Chuyện văn hoá

Cách suy nghĩ không còn như vậy nữa. Cách tư duy, cách phản biện, hay cách đáp trả, không còn như vậy nữa.

Mình thay đổi rồi và sẽ không bao giờ quay lại là mình của trước kia được nữa.

Sáng thức dậy nhận được vài ba cái tin nhắn. Một trong số đó làm mình nghĩ thầm, “Nhảm nhí quá ba ơi,” và mình cũng biết luôn mình nghĩ vậy là sai. Nhưng mình thấy nhảm thật, dù đó cũng có thể coi là cách nói chuyện mà mình từng quen thuộc với người mà mình từng quen thuộc.

Mình trở nên bình tĩnh hơn vì những cuộc trò chuyện xung quanh mình đôi khi sẽ chạm vào những vấn đề, những tình huống mà mình không thể đồng tình được. Vì cách suy nghĩ của mình khác đi. Mình không nói mình trưởng thành hơn, mình không nói mình đúng đắn hơn, mình chỉ bảo khác đi. Và chỉ hai từ khác đi cũng đủ tạo nên khoảng cách.

Nỗi sợ còn to hơn: sợ quay về và sợ những ngày ngồi vào bàn ăn với gia đình, nhỏ và lớn. Ừa, haha. Sợ những thói quen hằng ngày rồi sẽ phải thay đổi, vì “đây không phải là cái người Việt làm” hay “càng ngày càng giống Việt kiều rồi ha”. Không, mình không giống ai hết, mình chỉ là chính mình nhưng được bỏ vào một chút gia vị của vùng đất mới, của cái xứ lạ mà muối được đặt trên bàn ăn, ai thích thì tự thêm vào. Của cái xứ lạ dạy mình cách chào hỏi, cách ăn nói, để có thể hoà nhập, và hopefully sống một cuộc sống bình thường hơn. Bình thường hơn là bị dòm ngó vì khác biệt.

Chắc chuyện văn hoá là chủ đề cũng có hơi nhàm chán và bình thường với mọi người, nhỉ. Với mình cũng vậy, nhưng chuyện về cách suy nghĩ lại là chuyện khác lắm. Hai ngôn ngữ. Hai văn hoá. Hai môi trường. Hai lối sống khác nhau. Nề nếp. Luật lệ. Khác nhau.

Nhưng không đồng nghĩa với tốt hơn các cậu ạ.

Mình nghĩ cái nền của sự cô đơn mà du học sinh phải trải qua là câu chuyện về assumptions. Về “chắc bên Mỹ thì cái này cái kia tiện lắm”, “hay chắc bên Mỹ thì cái gì cũng hơn Việt Nam” nên không bao giờ có ai muốn nghĩ tới một vài câu chào hỏi “ừa dạo này có mệt không”, “bài vở có nhiều không”, “có bị choáng ngợp không”.

Ở bển có điều kiện làm mọi thứ rồi, đâu có giống ở Việt Nam thiếu thốn đâu nên nói câu nào cũng thiếu thực tế. Đâu phải cứ cố gắng là được.

Cái nền đến từ suy nghĩ. Một khi người ta đã assume cái này cái kia thì người ta không bao giờ muốn nhường bước cho những cái khác tốt hơn, hay đơn giản chỉ cho một vài suy nghĩ thật của những đứa con xa nhà len lỏi vào. Người ta nghĩ đến một đất nước giàu hơn thì đồng nghĩa với việc bạn sẽ vui vẻ hơn. Người ta nghĩ đến một đất nước phát triển hơn đồng nghĩa với bạn sẽ coi thường người ta hơn.

Mình bảo là không. Nhưng chính những ý niệm như vậy là cốt lõi dẫn đến sự xa cách. Dẫn đến mình và bạn bước bước đẩy nhau ra.

Mình sẽ kết tại đây, vì mình hứa sẽ mua bánh cho bạn vì hôm nay sinh nhật bạn, và mình bị trễ giờ rồi.

À chưa kết. Mình nghĩ bản lĩnh của mỗi người sẽ là cái quyết định một người đi được đến đâu. Bạn bè sẽ không rơi từ trên trời xuống. Kiến thức giống như Calcium, có thể có ở mọi nơi nhưng nếu bạn không có vitamin D thì chịu thôi. Đều là câu chuyện bản lĩnh cả. Dễ dàng là khi được về nhà chăn ấm nệm êm, một nhúm wifi và một nhúm phim hay. Dễ dàng là khi đến trường cắm mặt vào bài vở trong một góc thư viện, không quan tâm, không ngắm nghía gì ai. Dăm ba người bạn nói tiếng mẹ đẻ của mình ở xung quanh. Dăm ba câu đùa mà mình chưa từng hứng thú.

Vậy nên cần bản lĩnh để bước ra khỏi những cái vỏ bọc đó, để make the most of everything. Để có những người bạn tới từ mọi vùng miền khác nhau. Để tìm được chính xác những con người mà mình có thể gọi là chí cốt. Để học hỏi, và để thoát bản thân khỏi những định kiến đã có sẵn từ rất lâu.

Có cho chọn lại cũng sẽ chọn đi du học. Vì nếu không đi thì chắc bây giờ mình còn đau đầu nhức não tự hỏi bản thân là ai và bản thân làm được những gì. Vì nếu không đi thì chắc bây giờ đã hình thành nhiều loại assumptions bào mòn suy nghĩ của mình dần dần. Nên ừa hơi cô đơn xíu, nhưng mà cũng ổn cả thôi.

Và tiền là một vấn đề khác. Vậy ha.

I try my best to put myself together, only to realize He has a better, and perhaps bigger, plan.

Stefa talked about how we all are trying to put ourselves together on the day when I was falling apart. I couldn’t figure out who I am and what I want to do. I couldn’t understand why I am loved and whether I deserve love.

That day, I told Christ that I know what is going on in my head. I understand myself so well that only me know how flawed I am. Like, I am really, really, truly a mess. I wouldn’t deserve any love. I don’t know if that’s obvious enough to others, but if it’s not, then the bottom line is that I have successfully put on that mask to become someone better, not that I am better than who I think I am.

As a firstborn, even though I’m 8 years older than my sibling, there are always things that we both want but have to share. And so as I age, I learn to say, “Here, just take it if you want it,” more to my little sister. I learn to receive less but still feel full. Seeing her getting the things she always long for already brings me good.

When Christ asked me if I wanted the gift of God, I hesitated. Because I know I am flawed and I do not, not at all, deserve any gift of any kinds of anybody. The first thought came to my mind was… “I would say I want to save God’s good gifts for other people. I would volunteer to be the last in line, because I believe many others need them more than I do.” (That was stupid of me, I admit) It’s the feeling of “in a relationship, if love is there, you need no materials to be closer to each other”. It’s also the feeling of “I want to share” just like when I want to give my sister everything. I want to share because I might not spend the gift the way it is supposed to be used, and I would just ruin it. The gift of God, to me, needed being in good hands. Not mine, obviously. I want to share because I’m afraid of being responsible. I wouldn’t ruin anything if I never hold them in my hands.

But I guess we are just all like that. Everybody in the room is trying to work things out. We all have those problems we thought we could never overcome. And then we did. And then we have other problems to think about. None of us deserve anything. This is not my opinion. It’s a fact. Every person in line does not deserve anything. Yet there is still love poured out on us, and the presents are more than just enough. The question is not “Do you want to receive God’s present”, but it is “Do you want MORE?” Because there is more.

It took me a long time to realize the problem is not that God doesn’t have enough to give His children, but rather I don’t trust Him enough to let Him be God, let Him be my Father. I need to just ask. But that part I hesitate. I need to just ask my parents for more. But I hesitate.

I have been reading this blog of this guy, who I believe is not a total stranger because I have seen him many times, but still I don’t know much about him. By seeing him from afar, I come to admire him. Things he had done are things I have dreamed to do. Travel. Share the Gospels. Love. Inspire others.

But his blog is a whole different story. I couldn’t read every single post because I was afraid if I keep reading, more of him will reveal, and more of him will tell me that yes, he is just a person trying to figure things out. He has those worries. He at times also falls apart. Just like me. Just like every single person in the room. Not my room, but a bigger one. The one with 450 people, for example. His words were and are sincere. And I’m afraid if I keep reading, I would step too deep in his privacy, in his life, in his mind. I backed up. Respect. Yet I have seen enough.

I still admire him, though, after all those brokenness, because I see him as a different yet better version of me. Perhaps it’s because he’s 5 years older than me. When I take time to think more about him and about what he writes, I see me with the same concerns, and he figured them all out, and he wrote about them, as a way to keep track, just like me, I guess, but also for me as a way to save others. He somehow saves me. Like a guideline.

Again, I’m just a person seeing him from very, very far away, so I cannot say much about who he is or what he longs for. But words are sincere, as I have always believed.

He struggled with decisions. He concerned about how to fundraise enough money for his mission trips. He talked and wrote about his doubts, but also his hopes. And I understand. How that feels. Remember those days when I woke up crying and praying and asking God to provide. Remember those days when fundraising was a huge stress because I have to break too much of my boundaries, have to step too further out of my comfort zone. I understand what he talked about. I get it. And yet he seemed to find the right way to deal with everything. Not exactly everything. But most things.

I deserve no love. That is true. Hands down.

I am flawed.

I am just a person with fear and concerns and doubts, not only in myself but many times in our Creator.

And yet He loves me enough to die for me.

He loves me enough to give up His Son for my sins and for human sins.

And I doubt Him, how lame is that.

He was right. That blogger. That believer. Whoever he is. He is right.

We are all broken. I am now feeling broken, and lonely, and tired, and hopeless. I am tired of waking up because there would just be this silence, this emptiness in a messy room. I am tired of trying to choose between options, while at the back of my mind there is always this feeling of “There is no way I’m gonna choose the right things. I’m too stupid for that.” I am tired of giving too much of myself, of fighting the battle of becoming better than I was yesterday.

Being able to live is a blessing. And I’m afraid that’s too big of a gift that I don’t want to ruin, but trying not to ruin it is another hard thing.

But I guess I need to believe He will provide me more than I need. He will provide me as long as I trust in Him. I just need to let Him be God. Amen.

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Hmm and hey if you the blogger I mentioned ever come across this, I want to thank you because to me you and your life are a piece of art. I wouldn’t want to watch your life on mute, because the words you speak are inspiring, but even though it is mute, it is still great.

And if you feel offensive because I intrude your privacy, I don’t know. I believe I intruded it for good, so I beg for forgiveness then. That’s all I can do. Thank you.

A work of art

Another day of snow. A good time to write, I guess.

I would start with this:

If someone watch a day of your life on mute, what message would it speak? Would it look like a work of art?

My answer is yes and no. I cannot actually imagine my life on mute or imagine myself watching it, so I cannot actually tell.

I said yes because a big part of my life doesn’t have any sound, so it doesn’t matter if it’s on mute or not, because it would just be the same. Those are times when I read and write. When I walk and run. When I stop in the middle of the street to take photos of things. My thoughts are processed inside my head, and more than half of them is hidden. So I guess there would be no changes at all if it’s on mute. I wonder if it’s a work of art, though. I said yes because those moments when I do things alone, I direct my thinking towards God, and that’s how we define the work of art here. I pray while walking. I talk to God while doing daily things. I read the Words of God and write to praise Him. I proudly say yes, I create art for Him.

But still, there is a “no” part of it. My friend said all sins are the same in the eyes of God. It doesn’t matter if you lie or you hurt someone, because they’re all the same. They are all bad. That’s all we need to know. And as humans, we are sinful. We never learn to love our enemies. We don’t always choose God over our wants. We are given free will by God, and we thank Him by using it for ourselves, pushing us away from Him.

When my life’s on mute, I would say there will be just so many moments when I destroy my own work of art. My facial expression when I’m angry. My steps when I did not want to go to church. My ‘hunger’ (I believe that’s the right word to say this) for money when I work more than I need to. Those little things. They pile up, and eventually when I don’t notice, they destroy my piece of art.

I realize that there are just always more and more things for me to improve on in my life, or to be more artistic. I can become a better version of myself yesterday, I can just keep wanting to be better, because there would be no day that I’ll perfect. Walking step by step with Jesus is hard, but I guess the reward is worthy. Every community needs artists who are willing to live their lives towards God.

I don’t fully understand what the work of at actually is about. I would say that it’s when I love not only the person who loves me, but also my enemies. I would say that it’s when I try my best for the kingdom, not for myself. I don’t actually know.

Or maybe we don’t ever need to actually understand. The goal is to be more like God, not to be God.

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I would end with, “I don’t know”.

Maya and I

I randomly walked into my workplace today, which I don’t usually do because I believe going to a place so many times will make me bored of it. And obviously, I don’t want to get bored of a place at which I would eventually have to work four days a week.

Anyway, I went to the Writing Center today, thinking I would just chitchat with my co-workers in there, and I ended up helping them out for quite a bit. Maya, our lead for the day, was working on the announcement board, so I stepped in to help her organize it.

The flyers supposed to go on the announcement board were about literature and composition courses that the school offers next quarter. Maya asked me how we could organize them so that people will recognize some of them are in the “Composition” category while the others are in “Literature”.

I suggest we start with just anywhere.

I said.

So she started to put the flyers somewhere. And she did it neatly. Every flyer was line to line. Horizontally. Vertically. Like when you create a table in Microsoft Word.

And this is where the fun came.

Hey Maya, I don’t do things line to line. – I said

But I always decorate my room neatly like this! – she said

I decorate my room by putting things randomly haha. – I said

We ended up each person doing half of the board the way we wanted, and they blended with each other so well at last. She would say which part she prefers it to be neatly, and I would say I agree or disagree with that. It is nice that she listens to my ideas. My supervisor laughed at us because she loves the idea that we are so different from each other. We high-fived because the announcement board looked great.

Maya and I, we are an interesting combination.

There was a time I borrowed her poetry book, and as soon as I had the book on my hands, I started unfolding folded pages because they bothered me so much. (I use bookmarks) Meanwhile, she stared at me until eventually said,

Hey do you mind not unfolding them? Those mark the poems I like most.

See? We are just so different, but I realized that these differences are those I can learn from. I have met many people in my life who agree upon things I can never understand. With Maya, it’s more like we are from different paths but walking towards the same destination.

Let me demonstrate this in a better way.

There are two types of people on Earth, according to me in this situation.

Image result for smaller than sign
This is the first type of people.

I just can never stand these people. They say funny things and I would laugh at them and leave. Keep working with them takes lots of patience because they would never understand why I think the way I think. We would walk in very different directions.

Image result for greater than sign
This is the second type of people.

We are from totally separated starting point “walking towards the same destination”. Maya and I wanted to have our announcement board look good, so we decided on representing it as a board showing how part of it seems to be tidy, while the other part is messy, just like us, just as the Writing Center is the combination of people of various backgrounds.

Being with Maya helps me learn more about her. She respects my perspective as I respect hers, and that makes things between us so much easier. I would stop unfolding her book’s pages although I was bothered, and she would let me make a corner of the Writing Center a mess.

I love that. I love the idea.

It is nice to step into your workplace on the day you don’t need to work because you might want to just learn something from the people.

Things happen for a reason – why I am such an odd.

I have met so many people saying I am a weird girl. I do things in a very different way that they cannot understand, but no one ever asks for reasons. I always assume that even if I speak up, I will never be heard, just because I am an odd. But the truth shall be realized.

It is an undeniable that technology has become a very important part of human daily life. I am thankful for what it brings forth to me – living 14K miles away from my family but still talking to them as though they are here. I am thankful for the information the Internet gives me – I know things happening all over the world, I get advice from different sources, and I even learn more about myself. I can use all the good words to praise technology and smart devices.

But I also want to say that I hate it in some ways.

People say I am stingy because I pay very little for my phone bill, too little that I cannot even do anything with it. I have no data, so I rely more on physical maps when in need. However, it seems that I don’t even need a map because I am genuinely good at direction. I don’t pay for data on my phone, so the moment I am not at school, or at home, or at the library, airports, Starbucks, etc. (wherever they offer free Wifi), I cannot do anything. My phone becomes useless, but I feel better.

Stingy. Yes, I am. But let’s talk about the reason first.

What people will first do when they get a chance to stop moving – on a bus, train, while waiting, or just simply sit down anywhere? They take out their phones. I don’t have data for a long enough time – probably my whole life – to have a chance to observe people’s habits when they get to take out their phones.

No one will ever understand how lonely it will be like when I sit down with my friends, looking around, and waiting for them to put their phones down. No one will ever understand, because I am stingy, and they are not. Definitely not.

I feel lonely, because I don’t see my value in people’s eyes when I hang out with them, being the only person not having access to the Internet. I cannot do anything when they don’t want to talk to me and when they stare at their phones – for nothing.

Family. Friends. People are doing the same thing without actually thinking about the consequences.

There are many times when I wander around online to search for cheap phone plan that offers a tiny bit amount of data for a good price. I can afford, totally. But I always give up because I don’t want to conform. It is fine when other people have unlimited data and texts and calls, but I don’t, because I don’t want to be a part of it.

I know my limitation when I don’t have something. When travelling in group, it is harder for me to get a sense of where we are going, because I don’t get to have a real map, and because I am not given the chance to be in charge, “You have no data, Thi. You cannot navigate!” I know my limitation when I have to prepare everything before leaving home, otherwise I would be desperate for a place offering free Wifi to search for direction, or to check an important email, or to tell my Mom I will not be able to call her tonight because I am currently at a club meeting.

But limitation opens doors for great grow. It helps me understand what people need more because I have learned to put myself in their shoes. I recognize that I have to put my phone away when a friend approaching me in the library. I recognize I shall turn off background music to better listen to people talking, which leads to the fact that I don’t even have a headphone or earbuds, because I feel no need to be a cool high school girl want to be one her own. I learn to talk rather that chitchatting. I learn to really listen rather than nodding my head without perceiving the situation. I do, though, taking out my phone to take great photos, to later share with my parents what I have been doing the whole day. I have learned that my family loves seeing my photos, because that is a great way for them to know about my life.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone being an odd. Because I think it’s harder to find friends who share the same interest. But I would suggest people, thought, slowing down with daily activities to actually observe what are happening, what humans are doing wrong, and what humans can do to change this sad reality. An odd feels lonely, most of the time, even when with her boyfriend. An odd will give her closet friends five minute to check their phones before demanding them to focus on her. But an odd will never dare to do that to strangers or surface friends, but she believes that good friendships are built on communication. So she prays to God that they will eventually change.

The problem humans are facing is huge enough that I truly look forward to a revolution in the future. People will one day understand the situation. I know,

You live in the twentieth century, you need to know how to use a smart phone!

But since everybody knows how to use such smart devices, you don’t need to show off every time you hang out with others. Let’s show off something more special, such as being able to put your phones deep in your purses or bags when surrounded by people!

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

Albert Einstein

But we human will do better than that. There will be a big change. And I believe in the future.