I grew up from reading biographies of economists and mathematicians. And well, some physicists. The point is, I have always held the mathematical and quantitative people in very high regard. Every step of my life, I have gauged my career decisions in the more quantitative paths. In any of those steps, instances of discrepancy showed up: I would find something that I can be pretty good at, writing paper and imaginative connections, but the joy of solving problems never erred. Yet it is such bad luck, to still truly stumble upon continual disappointment and assailing distraction. A scholarship to Singapore, a land of rigidities and conformities, the birthplace of perverted aspirations such as Amos Yee, have clocked me in the worst of the supposedly best. Academics in Singapore has shown me how extremized discipline and education can destroy one’s curiosity. I hopped on the American colleges bandwagon and never look back, joining my more interesting Vietnamese friends. Here, I learned that without true talent and good company, the average American is just as bad, if not worse: constant drudgery, neverending neglect of the true self for more egoistic and lofty nihilisms. Here I saw my American peers kill their passions in parties, weed, and love of a false culture. But I guess my soul is truly too old, even now I struggle to put my being and the plasticity of my thoughts into firm and yet loose words. Words dualize things, and my things come from the opposite. And because of this sense for the old, this is where the intensity of my inner self came out to meet with new forms of knowledge – I got acquainted with the meditation masters, the New Age ideas, the writings of the unknown. This was partly out of a necessity, because I was not finding connection with mediocrity in America. I did not want to be a straight-A student in a place where my classmate could not even handle arithmetic fast enough. I rumbled and rushed to find my own values, taking up competitions and maintaining online connections with superior peers, but the truth stands: if you cannot go to the best playgrounds, there is no true playground of ideas in America. There are the very good places where mentorship and excellent peers go hand in hand, and there are the places where people come by to pass their day, attain some kind of degree, and move on to endlessly reminiscent adult life.
I struggle very hard now to not blame on the others, but deep inside I believe so, that with more friendly environments and better mentorship I should have amounted to something better. I know, truly, that the interactions that I label “distractions”, however, are made possible because I myself vie for these things on my own. My attention span is not exactly bad, but my sensitivity to new colors of this world challenges much of my ability to effect change upon my course, my being. Even as I write these words I live in complete submission to my parents’ wishes (thinking it would be the non karma-inviting way to solve my life), in partial emotional submission to a relationship that offers no individual growth to either parties (no, the truth is there is always individual growth, but this is a relationship that neglects the true desires of each person, because in place of these desires there are very good and indulgent feelings involved), and in complete neglect of the work people want me to do (because I am writing this, see).
And yet, something lives.
The sun is up. I have books to read. I can breathe and look into myself now. And even though everything around me is a mess, which implies the world is a mess, I can begin to see the pieces coming together. And the way I will continue to effect change is not so much upon the world, but upon the things closest to myself.