2009 - A lesson in expectations

I felt an anticipation for 2009 right as Tết rolled around last year.  My wife felt it, too - it was a tangible expectation, like the thick, humid air before a storm - and we both were convinced that great things would happen in the following months.
Then... nothing.
I started school, then had to drop out, then started again.  Mai Vi started working a little more so our income rose a little.  I got a new bike.  She improved in managing all those little roudy Primary kids on Sundays.  Very mundane events, or long-time plans finally starting to materialize, but nothing that fit that strong anticipation we felt last spring.  I was slightly disappointed as Tết came and went this year and I did not feel the same anxious expectation, nor did I have anything to show for last year's.  Expectations have a way of skewing our view of the present, but I was honestly trying to determine why my anticipation had been so far off.
One night after an especially-introspective bike ride home from work I was struck with a prompting, an idea formulating that felt important but evasively vague.  It all started with wondering what to do with this blog, since I don't blog much anymore, but my thoughts lead me into much deeper issues.  Like smoke from the camp fire, every time I grasped too hard - or even looked too directly to get a glimpse of the actual shape and form - it vanished and I was left wanting.  Mai Vi went to bed, I stayed up doing homework and coding a project for a friend, while the ideas in my head slowly settled and finally grew silent.  I brushed my teeth, turned out the lights and knelt at my bed to pray.  Before my knees hit the floor I was back on my feet, head racing.
Lights on, pen lid off, old printout from last semester as my canvas, I scratched out the ephemeral thoughts even as they flitted away, no longer grasping for meaning but scrambling to manage the overflow of mental data.  They were neatly processed now, folded and starched and ready for consumption after my evening activities allowed them room to self-organize.  The past year made sense now, in the dim glow of my desk lamp, but it soon would not so I urgently disregarded spelling and grammar and any sense of order just to let these thoughts make their way to the paper before disappearing into a million ethereal pieces.
See, I grew up last year, and I'm still getting used to the rest of my life.
Here's my thoughts, as they are on the back of an old school printout:

Year of maturing - the prevailing theme - I felt it would be a big year but didn't have much to show for it except school - but I see now it's more of an internal progression, a growing up - xanghe represents the care free, blissful days of perpetual honeymoons - that phase has passed and it's now on with adult life - on the way home from work, I realized I'm approaching 30, which is not old, but it's too old to claim ignorance or innonence as I have been doing - recently I told my younger brother to be a man, but was I projecting? - over the years, xanghe has transformed from a silly nickname to a symbol of my continual search for meaning, depicted by the ubiquitous bee - time has passed for me to claim xanghe as my alias, but it will remain a reminder of my search - it's time to be a man

1 comment:

Allison said...

I love this post Ben. Hope you and Mai Vi are well!

travel log
  • 02.13.08 - to the temple with Luan and his mom, good to be back
  • 02.14.08 - Mẫu's alive! and staying for the weekend
  • 02.15.08 - floor hockey and Thái food makes for some strange dreams
  • 02.17.08 - frisbee and swamp monster at the park: fun but I'm pooped!
  • 02.19.08 - just read Triết's response to my last post - game on!
  • 02.20.08 - raining and expected to continue through Sunday - thank goodness!
  • 02.21.08 - 3-hour nap is a bad idea right before bed
  • 02.23.08 - to the beach to watch kites, a baptism @ 5pm, and homemade bulgogi - what a day!
  • 02.25.08 - just gave myself a haircut - woo, cold head!
  • 02.26.08 - 75° and spring cleaning - couldn't feel better
  • 02.27.08 - fed the elders bún đậu tonight - think it's their first time
  • 03.01.08 - working on new background...
  • 03.02.08 - finalized javascript to change background without muffing up my other scripts
  • 03.03.08 - fhe: "In his strength I can do all things" (Alma 26:12)
  • 03.07.08 - some decisions are harder than others, but some are downright excruciating
  • 03.08.08 - there is life after work... i almost forgot
  • 03.11.08 - the distance between good and bad is much shorter than between better and best
  • 03.12.08 - conversion is sometimes a gradual process, so much so that we don't even notice
  • 03.14.08 - for some reason everything was a little harder today, looking forward for bed!
  • 03.15.08 - last night after blog reading, I missed OnlyBlue, today I find she's back
  • 03.16.08 - best day of my life!
  • 03.19.08 - "Pray for the answer that they've been looking for"
release notes v1.0 - FINALLY DONE!
  • 12.07 - first thought of starting a new blog
  • 01.08 - busy with election stuff but blog design still on back burner
  • 01.13.08 - first idea to imitate jk rowling with the "desk" theme
  • 01.28.08 - start sketching current design, breaking down development into phases
  • 02.02.08 - election only days away but still drafting final plans
  • 02.04.08 - v0.6 LAUNCH
    • main components (blog body, sidebar, header, etc) designed and implemented
    • styling for font, links, drop caps, etc. finished
  • 02.07.08 - v0.8 LAUNCH
    • image style to imitate polariod
    • moveability - post-it notes and static clings can be repositioned by drag and drop
    • release notes styled and written
  • 02.16.08 - travel log (beta) added in hopes of catching the mundane
  • 02.22.08 - lightbox 2.03 reinstalled and working fine (hopefully - let me know otherwise)
  • 02.26.08 - v0.9 LAUNCH
    • travel log seems to be working, so I'll keep it
    • lightbox also seems to have passed the test, so it's a keeper
    • some credits/info added to bottom (will expand)
    • keeping old Viet terms in archive for future viewing
  • 03.18.08 - v1.0 LAUNCH
    • installation and testing of time-sensitive background completed (for now)