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It’s May of 2017 already (time flies like a dog running on a paddy field - a fun Vietnamese proverb that I like to use a lot), sitting at a corner of La Pause café, I asked myself a delicate question: “How rich am I?”. In retrospect, I start to give names and credits to what make me feel rich.

I’m rich in failures. These failures were about my past academic performance, subject choices and human relationships that have contributed to steering my life to the current direction and made me grateful for what happened. I failed to get some academic praises, which I falsely believed saddened my parents; I failed to listen to myself and let peer pressure win the choice of college, which had me grope my way thru a dark tunnel for almost three years; I failed many human relationships that costed me time and effort to learn valuable lessons (for the record, I am still failing in human relationships right now, just cos I can’t change my belief that everyone deserves a second chance and every human being on Earth should be treated fairly). All being accumulated and reflected have made me feel so rich and lucky, because I am still intact and still hold a firm belief in humanity and positivity. More than that, I now decide for myself what constitutes failure, instead of letting the world give me a set of criteria.

I’m rich in unconditional love and endless support from my parents who let me exercise my imaginations and dreams of the world beyond the mountain chains surrounding our small town.

I’m rich in transient yet meaningful travel friendships. Truth be told, Lanny is one of my major inspirations to these reflections. Yeah shout-out to Lanny!!!! (You hear it, Lanny) So firstly, the story of how we met began in Indonesia in 2014, I came to Batam to volunteer at a local school where Lanny was working as an English teacher. Upon finishing my volunteer term at the school, we then arranged a meet-up in Singapore for New Year 2015 celebration; and without any hint, Lanny has now moved to work in Beijing where I’m also pursuing my higher education. We did hug while crazily jumping for joy on the street the moment we met again after the last goodbye at one of the metro stations in Singapore where Lanny was “tearing up” when I turned my back and walked into the train (Lanny told me about this, otherwise I wouldn’t have known). Regardless of the fact that Lanny habitually “bullied” me during our time together in Batam, I know Lanny loves me, and as cheesy as it may sound, I love her too. Lanny is like a big sister that I always wish to have. Being an educator herself, Lanny knows how to tell fun stories and still convey subtle lessons in her talks. There is always a moral living message in every conversation with Lanny, the first lesson I learned from our very first talk is why our brain is in higher position than our heart, it’s because we need the rational and factual brain to tell the heart what is right to do. Most importantly, Lanny herself is a reminder of the values and meanings of my family to me. Having moved out to live with friends at the age of 15, I tended to take my family for granted but thanks to heaps of encounters and talks with people I’ve crossed paths, especially Lanny, I’ve learned and will never forget that my family are the people who truly accept me for who I am, who will do anything to see my smiles and love me no matter what, my family is one and only place where my life began and love never ends, I may have lots of people in my life, but I won’t find a single person who cares for me as exactly same as my parents do. Regardless of geographical distances, we do, once in a while, catch up on each other’s news; and Lanny, being a “bully” at heart, always enjoys laughing at me and my stories all the time before talking some sense into me. Lanny has once said our pursuit of happiness and adventures thru limitless sojourns are likened to both blossoming flowers and brewing a cup of Vietnamese coffee. The metaphor lies in the patience to brew the best results of our perseverance and the boldness to blossom despite the test of time. These beautiful words again will accompany me in many more years and journeys to come.

Thank you, Lanny!

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