Soul searching

Posted on December 1, 2015



“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I haven’t seen Baguio in a while.

For sure, I’m not the first tired and emotionally vulnerable person to go soul-searching in the mountain city. There’s just something about it, I guess. Something foreign at the same time accessible, far at the same time familiar. There’s just something about the mountain’s city lights that beckons weary travelers to come and disappear for a while.

I have a special sort of attachment to Baguio. It was my first home away from home. When I was little, my family used to go there to visit my relatives and they would always have strawberries for me because they knew how much I loved strawberries. Then I’d stuff myself with the fruits and I’d get a tummy ache and skip dinner.

Aside from that, Baguio gave me my first taste of collegiate independence. I learned how to travel far away from home on my own. I learned how to live far away from home. I learned how to live without familial supervision. I guess have the city to thank for teaching me how to be independent, making me eventually crave such independence and loss of restraint.

I guess I decided to embark on this solo adventure to clear my head for a while. “Soul searching”, as they would say. And yet, that term still confuses me. Where does the soul go? Did it leave? How did it leave? How do you get it back?

The people who do soul-searching are the confused, emotionally damaged ones. They are the ones who are completely lost and hurt. The ones who are getting really tired of life. Maybe it’s the illusion of escape that they are really craving for. Maybe they are still holding onto the hope that life isn’t that bad, that there is still some beauty in the world.

Things that made me find my soul again this weekend:

  1. I found my soul as I was staring out the window of a bus with only five passengers, blasting music as fields and mountains enter my view and everything just comes back to me.
  2. I found my soul as I was walking along other travelers while wandering around the city I knew, looking for a place to charge my phone.
  3. I found my soul when I saw my friend’s baby for the first time and making him smile.
  4. I found my soul while I was singing at the karaoke bar at the top of my lungs, taking shot after shot to drown my sorrows before my friends wisely decided that it was time to restrain me. They can be protective sometimes.
  5. I found my soul as I passed out drunk on the floor of said karaoke bar, crying and singing some Taylor Swift song. The veracity of this I cannot confirm, my friends might be just messing with me.
  6. I found my soul as I was stumbling along Session Road, eventually ending up in a 24-hour coffee shop, trying to engage my peers in a philosophical discussion. At least, as far as I can remember.
  7. I found my soul as I laid on the bed of my friend at her boarding house, chatting with her on how much love sucks.
  8. I found my soul as I got up at 4 AM with a throbbing hangover, chain-smoking on the rooftops of Baguio. Suddenly, I remembered all of my problems and how much I hated admitting that I was not okay. And then I remember some *person*, and then the big cycle of ugh starts again in my head. And then I realize that this *person* is probably perfectly happy in *this person’s* life without me in the picture, and that me and my Eeyore self should probably just back off because my ball of sadness will just ruin everything. And then I decide that keeping my distance is probably the right thing to do since I just want everyone to be happy. Because my heart is a complete idiot.
  9. I found my soul as I realized that nobody ever gets closure and assurance in this life. And that sucks for all of us. But sometimes we just have to understand each other, no matter how hard.
  10. I found my soul as I realized that some people are better at learning than others.
  11. I found my soul as I eat at some cheap Korean restaurant with my friends and realize that  nobody ever has themselves figured out at this stage. We’re all just pretty much stumbling cluelessly on the edge of adulthood.
  12. I found my soul as I wander into Mt Cloud bookstore, realizing that there are just so many books I haven’t read yet. I always find my soul in bookstores and libraries, my happy places.
  13. I found my soul as I wander through Burnham Park, like I did so many times ago, listening to Oasis’ “Let There Be Love” and feeling so damn sentimental over everyone being un-lonely in the park. And then I saw a kid and his grandpa having a picnic and I can’t help but smile and cry slightly at the same time. I do this for about 30 minutes and the guys sitting across me look at me with a puzzled look on their faces, probably thinking that I’m batshit insane. Bitch, I might be.
  14.  I found my soul in Robert the Plant.
  15. I found my soul in a kindly elderly man sitting next to me on the bus home, asking me why I am crying.
  16. I found my soul in a bunch of drunkards singing karaoke at a 24-hour carinderia on a bus terminal while waiting for the bus home to Cavite.
  17. I found my soul when I realized that maybe it is time to get a therapist. And that I might be manic-depressive.
  18. I found my soul as a coworker said to me that maybe we didn’t need to find our souls, we just need to start realizing that they are there all along. And you know what, maybe he is right. Maybe we’re just so damn busy that we forgot maybe something inside us is dying. Maybe the answer is there, screaming loud and clear, we just forgot to listen. Maybe the soul was never lost all along, we just need to go to the right places.