Vietnam – a land of new friends and amazing adventures

The last month in Vietnam has been full of adventure, intrigue and amazing new friends.  Sitting in the cab to the airport I realized I had already made a list for my eventual return to this foreign land.  There’s so much I want to do again and even more places I simply ran out of time for.

The cities of Vietnam are a mysterious place where bikes, buses and old ladies selling fruit fight for right of way on the highway.  At any moment someone might come running across the divider or perhaps a family of 4 packed onto one bike will swerve around your cab.  A country of wonder and excitement where the most dangerous part of your day could be playing Frogger to cross the street.  Then again there’s always trekking through the tropical jungles or swimming with the jellyfish.  Oh and how about those poisonous hornets bigger than your finger or snakes even the jungle guides freak out about?  Needless to say it’s been a blast and I stayed (mostly) safe but I’m genuinely excited to be back in Seoul!

Walking out of the hostel for the last time I stuck to my standard farewells, spouting “until next time” with hugs and handshakes.  It’s a wide world full of crazy people and things but the human element makes everything smaller.  Small enough that I can’t help but think.  No scratch that.  I hope and believe that some of our paths will cross again.  Even if this fleeting moment we all shared is the last time our fates cross it has certainly been worthwhile.

Deepak Chopra Son Doong Meme

Climbing into The Garden of Edam, Son Doong’s 2nd jungle filled doline.

Thank you to all my new friends, dance partners, drinking buddies and fellow explorers.  Meeting other international travelers is as much of the fun as the excursions themselves.   I hope my impact on your adventure was as profound as the joy that sharing (and sometimes oversharing) this trip with you brought me!

Stay tuned as I sort through nearly 3000 photos and bring my month-long adventure back to life for you to enjoy!

When two souls collide

When two souls collide any number of outcomes are possible.  Most often it is a glancing blow, a fleeting moment in the eternity of the universe and a small glimpse into a lifetime.  But every so often that collision generates an energy that is more than just a glimmer.  We have all met people who have profoundly impacted our lives: family, best friends, teachers, coaches and colleagues.  The people we remember most are those that are most profound, those who leave a lasting impression.  An impact we hope has been positive, but let us not forget that a negative impact can be even longer lasting.  The bully from elementary school who you remember more vividly than your once best friend who you haven’t seen in a decade, or perhaps that awful boss who just didn’t get it.

After a certain point in your life you come to expect that some people will fade in and out and others may never come back into your life.  The farther I look into my past the fewer people I still keep in touch with.  I was lucky enough to get lunch with my oldest friend earlier this week.  He’s one of those people that no matter what you are doing, you stop and take his call.  I’m glad I did since he realized he wasn’t going to make my going away party and insisted we get lunch. He just finished his masters, landed job, and will be moving in the next few weeks just like me; although not quite as far away was still enthralled by everything I had to say.  Its great to think about those people who will always be with you, a testament to that is the ability to pick up as if no time has passed even though it may have been months or even years.

Earlier today I bumped into one of my first students; he was a senior on the fencing team my first year as head coach and I haven’t seen him in almost 5 years.  It was great catching up with him and hearing about where life has taken him; he certainly enjoyed hearing about my latest developments.  Before we knew it the 3 hour wait at the DMV was over and I said my patented goodbye, “until next time!” as I shook his hand and realized that our previous collision may not have been as meaningful for me as it was for him.  I thought back to a quote I relate to often as an educator.

We are travelers on a cosmic journey – stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. But the expressions of life are ephemeral, momentary, transient. Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, once said,   

“This existence of ours is as transient as autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is like a flash of lightning in the sky, rushing by like a torrent down a steep mountain.” 

We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment, but it is transient. It is a little parenthesis in eternity. If we share with caring, lightheartedness, and love, we will create abundance and joy for each other. And then this moment will have been worthwhile.

-Deepak Chopra

But what happens when two souls finally collide in such a spectacular way that they are forever entangled?  Some might call it love at first sight, others say that newly weds experience this after they say their vows.  We all hope that they defeat the American odds and are together for eternity.  I am at a crossroads in my life and feel that I have new friends and old friends who are forever caught in my web; I hope that I am right and that when I return, even if just for a brief visit, we will be able to pick back up as if no time has passed.

In my life I have encountered many friends, a couple enemies and even fewer lovers.  I have my family, and am fortunate to know and trust that they will always be here for me as I for them.  I wonder how many more souls will be added on this next adventure and hope that I can keep all my old friends who have made such a lasting impact on who I am today.  I hope that all of our moments have been worthwhile.

Deepak Chopra Son Doong Meme