Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Other Sputnik

I’m trying to remember how it was like to be Ron’s age. That was six years ago now, the year was 2001. I was working full time as a writer for an international Filipino channel, and part time as an episode producer for a well-known broadcaster in an award-winning nightly talkshow on current events. On top of these, I was also collaborating with an old friend for some PR work for two big restaurants and contributing articles for a leading newspaper and some magazines. I was on a roll, ika nga.

I was overwhelmed with all the opportunities that my writing was leading me to. And I grabbed every single one that came along. Until I didn’t know anymore in which direction to focus. I was just living each day trying to complete the requirements each job demanded from me. And there came a time when I could no longer deliver well in most of them. Sobrang kalat, ika nga ulit.

Since then I’ve been jumping from one orbit to another, not totally feeling a sense of fullfillment in any of them. I’ve tried dabbling in business, I’ve switched from being a kapamilya to being a kapuso and back again, I’ve handled events and even worked for seven months abroad, but I still feel like a sputnik that is helplessly lost in space. And I’m thirty.

Ron told me about his plans to travel at a time when I myself was getting wary about all this “feeling lost” bit. With my friends already climbing the ladders leading to their specific goals in their professional lives, I’ve been finding myself asked too often about what I truly wanted to do with mine. I only have two answers for that-- to travel and to write. Or more specifically, to write about my travels.

But in all these times that I’ve said that, I haven’t really done anything concrete in pursuit of it. Somehow in the past six years or so, I have lost the right amount of enthusiasm to truly pursue a dream. All I can afford to come up with is mediocre excitement about mediocre pursuits. There was a time I was so confident that I could do anything I’d set my heart to. And then I find that for the longest time, my heart wasn’t really into anything anymore.

I admire Ron’s humility to try to focus on knowing what he really wants and where he really wants to be, at a time when the world is still so generous with opportunities for a youngblood like him. He could take them all in but as he said he’d rather have nothing than have everything and yet still feel lost. At his age I think he is so much wiser than me and I actually envy this, as much as I envy his youth and his capability to brave it all. His enthusiasm struck me so much that it actually pushed me off my already iffy position as a lost orbiter.

At this stage in my life I feel like I want to go back to being 24 again and do what I should have done. To focus on knowing about what I really want to be and where I really want to be. To try to see if what I have been claiming to want for so long is truly the right path for me. At thirty, I do not intend to move up the career ladder and be boss of anything. I just want to be good at something my heart would be happy doing. And I could only hope that travel writing is indeed that.

So I am braving it all now at 30 as Ron is at 24, and tagging along for a ride in this monumental jouney of his. His enthusiasm and confidence have definitely infected me and I only wish it stays with me for the entire trip and all the years after. I am glad he is happy to do this with me because I am more than ecstatic to have someone like him go through this journey with me as well.

Thanks, R.

Love, T


We need you to be part of this journey too. Your prayers, your encouragement, your love, and your support will be gladly appreciated.


James Irving Ng said...

I don’t know if you can press back the digital hands of time. Like it or not, the last six years are the last six years. One can only view the world with the eyes of a 30 year old when he or she is 30 years old. The only issue is: just what kind of a 30 or 24 year old are you?

Yes, unlike the classical thousand miles journey that begins with the first step, the plot of the television episodes of "A Spiritual Journey of a Thousand Lifetimes" begins with getting lost each and every time. I don’t know if it’s a question of getting nearer to finding yourself or to wherever you are going. But in the absence any direction, only god or a GPS knows the answer to that. Progress can only be measured relative to something. For us mere mortals without a Nokia95, might it be enough just to know where we are at the moment, or at any moment in our lifetime? At least, it’s a stage of definable departure.

The point of exactly where we are supposed to arrive is a different matter altogether. After all, an orbit is determined not by what a whirling body desires (I doubt if it has the capacity to know what it wants) but what it is capable of achieving.

From another view, to find an orbit is to lose freedom, to settle down, to be condemned to a routine of predictable behavior. Are you aware that electrons in an atom are driven out of their orbits to enable chemical reactions to achieve transformation?

Though examining the present is so much easier than to gape at the far, uncertain future, to some people, what is near can be blurry and afar clear. Maybe, it really does depend upon the grade of the lenses you wear. They say the young at heart always seems to see a bright future. While age begins to be noticed when one starts to view the past with clear eyes.

It might not be a tailwind of prayers and encouragement that you need to pack for your journey. Maybe it’s more a headwind of doubts and misgivings that you require. If you are truly to reach heights unseen, learn from the migrating birds how to fly. Learn your aerodynamics from them.

Tailwinds pushing your back give speed, but reduces height. Friction from headwinds slows you down but pulls you up. Birds, once airborne, launch their wings against a headwind to soar high. It’s riding the thermal winds that really gets them somewhere. Not the flapping of their wings.

Do you want to go fast or high? That depends upon what you really want.

Flapping wings is an inefficient and unsustainable quick fix. It only works to get birds off the ground. It not only wastes a lot of energy, but is only good for short trips. Not the kind you guys are embarking to do. Struggling won’t make you last.
That may even be the reason why you’re leaving your current comfort zones.

The reward in running an obstacle course is not in finishing it. At most, that can only get you a medal for winning. But to appreciate why you need to do it, even without starting, wins understanding.

As the Chinese might say: Sputniks out there, may you have an interesting journey – by the seat of your pants or by losing them.

James Irving Ng

Lost Sputnik said...

It was so thoughtful of you to have written this for us. We appreciate your concern and we'll surely take your insights with us in our journey.