A Lesson on Contentment from an Unlikely Source

Home for the night

Home for the night

“Experience, Travel – these are as education in themselves” – Euripides

I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve told people how I understood more about life while exploring the 4 corners of the world than I did while sitting inside the 4 walls of the classroom for more than half my life…

We don’t just learn while travelling, we internalize. The lessons we learn are latched on so deeply in our hearts that we almost always return home as completely different persons. We may see new things in different places or same things in different perspectives. Either way, horizons become wider while differences are being narrowed and smiles become brighter as prejudice slowly turns dim. And that’s when we know that we’ve grown as a person.

If only we keep our minds open, we begin to understand that lessons come from so many different sources. From the obvious quotes written in murals to words of wisdom spoken in broken English by local elders. Some may even require deep introspection before they become life lessons but there’s always that one lesson that’ll linger in your mind for a very long time. Mine came during a trip I made to Siargao last year. I came to the island to witness the International Surfing Competition. It was another unplanned trip but since it’s a short flight from Cebu City, I pushed through with the trip without giving it much thought. Little did I know that I’d be coming home with more than just a memory of surfers feeling stoked as they exit the perfectly-shaped barrel of waves. I came home with words that continue to resonate in my mind to this day.

A spur-of-the-moment trip that became the highlight of my Siargao adventure. It all started with the urge to surf. I became part of a small group which consisted mostly of locals, some people from my hometown and 2 German ladies. We all wanted to surf so bad but we couldn’t quite figure out where. The conditions in “Cloud 9” and “Quiksilver” were too fierce. The current was too strong and waves barreling from every direction. Definitely not for beginners like me. “Jacking horse” was okay but was a little too crowded. One of my friends suggested that we take a boat to “Pisangan” and surf there but for some reason we declined and decided to take a trip to “Guiuan” which is on the other side of the island. Everyone was literally ready within seconds, and so was I. I grabbed my towel, a shirt and my hammock and I was ready to go. As we were walking in the shores of Malinao, “Man2x” a local fisherman/surfer spotted us and offered to take us across to the other side of the island with his fishing boat. After about a 1-km walk from where he dropped us, we found our camp. An abandoned kiosk which is about 1-2kms away from the nearest village. It was indeed Paradise! We each took our spots and setup our hammocks under the coconut trees.


Fast forward…

Later that evening, we got invited to Man2x’s place for dinner. After which we headed back to camp and started a bonfire. It was what I considered a perfect night. Just us, the sound of the waves, and the crackling sound of the coconut leaves as it slowly burned in the fire. It was mostly just joking around for us while some were caught in a typical “getting-to-know” conversation since we all barely knew each other. Even then, we never felt like strangers to each other. The atmosphere was filled with nothing but positive thoughts as the night went on.

After a few beers, the short but meaningful conversation took place. Earlier that day, William, another member of the group told me that he and Man2x went to the same prestigious school a couple of years ago. This lead me to ask Man2x why he decided to quit school and went back to fishing instead of getting a degree…

In the local dialect and with the local tone in his voice that sounded far from being awkward, he answered…

“I don’t know, but I just love fishing. To fish just enough to get me and my family through the day. Everyday I get to fish a little and of course, to surf a little more. What more could I ask for? This is where I belong”

Those words pierced me like a lightning straight from the sky to the top of my head and on to the deepest part of me. 5 years ago, during my 1st trip to Siargao I wrote “When you don’t have a lot, it’s not gonna take much to make you happy either”. This little talk reinforced that thought further and now it is instilled so deep within me that I couldn’t take it out of my system even if I wanted to.

Everyone else is so preoccupied with this thing they call “Progress”. Trying to earn more money to live a “better life”. We are almost pre-programmed for this. And then you meet the warmest, kindest & most contented people on earth and all of a sudden all your thoughts are rewired. They barely touch their phones even if they have one and they’ve never thought of upgrading their gadgets or speeding up their internet connections if they even have one. Yet here they are in their own PARADISE. Because that thing we call “Progress” is meaningless when you live a perfect life in a perfect place like this. It might not be much but nevertheless it’s PERFECT and nothing can ever top that. Nothing! From then on, the term “Progress” has been stricken out of my vocabulary and hidden under the shadow of “Content”.

Would you still want to change for the better when you know that what you have is already the best? I know I wouldn’t.

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  1. Lakbay Diva says:

    shet. grabiha ka down to earth uy. mangingisda na lagi pod ko. eff the capitalist system! mao ra ni naka pa hakog nato. maaayo tong mangunay ra ta’g kuha sa atong pagkaon!

    mao niy strong case for a life-changing story.

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