Bàn về ngây thơ

Nhân vừa nói chuyện với bạn tôi về sự ngây thơ và thuần khiết, nên tôi đào luôn về chủ đề này. Tất nhiên đây cũng là câu hỏi chung của rất nhiều người.

Từ hồi nhỏ, tôi đã từng bị coi là “thật như đếm”. Lớn lên thì bị lừa rất nhiều lần, và cũng có những lần tôi cố tình lợi dụng kẻ khác. Cán cân đó tất nhiên không đủ để mô tả sự sống động của những tương tác xã hội, vì bên cạnh động cơ rõ ràng, tôi cũng từng tiếp xúc và chứng kiến những hành động xả thân một chiều, hay phép màu của những yêu thương có thật.

Tất nhiên, ta không thể ngây thơ mãi. Đến 1 lúc nào đó thì những sự kiện trong cuộc sống cũng sẽ đả phá nó. Khi 1 kèo quá tốt xuất hiện, ta thường bảo nhau:

“It’s too good to be true”

Thế nhưng những người chọn sự không-ngây-thơ và tự cho mình là sành sỏi cũng đã tự bỏ lỡ rất nhiều những tương tác đẹp của cuộc sống, mà nếu ta thả lỏng hơn, mọi chuyện đã dễ dàng hơn biết bao nhiêu. Ngay tại thời điểm viết những dòng này, tôi là một người như vậy. Tôi không thả lỏng bản thân và chỉ cần 1 tên nào đó nói vài câu ngu dốt, tôi sẽ không ngại ngần bỏ đi. “Thật phí thời gian”, tôi nghĩ. Hoặc khi ai đó muốn kết bạn, tôi liền hỏi ngay:

– Cậu muốn gì?

Và nếu hắn không trả lời được, tôi cũng cho out ngay. Tất nhiên tôi cũng cho out luôn rất nhiều người tốt không hiểu mình đã lỡ nói điều gì. Tôi nhận ra mình không ngây thơ mà cũng chả khôn, vì nếu khôn thì sẽ cân bằng chứ không nghi kị một cách cực đoan như vậy.

Mọi chuyện sẽ thay đổi nếu đến lượt tôi có ý tốt và gặp phải 1 tên nghi kị không kém. Tôi sẽ phải toát mồ hôi hột để chứng minh là tôi không có ý gì đâu. “Hử, không có gì á? Không thể thế được”.



I woke up feeling super empty then just took the bicycle to ride uphill. Push myself so hard to sweat it all out. I did it all – went to best places, discovered stories of many people from all walks of life, solved mysteries and broke illusions. No place can attract me and one can longer draw my attention. As if dumping face underwater and let wide eyes open for salty water to fill all coners and overwhelms oneself with uncertainty and lack of control. Sated curiosity exhausts me like a melted jelly. There is no sense, no directions, just messy pieces in an expressive painting of life.

Sometimes conversations with people came back to me like some random waves.
“- This is my website“, she said. “Do send me an email & keep in touch“.
– “Yeah, definitely“, I told her, which I did not bother. I just turned around and that moment marked the forever separation.
– “I have this project. Let’s give me some ideas“.
Me – Yeah“. Actually, your project makes no sense to me.

It feels like the moment I went back to Sapa and get to Valley cafe just to be informed that my friend is dead in a ridicukous cable project. Sometimes I think of Ha, the curly hair mischievious girl from secondary school. A stupid classmate brought her on his back of a high speed motorbike and that night Ha was dead. We came to her house, gathering around her coffin. People cried, I did not, yet once in a while her image fleet across my mind, strikes me with a question “What if she were not dead, how would her life be? Will her life be interesting or boring? Meaningful? Meaningless? Absurb?”.

What if she were not dead, how would her life be? Would she feel what I feel? Why am I still here and that angel is not?“, I put the book back to my backpack, reached out of the speedboat window and immersed my face in that wild salty current, got soakingly wet and screamed out loud. People in the same speedboat got excited and cheered out. I turned back, hair wet with an incredibly bright radiant smile then laughed out loud like a stupid dog. They thought that I was estastically happy. No, I wasn’t. Exhausted and burnt out enthusiasm combined with high curiosity in sated state left me with nothing but an incredible apathy. Whatever, wherever, whomever, nothing really matters. Since nothing matters, I can do whatever I want, inluding charming people to piss them all off, building things up and destroy it in a moment of impulse, doing incredibly amazing things or stupid things. In that vast spectrum of new found freedom, I am alive.

Be warned that I will be wet and sick, I still rode in the rain and stayed still for hours. Like standing under a waterfall, it is a sated sensation of being conquered and exhausted with nothing left to feel. And though there is nothing left to feel, you still need to hover and move on. You spread your arms and lie down on the sand, waiting to be washed away while still love the raw feeling of that beach on your cheek. Until it washes you away.

Carry me. Or maybe we can sing for the moment.
(C’mon), sing with me, (sing), sing for the years
(Sing it), sing for the laughter, sing for the tears, (c’mon)
Sing it with me, just for today, maybe tomorrow the good Lord’ll take you away…

Circle of influence and circle of control

Right now I am sitting on the bunk bed of my hostel typing.  My younger sister just sent me a video of some bubbling Korean young dancers, insisted

Sister, you must watch this. And do not forget to design a new profile pic for me to post in Facebook

At the same time, Millions of people are devoted to the flood disaster in Central Vietnam- where I was born.


50 meters away the Wat nearby is woken up after nap with chanting sound of monks stretching longer than usual. Nearly 60,000 people in this town have their heart put in the big Light Festival this evening. Together with outsiders like me, we are gonna be soaked in an incredible  holy, zen atmostphere.


My close friend is happy in his trip to Quan Lan island. Beach is clean, nature is inviting. He is screaming in tranquil and happiness.


All of those images come to my mind nearly at the same time. Different nuances of a big mosaic, broken pieces of an incomplete big picture. People are sad or happy depending on the extent of our concerns. I am sipping coffee, listening to music while hundreds of km away some relatives or friends of somebody I know are crying for having their house washed away in the disaster which gets worse every single year due to complex reasons.

This is just my little version of the world. There are some other people who feel much more. I will elaborate.

If right now I am having a cold, I will be lying deadly in bed, coughing, thinking about hot soup. Whatever happening in the world does not matter nor move me a little bit.

More than 1000km away, professor/ teacher Bui Van Nam Son was in a coffee talk with his student. Both are in a sad contemplative state, thinking about big questions, probably big questions related to Vietnam.


He is a pioneer in translating important philosophy books into Vietnamese and wrote his own book that can be considered Sophie’s world of Vietnam.

At an international level, anthropologists like Bill Gates are focusing on battling AIDS in South Africa.

What does all of this mean? Does that mean I should not be happy and excited for what is happening tonight? Does that mean I have obligation to care about people in Central Vietnam? In Vietnam language, we have an idiom saying

“ăn cơm nhà, vác tù và hàng tổng”

Roughly translated as “Soaking your nose in others’ business“.  This is a very shallow way of interpreting things, yet most of the time our ability to deal or affect all chaotic happening all around us is very limited.

Even though we do not live in a world of vacuum and everything is intedependent due to butterfly effect or ripple effects, our immediate acts can only influence a tiny part of it

Circle of influence and circle of control


To put it visually in a simple way, we can imagine our world as 2 circles. The big one is what happening around us, of which some are more aware than others.

But look closer, only the small circle inside is what we can influence. Right now, when I am typing this, 3 backpackers from Netherlands are coming and when they ask me wifi password, that is my immediate circle of influence.

I believe we should focus on our circle of influence but try to expand our circle of concern.

In his classic book, 7 habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey puts it this way




Amazingly this time when I dig to read again, I realize there are so many things I missed. And this is just an easy to read book I have buried my face into many times. When things are relevant, it speaks so loudly.



That feeling surged again. In Kuang Xi- a waterfall full of people in Laos, I soak myself in cold running water and after around 20 minutes, I stared at him.

Him here is a random person standing around 10 meters away from me. Muscular, tanned, tall and tattooed, with a small beard and looking at me almost at the same time. My heart started to beat fast.

Almost immediately my head is vividly filled with the image of that stranger pulling me closer and us making out under water, behind and in front of arrays of wild trees in the area while resisting the strong water current flowing towards. In public and passionately.

We will breath hard, tongues twisted, excited by the overwhelming chemistry and an immense guilty inappropriate feeling when all other swimmers stopped to point and gossip at the wild scene in front of them just to be turned on at the same time. In seconds, every freaking one of them will be itchy and about to turn into vampire.


The thing is…it did not happen, yet the visualization was so vivid that the aura around us changed forever. Right there, at that waterfall, I can smell and touch that strong sensation.

I am losing grip babe. I am losing my poise.

In mainstream psychology, lust is defined as such



Aside from the surface pleasure that lust triggers, I deeply believe there is correlation between lust and vulnerability. I have never felt such an immense level of vulnerability in my life recently, and the desire for attention/ connection increases with the same rate.


After writing for 30 minutes, the receptionist came behind my back and when I turned around, I can felt that look again. I better not disturb her, I think and sigh.

” What are you writing?

-I am writing about yesterday. I went to a waterfall and wanted to kiss every freaking person there.

-Ha ha, really?

-Yeah, maybe it is hormone, haiz.

-It happens to me too, ha ha.

-What? Really?

-Yeah, sometimes when customers come in, it took me some minutes to be calm and professional =))

– So you can control it. I can’t. Damn.

Where will this lead and for how long? Is it purely biological or psychological? Let’s see. Maybe you can let me know.

When Avril loses her grip, she can fall over her fans and the audience will take her with all they have. When I lose my grip, hmm, when I lose my grip, maybe I will come and find you and kiss you, right there.

Y.O.U (Why. Opressing.Us)

A fuss with 23 “I”

The pure intentions in my head and the actions I take are conflicting, creating an unbearable cognitive dissonance. Being honest with oneself is freaking hard, telling oneself to admit and accept the person one currently is to move on is unacceptable to the standards I set for myself. I want to be beautiful, generous, brave, open, meet the demands of various people. I want to have it all – a nice sister,  a good daughter, a great considerate friend, a great stranger, while being creative, spontaneous and conquer places. I wanna be a supergirl. I want to be the female version of Cloud Strifle.

I want to look that great, and settle for no less without any efforts. The kind of super person that does things easily like a light feather

(Well, I could, if I had the ability to clone myself into 10 people, or 100 =)) ) Naruto can do that.

My actions are not in accordance and I refuse to admit it, feeling bitter. I cannot open my mouth to apologize anyone because it makes me feel weak. I am not who I want to be.

In that process of self denial, one also denies others. When I hate myself, I will inevitably hate others and squander the rapport that matters. It is purely a projection to the world.

I want to change the world but cannot even be honest with myself. How ironic. If I don’t fix it, I will have hallucinations soon (like the drug takers in Requiem for the Dream)

I can’t be everything to everyone but I also refuse to trade off. By refusing to trade off, I lose all. Now I have to act soon to save the relationships I destroyed in the process of trying-to-have-it-all.

And looking back, when I try to have it all, it is totally selfish. It is fed by building an image I wanna be proud of, without considering the facts and necessity or the motives.

If you die and I come to be a savior, it is because it feels good to be a savior, not because you matter to me just a little bit. This is so freaking crazy.

Can one have it all?
What is “all”?

Can you see the problem?

There is 23 “I” here, in this short expression.

It is a good period to study Freud, Carl Jung and the so-called “ego”.

I feel like I want to have a tattoo soon, a proof of existence burnt in this lump of meat before the tattoo itself loses its meaning.

Reflection, how much is too much?

Here I am, sticking my face in front of a computer in an internet cafe, attempting to write something, reflect on something.

As a matter of fact, I have been in that reflecting mode for nearly a year, and I am mentally exhausted, like a zombie. Or, like my friend puts it, in “a limbo state”.

I trade off living for reflecting


These pictures are memories of my trip for 3 days in Lan Ha bay, my second home. It was ecstatic: 3 people in a private boat in which I had the choice to tell the captain to go wherever and do whatever. With books, tea, wine, coffee, fresh food and nothing but endless emerald water and ultimate peace surrounding us, everything seemed surreal. We just came out, lay in the sun, sipped coffee, talked about anything and everything, and when the time comes, taking kayak for a venture out.

It was cold then, I remembered the feeling of wrapping the green scarf around my neck and seeing my breath turning foggy in the chilly winter weather. Everything was fresh and real, and I enjoyed it not picturing how I would write about it later.


sa pa

Or when I was in Sa Pa with volunteer friends just enjoying things without trying to make much sense of what we are doing. There is pure beauty of not thinking.

It was lively then. I was not thinking about anything, not reflecting anything. I was purely enjoying whatever surrounding. Just chill.

Somehow, I cannot do it anymore. I lose my ability to truly relax.

Reflection- from being healthy to being sick

I started writing about a year ago when the accumulation of impulses brought me trouble with family and study. So I went from a person who is totally spontaneous to someone who hesitate in doing anything.

Based on past experiences, I project it to everything I am about to do and every person I meet. Somehow I have the feeling I have lived enough for a lifetime and the rest is just the drag of it. I become conservative and solid too early. No, I haven’t traveled the world, but somehow I feel it should be over and I have tasted enough.Though I still enjoy simple existential pleasures like eating and sleeping, I really lost the desire or ambition on anything.

I am not actively looking for job.

I drop people I care about easily, not chasing them.

I try to make sense of everything and be overwhelmed by it.

I quit before even starting. In fact, I am scared of engaging in anything.

Everything seems meaningless.

I spend most of my time reflecting and not living. I question people’s motives before spending time with them, and I basically see no point in working for anyone. It puts me in an endless paralysis. I cannot count how many mornings I wake up and just want to lay in bed all day long, hoping to be immersed in an endless dream. I don’t know where I want to live: I have been living in islands, mountains, cities, with all the bliss those places bring. I have met enough interesting people to be grateful for. I am torn between traditional values and open Western values, with their own confusion. “What next?“question scares me.

I see no point in anything

sapa hope center

This is taken from Sapa Hope Center. Normally, anthropology entities like this thrill me. Yet I have spent a sweet time there and I am afraid that when I come back, I will ask questions:

– Why am I here?
– Why are these people here?
– What do they expect?
– What is really happening?

The more questions I ask and the more I find out, the more meaningless things seem to me and I cannot raise a finger to involve in anything with pure enthusiasm and energy like ever before. I want to see “the big picture” and at the same time I know I will just be disappointed when layer after layer is peeled.

I lost it. I trade living for reflecting and now reflecting is killing my beautiful innocence.




Live in a meaningless world

The more I think the more nonsense things and people are. I will never attain enough data to see the transparent big picture, if there is such a thing.

Maybe I just need to stop. Just breath, immerse, follow my instinct and see how things turn out. Stop trying to make sense of the external surrounding or even my inner world. I cannot control it, just able to feel and decode a tiny friction of its complexity, or its mess. Embrace various shades of feelings without trying to twist them into a fancy term called “positivity”.

Maybe both external and inner world are meaningless, as they are. No such thing called purpose, just dense layers of change and awareness that deny and confuse each other.

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Stop looking for true calling

Today TED shares a blog-post about True Calling. U know what? I know a better term for it.

Instead of true calling model of TED, this model involves four factors interacting with each other before (hopefully) coverging into the core, which is named Ikigai, a Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”.

There are something that annoys me in the TED true calling model.

You seem not to have to care about money in “true calling”

This model avoids money as if money is a bad thing. If somebody asks you what your dream is and your reply is “making a lot of money”, the reaction is predictable. Yep, what an immature, greedy, selfish person you are. Ignoring money as a sufficient method of value quantification is so unrealistic.


The fact is when you make money you are creating value (somebody needs what you do and is willing to pay for it, whatever that is. Youtubers who create trivial but fun videos make tons of money). The value may be good or bad, irrelavant from moral standards. From this diagram a teacher or a professional killer both have Ikigai. The market ruled by supply and demand doesn’t care if you are good or bad. You survive when do create something people need, or when you are part of that chain.

A person with Ikigai is not necessarily a good one, whereas the model of TED true calling requires people to “behave out of integrity”.

You are supposed to make people’s lives better ???

This is important because when you use the word “true-calling”, it sounds like people are supposed to be super-heroes. To be extraodinary or nothing. To end poverty, save the world, become entrpreneurs, leave a dent in the universe. Why should people do that? Stop turning this into a pressure.

And who created so-called Ikigai or “true calling” diagram anyway? There is no such fixed thing.

And what if I can’t find my Ikigai? Should I kill myself for living a worthless life?


Kindness, not sharp intelligence touches the heart. A person with kindness easily opens the guard inside us, cause human beings are intrinsically irrational.


Banh xeo & my simple happiness

Just read a suicidal sharing from Vietpsychology of a girl sharing about her feeling a huge void. She doesnot wanna die but does not wanna live either. She floats in a frozen mental state, hoping to be immersed in an endless sleep. Her work goes well and her boyfriend is caring & devoted. All of that can’t stop a big black hole circulating her thoughts.

Even though I can relate to the feeling of being hollow, I feel grateful to never fall into depression (yet). That I still can enjoy such simple happy moments like this: cool evening after a hot day, being in a cute well-equiped kitchen, cutting crispy salad vegetables and just stare at the brightness of different food patterns prepared by an excellent chef right in the street corner. Sweet solitude.

I used to be scolded by someone I care about that I don’t have ambition. Really I don’t care where I am. Not even desire to travel the world anymore. Not wanting to be a leader of whatever movement. Not excited about networking or enlarge social circle. My lack of commitment or loyalty comes from the fact that I can find joy wherever, and the sense of attachment nearly does not exist. If something big happens kicking me out of where I am, fine.


And beware, the mental black hole can rip those moments out of us.