Saturday, January 21, 2012

Life, love and pain

Tonight in our neck of the woods, my neighbors and I had a community barbecue where everyone brought something to share and we all sat around a very long table just catching up on what had been happening since Christmas.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that we organized a series of Christmas cocktails/ open houses during the holiday season and this project really brought us all closer together. Then we sort of disbanded after the last Christmas cocktail party, which was at my house on December 18, and everyone went their separate ways.

I happily stayed in Manila to reorganize my life but over half of my neighbors flew off all over the world for Christmas in foreign climes, in places as disparate as Dubai, Connecticut, Aspen, San Francisco and Vancouver, among others.


So today was a reunion of sorts and we exchanged stories about happy events and mishaps over the holidays. But towards the end of the evening, just as I was about to go home, I was persuaded to stay for a few minutes longer and sit beside two ladies. We began a very interesting conversation about life, love and pain so my extra five minutes ended up more like an extra hour.

One of the ladies had just returned from Amanpulo this morning, and here in this idyllic paradise she'd thought about her life and figured out a couple of things.

"Pain makes us stronger," she said. "It's what makes us appreciate better the good things in our life."


I couldn't have agreed more. I hate emotional pain as much as the next person, but I also think it's a necessary evil that gives you more depth as a person and a greater capacity to empathize with other people. For me, pain is the stimulus that pushes you to examine your life and reflect on things you ordinarily would not have the time, patience or inclination to think about. After all, it's so much easier to coast along happily most of the time.

Interestingly, I had this same sort of conversation with my friend last night. We'd been talking in depth about life and love as well, and I'd said to him pretty matter-of-factly: "Everyone is going to break a few hearts and everyone is going to get their heart broken a couple of times."


Another topic that had been discussed last night and tonight as well was the idea of traveling solo. The lady who'd just come from Amanpulo always travels by herself and she loves it. I do, too, because I'd rather go by myself than go with people I have little in common with, just for the sake of having someone to be with. And I'd rather go ahead and go alone than wait forever for companions to join me for a place I'd really like to visit.

I also think traveling solo has many benefits. You have more reflection time, you learn more about yourself, and you're able to push yourself more to the limit if you don't have other people to rely on or to pull you back.

The third lady tonight who was listening intently to the two of us discuss the merits of traveling alone finally spoke up: "I think I wouldn't mind traveling alone. But I just can't imagine eating in a restaurant alone."

We smiled at her. Of course it's so nice to eat a great dinner with someone you like or someone you love. But if that isn't possible, that wasn't stopping either of us from having a very good meal. And I'd rather eat alone than have unsatisfactory company. The lady who'd just been to Aman said: "You can taste the food better. You can observe more things. Observe your surroundings."

But the third lady protested: "But if I'm eating something really good, I want to tell someone about it."

That's when I smiled at her and said: "Aaah. That's what your Blackberry's for." And that was my cue to call it a night. I stood up and excused myself, saying: "I'd love to keep talking about life all night, but I've got to fix my own life bright and early tomorrow."

Yes, I've got a plane to catch and it's the start of my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife for 2012. Good night from all of us at Travelife Magazine and Happy Chinese New Year.

* * *

To commemorate the resilience of the Japanese people
one year after the Great Earthquake,
and to celebrate the beauty of Japanese culture.




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