for the next fifteen days, I was only to exist for yoga, for friends who matter and the occasional soup day (errr..which is code for, well, lets just say fun lunches or dinners harhar).
Anyway, I was lucky enough to get my break of started on track with an Eat, Pray, Love overnight adventure in Subic Bay with a fellow yogini friend of mine. We took an overnight trip and met up with another yogini friend who teaches a class at the Subic Yacht club where we joined in on the class and got to meet a whole lot of new people. It was so timely, I must say, that the night we got to join in was a night in which they were bidding farewell to one of their family members (I say family because their group is very much like family…it’s more than a club, more than just friends, but more like family :)). They had a little ceremony that evening that brought tears to my eyes because as my personal friends would know, saying goodbye and having people move away is something very, very difficult for me. But as I watched them and allowed myself to be part of that ceremony, I realized that distance between friends is but physical space, but the heart, though ends up longing oh so dearly for the other, remains connected.
Although the trip was quite short, being under the golden sunshine, walking by the bay and feeling sand on my toes allowed me to touch base with my soul.
When I got back to Manila, I continued on my journey by really shutting myself out from most of the outside world. Very few people, save for my yoga teachers and classmates, got to see me or hear from me much, even through text messages (although FB still remained a constant haha…but a far less frequent one!). I barely spoke to anyone and except for when I was in yoga and the three or four lunches/dinners I had out with friends, I barely moved at all. I had planned to clean my room, paint, draw, and so on and so forth but noooo…nothing happened. My blogs have been mostly silent too, except for those posts of brilliant insights that happened from the mat
Being in the quiet for so long, however, started to take a bit of a toll on me because, well, because that’s what silence does. It’s confrontative. You’re left with nothing else but yourself in a place that suddenly becomes so foreign and unfamiliar. As my favorite writer, Thomas Moore put it in his book Dark Nights of the Soul, Imagine you awoke one day to find yourself in a strange land. You remember who you were and what you have done, where you used to live, even your dreams and longings, but now it seems so far away. So out of reach it all seems in this strange land. Here it is as if nothing that once was familiar matters any longer, all that matters is that you find yourself where you are right now. You cannot return to what once was, neither do you know where to go from here. Now there are no distractions. You have to look closely at what has been revealed.
In that silent bubble I lived in for 15 day (granted there were moments of distractions…going to yoga class and the occasional meeting up with the few friends who really matter to me), I realized how different I was from the me I had gotten to know in the past year, year and a half. Without the distractions of work, and even television for that matter (because my TV’s been broken haha!) and even the absence of family and friends, I was left to just let things unfold. Maybe it’s also the weight loss, plus the career change, and even the discovery of yoga, but all these changes were like diamonds in the rough, waiting to be found and treasured. But for the longest time I wasn’t seeing what was there because I was too busy and too ignorant of the signs. As I was telling another friend a few days ago, I guess I was making it a point to be too busy because I was afraid to admit to many things: feeling lost and confused about who I was, angry and hurt about what might have been, and yes, even displeased and dissatisfied because of things I want but don’t have. Before I could admit that, however, I had to wrestle with the defeaning silence and the frustration of loneliness and solitude. Worst of all, I had to go head on with my harshest critic: the voices of insecurity and doubt in my head.
So there, it was indeed a roller coaster of ups and downs, right? There were moments of brilliant clarity and fulfillment of heart, but there were moments of darkness and feeling lost at sea, with no lifelines to hang on to. But now that I look back, all of those moments, from the loss of the familiar, feeling hurt because of it, opening myself up to new things and people, challenging myself in many, many ways… were little dots waiting to be connected to form a bigger picture.
Today marks the end of my two week hiatus from life. Tomorrow I must head back to reality and get back on track in all sense of the word. I think it is but fitting that I end it by having cut and colored my hair, gone for a body scrub, deleted messages on my phone and files in my computer, thrown away a lot of stuff I’ve been holding on to for so long. Kinda like a rebirth, yes?
I don’t know if it is just coincidence, but I’d like to believe it is but one of those things I like calling random synchronicity, but just a few days before my break I had said that I have come to learn that many of the most difficult, most painful, most tiring and most excruciatingly frustrating things that come my way always, always pave the way for realizations that are significant, life-changing, and rewarding. Yes, it may not be something extremely drastic or devastating, but all of those moments have led up to something new, as long as I allowed myself to surrender and make some space for it. It’s never fun or easy, mind you, nor pleasurable for that matter, but in the end, I can look back and say, so that’s why it had to happen.
And so through this roller coaster of a ride I had just found myself in, I take with me, a renewed appreciation for what I have, a more grateful heart, a somewhat darkened self (literally and figuratively haha…As Moore put it, dark luminosity…a black sun at your core…that is less innocent and more interesting than naive sunshine), and perhaps, even a more hopeful spirit for what lies ahead.
As I end today, I found this lying in one of my piles of papers…it was a project I had done for one of my classes before, wherein I gave the students a coloring sheet and asked them to remember that the only road that mattered, no matter where they went, was the one paved with prayer and ended in believing that no matter what, you will find yourself exactly where you’re supposed to be.