I remember exclaiming into the wind. Those around me to hear my professions of love for all these inanimate things laugh at my wide-eyed wonder. But in my head I laugh a little too, because I knew something they didn’t—nothing is inanimate. All things are life.
Everyone walks on ahead and I fall behind observing everyone and everything, like I always do when I travel. We had just spent the afternoon having piña coladas and ceviche by the beach, under a gorgeous white tent, sitting on blankets with pretty patterns, lanterns and driftwood scattered all around us; all the while waiting for the sun to descend into the sea. I’ve always thought this place to have one of the most beautiful sunsets in this country. No one seems to know. They don’t seem to believe when I tell them. But then again, perhaps this place doesn’t resonate with them like it does with me.
When dusk perched the shore, we all got up to head to a cafe quite a distance from where we were, and so we were told to pick up a lantern to light our way. I’ve never seen fireflies, but as I watched them all ahead of me, I imagined they were. I imagined all the others were fireflies, and I was following the path they have illuminated in the night for me.
The gypsy in me was fluttering with glee. I couldn’t contain happiness, nor did I really try. Not one bit.
This all happened in Zambales, one of my most favorite places up north. All the beautiful land and sea scapes here, yet people only seem to know the more famous islands. If only people took time to look. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it over and over—if only you would look close enough, you would find there’s magic here. You would find there’s magic everywhere.
Over those enchanting days spent—the sunset cocktails by the beach, the pizza night, the pool sessions, the abundance of incredible food, good tea, and enriching conversations—all the while immersed in wine and wonder, I really did. I found magic, just as I did the first time I ever came here. The first time I discovered the euphoria of riding its waves, of standing on the edge of a majestic cliff of a lone island, of witnessing the most perfect, orange round sun set on its technicolored horizon at dusk.
It’s such a simple thing we all too often forget. Look and you shall see. See this world with magic in your eyes and magic will show itself to you. See people with honesty and intent and they will quite possibly see you in all your honesty, too. And we need that. People who see us truly.
Zambales has a habit of showing invaluable things to me. I don’t know how it happened, but it was there. Looking up at the unusually bright moon one night while dipped in the pool, the clouds were enveloped in a silver lining. It was one of the most enchanting things I’ve ever seen. At one point silver even turned to a rainbow of glowing colors, and it took me. The moment took all of me. There, under the stars. The clouds started to whisper a secret and I listened. I smiled under the moonlight and silver rays found its way to my chest, filling me up until I was bursting. I turn to my friend and the moment spilled out of me in words glowing as the sky that night: “The best is yet to come,” I say. And I really mean it.
Electricity was coursing through my bones and that is how I knew. I’ve never been so sure. The best is yet to come. The best is near. Like a comet racing through the galaxies, a glorious ball of fire was inbound. A cosmic collision destined to occur. And I’ve never been so ready to explode into nothing but stardust.
My friend smiled back. In her eyes I saw a rare understanding, and I knew. The clouds have told her, too.
There was really something there. Perhaps it’s the tall pine trees that line the coast, looking like stills from a painting. Or the long walks along the beach at dusk, lantern in hand to light the path. Or perhaps it was just the quiet conversations, over smoke or over a cup of comforting hot tea or both, or the significant moments when you realize new friends have become so much more than just that. You’re bound now. They’re walking with you on this new path you’ve created together, like sisters on a cosmic journey. Under that same bright moon they’ve shown you their soul, their dreams, the things that make them ache, that you find yourself baring all of you, too.
It’s such a simple thing we all too often forget. We forget to look at each other as but raw human beings all desperately needing to be seen. It’s so easy to overlook what’s right in front of us, the things, the people, the places begging for attention. It’s so easy to not see the magic floating everywhere, like dust searching for someone’s open window to come settle. It’s so easy to not see the comets racing all around us. The sparkle in even the worst of places. In the most wrecked of people.
Look. I beg of you. Take a look. And allow yourself to be seen, too. For once let us forget that we’ve ever been taught how to play blind, by mothers who only wanted nothing but to protect us from people who could make us hurt. You are here, now, and you are alive. And to be alive is to feel. Open your eyes and see all the good and the all bad and how when they come together and make love the ground shakes and gravity ceases to exist. Because a world with too much logic—all black and all white—is a world I’d rather not be in. There is an entire universe in between made up of glorious technicolor and that is where I exist.
Look at me. Say it. Mean it. Crack yourself open, surrender your hands and knees, your heart, your lips. Let the words spill out of you—See me, feel me, explore me.
As with places, that’s all we really need, sometimes. Someone to take a look. Someone to see us as the fragile souls we really are. Someone to see beneath the small talks, the jobs, the structures or the distance separating your side and theirs, or the reasons why we should or shouldn’t.
It’s such a simple, beautiful thing we all too often forget. But we must work past that. For others and, ultimately, for ourselves. Say it. Just say it:
Hey, you. I am here. And I see you.
More about Zambawood in my article for WheninManila.com: http://www.wheninmanila.com/behind-the-pine-trees-zambawood-a-beach-house-built-on-dreams/