October 30, 2013

Day 21 – Fast forward

My life has constantly been busy. I’m either running for the bus, to get to work, or I’m running for the train, to get back home. A big part of me loves being this busy, having things to do and making the most of my time. The only trouble is however, all this running, leaves little time for anything else. Before coming here my sister mentioned a couple of times that I should just stand still and breathe, that I should spend the afternoon in a park and simply do nothing. I remember eventually agreeing to this idea but of course I didn’t have the time to carry it out.

I realised, before coming here, that all this running, had turned me into something of a machine. Yes, there was a variety of things I did and I met various friends but on the whole, I had a mundane routine and I wanted to break free.  I also wanted a break from everything familiar, from everything comfortable and safe. I wanted to push myself to try something new, something I’ve wanted to try for a long time but never managed to do.

A big part of me came here, with the intention of slowing down so I could enjoy and perhaps acknowledge things that I had failed to do so previously. My sister got me to question why I was in such a hurry to do everything, why I had this sense of urgency and initially I didn’t know. It later came to me, that part of me didn’t see me rushing, part of me simply saw this as living, living life as much as possible and because I hadn’t managed to do things when I was younger, maybe I was making up for lost time.

Perhaps this is why, I’m impulsive at the best of times.  I would rather say yes, try something, hate it then be left wondering. I also want to ensure that I make the most of my time because I, along with many others, don’t want to waste time.  Time is a funny one, I mean what you choose to invest your time in and how do you know when you’re making the most of your time?

I know that most things take time; I know for example that it would take me time to settle in here, to get to know the volunteers and to build a rapport with the children I teach.  Yet, I also wanted to fast forward this part; I was so focused on trying to help the children that I lost sight of what they want.  I realised today that I needed to stop and enjoy the journey more, the process of building these connections with children. Perhaps, I need to be more patient and give children the opportunity to get to know me and then they can decide whether or not they like me.

I’m keen on making a difference and ensuring their English is improved but I fail to appreciate that children will be children. I mean, why should they listen to me? I’m here today and gone in next how-ever-many weeks?  I’m ready to teach, ready to embark my wisdom, to make a difference but it doesn’t mean that these children are ready to take it all in.  Maybe some of them will be ready in the next few weeks but maybe some won’t.

Some of my students at Shelter 8

Some of my students at Shelter 8

I don’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture. I mean I’m in Vietnam, that doesn’t happen everyday and who knows when I will be here next.  Before I came, many of my friends said that that I would have the time of my life here, that I would have a great adventure, meet some amazing people and come home with some memorable stories.  Now the trouble is, whilst I love it here and I’ve met some great people, am I having the time of my life? Well, I think it’s too early to say.  Again, part of me wants to fast-forward and say yes, oh my god, my time spent here was amazing! But my time here isn’t over so I’ve yet to see how I feel at the end.

What do I know for sure?  I know that it will be hard to say good-bye. I know that the more I see these children twice a week, the more they become familiar, the more they like me and trust me, the harder it’s going to be for me to leave.  That’s what I dislike the most: opening up, exposing yourself and investing in something is hard but what is harder is knowing that at some point something has to give, the moment comes to an end and life moves on.  I just need to be able to accept it and move on because after all, change is good right?

I want to come back home knowing I stood still for long enough to be able to marvel at something.  I want to be patient enough and wait for amazing things to unfold. Most of all, I want to be open and build some great friendships.  Some people say, we will never meet again; I disagree and believe anything is possible because life is too long and we have it in us to make things happen!