Choice equals freedom. Is it?

1069899_307957772674293_1008150004_nSimilar to numerous people in the world in the path to adulthood, basic psychology questions are striking me hard. Cliche but classic, everyone at a certain moment of life would feel a strong urge to dig deeper, solve the questions themselves and live their lives in accordance with appropriate values after careful reflection. If not, those questions will just linger in mind and let us be in a paralyzing state.

Yes I can just go to Youtube and listen to what professor Michael Sandel talks, but it is probably not enough despite being enlightening. Coming from various backgrounds with different unique culture roots and upbringings, it’s hard to set a universal “right things to do” guidelines for us all, even in an era of globalization. Maybe someday we will, but not there yet, at least not now.

As a 24-year-old coming from Vietnam who proactively expose herself to Western culture, very often I find myself stuck in the dilemma of freedom and selfishness. Started to make the first rebellious move 2 years ago, I drown myself in an endless string of escapes. I choose a job which lets me do that even easier. Talking with travelers coming from all around the world, I deeply believed that this so-called freedom is exactly what I am looking for.

It’s time to forget outdated traditional values and move on with the new me, my real self

So often did I tell myself so. Yet, I was a different “self” when I was traveling and back to the “old self” upon returning home.

On one side, I pride myself for daring to let go and live with my passion

On the side, I was eaten up by increasing guilt for abandoning an integral part of what makes me who I am

To you this maybe no big deal, if by any case you come from a North American country where individualism is taken for granted

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“Does choice equal freedom and well-being”, Swarthmore college

But not in Vietnam in this particular time. Coming from a rural village in central Vietnam, for 18 years I had no separate room. I was happy to do the things my beloved people tell me to do. Fair enough, since they don’t get out of that frame to compare either.

I didn’t have much choice back then

But now facing with lots of choices to do whatever I want, I was torn between me pursuing my own interests and me fulfilling my responsibility as a person.

Is there a way to have both or there must be a trade-off? Do we have choice over this?

Is making one choice being selfish and fall for the other being lack of responsibility for our own destiny?

The dilemma lies within itself: we are born as social animals and heavily dependent on other people, yet over the course of self-awareness consider individualism as a top-notch desirable.

Running to another place, no matter how new and exotic it is doesn’t cut our bonds and sets us free from intrinsic concerns and relationships.


To solve this question, acclaimed names such as Dalai Latma and Stephen Covey (author of “7 habits of highly effective people”) focuses on the interdependent term:

“Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others”

What does this tell us? Firstly, because our every action has a universal dimension, a potential impact on others’ happiness, ethics are necessary as a means to ensure that we do not harm others. Secondly, it tells us that genuine happiness consists in those spiritual qualities of love, compassion, patience, tolerance and forgiveness and so on. For it is these which provide both for our happiness and others’ happiness.

(extracts from Dalai Latma)

For so long I ignorantly considered monks as people who escape from real world and abandoning their problems. “Who are they to preach us anyway?”, I told myself. Yet I can’t say Dalai Latma’s words are redundant. Actually being intertwined within others is not a matter of choice. We are born that way and will forever be, whether we like it or not.

Living interdependently to satisfy both individualism and social bonds will remain a question waiting to be solved.

Hi May, do you like cleaning bicycles ?

“Well, it’s part of the job ;)”

The memoir of Urban Discovery tours series…

The first working day in the Hanoi Bicycle Collective. As expected, Guim pulled me to a corner and said:

“As a guide you need to know all the basics. Guiding bicycle tours is not only about telling people where to go but also knowing how to fix a bike, at least at a basic level when troubles happen along the way. You must know differences between a mini bike and a mountain bike, for example. If a person pointed a pink city bike like this and ask “Can I go from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh city with this bike ?”, you must know enough to answer him why NOT?”

“I need you to absorb as much information as possible in two weeks, if you are quick”

And that’s how the journey in The Hanoi Bicycle Collective started. Not all glittering for sure. I still remembered very clearly two weeks ago when I first stepped inside: strong impression from watching the video about Guim and Thuy Anh still there, creating the halo effect all over the shop. “Wow, all bikes look fancy and modern, with fashionable clothes and a cool mechanics’ corner”, “wow, the wall clock looks so nice”, and the list of “wow this”, “wow that” just keeps going on…

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And now here I am two weeks later, cleaning bicycles. The particular task is so boring that I have to keep myself motivated by imagining me a few months later riding on a mountain with a group, after the rain when the road is slippery and muddy. If the bike has a flat tire at that time I would have been more professional with hands-on experiences to change a new one and continue, to be on-the-go again.

And that works pretty well. Huyen, the sister in the shop with her carefulness sets a good example of how to turn monotonous chores into something more enjoyable. (?)

Well, not that so. Monotonous chores are monotonous, in the end. You can’t change the fact that at the moment in front of you are various parts of a bike waiting to be cleaned, and your future projection cannot linger for too long.

In that case I use people interactions to keep things more interesting and try to dig deeper to the why-s and what-s. If you keep observing (in a way, for distractions 😉 ) then interesting things keep showing up: I found out that Lai, out mechanic master has such an interesting background and sharp eyes for business stuff (he just favors not talking and not care enough to apply them), that Esther (our multi-tasker) can speak 4 languages (English, Dutch, German, French and a bit Vietnamese as well), that Tham — our accountant, the softie lady turns out to be the manager (oops), and one more important thing:

Bicycle components can be fun !!

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The working shifts ends at 6:00 PM when most of our customers are free, what a pity. Though very short, it was so nice to find out a man bringing his bicycle to fix for Danang Ironman:

Another customer named Ramsay is here to help engineers fix soil erosion facilities in mountainous areas

Well I would love to end up this journal with a quote about mundane things:

“Enjoy the little things for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things”

Enjoy all the mundane details of life, cause it is beautiful that way.

Written on 24/3/2015


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Học như không học suy cho cùng vẫn là cách học tốt nhất. Dùng phim ảnh, vốn là một công cụ giải trí để nâng cao trình độ ngôn ngữ chính là một mũi tên trúng hai đích. Trang web học ngoại ngữ nổi tiếng Fluentu đã phân tích rất sát những lợi ích của học tiếng anh qua phim.
Có nhiều cách để xem phim tiếng anh, song hầu hết các phiên bản phim HD được post lên các trang video phổ biến như Youtube hay Dailymotion thường không có phụ đề. Nếu các bạn chưa biết thì có thể làm theo các bước cơ bản sau:
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Tại sao dùng torrent, torrent là gì, mời các bạn nghe lời của các chuyên gia:
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Các bạn mới học tiếng anh thường truyền tai nhau về một số phim được đồn đại là “rất có ích để học tiếng anh”. Khi thì các bạn xem “Friends”, khi thì các bạn xem “How did I met your mother”. Theo mình như vậy không hiệu quả, có thể người Mĩ thích cái hài của “friends” nhưng mình có hiểu cũng không cảm được.
Mình thường tải theo các danh sách đã được những người sành sỏi điện ảnh (hoặc đơn giản là các mọt phim) xếp hạng. Các từ khóa tương ứng sẽ là:
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Ví dụ:


Chẳng hạn mình muốn down phim Kị sĩ bóng đêm (The Dark Knight).
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Với từ khóa “Download torrent the dark knight bluray”, mình tóm lấy 2 trang web đầu tiên


File có lượng người tải lên (seeder) và tài xuống (leecher) càng cao thì down càng nhanh.


Với lượng người cùng tải nhiều như vậy, dự là bạn sẽ xem được phim trong vòng vài tiếng.
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Có nhiều phần mềm xem video cho phép chèn phụ đề, mình thường dùng KMP Player. Với KMP Player, để cho tiện bạn nên:
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Như vậy khi bật video bằng KMP phụ đề sẽ tự động hiện lên mà không cần thao tác thêm.
Ví dụ < không liên quan lắm =)) >