I spent the past few days in the one of the simplest ways possible. I went to Busuanga last week and got myself isolated on an island 2 hours away by boat from the town center. Going there, I had a small panic attack as I realized our destination: an island with no TV, no cell phone signal, and electricity running only from 6pm to 6am. I longed to turn back and settle myself in the middle of coron town where electricity runs for 24 hours, cable TV is available, and a wide array of restaurants is present. I want civilization back on my side.
Trying to control my panic, I closed my eyes from the fast moving horizon and braced myself for whatever lies before me. After more or less 2 hours of being soaked by sprays of sea water created by our fast running boat, I finally got the glimpsed of the island in the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful, I grudgingly admitted. White sand, palm trees, mangroves on one side, and an imposing mountain at the back. I alighted the boat, went to the resort’s reception, and proceeded to our cottage. Walking through the resort, I somehow calmed down, and felt totally tranquilized as I saw our cottage: a quaint hut made from nipa with a hammock on a veranda overlooking a mangrove forest. We may be stranded, I thought, but we’re stranded in style.
For the next days, all I did was lay on a hammock while reading a book, did some swimming, a bit of kayaking, and a lot of eating. It made me realize that life is best enjoyed in its simplest forms. There is no need for air conditioning, cable television, 3D cinemas, fancy meals with fancy names, high-tech gadgets, credit cards, fast internet connection, designer coffee, branded clothes, throbbing club music, and the endless list of things that I thought I needed back in Manila. All of it seems to have been washed away in a far away shore in an island millions of light years away from where I was.
I was stripped away naked and naked I ran on the shore with delight.
Happiness, it seems, can be attained with only a pair of board shorts and a liberal amount of sunscreen.
I now understand why some foreigners readily gave up their comfortable first-world lives to live in a rural town in a third-world country. Less is certainly more.
But what puzzles me now is why we, specifically me, are so hesitant to let go of the clutter in our lives. Why we tend to hold certain inconsequential things close to our hearts and tremble at the mere thought of losing them. If these things are our security blanket, then we are headed for a lot of trouble. A vicious cycle of wanting, of collecting, of burying ourselves slowly but surely in things we do not really need.
I need to save myself. We need to save ourselves.