Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Mid-Week Mantra

Usually by Wednesday afternoons, I find myself muttering, "It's just a job. Just a job. Just a job." Yesterday, something other than my usual peppy self-starters helped put things back into perspective. At the art gallery, we are currently hosting an exhibition by 2 older Vietnamese artists. One does gorgeous bonsai/rock/fountain sculpture and the other paints. It is the harvest season, and yesterday the bonsai artist brought over a Vietnamese harvest cake and tea for us all to enjoy. (He brings his own china tea set from home every time he wants to give us some tea). Mr. Vu, whom we knew suffered extremely during and after the war, told us more about his life. He was in the communist prison camps for 16 years, only to be let out in the mid 80's. He is a recognized Vietnamese American war veteran who operated in the special forces (spies) and was captured by communists from Northern Vietnam. He brought in a binder of every letter, award, and document showing his involvement in the war and subsequent honor and compensation from the American government. He even proudly showed us a congratulatory letter from the 1st President Bush.

The reality check for me was not only the ease with which he told this story, but the beauty he conveys through the art of bonsai. He constructs miniature mountain landscapes that depict the Vietnam of his youth. These images remain pure despite the devastation that met his country during the Vietnam war. Here, the meaning of survival is relative. I've caught myself thinking many times today about how my daily "survival" should be fought for in a way that honors Mr. Vu.

Comments:
Shannon- what a beautiful story. i must admit it got me a little misty. I have been learning some cultural things at my restaurant job too. The bussers were telling me how they get to this country with the help of coyotes and how much it costs etc. so enlightening.
 
by the way if anyone doesnt know: coyotes are people who smuggle other people across the border for money. some are incredibly crooked and will abandon the people theyre smuggling in the middle of the desert or lots of other horrible things. npr has lots of stories about coyotes and border crossing that are totally interesting.
 
ok, glad you clarified that for me, Leah. I was trying to imagine people riding coyotes or something and it just wasn't working.

Shan, that really was a wonderful story. Things like that really put all we have in perspective.
 
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