So I dropped off a friend Z at her office (I borrowed her boyfriend's coat for an upcoming wedding) and talked to the Grab driver. He left his night-shift job four years ago to pursue what he loves the most: driving. He was so passionate about it (he used his word 'passion' to describe his love for driving, a rarity nowadays, save for that faccon) that he drives when he's stressed from work, or at every chance he gets, usually by tagging along his officemates. Driving calms him down, improves his mood, stabilizes his blood pressure, heightens his immune system... Although he didn't sell it this way, it's like he's found the elixir of life or something. I said I only know another man who has the same passion, a deputy court administrator (Mr. Y.) that I had to interview for my work: we're writing him a feature, and one of our questions was, What does he do during his downtime? Mr. Y. said the same thing; he gets excited with long drives to Quezon Province, for example, where he grew up. The Grab driver shares the sentiment: He particularly loves it when a customer books him to drive to far-flung places like Bulacan or Nasugbu with his Spotify playlists in tow. (A good tip: he even chooses playlists depending on his customer's mood: his previous customer was very sleepy, so he tuned in to a classical playlist. A TedX talk with piano at the background...

I asked: How was he able to stick to it for four years? With a very positive mindset. He said he starts his day (his daily schedule is 5PM to 3AM) with a positive mindset. He's also traded off his 'toxic' set of driver friends (those who rant about the traffic, I guess?) for friends with similar outlook and goals, friends who are supportive of each other's 'daily targets', etc. It also helped that ever since he was a kid, he already dreamed of having a car: he was a working student when he bought a scooter, then a second-hand car, and then a brand new car. He also collects toy cars and magazines about cars on the side. (He's a regular at Filbar's and Booksale.)

The conversation left me baffled as soon as I got to my destination. Just by the way he talked and shared his story, you can sense that he's contented already - he's very happy - and it's contagious. I couldn't put the feeling into words, but that brief, thirty-minute conversation from Madrigal to Tunasan just energized me. I never got to ask him his plans after, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's going to keep on driving, taking care of his family and collecting toy cars on the side.

What a breath of fresh air (and a great start to 2020) - I didn't know I was in for a brilliant TedX talk without all the buzzwords and the minimalist presentation. The message, however, is crystal clear and simple: Do what you love. I'm sure this driver went through a lot of pushbacks and detours along the way, but he persevered because he knows his goal. No wonder: He already was able to buy two cars and a house and lot after four years of driving! What a lucky guy.

What I couldn't forget was the story he shared: that awkward shared ride when a girl and her supposed boyfriend at the back was talking about the guy who just got down - apparently it was the girl's boyfriend... ("It felt like the longest ride of my life.")