Nov 24, 2010.
It's the day before thanksgiving and all was... wait, that's for christmas. Anyways, pre-thanksgiving for me meant, early day at work, haircut (I am now back to getting carded for alcohol..grrrr), and quiet dinner with Mom at a local seafood restaurant. What a difference a year make. The atmosphere and demeanor of both my mother and I greatly changed this past year. We talked about that, about my Mom's subtle sadness that soon, I will leave her again for nearly 2 months, and about the future. But we are both at peace and hopeful about the future. For once, I am truly happy of where I am, what I want to do, and all the people who are in my life. She too, is happy for me. Instead of the floundering fool she had for a son, she says she is proud of who I am becoming. Also, we talked about her future. I am slowly convincing her that retirement should not be the start of the end. Instead, if she is willing, it is the beginning of a new life. I know my mother and I know that once she starts this new life, she will love it. And so, with a growing sense of excitement, my mother sees the potential within her and starts to actually grasp the idea that her future, the last chapter of her life, can be as beautiful as she wishes to make it. I am therefore, ecstatic that the first step she will take will be to visit the remote villages of Vietnam during her Vietnam trip in 1 month. Unlike before where she spent countless hours sitting around in Ho Chi Minh City, she will be travelling to remote villages of the Mekong delta, and seeking out impoverished families to donate money to them. That will be her gift to her relatives (although I think that, knowing them, they will not be thrilled to know that the money that was supposed to go to them as gifts was spent on strangers). She will also be heading to Thailand or Laos next year to volunteer. If all goes as she wishes, she may decide to start something. I am completely supportive and extremely happy of her new path. I will support her in any way that I can. It is the least that I can do for her insurmountable amount of support she had always placed in me. It was a good dinner that started out with a quiet sadness but ended with hope.
Nov 25, 2010
Thanksgiving, thanksgiving, everywhere on TV it is thanksgiving....well at least in the US. 6 hours before it officially became thanksgiving in the US, I had wished all of my American friends who were still in Uganda a happy thanksgiving. That led to Leah P (co-founder of Musana) and others' description to me of their fun and memorable version of thanksgiving party abroad. Suddenly, I wanted to be there, with them. At the same time I am happy that they were enjoying themselves. Later, I called Pipih and had a great conversation. Talking to him always make me laugh and this time, I laughed harder. He had asked me about why another friend had liked his picture and I erroneously thought of a funny reason, and proceed to give him a hard time. When I asked the other friend, AN, her answer again reminded me of why I have always thought of her as this wonderful and beautiful creature. This made me think deeper about how things have changed since last year and make me appreciative of the changes. I have discovered that lately, I am surrounded by some of the most wonderful people one could ever meet. These people have great and open minds, generous spirits, and epitomize the cliche "beautiful inside and out". And the miraculous thing is that, last year, I could not call them my friends. At this time last year, I have not met people like Andrea, Leah, Sally, Jackie S, Lacey, Jen, and Pipih. I was such a jerk that I could not call Ashley my friend (hah hah, a more apt word may be "jackass"). And my mother, despite her support of me, felt a sense of sadness for who I was. All of that no longer exist this year. Instead, I am constantly amazed and re-invigorated by the conversations I have with these people. I know that no matter how drained I feel by the materialism and spoiled ways of thinking by others (and by the so-called-friends) around me, each week, I will be recharged by either my conversation with Pipih or Betty, or the occassional emails by L.P and A.N. To be honest, I feel emotionally spoiled as I think that any human being would be blessed to have correspondences from just one of those people. So considering that I heard from Pipih, LP, and AN, all in one day, I consider my thanksgiving a pretty damn good day.
Some of my friends always wondered why Uganda was such a significant trip for me. It is difficult to give an eloquent response. However, I have been reading a book by Hermann Hesse entitled "Siddhartha". This morning, I came upon a long passage that for the most part encapsulates the transition I felt while I was in Uganda (and for some part, even now, I still do). While I was there, I could feel the changes within me whenever I visit the orphans in the villages or just sit around Musana and watch the orphans play. And so, here is the passage:
"He felt joy welling up gloriously within his breast.
Tell me, he asked his heart, what is the source of all this gladness? Might it come from this long, good slumber that has so restored me? Or from the word Om that I uttered? Or because I have escaped, because my flight was successful, because I am finally free again and standing like a child beneath the sky? Oh, how good it is to have fled, to have become free! How pure and beautiful the air is here, how good it is to breate it! In the place I ran from, everything smelled of lotions, of spices, of wine, of excess, of lethargy. How I hated the world of rich men, of gluttons, of gamblers! How I hated myself for having remained so long in that hideous world! How I hated myself; how I robbed myself, poisoned and tormented myself; how I made myself old and wicked! No, never again will I imagine, as I once enjoyed doing, that Siddhartha was a wiseman! But one thing I did do well, one thing pleases me, which I must praise: All my self-hatred has now come to an end, along with that idiotic, desolate existence! I praise you, Siddhartha. After all these years of idiocy, you for once had a good idea; you did something; you heard the bird singing in your breast and followed it!
....He has tasted his share of sorrow and misery these past days and times, tasted them and spit them out, eaten of them till he had reached the point of despair, of death. All was well. He might have remained a great while longer at Kamaswami's side, earning money, squandering money, stuffing his belly and letting his soul thirst; he might have gone on living a great while longer in this cozy well-uphostered hell if that moment had not come: that moment of utter despondency and despair, that extreme moment when he was hanging above the flowing water, ready to destroy himself. That he had felt this despair, this deepest nausea, and yet had not succumbed to it, that the bird, the happy fountainhead and voice within him, had remained alive after all - it was because of all these things that he now felt such joy, that he laughed, that his face beaming beneath his gray hair.
It is good, he thought, to taste for oneself all that it necessary to know. Already as a child I learned that wordly desires and wealth were not good things. I have known this for a long time but have only now experienced it. And now I do know it, know it not only with memory but with my eyes, with my heart, and with my stomach. How glad I am to know it!"