Sometimes I let go of my plan or routine because there’s a feeling that’s drawing me elsewhere, and it leads me to the most delightful experiences. Today, rather than rush to drive to the gym and do my stretch/dance/swim/workout so that I can make dinner in time so that I can attend this Bachata class that I want to attend tonight, for a moment I noticed the beautiful Buddha statue in the garden, and decided to take a walk. As I strolled around the house, I admired the plants, the artworks, the collected statues, and admired what he had created and collected over the years. Overhead, blue skies with the sun was peeking through some strange semi-dark clouds that gave an orange sunshine over the landscape around me. I noticed the mailbox was full, so I walked in to drop the mail off on the table before I went along my way. He was already up, chopping up some jackfruit for a mid-day snack. I decided to sit down and share a moment.
He began telling stories of jackfruit, traveling long distances by boat, knowing how to differentiate the over-ripe or under-ripe ones from the ones just right. It drifted to stories of his youth, trade between villages, and being mischievous throwing the jackfruit seeds at the adults. I sometimes drift in and out of the content, and mostly I’m just experiencing a vibe, laughter and enjoyment, ease and being relaxed, happy and being heard. One university professor had once complimented me on my listening skills for counseling others: “Deep strength + courage as a human being. Model sharing who you are, + your experiences + depth with others — very permission giving to all.”
Although that positive feedback can also lead to some performance anxiety. I’m embarrassed because I’m easily distracted with people I’m attracted to that walk by. I want to give my full attention to the friend or family member with me, and it feels disrespectful to drift off to a stranger. A counselor gave one option, I could apologize and invite the other person to share the joy of another attractive person. However, today, I knew it was not the right approach. Instead, lately, I’m giving myself permission to allow my mind to ride multiple train tracks simultaneously.
It was watching him chop up the jackfruit pieces to eat while he shared the stories: the jackfruit peel and fruit inside, the knife, the arm and tan skin. I drifted to a memory of an online photo of a former lover, holding up a large jackfruit and showing off nice biceps, along with his youthful smiling face. I still yearn for the guy, he’s talented, successful, and making a difference in the world. Yet there was also a conflicted sadness. I remember the night we met up, after he had satisfied himself, he went straight to the computer, either to check social media, lookup another hookup, or read the news. He didn’t seem so much to care about my satisfaction. I reflected many times on that experience, was it something about me that was unattractive, my fawning, or just being less confident? Was it a technique to ensure to distance and let go of the hookup in the future? Yet there’s this strange conflict within me, of attraction to that ignorance, sadness about I felt in the experience, and still attraction to the person’s gifts nonetheless. As I was listening to the stories of jackfruit, I started to notice the tears welling up in my eyes, I hadn’t realized how deeply that emotion had run.
Remind myself to give props just for keeping it together. I came back to the room, listening to stories of how he had trained others back in his homeland years ago, and now several of them through hard work and luck had become extremely successful. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we had contributed to another person’s wellbeing.
I find these strange moments of resonance bring me to tears. That moment was an intersection of so many different experiences: the stories of jackfruit, walking with that lover and getting to know his life stories, swimming with him and sharing goggles, making love and touching each other’s bodies, hearing stories of his successes, the counselor giving me advice how to be at peace with my attractions and distractions, my professor’s affirmation about my ability to listen to others, and this scene from the movie Song Lang.
Linh Phụng: Anh có tin vào chuyện du hành vượt thơi gian không?
Dũng: Giống trong phim gì?
L: Tôi tin người ta có thể vượt thời gian qua ba cách: con người, đồ vật, và nơi chốn.
D: Là sao?
L: Giống như mỗi khi anh gặp một người nào đó, hoặc là anh đứng trước một nơi nào đó, hay nhìn một vật gì đó, mà gợi nhớ lại kỷ niệm đưa anh quay trở về một khoảng thời gian trong quá khứ, vậy là anh đã du hành vượt thời gian rồi.
L: Do you believe in time travel?
D: Like in the movies?
L: Personally I believe that we can travel through time in three ways: through people, objects, and places.
D: What do you mean?
L: For example, every time that you meet someone, or are at a place, or look at an object, the memory of the moment sends you back. And then you’ve time traveled.