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”.

Green garden

The bus engine stopped in the middle of the street, and we all were told to wait for about thirty minutes before the “rescuing” bus come picking us up. I live half an hour away from the main bus station.

I did not say anything. I did not complain, even though I was worried that I might miss a apart of my Geology lecture. Last time I checked, I left the class 5 minutes early, and I failed to answer a question on the quiz.

Chaos. People tried to talk, as though they could fix the problem by words. People spoke so loud that I could hardly hear myself. But in that moment, I was surprised seeing how peaceful I was. That was strange of me. I would not be calm when these things happen. I would try to blame someone for making me late for class. I would tell those people to be quiet. Now I imagine all sorts of things that I could do. But I had remained in peace.

It is o.k. for the bus to stop. It is o.k. to wait for thirty minutes. Everything is o.k. I just need to be patient. And patience brings me joy and peace.

Lifting my eyes off my laptop, I looked out of the bus’s window and witnessed how beautiful the sky was. It was a blessing for me to see how day time extends every day. I leave the house at seven, and while before I could see stars shining on that dark background, now I see that gorgeous pink sky. It is time for me to feel happier, and complaining about uncontrollable events like out-of-service buses does not help.

Many of my friends, when they pray for me, they say they imagine me being in a green garden or surrounded by trees. They even saw daikon, and this trigger my curiosity – why daikon?

Daikon always reminds me of a story I read many, many times when I was a kid. There was this family with seven members, and their lives depended on a farm. Dad was in charge for taking care of the farm and the whole family. One day, Dad came out to pick up daikon on the farm. However, he couldn’t make it move. He asked his oldest son, his other sons, and then his wife, his daughters to help. But nothing happened. At last, his rabbit, dog, and cats also helped pick up daikon. It shaked slightly, and eventually a huge, huge daikon appeared from the ground. They, the family, could have never predicted that it was this big, for its appearance above the ground depicted it as a weak plant.

When I think of this story, I think of how great power might be well hidden. There is something deeper, deeper, that not many people know about, and moreover not many people are persistent enough to try their best in revealing it.

Nature always brings up in me that feeling of admiring, of love and peace.

This is a photo my American teacher provided in class. Small plants like prairie plants seem to have no meaning, but, as it turns out, their roots are pleasant to the soil. When America experienced industrialization, these landscapes were underestimated – people got rid of it and made way for corn crops.

But they never know how this root system was the heart of the ground.

I always think the picture above is meaningful to my life, as well as the story about daikon and the small green garden that my friend thought about when they prayed for me.

I always think of myself as someone who has nothing on the inside, and even though I know I should be humble, I believe that me on the inside makes the difference. At this point of my life, I want to interpret myself as bearing richness on the inside, and that I ought to trust myself – believing that I have that ability to pursue God’s plan for me.

I also want to interpret myself as that root system, connecting others together. The message is great.

While I am small.

I don’t know what I have in me. I don’t know what I am capable doing. I don’t know anything, and the unknown stops me from giving my best.

I am now not the green garden, but rather a leafless one, because it is winter. Countless times I thought a gray garden will have nothing to offer, but I suppose it is waiting for spring time to blossom. Life cycle. Leaves fall to the ground. But soon they will be lively.

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These thoughts, to me, are fragmented. I wanted to write something new for days now, but I could never finish one draft. Today, I decided to just go with it. It is o.k. if the words are falling apart from each other.

It’s just that… At least I have something. Flowers will blossom when spring comes along.

write and recharge my battery

I have been…

Running more lately.

Reading more lately.

Working out more lately.

I am becoming better in many things – finishing homework before bedtime, being on time for work and classes, being open to advice from others, and changing those few bad habits bit by bit every day.

But the weather has not been nice to me. It takes all my energy, leaving me with this emotion mess. But I assume there are still ways to get out of it without moving to somewhere warmer.

Be optimistic.

That sounds counterintuitive, I know! But isn’t that all we need to be happy? It’s truly hard for an introvert like me to work in groups and talk with people at work and class all day long. I always imagine that every second when I open my mouth to speak, my energy slips out of my body.

That does not mean I will lock myself up forever to preserve my energy. I think after a while, a long while of encountering people for different reasons, I have learned to expand my limitation. I still need time to think through things before sharing them with teammates, but I also learned to initiate conversations in groups. Those “turn to your neighbors and discuss this problem” no longer seems to be annoying, but rather a way for me to use my energy sufficiently to learn from friends, I suppose.

Today, I read this great, great paper of a guy in his English Composition class. What I loved about it was how his sentences were fragmented, but they also connected so well. The structure was not something teachers teach at school, but it’s how he communicate with English, with the world. And that fascinated me.

Today, I realized that there is always this feeling in me that bothers me so much. That I am different stops me from telling those who care for me my thoughts. I always assume people will judge me for who I am and for what I do.

I never get to test if that is true. I might be able to find joy in those moments of sharing, but may I have a little bit more time? More time for me to process my thoughts, to be sure of what I think, to keep those precious thinkings for myself.

Because they’re all I have.

Those words you said, they hurt me. I would love to walk instead of taking the Uber, because I think it’s a great way to be closer with nature and with my mind. Yes, you might say I make way more money than you and I am stingy, but forty-five minutes walking under that cozy weather energizes me. I know there were other ways to do things, but I wanted to use that walking-running time to talk more with my housemate. Perspectives are dangerous and are something you cannot judge. So I beg you, for once, just listen to me, and that’s it.

Midst

In the midst of everything. 

What do I do? 

That’s the question when there are just too many things to finish and I don’t even know where to start. Should I do my Computer Lab assignment, or should I work on my research paper, and how about writing something for my personal blog. 

I am just lost. I know I need to start somewhere. But where? That scared me. I know how it feels when there is nothing to do. I’m even afraid of boredom, of having free time. There was a time when I kept crying every single day because freedom made me think about negative situations. Now, when I imagine what would it be like when I submitted all of my university applications and homework, and it would take a long time for me figure out what to do. I would be lost. 

In the midst of everything, even though it is stressful – sometimes I cry not because I am sad or angry or disappointed, but just because I don’t know how I am supposed to deal with all my problems. But I love it.

I got annoyed sometimes when I have too many assignments to do, but still stuck at the Writing Center, at work, especially when there is nobody wanting help from us. I always think about how much time I have wasted when just sitting there doing nothing. However, day by day, I learned more and more from the people who go there. It is funny when every time I finish a session with a student, I ask myself how to do mine. I could do others, but not mine! But I love that feeling because I don’t just learn how to write in the Writing Center, but learning how to adjust myself in different situations. It freaks me out sometimes when I have to work with Americans, especially those who seem to know about the subjects more than me. I would always feel like I am no better than them, how do I help? 

The one moment that I love about today is when I was working with this lady on her Tech assignment. I don’t know why she went to the Writing Center to ask for help on Tech homework, but I could help her, and that makes me feel more confident about my own future path! Awesome things happen every day!

But after a while, everything is fine. And I find joy in every moment I was there. Despite the pile of homework and university applications. I found joy in the air of the Writing Center, and in words. 

Hmm

I cried for a little bit today. I know why, but I also don’t really know why. It’s just there is this burden on me that I cannot carry all the time, and I got tired, and I cried. I mean, I was laughing so hard, too, when I was with people in our small groups. It was fun.

We talked about sins today. About how we all are greedy and selfish and these things make us become worse and worse in the eyes of God. We just want to put ourselves first without really considering the consequences of doing that.

That is true. I am learning to control myself. I am trying to think about a problems many times before actually saying anything. I want to solve my things with others from a more objective perspective. I use the time walking on the street to talk to myself about what others do that I am not comfortable about. I keep talking and talking until I reached my destination, and then I would stop. Nobody would know, while I would feel better. I don’t want to blame anyone, because that way I’m sinful.

Walking makes all the differences. But I guess I still need to work more on my time-management skill, because I realized I didn’t have enough time to do all of my homework today. I hope I could finish it soon, because I want to have a good night’s sleep and have enough energy for a long day tomorrow.

I cried for a bit, and know I am typing. Everything will be fine, because I have tried my best, and because there are greater things waiting for me at the end of this journey.

Good night.