Last Sunday, I met an old friend of mine from high school who I have not met for more than six years. We were not so close when we were still at high school and we randomly chatted with each other on Facebook. And it was more than three years since I had a conversation on Facebook with her. Therefore, it came to me as a surprise when I received her message via Facebook for a catch-up session. I want to go astray a bit here by talking more about the phrase “catch-up”. It was not until a year ago when such phrase started to come up frequently in my life. Perhaps as a part of the growing process, where the young adults after few years of focusing too much on their work life and realizing how long they have not had a talk with their old friends, the desire of catching up with what the others are doing becomes a necessary part of our life. Admittedly, sometimes I really wanted to send a message to friends who I was not so close when I was at the university/English Club but we did work together in some assignments/ projects and I am really interested in knowing about how they have been. However, I always find it a little bit confused and find it easy to have an excuse for not messaging them for asking simple questions like “Hey, how have you been so far?”. And admittedly, “how have you been so far?” is one of the most difficult questions to me. “How have you been so far?” “Well, not much different. I am still working at … I do something recently, I learn something recently but I feel that almost everything remains unchanged…” Therefore, I find it quite difficult to ask a friend out for a catch-up session and find it difficult to set a date for ones who want to catch up with me. Sorry for getting astray a little bit. Let’s come back to the story of my old friend at high school.
I was a little bit surprised when receiving her message but then I decided to meet her immediately for she used to be among an adorable friend of mine at high school and it would be a nice experience to meet an old friend after all the years indeed. After a few minutes of “catching up” in its literal meaning, I mean asking questions like “where are you working?”, “how about your current workplace?”, “have you met someone in our class recently?”, etc., I suddenly asked her about the reasons for asking me out for dinner today. Some may feel it awkward to ask a friend about the reason for hanging out like that but it came as natural to me (even by now) for asking such question. Unexpectedly, my friend was not surprised at my questions but she sincerely said that she would like to seek for some pieces of advice in reading books and she thought that I might have read lots of books. I always find it interesting when listening to others talking about me, what I might do a lot and how I would behave. Sorry for going astray a bit for the second time. Two weeks ago, when my company organized a team building day and we were divided into several teams for some games. As part of team organizing, the team leader was required to categorize the team members into several sub-groups based on the team members’ characteristics or ability. I feel a little bit weird and vain (so sad to admit that I am so vain about myself) when my team leader categorized me into the group of “smart girl” (the other groups were “strong man” and “strong girl”). I have never expected others to tell me that I am smart because I get used to hearing people comment about me as a hardworking one. An old friend of mine even said to me that I needed to learn how to work smart, not work hard (and it means to me that I am not so smart). Come back to the story of the old friend of mine, I was surprised when that old friend wanted to seek for some pieces of advice from me in relation to books. The conversation then turned to economics, education, language study, work, and of course, books. My friend was a student of the faculty of Japanese language at my university and she spent a year going on an exchange to Japan. She is now working as the assistant to Japanese experts in several projects on development sponsored by JICA. After a couple of years working, she realizes that she wants to obtain a foundation in economics, studying more about the development economics and “catching up” with recent changes in Vietnam’s economy. It is interesting that the word “catching up” comes into place again. My friend’s sharing about her embarrassing moments when finding that her Japanese boss even understands more about Vietnam than her made me realize that how I have been ignorant of what’s going on with my country so far. I received a large amount of information every day and found it hard to process it. And if a foreign friend asks me about “How has your country been so far?”, I will also find it of the same difficulty as the question about “How have you been so far?” as aforementioned. I think that it is quite common for almost every young people in Vietnam now. We all know about TPP but we are not interested in getting down to understand about it in detail. We are all interested in the case of environment pollution in Ha Tinh but we find it difficult to choose for us our own stand point. We are aware that the election for the representatives of the National Assembly and various levels of People’s Committee is about to take place but we are not really curious about who are running for the election and some even felt that the whole election does not make sense. Some friends of mine complain that the candidates do not have any speech for election as what happened in the West while in fact, there are lots of candidates publicizing their own opinions and what they will do should they be elected. I suddenly realized that how I am too ignorant all the times and found it such a dangerous habit. Thanks for this conversation with this friend; I felt an urge for escaping from such state of ignorance and becoming more aware about what’s going on with things that surround. My friend said that she would try her best to read more news in relation to Vietnam’s economy every day, listening more to news on television and finding more books of this topic. It may be difficult to start a new habit at the first place but she believed that she would find herself come to terms with these topics soon. And I felt an urge of doing the same thing.
And of the third side note (or the third times I go astray in this post), I really feel blessed for the world that I live in now. Such third note may not be as relevant as the first two notes but as it came across my mind than I find it hard to resist writing about it, about the world that I live in. The idea was borrowed from the title of the drama I have seen recently “Worlds within” or “The world that they live in”. Our world, your world, and my world are not perfect. I have to cope with unexpectedly disappointing stories every day. But we do have good moment like this too. Such conversation with this old friend of mine is really meaningful to me and it inspired me a lot indeed. Sometimes, “catching up” with old friends not only helps remind you of the old good times together but also brings about really brilliant new ideas. Such moment like this really makes me feel blessed for having a chance to live in this world. How lovely it was when one friend took credit for me when it came to books and study (though I am not quite an expert in such field). How lovely it was when my friends shared with me about her thoughts about these seemingly academic stuffs without fear of being teased or laughed at. And how intimidating it was when I realized how I have been ignorant of the world that I live in. It is just like the idea of “I think, therefore I am”, it is just like the moments when I do feel that I am living, thinking and feeling about this world, which is really beautiful and meaningful to me.