Some six (or seven) years ago, I entertained the idea of wanting to set foot on all 81 provinces in the Philippines. The goal seems far-fetched until I noticed that after a couple years of local traveling, I have been to more than half. And so, I became more assertive to put that goal into fruition.
At one point, I went to a certain region for 5 days and visited one province per day. It was exhausting. Later, I realized I have missed a lot because it felt like I was racing just to see more. And as I am given more travel opportunities, it has dawned on me that it should never be about how many places you’ve been (provinces or countries or continents). No offense to my friends who are aiming at going to all 81 provinces, or those who have already achieved such a feat. I am close to ticking all 81 with just 5 more to visit, but it made me think that there should be more to this goal.
My Europe trip in 2017 gave me a chance to visit countries I have always wanted to see. It was an almost 3-month backpacking but obviously, it wasn’t enough to see entire Europe. Not even an entire country. I didn’t even get to see all the “basic” sights of each key city I have been to. When I came to Europe, I have set my mind to take everything slow and easy, and shy away from the idea that “I should be able to visit all places that I want to see”. I didn’t see Spain or Switzerland and other must-see countries in Europe during that trip. And it was okay. I told myself that missing out some would serve as an inspiration for me to come back.
Traveling taught me that when we are out there, we must slow down and try not to rush. It may not be true for everyone but, I have come to ascertain that people who do everything quicker also do it worse. I always say, “Take it easy” and it is but proper to really go slowly. Being in a new place usually makes us feel excited and it is no surprise if we find ourselves not wanting to miss out on anything. Hence, the tendency to try everything, see every place like a mental suitcase that’s one size too small. Every traveling person should battle this temptation because one will end up weary and worried and end up missing out the fun and the very essence of being in a certain place.
Ever since my Europe backpacking, I am becoming more of that “slow down and try not to rush” kind of person. I have been trying my best to take time in everything. I have learned to enjoy every bite of food I eat and at times closing my eyes, allowing my palate to relish every taste. Instead of taking a taxi and the metro, I have come to enjoy long walks at a slow pace and be more observant of the things I pass by. This allowed me to have more meaningful interaction with people I encounter along the way. Things like this one made me appreciate the importance of letting every other person finish their side of the conversation while I listen attentively. Perhaps, one of my favorite thing to do in every place I went to was to stop in the middle of the day, (whether I was in a park, a busy street, a food house), closed my eyes for some fleeting moments, and be aware of my breathing. And it felt so good.
Funny, and ironic it is to ponder that as we hurry more, we experience less. Although we may do more things, eat more food, or visit more places, in our haste, we end up seeing less of them. We end up feeling tired missing out on the actual fun, and that surreal sensation being in that place. From now on, remember that when you travel, make the most of what you’re doing by allowing yourself to remain in the present moment as much as possible.
Of course, I still want to visit my country’s 81 provinces. BUT for now, I don’t want to see more, instead, I want to feel more, and BE more! And I will take my time. Take it, easy everyone.