4 Life Lessons from the Lone Traveler


FEATURE STORY

No need to dress up or put up airs; just walk around bare faced and in flip flops

By THADDEUS C. HINUNANGAN, MD


They say one of the most grown up things one can do is to travel alone. It sounds really unheard of but once in a while, I find travelling alone to be extremely liberating. I revel in the anonymity of being just another face in the crowd. Ghosts of the past seem so far away, and you are filled with nothing but fresh possibilities and new faces and friends.

I’ve travelled alone to Sagada, Mountain Province, when all my officemates had backed out of a five-day holiday ruined by heavy rains and the threat of landslides. Of course, I just shrugged it off and went alone. I had a wonderful time walking around Sagada pink-cheeked and chest heaving from the thin mountain air.

“Isn’t it dangerous?” One of my friends asked, as I showed her a photo of me diving underwater in the seas near the Verde Island passage. “Well, you are never really alone. There’s the boatman.” I replied.

The truth is, I get a lot of realizations when I travel by myself. No distractions to take away the beauty of the place and the beauty of NOW, the moment. I also learn a lot not just about myself and how I tend to react in certain unexpected situations, but of life in general. Here are some life lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1 “We can’t direct the wind but we can adjust our sails.”

Travel at sea can be perilous at times. During one of my travels crossing the seas to Tingloy island, one moment the sun was shining and the next moment there was wind and torrential rain beating down on the small banca.

I usually only had one day allotted for visiting Tingloy island, and pretty much my weekend would be ruined by the stormy weather. But I’ve learned, perhaps with age, that not everything is within my control. Nature always will have the last say, so instead of being upset, I just hoped for the best, and true enough the weather calmed as we docked in Tingloy. In the past, I would have been upset, but now I know better coping in unexpected situations.

2 “There is no perfect time, we only have these moments.”

I have heard people say, “I’ll go when the weather is perfect,” or “I’ll visit my parents when I have the time next month, or “I’ll go on that date when I have the perfect outfit.” But in reality, you never really know how much time we have. We don’t know when you are going to collapse from a ruptured aneurysm, or maybe lose a parent to a stroke.

That’s why the concept of the “perfect” time is alien to me. I consider now as good time as any, because if I wait for the perfect time, I might be putting off for a long, long time or it may never come at all. So make life meaningful now. Call your loved ones, have coffee with a friend, travel alone to a destination you always dreamed of. You never know when your last day on earth would be, so make it count.

3 “When things go wrong, improvise!”

This mantra is related to the previous. Some people are so set on the perfect conditions that when something goes wrong or something not going as planned they immediately think of stopping altogether. I once had left the tent back in my condo in Manila during an outing with friends, but the sun was beating down too harshly on the beach that we ended up making a makeshift shelter out of coconut leaves we loosely piled.

There are more than two letters in the alphabet, and if Plan A or Plan B doesn’t work, you still have twenty-four other letters. Improvise or do something to still achieve the goal or at least close to it. When you don’t have an expensive textbook to study, download an e-book, borrow from a friend, or watch an instructional video on the topic. The possibilities are endless for those determined to succeed.

4 “Rest if you must, but don’t quit!”

In Sagada and in Batad, lovely villages up in the remote mountains there were no transport systems so I had to walk most of the time. Several kilometers into the trail you can’t help but find someplace to rest and that is okay. The important thing was that I kept walking towards the goal, which was my hostel. My reward of course was a warm meal and a soft bed to sleep in.

Definitely this last mantra applies to residency and all the stresses that come with it. Occasionally it becomes too much, but it all just takes rest and some quiet time, and I’ll be all set to face challenges anew. Resigning should never be an option.

There really is a certain magic from having some “me time”, whether it is an international travel or a simple day trip to a nearby town. For those waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect settings, I say just pack your bags and hop on a bus to somewhere unexpected. You just might surprise yourself.

”For those waiting for the perfect time, or the perfect settings, I say just pack your bags and hop on a bus to somewhere unexpected”

March 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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