Monday, April 23, 2012

"It's the journey... Not the destination."

It's really amazing how your life changes every day. You will never know what you'll face each day. I was waiting at the boarding gate at the LAX airport, then a man on a wheelchair assisted by the airport crew was seated beside me. The flight going back to the Philippines got delayed by an hour and all the people waiting to be boarded wanted to be seated already and sleep, and were a bit upset, but we all know that we have to be patient. The man beside me asked me "Anong oras kaya tayo papapasukin?", and I answered, "11:10pm po ata nakalagay po sa boarding pass", he then replied, "gustong gusto ko na matulog e, ang sakit sakit ng paa ko (he meant his leg though)". I wondered why so I asked him, "Ano pong nangyari?", he said, "May cancer ako", I was surprised by his answer because he said it with a slight smile on his face; I replied cautiously, not wanting the man to be offended and said "Saan po?" and he replied, "sa dugo", "ang sakit e parang malalaking pasa, parang pinalo ka ng maraming beses sa fraternity.", I said, "ah ganun po ba yun"; he even showed me his hand that he also said was in pain and looked like there's blood clots all over. I asked him why he was alone and if he were being cured in the US, he answered "yes" and I was told that because nobody was available to be with him during his trip and said he is from Cleveland and wanted a direct flight to the Philippines. I had to ask if he was on chemotherapy and he said that he's done and the hep-lock was dislodged already and so I said, "oh buti naman po", I was told that he just needed a break so he'll go back home, rest and eat lots of healthy foods to regain his strength. I told him to just stay positive and to visualize his healing everyday. He said, "gagaling naman" with a smile that seemed like a mix of sadness and happiness. That short conversation with the man got me, that moment got my mind wandering and looked to my son in my arms sleeping. I thought of how lucky we are that we're not fighting a battle that if looked at an angle, is already lost right from the start. But I don't think of it that way, I know that deep inside that man's heart is a light at the end of the tunnel and chose to fight for survival. This happened to me before on the flight to Las Vegas, a man randomly approached me and started talking to me, he noticed my tattoo, "I'm sorry, I had to ask, what does your tattoo mean?" and I replied, "It's a Marquesan design, you know, like a tribal one" then he asked me basic questions a person would ask at an airport like, "Where you headed?", "How long have you been here?", "Where are you from?" and the like. We talked about business travels ('cos he travels for work), countries we've been to and how I'll starve in China because art isn't really a priority in the country. He asked about how the lifestyle of Filipinos. I then found out he has five sons who each have a Filipina girlfriend. Then he started asking quite odd questions, "Are you happy?", I honestly wasn't that surprised because I saw it coming, I answered with a smile, "That's actually the question in my head right now, I'm still in search", he asked why and I said because I again, told him, was lost. I asked him why he was asking and he said because he's interested and told me that the moment he boards his plane on the way to Denver, we will never see each other again, so I thought that's true and he doesn't know me personally, it wouldn't hurt sharing a few things to this old man anyway, I could even learn from him. See, it's not the places you've been... For me, it's the people you meet. Strangers to you that you have random conversations with, people that seem you've known for just five minutes then never after, people you encounter not knowing his or her real story is but you appreciate their perception anyway, people you exchange smiles with, people you've said hello and goodbye the next minute. After all, whatever you say to them, whatever story of your life you tell them, in the end... It doesn't really matter. But you know within and beyond yourself, that you were moved by those simple smiles and wave goodbye, and good conversations you had with them. You're life's not going to be the same. It changed your life forever.