May 12, 2011
My trip to Miri, in the largest Malaysian state of Sarawak, was like a homecoming in many ways. For one, getting the go-signal to take the trip, and therefore be flown by the Sarawak Tourism Board on an all-expenses-paid trip to Miri, was an affirmation of my commitment to my writing and to telling stories that connect us all with each other. My husband reminded me yesterday, “Remember: You are there because of your writing,” and he was absolutely right. Writing and sharing stories has been my passport to this and many other exciting adventures, and it will always be my pillar and comfort zone. I should never, ever forget that even in times of existential funk (such as in the past few weeks).
It was also a long-awaited reunion among old friends. During my first trip to Miri last year, to cover what was then called the Miri International Jazz Festival, I got to bond with an amazing group of journalists from all around the world, throughout the days of the festival and the ensuing NatGeo-ish “post-tour” that some of us had taken to the northernmost Sarawakian districts of Limbang and Lawas (which also required us to cross Brunei). All of us were passionate about travel, music, making connections, and having plain old fun; and the idea of seeing them again this year proved to be very exciting.
True enough, as soon as I got on the plane from Kuala Lumpur to Miri, there was my old friend (Dr.)Madanmohan Rao, a prolific writer, book author, knowledge management specialist, and social media enthusiast from Bangalore. He and I have exchanged books and encouraging words through the years, and I keep up with his tweets to find out the latest on social media and mobile technology from different parts of the world. If I can be hyper sometimes, this guy can be a tornado–a happy one. When he saw me on the plane, he gave a big wave to me and to my seatmate, who turned out to be Michael Lu from the Sarawak Tourism Board. Michael and I spent a bit of time catching up on the two-plus-hour plane ride going to Miri, and it was definitely like seeing old classmates again (in a good way).
Then the evening found me reconnecting with other dear friends, as well as one of my “sisters” in Writer’s Block Philippines, Ana Santos, who turned out to be my roommate. The night felt like a slumber party, and for the first time in weeks, I found myself sharing thoughts, fears, and revelations to someone else other than my husband (who I think by now has memorized my “script” for the past few weeks). When you’re in any kind of confusion about who you are, what you’re meant to do, and where you’re meant to be, it’s always great to have someone who’s been there, done that, and survived all of it pretty well. That’s what Ana is, and she represents so much more strength, courage, and savvy that I’d like to have. I thank the Universe for this little opportunity for girl bonding time (and in a foreign country, at that!).
Most of all, what this trip has reminded me of is my inextricable connection to words, music, and people. I will never tire of words in the same way that I will never tire of music and people. At a time when my spirit feels quite low, I can always count on the amazing energy of these seemingly abstract concepts to bring me back to life.
For all of these, I am eternally grateful to the Universe. 🙂