May 27, 2007
Faces in the Mirror
Patricia, the French Model
I was an impressionable fresh graduate from university, starting a career and full of anticipation about the new landscape that lay ahead. The corporate world was all very exciting and new. At the same time, I was also enthralled about travelling to far and distant places, meeting new and interesting people who live diverse and unfamiliar lives. That was my headspace when I somehow got involved into commercial modeling and ended up dating Patricia, a french model who has seen the world more than I have seen my own country - the hedonist kind who lived life in her backpack, hopping from place to place, armed only by her captivating beauty, her portfolio, her wits, guts and love of life. She was so beautiful she landed a cameo in the Bond film, Moonraker.
Green and Naive
Being green, sheltered and naive (me, not her!), we could not have been more different. I had the security of doing the 8 to 5, while she took on modeling stints to take her to the next place with no assurance of what lay ahead. That was frightening to me. While she was only 4 years my senior, her life experience was many times mine - where I wanted to go, she'd been there; what I wanted to be, she already was. She lived life on the edge. I was bewitched and at the same time scared for her. She was definitely new ground for me.
Man With the Radiant Smile
We spent some time during which she did most of the talking. I was just all ears and couldn't get enough. As free and intrepid as she was, I remember her telling me about meeting a man who gave her a dose of trepidation. Why? Because this man was freer than anyone she's ever met...her included. This man had a radiant smile. Doors were flung open to him as he melted barriers and made people want to be with him. Somebody freer than Patricia? Could that be possible? She was awed by him as I was awed by her.
Blind Man from Bali
Another of her story was the blind man she met in Bali - Hugues de Montalembert. She described him to be a learned man who would tell her truths about life that would leave her in tears. He inspired her - how he lived his life and his take on life itself.
When she left the Philippines for another place, I was a basket case. I felt like just another notch on her suitcase. It took a while until I snapped out of my senses and moved on. I've never seen her since or heard from her, but I never forgot that brief but pivotal episode. Her freedom and the way she lived life, her stories, the fascinating people she's met - they all left an indelible mark on my psyche; more than I realized. Even after many years, when I would catch a song reminiscent of the time, I'd feel a jolt on my spine.
Not too long after the Patricia episode, I packed up myself, in pursuit of a broader horizon and a promise of adventure. I left my 8-5 and was on my way out of the country with no address at hand. That was the start of my adventure that took me places - US, Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia. With it, I immersed myself to the moment - the underground raves, to Burning Man, partied with the counter-culture types, learned yoga, blazed the trails on a mountain bike and just pushed boundaries. I hooked up with travellers I met along the way, learning from their stories. Wherever I go, I open up with a big smile and be absorbed by the place and the people. One wrote me, "...keep your smile wide, cuz it's contagious". I've continued to live a nomadic life where I can pack up and move any where in the world...anywhere the flow takes me.
Here and Now
Fast forward to today, and I see myself living a normal life in the picturesque hamlet of Sagada. No big deal on that. I wash my own clothes, scrub my own floor and go to market to cook my own food. I even push the boundaries of financial leanness, sizing how much less I can do with.
I continue to see myself as an impressionable kid awed by the wonders the world has to offer. I insinuate myself with people who live interesting lives, hoping I get taken under their fold and benefit from their wisdom and life experience.
Every now and then however, I'd get an email from site users saying they envy me for the life I've chosen - the freedom I exercise living life by the day, the places I'd been to and the magnificent lives I've crossed paths with. They go as far as saying I inspire them but at the same time apprehensive about adopting such a lifestyle choice. One passing tourist I've had a few conversations with, emailed me saying she's now reflecting on her life and the lure of freedom dangling in front of her, just there for the taking.
The validation I get from these people make me ponder. I look into the mirror and I see myself, but there are others I see as well. I see Patricia, the man with the radiant smile, and the blind man from Bali.
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
(Oct 12, 2007) I liked the story and what you had to say. I read some quotes too. There seems to be a theme. You have become, for some, Patricia. But to you, you're still you. I remember you expressed this to me once in conversation. I like to think of you still, as that inspiration that you and your lifestyle and demeanor exude...with your freedom and life unbound, and I am envious.
(May 26, 2007) It was a long trip by bus from Sagada, over ten hours, but it also gave me a good chance to think about "life". I've come across people who live life like you, having a different viewpoint. Back here, I talked about it with my friend. She doesn't want to live the uniformed life. Me neither.
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