10 Minutes
By: Rachel Ann Biclar Pedroso
     I’m typing this from my small, worn-out bed at the 4th Floor of a hospital provided hostel, at a place where I have spent 26 months of growing, surviving and learning the different avenues of an overseas Filipino worker’s life.  My workplace is a 10-minute cozy walk from my room. And as far as the Bundy clock is concerned, I will most of the time punched in 15-30 minute earlier than the schedule. Due to boredom or fear of being reprimanded, those precious minutes before going on duty were the best minutes of my day _ they lead my personal world to commune with the universe.
     A 10-minute walk towards the hospital is worth 10 pages of contemplating matters such as love and sorrow, joys and griefs, families and foes, work and ethics, or complaints and commentaries. Every footstep a tic-toc of success or a bearer of terror. Each glide, I move forward with ease and comfort, happy to deliver my nursing care. In my excitement, though, I sometimes fail to see the slippery floor. Falling from my catwalk, I get up and smile awkwardly to my foreign eye-witnesses. “It’s ok”, I’m very good at reminding myself this cliché every day. Sprained ankle can be managed. I just have to be careful next time.  Because sometimes, a familiar path can be trickier than unknown valleys.
     A 10-minute walking spree can be a 10 stanza poem from a poet’s hastily strung words of therapeutic choices or painful journeys. Personally, I will quietly recite a 10-liner free flow of events, feelings, and thoughts. Or if I’m lucky, I can compose a 10 paragraphed essay of my daily encounter. My drafts will be incorrigible at first but as soon as I greet my first hello, I can define the topic of my story_where the cause, order, and purpose attempts to make me humane as a human.
     My 10-minute walk will not always be 10 minutes. Sometimes it will take me 15 or 20 minutes to reach my destination. I will stop by at the Bundy clock longer to catch up with a friend. We will discuss trending topics or current hospital events. At the end, I will always hang up with a “See you next time” by-liner. Listening to their stories has been my heart’s addiction. I don’t really mind the content of the tete a tete or if the words were spoken with contempt, I am hungry with each syllable, feverish with the rise and fall of the intonation, hoping that in the future I will be able to compose a 10-chapter book out from the conversation.
     My attendance and punctuality are not perfect. I had occasional 10 minutes grace period from before and during those moments, I certainly felt like dying of shame and loss. When I run to the Bundy clock to speed up time, I miss the tranquility and healing power of my 10-minute catwalk. I miss the casual talks of familiar strangers who narrate their story with passion. I miss the tic toc of the clock. How every second count and how every minute makes a difference. I miss the lazy sound of my shoes as it hits the ground when it blends with the playful chatter of the Arabian breeze. I miss the synchronous footsteps of fellow caregivers and the monochromatic sound of wheelchair tires.
     I feel free and unfree, always entranced by my 10-minute walk towards the hospital. As always, these are the best minutes of my day. Wondering silently and wandering through every nook and windows of life. The door, the sofa, the white wall, they add spices to my daily journey. The familiar smile, the curious glance, the confident walk will always be a beautiful accessory. The awkward greetings and the painful partings will always be regarded with importance. “Walk”, I tell myself, walk slowly.  Stop and listen. Every tic toc has a story.
     My 10-minute daily journey can be produced in a 10-minute or a 10-hour documentary. It can be honestly brutal and beautifully terrifying but it carries a single logic: To live fully. #rabpedroso
Rachel Ann Pedroso, 29, dreams of becoming the next Martha Cecilia of the Philippines.