Encounters

I woke up one mid-afternoon with a strange feeling. It’s either the dream I just had or perhaps because I’ve been tired all week and haven’t really had enough rest. Still, while I pull another pillow to rest my back and tuck my hands under the sheets, I stare blankly at the ceiling when some thoughts just rushed into my mind and the first word that just click was the word encounter. As a child, I used to admire travelers and the idea of learning different cultures, race and countries is an exciting adventure geared to transforming oneself. The excitement I had leads to a series of plans on how would I achieve it that may involves earning a degree I could always rely on as a ticket abroad and saving money. Being in a strange place with people who can’t even understand the language you speak was a challenge but living with them is a struggle. Why a lot of people planned on traveling like me was to experience something new, take a different breeze and might as well learn from it.
I read once that travel can shape you to a better person, it can help you find yourself so I aspire for it until that afternoon on a different house in another country that I realized something. It wasn’t actually the travels that made an impact on you or the people or their culture and most definitely not their place. It is the small encounters you had that marks the significance of your travel on which we learn from and valued. I did not travel to a lot of different places but the short span of time I shared with an stranger has made a priceless lesson than what I tried to learn while living in a different country.
I remember the  tailor who sewed my first uniform as a nursing student back in college. As I was waiting for him to finish it, he looked at me and asked for my hand.  I was curious and asked him if he’s one of those palm readers and he said he just see lines, interpret them and doesn’t even really knew what palm reading was. He predicted that I would be able to go abroad and find something there though he had no idea what it would be. I chuckled and said, I don’t have plans to work somewhere else ’cause I’m already satisfied in my country and I would love to serve my own people. Years later, I graduated and couldn’t find a job so I worked as a volunteer until my sister got back home and asked me to apply with her. I didn’t really put much effort in searching for jobs abroad and had passed a resume to only one agent together with my sister. I had expected a fair chance of getting employed abroad yet I just accomplished all requirements that agent needed. One day, she called to confirm that both my sister and I were  hired for a job yet I needed only to pass an exam which I did. Months later, I started working abroad and had series of hardships that had challenge my ability to it’s limits. Until one day, I woke up and realized that I indeed found something- myself. For the past years, I never really knew what I wanted to do, who I was and why I had always seen traveling as something I want to do  because I always thought that if I traveled outside, I will learn more about the world as well as myself and had neglected the most important aspect which is traveling within. That moment, I was finally able to reveal my true self to myself and things slowly changed. I thought that if I made a significant contribution to the world and it recognized me back then it will make my life worthy to live for. However, the only person I really need to impress was myself and for me to live a worthy life is to become who I am, as an authentic individual and be able to play my part of existence. It only took me one minute of a conversation with someone I never bothered to know to discover myself through his uncertain prediction.
Another was a woman on abaya and tarha that I saw at the airport. We are running late for our next flight and we aren’t even sure if were on the right gate . While sitting at the waiting area, we noticed that almost all passengers we’re Saudi’s and almost all were wearing abaya and tarha. There are a lot of unsettled emotions that I felt that time, nervous, excitement, fear and etc. Then two seats away in front of me was a woman in early thirties who was facing directly at me and kept on smiling. I don’t know why but I felt something genuine from her, maybe it was her smile but ever since it has guided me and gave me security and a sense of belonging by which i learned how to in treat every person equal regardless of their religion and beliefs.
These were just a few on my many short encounters but they have thought me lessons which I never learned for a long time during my studies and with the people I’m surrounded with. Life itself is a wonderful journey and though we may not realize it, the best travels we have are those that reminds us the short encounters we have and brought a life time lesson. We may not travel far from where we stood but surely we’ll meet someone who will take you a step further and nearer to your destination.

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