SAN FRANCISCO, California—Once a year I take off for a while to study, recharge and reconnect with myself.
I thought the trip this year wasn’t going to happen because of a health scare back in February. Thank God, I was given clearance and so here I am wide-eyed, sleepless on my first night in San Francisco.
I’ve gotten off to a blessed start. The plane left on schedule and the journey was almost smooth as silk. I slept like a baby for two chunks of four hours each out of a 12-hour flight. My seat mates weren’t obnoxious at all and, except for landing and takeoff, there were no babies throwing crying fits to disrupt my sleep and movie-viewing pleasure.
I still think PAL is the best airline to take to the US. I was just saddened that there were no more toiletry kits being given out in economy—a little comfort but much appreciated then by every PAL passenger.
A lot of people still cannot understand why I fly solo. Of course there are also those who appreciate it and encourage me to do so. I suppose I’m at that stage in life where I can leave the children behind for stretches of two weeks, once or twice a year. I miss them loads when I am away, but I also believe that we all grow in appreciation for and of each other during our time apart.
Better mother and person
Perhaps it’s not for every woman, but traveling solo now and then makes me a better mother and a better person. My other women friends who have ventured by themselves and done the annual pilgrimage are always grateful that they did.
These trips don’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of planning and research, not to mention saving, to make them happen. And yes, trips don’t just come out of thin air. The first thing you need to do is build a travel fund, no matter how big or small that might be.
I usually plan and save up for trips a year or two years ahead of time. And even then, sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, those plans don’t happen. When they fall through, it’s not the end of the world. It only means that it will happen at a better time.
There are many places to see but so little time in the grand scheme of things, and one cannot just take off on a whim.
Seeing the country, as well as other places, is a value we all share in our family. It is, after all, a different kind of education you get when you go and visit different countries or provinces and truly immerse yourself in a place and get to know it very well.
Every year, as the Dalai Lama advocates, one must go somewhere where one has never been. That is something I have tried to practice in the last decade of my life, and I have learned much from venturing into those places that I only used to dream about.
The visits have taught me many lessons, given me insights about myself and other people that I know would never have taken place if I had not dared to venture far from home.
I suppose this is the same reason why Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” appealed to many women and became a worldwide bestseller. Gilbert’s heartaches, her journey and experiences spoke closely to many of us. Her pain, her joy and her search resonated deeply with women the world over.
Pain transforms us, and makes us new creatures if we fully embrace it and meet head-on the changes that are brought about because of the experience. However, it is not the only way to grow. Travel is fun, an enjoyable way to renew the spirit and to grow.
I’ve found myself literally lost on some of the trips I’ve taken. But the beauty there is that in losing my way sometimes, I discovered strengths within me that I never would have found otherwise.
Traveling, getting lost and eventually finding our way home jolt us out of the usual ways that we see the world. When we allow the experience to touch our hearts, and we make time to ponder or meditate on the lessons given along the way, we are transformed—and therein lies the gift and magic that travel brings.
Easter this year will find me in a place where I’ve never been. I am so looking forward to celebrating the second spring of my life, and hopefully discovering new things about the world and myself.
Every trip I’ve taken brings with it new gifts, I can’t wait to unwrap the ones that will be given on this one.
I wish you all a blessed and wonderful Easter, remembering that bright new beginnings are always made possible because God loves us.