Daybreak in Zurich
It was autumn and the middle of October. I was looking at signages in German and relied on icons and arrows to get me to the right places.
The second part of the flight was delayed. Some random (and likely bored) guy was broadcasting angry smileys and weird pictures via Airdrop.
It was midday there, few people knew I was awake since 2 am because I had grad school classes in Manila. The 8-hour time zone difference did not care about the deadlines week on week. After attending the class, I was scrambling to go to Geneva Airport at 5 am, headed towards a place where they used an entirely different alphabet. I was wondering how I will manage, and how I will survive buying my groceries, doing my own laundry, and preparing my own meals for a month. I had those floating thoughts in my monkey mind as I sat in the airport’s waiting area, fascinated by the moving lines of the screen containing arrivals and departures.
I looked like a hood Asian with my black eyebrows and yellow hair at the time. I was tiny and I stuck out like a sore thumb in the middle of people who are as tall as index fingers.
Frankly, it did not matter. I was just a blur of a person drunk in my dreams while in a sea of people who are just as busy, going from one place to another. This was one of the places on earth where my eccentricities are not immediately considered as a liability. After spending more than 3 decades of my life living in a place where I always had to apologize for who I am, this was refreshing.
“So this is what it’s like being free of the need to be someone else.”
As I sat there, I couldn’t help but think about all the adventures that awaited me. The unknown was scary but also exciting. I was determined to immerse myself in the local culture, learn the language, and make new friends while I did my mission.
Finally, the announcement came and I picked up my bags, ready to embark on my journey. There were soldiers in the flight, and I happened to be seated beside seemingly the grumpiest of their group.
I released judgment, I stayed calm in my window seat as the plane started to ascend. The excitement of exploring a new place trumped my discomfort. I had a million thoughts in my head, and I surmise, so did the other passengers including this uniformed seatmate. The plane was small and the flight was straightforward.
At the end of the flight, the stranger caught my eye and he finally managed a smile. He took my bag out of the luggage cabin and handed it over to me. I did not need to learn the Serbian alphabet to decode the language of kindness and goodwill in others. I lasted a month there not knowing their language but I was surrounded by acts of love and kindness.
Midday in Saint Gallen
After 8 weeks of non-stop work, I was able to squeeze in a week of time off. I visited a friend in the western part of Switzerland in St. Gallen. The place was unreal, it was like a painting manifested in the 3D world. I regretted not having more than a day tour (and I spent 11 hours on the roundtrip train coming from the Cornavin area in Geneva), and I promised I will come back for a longer trip and take my family with me.
My friends drove me around in their cute red vehicle, and let me try their yummy hot Swiss chocolate. Then they took me to this nice hill that overlooks the entire place. Beyond the idyllic appearance of it, something magical happened to me there. I had to unpack what happened when I came back home and talked about it to my closest friends from February 2022 meditation class with Sarah Suyom.
This was the place where I realized what I can be capable of as a soul if I was not so bogged down by my worries and limiting beliefs. I just knew this visit was something I’d remember vividly until my old age. I rode the 5:30 pm train and it was around midnight when I arrived in Geneva.
Nighttime in Manila
When I came back home, all the light needed to turn into a shadow. I started the year pitch black, with me navigating and spending 90% of my time keeping my feet even on the ground. The world continued to spin mercilessly until I managed to get the hang of it again. A jetlagged body persisted for a couple of weeks, and a jetlagged soul lasted much longer. There were some things I needed to go through personally and it seemed like the entire colorful canvas of last year was switched into gothic shapes, abrasive jagged edges, and blinding ashes.
As a college student, I was always fascinated with Heraclitus’ concept of light and dark in philosophy class. During my special meditation classes early in 2022, our teacher expounded on its energetic meaning and called it polarity. She said that it was a necessary thing to experience in order to appreciate true soul fulfillment. The light and shadow, the fast and slow, the joy and sorrow. As I reflect on my experiences, I realize that each place I visited had its own unique energy that spoke to my soul. But even when I was dealing with the darkness this year the light I experienced elsewhere at other times never left.
All those energies and frequencies still co-exist inside of me and it makes me grateful to realize that these 2 are meant to make me whole and one cannot healthily exist without the other.