To relax and not worry – now that’s a luxury you can’t afford these days, especially when you live in the city. To be able to sit and watch the clouds drift idly by, the leaves quiver in their branches, and the day gradually fade into night. No, in this day and age, you’d be called lazy for having your head in the clouds.
But in Kalinga and Sagada, you get the rare opportunity to sit and take everything in – the shape of the mountains, the abundant greens, the mist rolling in, the voices of children playing, the grunting pigs and clucking chickens, and the robust smell of freshly brewed coffee.
Staying still is a skill I have yet to master. I admit, I get restless when I’m not doing anything or going someplace else. But in the mountains, time seems to move slowly. Or at least, the people are not harried, not scampering to keep up with an imaginary ticking clock.
The people’s expressions are peaceful, their movements fluid and graceful. And when I gaze at the old folks’ eyes, I notice that time has not dimmed the sparkle in their eyes. When they smile, their faces light up, and they look truly and genuinely happy.
My heart was happy in Kalinga and Sagada. These were places where I could sit still and not feel guilty for doing so. And that’s saying a lot, considering how much worrying I do when I’m not busy with something. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that – finally relaxing after a hard day at work, only to find yourself thinking about what you’re supposed to do once you’ve stopped relaxing (ironic, isn’t it?).
In the mountains, people work hard, too; they need to earn a living after all. But at the end of the day, they can set it aside, sit down, a mug of hot coffee in hand, a spectacular view in front of them, and be perfectly content where they are, with what they have at that particular place and time.