Love when you can
By Virginia J. Pasalo
IT’S 7:00 o’clock on a busy evening, and the cars compete for spaces to move through. From my window, I could see them, little crawlers whose destinations I could only hope to be where they really want to be, as Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso is being played on my computer, with Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Botti live in Boston with the Boston Pops Orchestra. This kind of music, like the Gregorian chants at dawn, always brings me to some kind of peace, despite the din of the traffic. It is the kind of music that I am at home with, alone or with someone. I can be anywhere, even in a desert, deprived of the company of magnificent trees, chimpanzees and crickets, and still feel the peace. In a forest, there is no need for music, the forest has its own orchestra.
My niece told me that she is traveling again with her boyfriend and his family. Isn’t it amazing how young people can find ways to be together and become acquainted with people of diverse cultures. According to them they purchased budget fares for the entire seven-day trip, including hotels, food and tours. Although they have traveled together in various Asian countries in the past with her boyfriend’s parents, they have never traveled together for the purpose of exploring each other as persons in a relationship, or as persons still curious about each other. I told her that this is just the right time for them to travel together. Some work hard to travel later in life, then find out they have no stamina left to move around at a time when they have earned enough to pay for the trips. The bones had weakened, the curiosity had faded over the years. There is no desire to kiss, only to sleep. Sometimes, not even a vicarious experience is possible.
Travel as much as possible when your hormones are still raging, your imagination fertile, and you can still risk being killed by curiosity. “Curiosity killed the cat,” but so what, it had nine lives fully lived. What is sad is when you have one life spent totally disengaged from the passion, the promises, and the experiences of life.
Some women, like my sister, had risked being killed by curiosity, but she has been blessed with more lives than the cat. How can I explain her good fortune except as a result of good karma. After dying several times under the clutches of a bad marriage that turned into a nightmare, she has pulled her life together, got custody of her kids, continued a banking career as a Sales Manager, and took on another relationship that made her bloom, and ended it too, when she realized the onset of wilting. Ketut was right, eat, love and pray. Love can be found in many places where and when you seek it, even when you are just sitting behind a desk. But traveling affords exposure to other people and experiences that assist in making life choices.
My first travel was when I was 22, with a classmate from De La Salle University who wanted to buy goods in Hong Kong to resell in the Philippines. This was a time when Hong Kong was a British colony, a time when “ukay-ukay” was unheard of in the Philippines, a time when goods from other countries were not mixed with the shipment of drugs. It was an ideal time to travel despite the lengthy interrogation at the airport.
I wanted to see and have a feel of Hong Kong, nothing on the buying of goods, just striking conversation with normal folks, taxi drivers who drove Mercedes Benzes that smelled like spices inside, street vendors selling authentic Chinese food, taking photos of the market, haggling for the best price of clothes and jewelry I liked. Having done all that, we left Hong Kong, with my friend’s luggage going beyond her allowed limit and the excess of which were all registered under my name, since I only had a backpack and a camera. On board, having noticed my curiosity of the plane, the pilot of Cathay Pacific Airways graciously offered to take me to the cockpit! That was the best part of the travel, to be on the cockpit is as close as I can get to my earlier desire to drive an airplane. And he became a very good friend.
Traveling can be exciting both with pleasant surprises and also, disasters. But even the disasters can bring people together and they can sometimes end in lasting friendships, blurring, and even forgetting, the undesirable circumstances.