Our life can get extremely monotonous at times it feels as though we are treading a long winding tunnel with no end in sight. Whenever I feel this way, I try to think of quirky things to do that can fire up my day.
It was a chilly spring afternoon. I woke up from a nap. My then boyfriend –now my hubby—was still asleep. It wasn’t an ordinary day sucked up by monotony. Rather, it was a happy time of being reunited. However, at that moment in time I felt a tinge of melancholy because I was going to leave him in a few days’ time and go back to work in Bangkok. I couldn’t even make it to his birthday which was only two days after my departure. While I sat by the window, I gazed at him breathing calmly in deep slumber then I turned my gaze outside where the grasses and trees were beginning to enliven springtime.
I wanted to make his birthday special even without my presence but not in a typical way. Suddenly, I was struck with an idea. He would never have guessed that on his birthday, a bouquet will be delivered at his doorstep. I immediately placed my order online before he woke up.
Andddddd the big day came! We were talking on Skype. The buzzer sounded. He bid adieu thinking it was his friend Mark who came to have lunch with him. But to his surprise, it was the delivery lady handing him the sweet smelling bouquet of orange daisies, roses and lilies. He came back online right away to share with me his confused reaction which amused me to bits. He couldn’t quite find the exact words to express how it made him feel. He was of course happy but he seemed to be feeling something else that he cannot put a name on.
I guessed it was because men are not used to receiving flowers. Most men spend their lifetime never getting one. Whilst women love receiving flowers, men – those very few who experienced being given one– may just don’t know how to actually react. It was an interesting experience for me as well to find out how men are when it comes to receiving presents normally given to women.
Someday, when my day becomes another draining monotony, I would do it again. I’ll hand him the bouquet and see how he’d react myself.
What about you? What bizarre things do you do when life is a standstill?
I once saw a quote that said, “it’s okay if all you did today was breathe”. I keep reminding myself of this piece of wisdom whenever I feel anxious for not being “productive”. What does it mean to be productive anyway? Ahhhh, it’s the same as asking what it means to be successful. There are no definite answers but many people struggle in going beyond what society portrays as being productive or successful.
Movies show us people juggling several things at the same time. A woman cooking and looking after the baby while talking to someone on the phone. A working lady jumping at one meeting to the other, folders in hand and a cup of coffee on the other. There are meetings over breakfast because the day is too occupied that the only time to squeeze that one meeting is during breakfast. We have been conditioned to adapt to this lifestyle to feel a sense of belongingness to the “productive” group. We are made to feel that life is wasted or that we are lazy if we are not busy.
The problem with this never ending ‘busyness’ though is that it deprives us of precious time for reflection. It’s so easy to get caught up with the habits of multitasking and feeling productive but at some point, we would realize that we are getting nowhere. Many people have reached a point of identity or emotional crises after suffering from burn-out and realizing that their constant chase for productiveness has brought them no meaning, no sense of purpose, and no clear direction for the future.
As I lie in a hammock, feeling the breeze against my cheeks and listening to the chirping birds, I thank heavens for the opportunity to be still, to breathe in life and hear my soul speak. I wish I had done this more often before. I was caught up with the overly glorified busy lifestyle that I neglected time for reflection and retrospection. I learned that such ‘busyness’ had, in fact, blurred my idealism. I began to question and got skeptical about so many things, thinking they were the problems of the world, when in fact the problem was me and my lack of direction and sense of purpose. Ticking my to-do list was not the same as having a life purpose. No matter how much I’ve accomplished in a day if I don’t spend time to reflect and redirect myself towards the right path, those daily accomplishments were nothing but futile.
The shallow sense of productiveness has resulted to plenty of outputs but most of the time has never brought quality outcomes. That’s why it felt like living in circles, doing a myriad of things day by day but never reaching a milestone. We owe it to ourselves to spend time to just slow down, to just breathe. Maybe during these moments of silence, our sense of purpose will be crystallized, our direction made clearer and our daily pursuit of productiveness will no longer be barren but full of promises and meaning.
My previous work and even life at grad school involved a lot of traveling and most, if not all, of those destinations were packed with tourists. This is what made our trip to Divinubo Island special because we were the only tourists in that small island town. Within a day, we were able to circle the island, climb at the old lighthouse and drink fresh coconut juice while interacting with the locals.
Divinubo Island is only 15 minutes by boat from Cogon Lalawigan in Borongan City, Eastern Samar. If you are lucky to catch the scheduled boat trip, the fare is only PhP14 (approx .28 USD) per passenger whilst special trip costs PhP300 (6 USD) per way, though after 6PM it will increase to PhP500 (10 USD). There are two resorts in the island though when we were there, both were unable to accommodate us so we slept at a hostel in the city and went to the island the next day. The island is so tiny it only takes 1.5 to 2 hours to circle it.
The locals knew we were tourists the moment we docked on their shore (the island is small after all and everyone there might know everyone) so they suggested we take a guide who could lead us to safer tracks. Our guide was 72 years old Manong Moloy. We gave Manong Moloy PhP300 as a gesture of thanks for his time and generosity. He pointed to us the areas affected by typhoon Yolanda in 2013. We also saw the on-going construction of accommodations. I can imagine that in a few years’ time, the island will be flocked with more tourists.
Divinubo is not what I had expected at all. I imagined an uninhabited island with just infrastructures catered for tourists. On the contrary, Divinubo island is, in fact, a small town with a primary school, several houses both native and modern, wooden and concrete. The island’s beautiful surprises, however, are found around it. We went at low tide, the perfect time to explore. The scenery was beautiful and I extremely enjoyed watching schools of fish on hollow areas with clear, turquoise water. My iPhone’s photos can never do justice to such magnificence but here are a few of Divinubo’s beautiful scenery.
Tips: Circling the island involves climbing on the rocks and walking on slippery areas so wear appropriate footwear. Travel light. The sun can be extremely hot so wear a hat if you are lazy to bring an umbrella. And never forget your sunscreen!