Monday, February 23, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Vietnam

My trip to Vietnam is coming to a close.  And I miss my family terribly, but I will miss this country as well.  The friends, the food, the combined pace of crazy traffic versus leisurely living have all burned a place in my mind as things I can learn from.  The picture above says so much to me.  This will be a picture to hang on my wall.  I want to remember these people who do so much with so little.  What we normally spend in one sitting at a middle-of-the-road restaurant back home is a weekly salary for a well-paid teacher.  Yet as much as I want to remember this experience and have it help me make good decisions back home, I also wonder how long will it be before I return to my old ways of living: spending money without considering the real costs, wasting food, and making mindless trips in the car for errands I could have lumped together to save both time and money.  How long before this wonderful experience becomes a faded memory?  How long before I just smile and shake my head at the fact that I bought a gourmet meal for 6 people for under $20?  
Can we really make long-standing changes to our behavior when these habits are old and strong?  How challenging will this be when we live in a culture that moves against the changes we are trying to make, and voluntarily living carefully is against the norm, and living mindfully is not chic or even understood.  It makes no difference to me if people agree with or like the way I want to live.  But it does make a difference to me if society makes it more challenging.  Luckily, I live in a world where I can make the choice of what is most important to me and my family.

Thinking this over, I have decided on the following changes I would like to work on:
  • Look at the real reason for stress in my life and decrease it.
  • Understand and get to the root of 'what is the real issue?' during difficult situations.
  • Understand the 'real cost' of things before I buy them.
  • Understand the need for rest, and recognize the difference between being rested and pushing myself too hard.
  • Remind myself to be alone for periods of every day, just to be alone.
  • Continue to eat dinner for breakfast - I love Pho!
So there's my list.  What's yours??

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