It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. With sadness there is something to rub against, A wound to tend with lotion and cloth. When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, Something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats. It doesn’t need you to hold it down. It doesn’t need anything. Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing, And disappears when it wants to. You are happy either way. Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house And now live over a quarry of noise and dust Cannot make you unhappy. Everything has a life of its own, It too could wake up filled with possibilities Of coffee cake and ripe peaches, And love even the floor which needs to be swept, The soiled linens and scratched records….
Since there is no place large enough To contain so much happiness, You shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you Into everything you touch. You are not responsible. You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit For the moon, but continues to hold it, and to share it, And in that way, be known.
Wow. It was only a couple days ago that I found myself in some of the deepest, muddiest, greenest, most raw slums of the Mekong Delta… and this weekend, I’ll be traipsing on the cement sidewalks of Los Angeles and New York City. Just reading that sentence gives me jet lag.
…Not that I mind jet lag. Usually when I come home from a faraway land, those days of catching up on sleep are full of fun, nostalgic dreams… and my disoriented internal body clock makes the transition between worlds feel even more surreal. It’s almost as if that slowly diminishing link to my old body’s internal clock is the last physical/mental connection I’ll have with Vietnam for a while… a beautiful memory residue.
For those of you who didn’t know, I’m leaving Vietnam and moving back to New York next week for an indefinite amount of time. For several months, I’ve contemplated every little intricacy of this life decision until I simply ran out of questions to ask myself. Of course, there were some exciting opportunities here waiting for me in this beautiful country- opportunities that could have really helped further expand my professional skill set and give me invaluable experience in my field and interests.
But, like always, timing is the trump card in this game of life, and it’s clear that I need to change environments for a bit of time. I want to nurture my old relationships before they all slip away. I want to be an active part of my family again. I want a break from the working world of Vietnam, so I can rebuild my mental well-being. I want to feel like I’m in my 20’s, not in my 50’s. I want to feel creative again, be surrounded by good music, art, & fashion, fall in love with environments and people, and laugh with more and more human beings.
The overarching theme: I’ve learned that I need to take care of myself and my needs a bit more, before I sacrifice and compromise for so many others. That way, once I do [inevitably] come back to this work, I’ll have a stronger foundation, a healthier balance, and more developed skills that’ll allow me to contribute so much more than I could now. [Individual capacity building! Whuh whuh.]
I’m extremely excited for this mysterious new chapter to begin. Leaving doesn’t feel as difficult or as dramatic as previous times. Perhaps it’s because I’ve left my comfort zone too many times now, and Vietnam gradually became an additional comfort zone. What does this mean? It means that I know I’ll be back very soon for a visit, probably summer of 2012. My work with Vietnam will never be done. My relationships in Vietnam will only get stronger.
I’m still a bit intimidated of that unavoidable disconnect that I’ll have with friends and family again, even though I already have “experience” with it from my first year back. I just need to remember to constantly remind myself of how I overcame that disconnect and reverse culture shock last time. Thus, I will try my hardest not to regurgitate Vietnam references within every conversation. I will accept that most people won’t want to hear my old stories, but will be more focused on creating new memories with me (which is nice.) I will stop comparing prices and accept that my New York life will be about 20x more expensive than my Hue life. And I will try extra hard to find ways to connect my two worlds, personally and professionally. Man, what a worthy challenge.
Thanks to tumblr, I now have a pretty picture book to always celebrate this incredible, unforgettable year in Hue- a year of good food, beautiful cafes, travels, new companionship, professional experience, oh- and fatherhood.
What new experiences will come with this year, Ghost of Experiences Yet To Come? Whatever they are and whenever they come, I’ll be ready to photograph and celebrate every g’damn, gorgeous moment.