Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pathologic Planning

I am a doctor - an internist to be exact. The thing with us doctors, internists in particular, is that we are naturally obsessive-compulsive. We love to make well-defined plans. Every course of action has to be carefully calculated, accurate, precise, with a vivid outcome already foreseen, and every possible problem taken into account. Being a recent convert to the preachings of evidence-based medicine, it's almost second nature for me to calculate risks, analyze cost versus benefit, quantify opportunity costs. In my mind are algorithms, practice guidelines, ready solutions to the possibilities of the occurence of the dreaded what-ifs.

I am also a traveller, albeit a new one, just taking her first few steps towards the realm of the unknown. I enjoy going around the most remote of places, talking to people I've never met, watching foreign lives unravel in front of me while I remain unnoticed, silently being part of conversations spoken in strange tongues I do not even understand. I read somewhere that while a tourist sees what he has come to see, the traveller sees what he sees. The way I understand this, one must completely erase all expectations, all preconceived notions, in order to see what is to be seen.

I am a doctor, an internist to be exact. And I, with all sincerity and dedication, intend to be a traveller. I struggle to find the middle ground between these two opposing natures - the internist who plans, and the traveller who absorbs every moment.

This struggle hasn't been an easy one. It was even hilarious. I remember last year, I brought some of my friends to my hometown in Digos. I had my plans ready one month before the trip. The itinerary was perfectly laid out. It was even on powerpoint, complete with pictures (yikes!). On the day of their arrival, too many misfortunes just seemed to happen. The car's windshield was shattered by a stone that appeared out of nowhere on the way to the airport, my camera suddenly just wouldn't work, and on our way to the foot of Mt. Apo, a steel shaft of our vehicle broke rendering it dangerous and almost useless that we had to hitch a ride in the middle of a wilderness. We ended up riding an open truck in pitch dark and just when we thought we were almost home we had to head back to a few hundred meters away from where we broke down and go down the mountain road all over again.

Oh boy, that was fun! It was a chance to rediscover old friends and further strengthen old bonds. Until now, I still remember Claire and Fe with a certain fondness and a strange nostalgia for that moment - sitting on a spare tire at the back of a truck that's used to deliver hogs on a chilly Mt. Apo evening, hungry but laughing and counting stars. In fact, that was probably the birth of our now growing semi-travel-club. Perhaps subconsciously, we wanted more of those adventures. And something tells me we're bound to have more of them in the years to come.

Tonight I'm again trying to repress the pathologic planner in me. In less than 24 hours, I'll be flying to Dumaguete with two of my greatest and most reliable travel buddies. One of them has just recently reminded me to bring my Lonely Planet and my Dumaguete map (yes, OC-OC Jean bought a map!). Sigh. Some people are blessed enough to resist the urge to plan. How can they be comfortable with no schedule in mind? We'll plan when we get there. Ugh!

I'm writing this blog entry as an attempt to fight off the urge to make an itinerary. I am not making a detailed schedule tonight. I will not make hotel bookings and even make arrangements for possible extra beds. I will not be contacting boatmen and haggle for lower prices. I am not searching the internet to choose the best restaurants to eat in. I will not even attempt to find out the schedule of Sunday mass and memorize the local emergency numbers.

We'll plan when we get there. Yeah right. We'll see. In Dumaguete, I will just breathe and enjoy the moment.

(But yes, I do have my beta-blockers ready.)


dr_clairebear said...

that ride on the delivery truck was one of the highlights of that trip. :P seriously, it really was a fun trip, even if all our plans seemed to go awry. and, yes, i put a lot of stock in being able to count all those stars. :)

i was simply amazed at the kindness of strangers - and as a traveler myself, now a transplant in a city of strangers, i have come to treasure.

have fun in dumaguete - even if it is without me. :P you have to ask vicvic about the latest laugh trip kuwento i told her this morning when i called to greet her.

be safe and enjoy your next adventure!

ps. thanks for taking my mom's call. :)

Walking on Water said...

yes claire, i think that's one of the reasons why we travel. we get reminded that people are still basically good.

i heard about your elevated status as a pick-up girl. hehe. i'll find out more about it from vicvic tomorrow.