I remember when I was four years old, my grandmother would sometimes take me to downtown Davao whenever she had errands. Since it's uneconomical to take the cab, we rode a jeep. While on our way, she would always remind me not to stick my head and hands outside. Knowing me, I'd defy the grandma rules and do the opposite. I loved how the wind caressed my face - the feeling of being free. She got mad because I might fall or hit the opposite bound traffic. Nonetheless, I'd always treasure the time whenever we go out of our house and visit new places.
That being said, we always long for a journey. It doesn't really matter whether it would be just a short trip to a nearby town or a flight to the last frontiers of our Earth. That includes taking risks along the way.
I wasn't born with a silver spoon, but my family can still afford the basic necessities such as housing, utilities, and our education. As a struggling middle-class family, traveling even outside Davao wasn't our priority. Back in grade school, the first week of class wasn't my favorite part of the academic year. Aside from the torture of talking in front of the class, I'd also envy some of my classmates who went for a summer vacation in Manila, Cebu, or even in Hong Kong or Singapore. Whenever they threw me questions how my summer vacation went, I'd just make stories like spending my break in New York with my family (my extensive knowledge in world geography somehow made my lie believable). The truth was, we only had an overnight stay at a beach resort in Davao. The rest of my vacation were spent on watching Dexter's Laboratory, Captain Planet, and playing games on PS One. I know it was lame and uninteresting at some point, but you must understand how insecure and pathetic I was.
As I grew older, I realized that being envious wouldn't help me at all. My high school teacher told us that in order to reach our goals, we must write it in our journal. You already figured that the number one item I wrote was to travel and explore the unexplored. It was that simple and straightforward. Reading the Asian and World history books back in high school somehow gave me an idea on the places that I wanted to visit.
It was not until after I finished college when I started traveling with my friends. Since that day, my view about life had changed for good. I never thought that I'd learn so many lessons not just about life in general, but also about myself. It's not just about experiencing new cultures, but it's about putting myself in an entirely new world surrounded by unfamiliar people, language, and rituals. Years after traveling, I have slowly evolved emotionally like I never did before. Traveling allowed me to discover my strengths and weaknesses.
While on the road, I got the chance to talk to people from different walks of life. I never claimed that I understood their culture by just immersing myself with them in less than a week. It wasn't enough. Nonetheless, my own ignorance has always kept me open about how the world revolves differently to people. Through direct experiences in our travels, we learn the single most important lesson, and that is interconnectivity. We are all connected in this very complex system called life. There is an endless iterative interaction that acknowledges we do not know for sure what the system will do. We are bound to interact not just with the ecosystem, but also to different cultures. We create our own stories and we weave our own destinies.
Looking back, I never imagined that I'd be traveling to different places. Dreams do come true once you work hard for it. The resilience that I gained from traveling will help me overcome the fears and anxieties that I have to face every day. Adulthood can be exasperating at times, but traveling made me stronger and wiser. The world is such a beautiful place to discover and to experience new things beyond our comfort zone. It's definitely not a contest, but rather it's a personal goal that I think everyone should embark.
What kind of world do we live in? Perhaps you should step outside of your comfort zone, and start exploring the world with an open mind and heart. Remember, the world is waiting for you.
In traveling, we are denied with certainty. And always will be.