My sister and I are both working and decided to rent an apartment, since it would be exhausting to commute from Bulacan to Manila every day. I work at an audit firm and she works at a hotel. I am still working from home, but recently, our company is already hinting that we will be returning to face-to-face work.
I decided that it was time to visit our office and tried working onsite, because sooner or later, we would be returning to the office and I had to learn the commute. One Friday, I went there to practice what my daily routine would look like: It was, as usual, a busy day. By the time I looked at the clock, it was time to go home. I packed my stuff and then went out. Since it was a Friday night, I was expecting heavy traffic, considering it was still rush hour. I decided to let some time pass to avoid rushing through the crowd.
I was pretty tired, but I decided to walk from the office to MRT Ayala Avenue. I opened Google Maps and searched for my destination, MRT Ayala Avenue—approximately a 20-minute walk from where I was. I took the stairs to the nearest underpass to cross to the other side of the street. The thing with Ayala Avenue is that it is a labyrinth of underpasses that, make one wrong turn, and you will end up on the wrong side of the street. As someone who was new to this place, I was pretty sure I would get lost.
I had time to spare anyways, so I just wandered and explored. Maybe walking wasn’t such a bad idea as it got my mind off of things. You see, I look okay, and I talk okay, but sometimes deep inside, I do not feel okay.
I have days where I just work and have a normal routine going on, but suddenly something hits me and bam! I no longer feel good. I suddenly feel sad, my chest heavy, but I don’t know why. I cannot explain this feeling because just a minute ago, I was so focused and happy with what I was doing. I always have a hard time expressing my feelings, and it came to a point that I have learned how to suppress this loneliness to avoid conversation. It didn’t bother me that much when I was younger, but now as an adult, it feels so heavy to ignore. I thought I was okay, but I was not. I am not.
Sometimes, if I really feel worse, I just open a bottle of beer or two in hopes I could drown my thoughts with alcohol and sleep peacefully. It does its job: I’ll feel numb and for a moment I forget everything. But the moment I get sober, it’s another episode.
While walking, I realized this was one of the most peaceful moments of my life over the past year—my mind was clear and had no worries about any deadlines, obligations, or just any stuff I needed to prioritize over myself. The silent battles are usually the toughest ones, but so far, I manage to get through them. I looked at the skyscrapers, the speeding cars, the stoplights, and the people walking, and I just breathed it all in.
I was nearing the train station. My body was wet with sweat, my heart was racing, and my feet were hurting, but my mind was at peace and I had never been so relieved in such a long time. Twenty minutes—that was all it took for me to walk from the office to my destination, but those 20 minutes were the reason why I could sleep peacefully tonight. A 20-minute walk of peace with no heavy feelings. Despite the physical fatigue the 20-minute walk gave me, I found the peace I didn’t know I would get in a long time. If given another chance, I would do it again.
I know it was a short time, but it felt like a day. It may just be 20 minutes, but I wanted to feel at peace, even for a while before I go back to the reality of life I have to face. I do hope that one day, I’ll be okay. Maybe not sooner than I expected, but I can wait for it to happen. I will just enjoy this rare moment—cherishing the little things that give me hope and comfort in times of sadness. For now, 20 minutes is enough, and I am grateful for it.
Nicholas Wayne Ompoc, 24, is from Bulacan. He is a senior audit analyst who enjoys walking and will continue to walk at night in hopes of finding internal peace.