Confusion, getting lost, wanting to be lost, futile effort to find a way back and even more. As I realized, the road to life is not something that can be put in some sort of map. There are no cartographers to graph and scale life or put color-schemed lines to distinguish life’s service roads and the off-beaten paths. It sounds cliché and tacky but we have to be our own maps. We have to be the compass to point our own directions.
You don’t travel life, you just walk and walk until you reach a place that is not familiar to the eyes. You have to walk and walk and hope that life lets you pass on that road where you’re going. Some roads are just closed, you have to turn back and trace your steps. And then there are some that you have to hack your way through dense foliage and maybe earn a couple of cuts and bruises as you stumble and flail with rubber legs from emotional and physical exhaustion. Some of those tiring moments will come in the form of an empty bottle or even a written letter that just realized your darkest and most realistic fears. You don’t travel life, you just hope that life lets you pass through.
Walk, run, ride, hitch, climb, slide, crawl – do what you must to travel. See the world in the eyes of another blue-collar man, in the forgiving and hopeful eyes of a development worker, in the clear-eyed vision of an illustrious but promising law student, in the glassy eyes of a lover who sees you as the most beautiful thing on earth (or someone else for that matter). In the eyes of a father who labors day and night while he wrestles his inner demons just to stay sane, in the eyes of a mother who, for the longest time had always wanted to feel the affection of her child, in the eyes of a smitten girl who’s laid her eyes on the man she always aspired to sweep her off her feet, in the eyes of another person of a different nationality who has a culture that is widely different from yours but is of the same substance that you know he’s a kindred spirit.
Go thousands of miles away from home not in an effort to abandon home but to find people and places that will inspire you. Go to places that are far from your comfort zone to test your mettle, to feel that you are strong even just for a while. Go and experience events that will humanize you and let you feel that you are but one speck in a colossal universe. Go and be that significant speck in someone’s life. Go and be the feathered creature that finds its way home – tired, beaten, awakened but hopeful and longing for the comfort of home. Go and be a home for others.
I’ve travelled but not far. I’ve met some of the greatest people that have become such treasured gifts. We have shared bottle after bottle of sauced discussions and debates. We have gotten our hands dirty with food that signified failures and sweet triumphs with every greasy cut of salted pork and charred day-old skin. And from those meetings I am learning, I am being mentored to a degree, I am being schooled without having to pay for tuition.
Then the discussion came full circle. It was a buzzed moment from me and I was starting to have the burning in my cheeks from the scotch that we were enjoying in a cool Philippine afternoon. We were in the city. It was bright out be it was not sticky to the skin. I snapped some pictures outside but here I am again inside the confines of a cool room with a slight buzzing in my head and a faint blush on my cheeks and right ear. We struck the subject “home.” We all agreed without even talking, even without glancing at each other. We know that during that time, it was home. It was that moment that was home. I’ve always believed that home was not a place. It was not a matter of proximity. Home was with people who mattered. For that instance, we couldn’t help but smile and cherish the moment of home that we revelled in. We took a swig of the golden brown firewater and fed the weak flame in our guts that was starting to smoke and flicker. We were home. We just knew it.
I, on the other hand pointed out that I had a home far from the room where we spent the cool afternoon talking and laughing. I said that I missed my home and I hoped she missed me, too. I’m not trying to be narcissistic with this as I write it. It’s just that I do really miss home. “The journey of every human soul is to come back home” caught my half-conscious attention. His brother believed in it fervently. I couldn't blame the man. I wrote it down and I promised to write about it. I’ll always believe in the idea of swallows and how they come home even after thousands of miles out in the open skies. They come back to the nest they grew up in regardless of how many other nests they have visited on their travels. They come full circle. I believe in that wholeheartedly. Semper Fidelis read his brother’s tattoo. I want a tattoo of my own.