I am back in Vietnam. Tam Cốc to be precise. The above is a picture I took of a picture. Obviously, the original was taken by professionals on a perfect day and is touched up as well. Here is what Tam Cốc looks like from where I am staying…on a foggy morning…
Recently, a friend of mine posed a question to me: “I would love to know how you occupy yourself in a foreign country with time on your hands and sightseeing is no longer on the agenda.”
Others have asked similar questions in the past and I have kind of answered those with counter questions in a blog post
I would attempt to answer the question; again not with a model answer but with some more questions or things to think about.
(Background information: Many of my friends are nearing the retirement age. As such, they are wondering how they would utilize the time, once retired. In a way, they are fortunate. For some, perhaps even for the majority, retirement may not even be an option because of financial constraints. For others, they may not have made it to the retirement age. They did not get to do the things they had put off until retirement because they passed away before they reached that milestone. It is a luxury to be able to ponder what to do with time on our hands. I am told by a local, that people working on this back-breaking task in the fields here would continue working till they die.)
The short answer to my friend’s question: Years ago, I identified key areas to spend my time on. It is irrelevant what they are because what I have deemed as the most important thing in life may not be the same as what you may have concluded or may eventually conclude. Once you have identified the most important thing in life that warrants your time and energy – you can go on working on it – regardless of where in the world you are. As mentioned in a previous blog post – for me, being elsewhere outside of California or the US is primarily a cost consideration. Some call it geographical arbitrage.
Extended version: I don’t experience boredom or loneliness, but I do experience discouragement and doubts. Discouragement because I don’t see improvement in myself after all this time and effort. Doubts because I am not 100% certain that I am on the right path; if I am actually living out my vocation in life. A few have actually said that I am ‘wasting my life’. I can only continue to examine my life on a regular basis and make any necessary changes. How one judges oneself, or how others judge a person is not important – if there is a higher authority judging us. So, ultimately, I guess, it is a question of faith. What do you really believe in? And does your thoughts and actions, and hence how you choose to spend your time concur with that belief? It is easy to find activities to fill up one’s time. The challenge is finding the ‘right’ activities.
At the greyhound races, as soon as the doors open, the greyhounds charge off with speeds in excess of 40 mph. They chase after a ‘rabbit’ with such gusto. I wonder if they know that the race was designed such that they will never be able to catch the rabbit and even if somehow they caught it, that it is fake. It is merely a mechanical rabbit. Is whatever we are chasing with all our time and energy, real or worth pursuing? Anyway to be certain of it?
Comments, advice or suggestions are welcomed.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matthew 7:13-14