What is the Meaning of your Fate?

Hanh TranIt was a cold and harsh winter Sunday when I was coming back from a long trip, exhausted and bored. Silently watching the other people with all of their expressed and non-expressed acts in the bus station, I noticed a middle-aged woman. She was very loud, she laughed and talked with everyone. Then she caught my eyes. We smiled at each other, and she initiated conversation with me. That was when I understood she had some mental problems, due to her abnormal voice and her uncontrollable behavior. However, I still listened to her messy stories whole-heartedly and empathetically, realizing that there was a logical connection in the disorder with which she spoke.

She told me about her hospital adventures, a kid giving her his little toy, about how people avoid her. Then suddenly she exclaimed: “Young lady, I love you. I don’t know why, but I love you so much!” I felt a warmth, a rush flowing strongly within my body, and I was at a loss for words – moved to tears at that sudden confession, because I strongly felt what she said was real. She just simply lifted up my mood. Sometimes I still wonder, among this chaotic and vigorous world, is this “crazy” woman the one who is highly aware of her presence the most, or are “normal” ones who thought they were most aware of their presence the craziest? Up to this point, I am still indebted to her presence at that time. She reminds me of who I am and my purpose in life.

That woman was not the only person I encountered. There is another girl having a similar problem on my campus, and I always talked to her since I felt that she was very lonely, both inside and out. Observing how much she enjoyed playing with her boots, I smiled at this lovely and innocent child, realizing sometimes happiness is just that simple, and it happens when we open our hearts. Happiness happened when I made hairpins for kids, or listened to my friend when she suffered from emotional problems and did everything for her to make her happy. I also came to the realization that no matter where you are, every place has its own issues. Back home in Vietnam, we struggle every day with cleanliness at schools, lack of higher education, or robbery in the city. I have also witnessed moral denigration and how greed increases when life becomes harder.

This exchange program is truly a turning point in my life, and I came to realize of the meaning of this life: making others happy, being connected to the sufferings in this world, and helping people find the way back to themselves. I don’t want to retreat to the academic ivory tower, I want to jump out in society and do something more meaningful with my life. A thought shakingly dawned on me that in the end, after a hard life of struggling with money, reputation or any ephemeral comforts, when we pass away, there is nothing we can bring with us, but the only thing left is how much we contributed to this world, how much we love the other, since love is the only thing that remains after all.

Hanh Tran 2Since I’ve been here, I have learned the value of treasuring every happy moment passing by – every single moment. I started to embrace the spring breeze, feel the warm sunshine rushing through my body, catch the dangling smile of people playing outside, indulge myself in the bird concerto outside my window and adore the vivacious green on my campus. It is time that I have to say goodbye to this beautiful place and the happy people who are always supporting and encouraging me. There is an American girl who always hangs out with me and laughs at my jokes, a classmate who chose to pursue her musical passion rather than just study business, a roommate who makes me awesome cookies and dinners. There is an Italian girl who is years beyond her age, always inspiring me with her wisdom and experience, a Guatemalan girl who was always there when I was sad, a French girl who is very nice and elegant, a Taiwanese girl who spent tons of hours talking with me, and many more friends.

I will miss this place, miss every single face…

This life is so short why we have to waste time to debate

Why we just can’t be each other’s soul-mate

Treasure this happiness or it will become too late

Have you ever wondered to date

What is the meaning of your fate?

 – Hanh Ngoc Tran, Vietnam, Grand Valley State University

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