Today, Death smiles at me. With his warm and glowing smile, he is reminding me that my sands of time are gradually running out.
Every day, he walks alongside me, dazzling me with his infinite wisdom while waiting patiently for my inevitable last moment. But, on this sunny summer day in Pangilatan, Naga, Death is somehow extra sprightly.
As I cherish the scenery and view in front of me, I realize why Death is waving and smiling at me. Even in a short span of time, we had done something special on our hike for a cause. We had planted the seeds of white daisies in the sands of time.
08:10 AM: The Timeline
Light exists, even in the darkest corners and moments, if you have the courage and faith to find it. And, today, as cliche as it sounds, we’re trying to bring some light into the dark tunnel we call earth.
And, the reason we’re raising funds on this hike is to help Bernard Jay Besana, a cancer patient and a brother of our fellow hiker, Bing.
Even if we don’t have all the time in the world, we’re creating one small act that might create a ripple effect of kindness.
Another reason why we’re hosting this hike is to silently and secretly teach hikers lessons that they can learn from the mountains.
And, as we’re hiking the first segment of the Magdook-Pangilatan trail, our hikers are learning the art of living in their own timeline.
Before embarking on our hike, I reminded everyone to hike at their own pace. And, I reminded them to carefully manage their time, and enjoy the entire journey.
Like hiking, we should be moving at our own pace and speed in life. Sadly, modern society has pressured us to complete specific standard events at a certain time in our life.
We need to graduate at 22.
We need to get married before 30.
And, we need to own a car and a house in our 20s.
I, honestly, believe that’s part of the reason millions of people are depressed.
We don’t move at our own time. We are always in a mad rush, hoping to complete the standard timeline laid out by society for us.
And, if we don’t finish these so-called deadlines, we begin existing in a dreadful cycle of feeling incomplete and unaccomplished.
But, guess what? Everyone has his or her own path and timeline. There’s no need to compare your journey and timeline to others.
Your timeline is incredibly unique, and there’s no way your journey will mimic someone else’s journey.
I didn’t want to pressure the hikers on our adventure. I want them to move at their own pace, and relish the spectacular scenery.
In day hikes, time is of the essence, but I wanted them to learn this simple priceless lesson on our nature trip.
Soon after, half of the hikers completed the first part of our hike. I checked the clock, and found out that we have a ton of time to recover and admire the views.
I was worried about the other half of the group. I was pretty sure they heeded my word of advice, but I was worried that they’d give up on the first test.
Suddenly, I saw people moving towards us under the scorching heat of the sun. They did it!
And, I’m glad that they came out smelling roses.
Then, I said to myself “it’s better to be a late bloomer than to never bloom at all”.
01:16 PM: Great things take time and effort
To uplift someone is a remarkably satisfying feeling.
And, whenever we host a hike for a cause, we not only uplift those in need, but also uplift our donors and hikers.
Our hikes are long and often a pain in the ass. But, at the end of the day, everyone feels a sense of achievement.
And, more importantly, our hikes also provide a timeless life lesson: great things don’t come easy, and great things take time.
In todays’ fast-paced world, everything is within our fingertips.
Feeling hungry? There’s an app for that. Want to see a jaw-dropping mountain view? Just book a ride to an overlooking spot, and your travel cravings will be satisfied in less than an hour.
Everything is so fast, easy and convenient nowadays. With our evolving technologies, you can get things done in no time.
But, our overreliance on technology is also making us impatient and mentally weak. When things don’t go our way, we whine, complain and even get depressed.
And, to me, long day hikes help people recalibrate, and rediscover the value of time and patience.
At the top of the 1st peak in Pangilatan, our hikers were amazed not only by the views, but the distance they covered, thus far.
They were on cloud nine, savoring arguably the best vista of Naga, Cebu. And, like a proud maestro, I was also in a state of bliss, as I watched our orchestra.
Ironically, though, I almost didn’t make it to this hike. Furthermore, this hike almost got cancelled.
4 days earlier
The hardest part of adulting is not the never-ending bills, the shortage of time or fruitless relationships.
The hardest part of being an adult is losing people you know and love to Death.
At 7:23 PM, I received terrible news regarding Nanay Judith, our caretaker, relative and close family friend.
Through the shaky and trembling voice of her daughter, I found out that Nanay Judith’s sands of time had run out.
Naturally, sadness and grief flooded through me. I cried in the shower and just let everything out. Afterward, I decided to skip Sunday’s hike for a cause.
Whenever someone dies, I look back at their life, and recall the things they have done.
I don’t look back at their accomplishments, wealth and material accumulations. And, I don’t judge life by failure and success.
Nanay’s time on earth was filled with colors and beauty. She wasn’t rich, by conventional standards, but she was alive and constantly happy.
Even when she was in her late 60s, she helped the community and even joined fund-raising events. With her infectious energy, Nanay inspired a community, and helped a bundle of people.
She used her time on earth wisely. She cherished life, she was grateful, and she lifted people.
Soon, I realized Nanay is immortal. She has left a legacy, and was a beacon of kindness.
People who leave their footprints on the sands of time don’t die. They will live eternally in the hearts and minds of people whom they have touched.
As images of Nanay’s life filled my thoughts, I’ve made a decision to join our hike for a cause. I had to follow Nanay’s example. I had to pay tribute to her, and keep her memory alive through small acts of kindness.
1 month earlier
We’re trained to be cutthroat businessmen.
We were raised to climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Our flawed education system brainwashed us that you have to be financially wealthy to be happy in modern life.
But, we were never trained to be kind.
Sure, we have values education, but to me, it feels like just memorizing a bunch of commandments.
No one taught you the ripple effects of kindness.
So, when I saw Bing’s post about her brother, I already knew what to do.
I can write cheques or send my donations through Gcash. But, there’s so much more I can offer than donating money. I can devote myself to my community around me through my storytelling and hikes.
And, I can raise funds for Bing’s family by organizing hikes.
It’s been over a year since I’ve organized these kinds of fundraisers. And, each time I do these hikes, I feel like I’m creating something that gives me meaning and purpose.
The only obstacle is the lack of time. Admittedly, I’m no longer as fresh as a daisy. Father Time is undefeated. But, I have a savvy team who can always pull off feats like this. And, hopefully, one day, I can inspire people to be a little bit more kind through our hikes.
03:20 PM: Living in the moment
Mountains are reminders of a simpler and a more satisfying time. Whenever I stand on top of a hill or mountain, I always live in the moment.
I don’t measure time and life. I’m living it.
With our hike for a cause about to end, I urged our hikers to live in the moment and maximize the time given to them.
I want them to snap photos and create memories on this hike. I’m encouraging them to make memories because a person without any memories is only a shell.
People don’t realize how short our time on earth is. For the first 20 years of our life, we study, and acquire skills to survive in this world. Then, we get busy for the next 30 to 40 years to make a living and gain wealth.
And, once we’re retired and have all the time in the world, we’re just too weak and sick to do anything. Then, there’s the great equalizer: Death.
Death can visit us any time. And, even with all our state-of-the-art technology, there’s no way to predict it.
When it comes to Death, I’m always ready. If today is my last day, I’m fine with it. In fact, my ideal age to dance with Death is 40. I have filled my life with memories, and I’m planting White Daisies to help spread kindness.
5:10 PM: Memento Mori
There’s a reason the Universe limits our days on earth.
And, every time I see a stunning sunset after a fun hike, I’m reminded that the Universe wants us to make every day and moment precious.
To me, Death isn’t just the ultimate equalizer. Death is a tragic yet beautiful reminder that we should be living instead of just surviving.
Nothing is memorable and special, if we have endless time. With no sacrifice or loss, people can’t appreciate and enjoy what they have.
Sometimes, I feel like people are becoming prolific machines working relentlessly and endlessly. They are efficient, and they fill each walking second with actions. But, inside, they are hollow and empty.
A man starts dying at the moment of his birth. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize Death’s courtship, until we’re on a hospital bed fighting for more time. That’s because modern life gives us the illusion that we’re not going to die.
But, there’s no way to win a game of chess against Death. Even if we’ve developed potent vaccines, we still can’t escape Death.
I’ve danced with Death 3 times. And, each time I start to shuffle my feet, he lets my hand go. The last time I’ve danced with Death was in a car crash where I was drenched in my own blood.
At this moment, with the sun setting in the mountains, he’s here not to dance with me, but to remind me of my mortality.
A few weeks later
I’m seeing a new trend these days. Despite the harsh realities of modern-day life, people are somehow becoming a bit more generous and kind.
Sure, there are still plenty of morons and pessimistic know-it-all experts on social media. But, the community is getting better by the day.
Community pantries are popping up.
Hikers are organizing events for those in need.
And, social media users are donating cash to patients who need it with their medical bills.
We didn’t trigger this chain of events. Nowadays, people are doing their part to uplift others. But, we did inspire someone to raise funds for the less fortunate.
As I admire the views from Manayon’s Peak, I see a new breed of youthful philanthropists. Weeks ago, I planted White Daisies seeds in my sands of time.
Today, they are in full bloom, and led by Ann, they are organizing a fundraising event for the farmers in Mantalongon, Dalaguete.
Are there still White Daisies that have yet to bloom? I don’t know. Only time will tell.