November 28, 2013

Day 50 – Hailing it down with rain in Hue

Sorry is the hardest word, it may be for some but for me the hardest thing is saying good-bye.  Last week Friday, I finished my voluntary work in Saigon, after weeks of remembering how to get to each project and familiarising myself with each child, it was time to say farewell.  Of course I thought it was too soon and would have loved to continue but the question is, when is it the right time to say goodbye? When we are finally happy or content with where we are, we want that moment or period to last as long as possible.

Last session at a women's project Julian and I volunteered at in Saigon

Last session at a women’s project Julian and I volunteered at in Saigon

I realise that anykind of loss is hard or sad for the most of us.  For me, saying goodbye is hard but looking back, I gained so much and have so much to be grateful for.  I was able to live in a house filled with volunteers from all over the world.  We went out, we taught English, we travelled, we ate, we got drunk, we shared our fears and most importantly we laughed.  I love how in a short span of time, you manage to become so close to someone, there’s this connection where words just flows and you’re understood.  Whilst this one or two people know little about you’re life or background, a relationship is built so easily and you’re accepted.

I was lucky enough to enjoy the company of a great guy, someone who at first appeared a little quiet but is filled with so much warmth, character, confidence and knowledge.  For those of you who know me will appreciate that I never followed Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings – quite simply, not my cup of tea.  However, having spent the last two months talking about fantasy, this guy was able to convince me that there is something magical and beautiful about these worlds.  He shared metaphors that I had failed to find.  This guy felt comfortable sharing his dreams, worries and his writing with me and to me that’s something.  He joked, at one point, that I was like his therapist, initially I didn’t see this but as the weeks went on, I couldn’t help but give him pep talks.

I used to question, how it was possible for someone, who you had known for a week or a month, to be able to share so much about their life.  To feel comfortable and open to discuss aspirations and fears.  I’ve had these moments, I’ve met someone, when I’ve least expected it and managed to share my feelings and it’s helped.  So, before coming here, I stopped questioning how it was possible for two people to build such a rapport and to just accept it and to make the most of it.  I know, that perhaps to the average person, it’s a little crazy, being able to share so much with someone who you’ve known for such a short period of time.  But for me, what’s crazy is how someone can know you you’re whole life yet not really know you at all.

Let’s talk about crazy, what does it mean?  I know for many years being crazy was a negative and unwanted label given to people who were sectioned or in mental health institutions.  However, this has radically changed and more and more people see being crazy as something positive, something that gives you a edge.  Let’s be honest, who really want’s to be normal? What is normal? And most importantly, why be normal if you can be a little crazy?  I was told by some people that I was crazy for giving up my permanent job and for giving up such a great flat.  What’s crazy is people, not giving up a job which makes them miserable, a relationship which they find draining or a flat they no longer want to live in.  I love people who are a little crazy – people who do things without worrying about what others think of them.  People who are bold enough to take steps in their life and live with the consequences.  People who don’t give a shit

Now, I can see, some of you reading this would be in agreement and would advocate that we all be like that.  Yet, I also know that others may see this as being selfish.  Let’s put it into perspective, wanting to live your own life is not being selfish.  Now, of course, we are bought up to sometimes think otherwise which is partly why I and others struggle to break free from this idea. I’ve had a number of people tell me, reassure me that what I wanted to do wasn’t wrong.

What have I actually done this year?  I got my eyebrow pierced, took part in a leadership programme, got a tattoo, went to Ireland, went to Exit music festival, completed a shoe making course, went to Athens, finished my masters, moved back home, gave up my job and came to Vietnam to volunteer in a orphanage. All of this and maybe more, was me living me life how I wanted – is it selfish?  I’ve been told, by some, that yes it is as I only think about myself.  My list of wanting to do and see things doesn’t stop there, does that make me greedy? I have an appetite for life, I want to continue exploring places and meeting people – that for me is what life is all about.

What’s amazing, I find, is that along the way, you meet other like minded people.  Of course, people have their own story, culture, different experiences and age but the fundamental aspect that ties you together is wanting to find something outside of a 9-5 job, wanting to explore different cultures, appreciate different cities, accept the simplicity by which people live by and acknowledge that people have greater hardships and worries then our own.  One of the greatest things that volunteering aboard or travelling does, is stretch your comfort zone and make you appreciate the little things that make all the difference to the bigger picture.

I don’t claim to be a back-packer, I never have and once in the house, I was teased of being a flash-back-packer, someone who claims to be back packing but goes to restaurants and stays at hotels.  Before setting off, I had always imagined what it would be like to travel with a back-pack and now I know.  It’s good fun, I also realised that for me, I love hot water, there’s nothing like a good hot shower in the morning to wake you up but of course here, it isn’t always possible.  I like to dress up and put on some make-up but all of that goes when you’re travelling especially when it’s this hot, the make-up just melts off your face!

I’m a relatively easy-going person, most things don’t bother me and I’m not hell bent on having a plan. Yes, insects make me scream but on the whole, I would like to thing I’m pretty chilled out.  I do what I do best when things go a little pear-shaped and that is, I laugh.  I’ve learnt to fully appreciate the moment, for instance, I enjoyed our treking experience through the jungle in Dalat and then laughed my head off after one of my trainers was washed away by the waterfall!  I realise that I can pretty much laugh in any situation and sometimes it’s not always the best reaction.  But I would much rather laugh then cry.

When I set off from London, all I knew is that I would volunteer for 2 months with VPV and I would then travel to the north. It wasn’t a question of if I would travel but more of a question of with whom and how.  Towards the end of October a volunteer joined the house for less than a month and initially I thought very little of him.  Little did I know that this would be the guy that I travel with to the North.  I joke with him, that he is all the colours of the rainbow; he’s quiet but observant, intelligent, calm, sacarastic, funny and caring.  Don’t get me wrong, initially this guy wound me up and some of the volunteers thought we were arguing half the time.  I knew that I wanted to travel through Vietnam with someone, this someone turned out to be a great friend and I really couldn’t ask for more.

My worrying days are over?  Maybe, well maybe for whilst I’m in Vietnam.  My planning days are definitely disappearing.  I’m open to the endless possibilities that South East Asia may have to offer and I know that I will figure something out. As one part of my trip ended last week, another part began and I’ve enjoyed it just as much.  So many things get complicated and confusing and before we know it, the moment that we wanted to enjoy has gone.  Yes, it’s hailing it down with rain today, we got soaked, we don’t have three meals a day and we don’t sleep 8 hours a day but it’s fine, it’s grand because I’m sat here in Hue soaking it all in.