Posted at 02/06/2014 4:49 PM

Along with many others, we needed to breathe the cold Baguio air. My husband made the arrangements and decided that we would take the bus since we would be staying within the busiest part of the city.

Legally speaking…

Traffic was heavy on our way to the station, so we were lucky our bus came late because we would have missed our trip! Chance passengers filled the station, so taking the next available bus could mean leaving the next day. The trip took 8 hours, something I was not prepared for. Going to Sorsogon by bus took just a little longer than that, but I’m usually mentally prepared for such a long trip.

When we arrived, we had to wait another hour to get our return tickets. I stayed at the waiting area of the station and kept watch over our bags. I loved watching people at the terminal, trying to guess what they were to each other by their actions. I noticed that some were more mindful of their companions’ needs—more caring, actually. Some carelessly left empty pet bottles and wrappers, while others left more important stuff like jackets and bags.

Milestones and Transitions

It dawned on me that terminals are like life’s milestones. They are transitions that bring out the best—or the worst in us. How we react to difficult situations, how well we plan our trips, how well we accept things we are unable to change and what we do with those we can—all these become evident when we are at terminals or transitions in life.

In Nursing Made Incredibly Easy! (August 2013, Volume 11 Number 4), Tabatha R. Mauldin MSN, RN, CPN, MT(ASCP) wrote, “According to Erikson, we experience a range of psychosocial challenges or conflicts based on eight stages of life. By facing the challenges or conflicts in each stage, we can successfully progress through that stage to the next.” (http://www.nursingcenter.com/lnc/CEArticle?an=00152258-201307000-00009&Journal_ID=417221&Issue_ID=1573430)

When we are able to cope with these difficult situations, we are able to surmount the obstacles that we face. Whether we are able to leave on the bus at the time we expected to or not, being able to move ahead, to decide whether to stay or take another route, is what matters. We do not get stuck in a bus terminal when there are no more seats available!

Having gotten our return tickets, we proceeded to our hotel and planned our stay. We made a list of what we wanted to eat and where we wanted to go. We attempted to go to the Good Shepherd Sisters but decided not to get off the taxi we boarded. Traffic was so heavy on the road leading to Mines View Park, so we just went back to Session Road.

Finding Comfort in Familiar Things

From then on, we were content with going to places within walking distance. Everything seemed to fall into place: we found strawberries and Sagada oranges that were so sweet and succulent, we rediscovered an old fastfood outlet that used to be our favorite, we were so thankful to find an old bakery that made (what we consider) the best cinnamon rolls ever where it has always stood. Session Road always seems in transition and seeing haunts like that old bakery was truly comforting.

We enjoyed coffee and dessert with some close friends who, we were surprised to learn, spent a little over an hour more than we did on the road despite having taken the shorter route in their own cars. To me, that brief exchange of details and how we felt about our journeys was like talking about how the day went with my own children. Again, there was much comfort in seeing familiar faces and spending time with them in a place far from home.

On our way back, we met a group of noisy but pleasant young people in their 30s who said that they had to take two different buses to Baguio because they had not expected to compete with the “chance passengers” on the day they left Manila. The bus had a flat tire somewhere in Pangasinan but only two expressed frustration over our situation. The rest simply got off the bus to look for restrooms or food to eat.

Never Beyond One’s Means

We learned so much from that trip. Foremost was not to assume that few people would think of spending a three-day weekend in a place that is usually accessible and fun like Baguio.

Second was that terminals, like transitions, may seem difficult and confusing, but planning ahead can ease things a lot, but it’s how we regard our situation that counts. Challenges bigger than us need not be insurmountable, if we are able to take a few steps back and look at them at different angles.

We also learned that though change is inevitable and is often good, being able to look back and experience something familiar can stir in us something that will allow us to enjoy the new things better, even more intensely.

As I sat down to write, I suddenly remembered a line often heard during our retreat in senior high school: You are never tested beyond your means. From now on, I will view terminals in a different light: as mere transitions to places I am going to.