Me, Mike and Manny circa 1966

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In Search of Inner Light

for the cab driver 

Last night we went ikot-ikot up and down Pasong Tamo, looking for my meditation center, a center I’ve been to for years.  You’d think I might have been able to tell the cab driver.  But it was nighttime in Manila and rain was pouring everywhere.  I haven’t been back since 2008.  Manila changes fast when you’re gone that long. 

We have been traveling with friends or visiting family.  We have been running all over to readings and museums and literary summits on islands far away.

We have been married now for one month and two weeks and we have not spent a moment alone since before the wedding.


So we wanted this moment to ourselves.  To close our eyes and go deep into quiet.  To think of nothing and to see the light that shines so bright.  We wanted to meditate.

Our cab driver chatted us up, had us check with Siri to make sure we knew where we were going.  Made a joke when Siri refused to talk.  “Na wala ang boces niya,” I said.  And though he tried, he could not find the meditation center in the dark.  Could not find it in the rain.  Back and forth we went.  Ikot-ikot.  He must have asked five security guards on the way, “Nasaan ba ito?” And everyone pointed fingers in contrary directions like Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.  We took so long the cabbie had to say, “Sandali, umihi ako” as he threw the cab into park and ran out into the street to pee behind a telephone pole.

Round and round we went. 

“And what if we can’t get a cab going back,” my husband asked me. 

“Relax,” I told him.  “Trust,” I said.  I knew there must be a reason we were not finding the meditation center.   

So did he. "Maybe we should just go back," he said.  I could tell he was trying not to get irritated.

“Just breathe," I said.

When we got to the center, I leapt out of the cab and asked the guard if the people were still meditating.  He pointed to a lady under an umbrella, walking to her car.  “Wala na sila, Ma'am”  The very last yogi was leaving.  We had missed everything.

On the way back to the hotel, I rested my head on my husband’s shoulder.  Our breathing relaxed.  We watched the rain roll down our window.  I counted the drops. We squinted at the jeepney lights coming at us in the dark.  We held hands.  My husband’s eyes went small and his smile wide.

When the doorman at our hotel swung the cab door open and said, “Welcome back,” we laughed.

It took a night of rainy Manila traffic, a series of turns and U-turns to isolate us, quiet us, and give us a moment to breathe.

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