A month ago, when I made the decision to move to Hanoi for half a year, it all made sense. But now that the days are starting to come closer and closer to my departure, I have no clue anymore what I am going to do in the capital of Vietnam. As I put all my stuff in boxes, have a goodbye party with my friends, and spend the last few nights in my empty room in Amsterdam, question marks are blinking all around me. People are wishing me all the best, good luck and how awesome I am doing this, so inspiring! I’m thinking: ‘could this be one of the stupidest decisions I’ve ever made?’
A month ago I was in Bhutan, organizing the first Gross National Happiness (GNH) youth program. One month long, an international group of young adults lived together in nature, exploring the notions of happiness and suffering, community life, brotherhood and sisterhood and right livelihood. We were lucky to have some workshops and lectures from Dr. Saamdu the director of the GNH center, Tho Ha Vinh the program director of the GNH center and Julia Kim formerly from UNICEF and now wholeheartedly committed to the development of GNH.
One day, we went for a hike up the mountain all together. Julia Kim led us in an exercise of inner and outer pilgrimage. As we would walk up the hill mostly in silence, we would be on a pilgrimage towards the prayer flags way up high. We would also try to use this time for an inner pilgrimage, examining and traveling our inner realms. Julia proposed a few questions we could use for our reflections up the hill: What is my contribution to this world or why am I here? What needs to die or what do I need to let go of? What elements of the future do I already see manifesting in the present?
Most of our young group happened to find ourselves on a threshold, a moment of change. Many of us finished studying and were looking for a job, or just what to do with our lives. Julia shared with us that sometimes, in order to follow our hearts or our guts, we need to take a leap of faith. It might not always be clear where we are going and what we are going to do, but it is very clear we need to move forward and make a change. We might be holding on to various things that give us a feeling of security, belonging or status: a job, a group of friends, a house, a place, an activity. But in order to give space to something new to emerge, we need to let go of some things first. We need to take a leap of faith. And this is a very scary thing to do: letting go of our current stable, familiar and safe situation to jump into something new and unknown. It feels like I’m in a swimming pool, holding on to the side. I want to swim for the first time but I’m not sure if I will manage to swim. However, the only way to swim is by letting go of the side first.
I feel that is exactly what I am doing now. I have been holding on to many strings of attachment that gave me a feeling of security: a waitressing job that made sure I had an income even though it was not at all what I want to be doing, a room in a house where I feel safe and at ease surrounded by my flat mates and my sister, a city I got very fond of in the past 3 years with my friends and my Ving Tsun school. I know how to live in this city, how to survive and enjoy myself. However, I’m not thriving.
Now, I am letting go of it all, to make a big leap to Asia. Hanoi is going to be the place where I will step out of my comfort zone to learn the new lessons my soul wants to learn, the lessons I need to learn so I can grow and thrive. What exactly this life is going to look like? I have not the slightest clue. What exactly are those lessons I want and need to learn? Who knows? But here I am on an airplane with 20kg of belongings I chose to bring, no turning back.