One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting people in transit. The constant coming and going. The overwhelming flux. The confusing, chaotic mess at airports and railways. Crossing paths by chance. A welcoming kind of disturbance. I love being able to converse with someone, with no script and no expectations. And how the universe would magically align for you to have a certain experience. It has led me to believe that life is all but a tangle of serendipitous encounters. The unraveling is yet to make any sense, which I attempt to understand by writing about them in my journal. There, I write about people, places, and experiences that have affected me in one way or another. I wanted to share this particular one here as well.
This is a story about my recent trip to the US. I met a woman named Seiba on my flight to South Korea from San Francisco. She had long, curly, dark brown hair and piercing icy blue eyes. She said she attended her brother’s wedding to a Filipina girl. I asked if her brother was Vietnamese because there’s a chance we might have attended the same wedding. We both laughed. She was from Grass Valley, California. A small town. I told her I was from the Philippines and that I was in law school. She thought it was interesting because she was supposed to pursue law as well. Later on she decided that it wasn’t for her. She now teaches English classes online and spends what she earns on her travels. I was amazed and admittedly, a tad bit jealous.
She was heading to Cambodia and would go on from there until she had nothing left to spend. I told her that if she ever found herself in the Philippines, she should visit our amazing islands. I wrote my contact details in her journal just in case. We spoke about a lot of things and asked each other a ton of questions. Favorite and least liked cities. Best & worst flights. Craziest person you’ve met. Funniest thing anyone’s said to you. We spent the rest of the flight refilling our wine cups and giggling nervously whenever turbulence would interrupt the movies we were watching.
“We live in a really fluid world that’s expanding.”
“It’s crazy how connected everything and everyone is.”
“Like how this encounter was serendipitous.”
“I know. It’s so great.”
I’m not sure where she is right now. She said her dream trip was made up of remote islands, wooden bungalows, and gnarly waves…so it’s very likely she’s currently living in a hut and far out of reach. I felt as if our lives crossed for a reason. I thought about how an ENFP like me, in a parallel universe, would quit law school to travel. That a timeline exists where I find myself in her shoes, backpacking through Southeast Asia until I ran out of money. I want to become a lawyer AND see the world. Here is a girl who ditched the former to do the latter. Did I want to be her? Could I do both? It was all I could think about moments after landing, dashing through airport security, and saying goodbye (and good luck!) as we raced to our respective connecting flights—and finally losing each other in the crowd.
This hypothetical dilemma plagued me. I didn’t want to write about anything else until I found an answer. I’ve somehow settled for this: pursuing one dream does not mean I have to sacrifice another. I’m inclined to believe that I can achieve both. There’s so much more to be done to get there and it may not be its time just yet. But I believe there exists a greater plan being strung together than that I have for myself. The glaring truth is that the rest is still unwritten…and I find solace in thinking that as long as I’m on what I believe is the right path—I’m doing good. I shouldn’t be comparing my journey to others. We’re all going at our own pace. At our own time. There’s no need to have it all figured out right now. Funny how it took a 13 hr. flight with a complete stranger for me to realize that. I’ll always have an affinity for random meet-ups and soft spots for strangers who’ve taught me a thing or two about life.
*Also — my blog is officially 1 year old! This isn’t the anniversary post I had in mind but I think it’s every bit as significant as the events that transpired last year. It put things into perspective for me. Cheers to another year of learning more things, always growing, and shamelessly dancing through life. The latter half of 2017 was really busy for me but I plan on catching up on my backlog soon. Fingers crossed. ✌🏽