One morning, on an island where nobody can’t keep track of what day of the week it is, rides are arranged, surfboards are picked up and hauled onto motorbikes, cameras and sunscreens and beach clothes tangle themselves inside drybags. We roar our way into a spot called Pacifico. A few minutes along the way, our hair tangle themselves too.
I don’t particularly love Dubai. I don’t hate it either. It’s a place on my comme ci, comme ça list.
Before traveling to the United Arab Emirates with my mom, I was hooked on an artist named Xyza Cruz Bacani; her black and white photographs and her somewhat similar journey in life to Vivian Maier, a nanny and a photographer. We’re both Filipinas, so that made it even more interesting for me. At the airport, I decided to try something new on this trip – photographing solely in black and white. Somehow, the images and their lack of colors translated into how I felt about the place (which was different from how I felt about the trip) – a sense of magnanimous contrasts yet a developing discovery of similitude in the nature of humanity.
Earlier in May, I attended a creative retreat hosted by the brave women named Kitkat and Sofia. I came to discover the works of Sofia through her Instagram and blog. She amazes and ignites many with her daring art which are more than just pretty visuals. Her perspective on life laces into writing which taps into your creative urges and unites readers with a message that everyone can and should make art, no matter which form, and show it to the world.
That early morning of the retreat, I arrived at the wellness center and I saw her for the first time smiling and greeting me at the huge metal gate. We both exclaimed, “Finally! Finally!” We were walking together and I couldn’t believe this fate. Upon sitting on the floor donned with boho cushions and blankets while indie chill music plays on the background, I was looking at everyone’s faces and I instantly felt bottomless bliss. It was a melting pot of all kinds of artists. Some make videos and take photos, others were into fashion and create bohemian and tribal apparel. There were also those who blog, travel, surf, and organize events. It is a miracle being surrounded by all these beautiful strangers who mutually beat for art and commit to living art. My body was exploding with light and my heart was pounding with gratitude.
Ahhhh so she’s bursting in her bubble right now. She’s giddy, she’s in love for sure. With all these strangers dipping their blood into their paper. A gentle scratching of their soul. She. She is amazed at this interconnection at this moment, in this lifetime. She wants to go places through her body, through her spirit. She really really really wants to open up and be free as a child. And she wants to not care but only love, love in the purest. Lucky girl, she isn’t torn right now, she is floating in content and peace and the world needs this, needs her. She is wild in her quietness. There is power in her stillness. She’s mumbling random stuff I can’t understand. Her lover calls her hippie. Her brother calls her weird. And she’s okay being everything. Possibilities are all we need anyway. She’s bursting wide and weird and wild. She needs not answers, she is truly here. She’s out of the bubble and she can hear the machine, the cutlery, the voices of souls and pens, and she’s in love.
May, 2016 (Written for a 10-minute exercise during Bloodrush)
Days after the creative retreat, my voice was quivering with joy speaking the details of the event to two of my friends. Suddenly, Jamie blurted out, “You should organize your own retreat!”
When we were kids, our parents would instinctively protect us by saying what parents of past generations would say: “Don’t talk to strangers”. Yet growing up (and by up I mean younger), sometimes I hope we become strangers to each other, not in the sense that we are threatened by the presence of the unknown another.
We meet for the first time, look each other in the eyes, smile, and if we’re more than lucky, spill our unfiltered selves and stories in a span of few minutes, hours, or days, which could possibly stretch for decades. We express more than we impress. Not being enslaved by the past or too conscious about molding an identity, we instantly become free and fluid. The connection turns out easier because destructive attachment or expectation is lesser or none at all. Then you part sooner than you wanted to. And though this connection might be fleeting and, on the surface, sad, there is a mystery to it that is ever drawing the two (or more) souls together. Travelers know this by heart. But can you imagine a world where even longtime friends talk to each other as if they are strangers? As if they are always evolving and always interesting that you get high conversing about the things that make your heart race because what the hell are we here for?
Pico Iyer described it as “the ones that play out in the soul, which have less to do with surface than with the interaction between a surface and a depth”.
The full moon appears suddenly when life was dull and melancholic, maybe even toxic. Its crescent phase decides to bless moments and they become unexpectedly blissful. These occurrences blow me away. Appearing in all the right places and times. They are endless, scribbled like doodles on my notebook. How will I read them?
The more I experience in life, the more I begin to see signs. The moon is full when I’m filled to the brim, a friend calls just as I’m thinking about them, I get a gig just when I’m worrying how I’ll make ends meet.
I’ve found myself becoming superstitious after years of being a skeptic of anything I couldn’t prove. But what is the point, even if it isn’t scientifically true, of taking the magic out of life? I’m returning to the way I used to think as a child. -Nirrimi of Fire and Joy
Our experiences want to be listened to. They have reasons underneath them that we will only able to understand after they surface into reality, may the experience be good or bad. There is no line that separates the two. Well maybe we can see the line, but our eyes deceive us anyway. The shift or widening of perspective ultimately changes things, everything if you allow it to. A rock becomes a pillow, silence and isolation become opportunities for introspection, death of a dream gives spaces for the flourishing of unexpected, new realities. Perspective is a powerful occurrence, a movement that will never cease, just like waves constantly marrying the shore. It transforms into a landscape of what many imagine as a “better place to live in.” It becomes an energy that reciprocates and spreads.