Tuk-o! I was rudely awakened from a deep “dead-to-the-world type of slumber“ by a four-legged host who must have decided that this human had enough shut-eye. It sounded so uncomfortably close and was more than enough to induce an effortless flight out of bed. Quickly scanning my surroundings, I was relieved to find that it was not anywhere near me. I pictured my unexpected alarm clock sitting on his behind and nearly bent at the waist (if it happens to exist), all choked up from seeing me frightened witless. Talk about letting my imagination run free.
It was the first morning of a five-day vacation, courtesy of a generous and loving sibling, who had been deliberate in yanking all of us out of a routine. To ensure that there was a very slim chance to quickly escape back to the city, she chose a place that was an hour’s plane ride from Manila with severely limited seats and flight schedules. To make things a little bit more complicated, the resort of her choice was another hour from the center of the city proper. In that part of the province, cars were rarely used. Motorcycles and tricycles were the more popular and preferred forms of transport. Was this mini-pause to be both a test and a lesson?
For the first two days, I mentally struggled between finishing deadlines or just sitting outside to enjoy the view from the room strategically situated on a hilltop. The accommodations were near perfect, save for a connection that was a little spotty. Surprisingly, the latter was more of an advantage rather than a nuisance. Thinking about it now, it should have been a no-brainer as these were all self-imposed restrictions. What a waste of energy that could have been better redirected to something more productive. I had either dismissed or conveniently forgotten that there are unexpected rewards to intermittently indulging in some form of inactivity, for it makes the mind wander and challenges one to get creative in putting the five basic senses to better use. Moreover, and extremely the most important, it provides us those perfect opportunities to simply be thankful and grateful that we have been gifted with the ability to do so.
Having decided to take a total timeout, the computer was relegated to the very top shelf of the cabinet and the cellphone battery allowed to die a natural death, occasionally resurrected to check on important medical updates from patients under my care. Switching the TV set on became an afterthought. This was difficult at the beginning, especially if one has been used to taking charge of situations, been handed a full plate of responsibilities, acclimatized to working, and somehow unfamiliar with acknowledging that one may be near breaking point. I was not there yet, but stepping on the brakes to refocus was long overdue. Fortunately, I have a big sister who is bold enough to care and intervene if and when needed. Best of all, she never fails to put me in my place. Several of her favorite statements, though unoriginal, have been constant weapons of persuasion to convince us to take that occasional recess period. Try to ruminate on these and see if they affect you the same way, especially intended for those who stubbornly refuse to accept that one may need to let go to be able to keep on giving.
“Remember that no one is indispensable and life can go on without you.”
“Learn to incorporate the word ‘NO’ in your vocabulary for tasks that may rob you of time that could be more wisely invested in cultivating relationships and pursuits that truly matter.”
“Routine has the tendency to dull the senses, and it’s wholly up to you to add that needed spice and sparkle to stay in love with people and with life in general.”
“Learn to love people from afar, especially those that are too toxic to handle. It’s for your own self-preservation.”
Temporarily living in such surroundings made me acutely aware that armed with the basics, one can enjoy life to the fullest, devoid of extra add-ons that sometimes make things a little bit more complicated. Reacquainting myself with the scent of fresh unadulterated air, hearing the healing sounds of silence, seeing the boundless beauty that our islands hold, touched by the abundance of kind gestures from our host to total strangers, feeling forever grateful to have been afforded precious time with siblings and my 91-year-old beloved mother overwhelmed and brought a sense of unexplainable peace. It was a rebirth of sorts brought on by an unscheduled and spontaneous trip. I only have a day left before I put my game face back on. So now I pause to say, “ready, set, and go!”