Giving thanks amid memories

When a new year turns it’s time here for families to visit temples and gifts and lucky money but most it’s the first word. Family. It’s that way for Vietnamese during the week of Tet. Part perhaps is drinking a ca phe and looking back as the new lunar new year wanders in.

We all have the time to gaze back. Perhaps a retrospective moment when you had that 4th beer. When moments and times collide. For me, it’s now in this Highlands Coffee. This place where the families come and the kids say hello and the ever effervescent friendliness of the people rise up. I don’t have that key component for Tet. A family. So I dwell on other things and place them here.

  • Friends. I have friends. Many Facebook friends. They come and go. Some arrive and depart. I don’t really know them. I have higher friend standards than following and blocking and liking. Those are not qualities to me of having friends. So I have few. I also see many go. I’ve called it the friendship half life. At some point those people lose steam and wither on the vine. I don’t do anything about it. I’m not good friend material. I don’t reach out or encourage. Like I said. They come and go. I’m sometimes grateful for friends but gratitude is not my strong suit. My son called me for a long time mr. responsibility”. So I feel friends should rise to a certain point and meet me there. It’s not 50% for me. I don’t know the point. But I do when someone does not reach it. So on this New Years the bar for friendship is still high. The wall always is there. I accept it. In this coffee shop. Tomorrow on a walk. Monday over beers.
  • Family. Ohhhh. This one is fraught with memory and fault and blame. Why do we move so heavily on blame in America with family? Shadows of it’s your fault. You did this. You caused her to do this and that. Sure. I caused her to fuck someone else. Maybe I did. Life in my family place. Blame and equity and kids that move to adults. Then the calls are few. Not here. Here families are key. Glue. The unit. I cannot go that way. I can respect and admire my Vietnamese friend telling me she goes home to mom. But it’s far from things. So family is interesting. Still for me. Incendiary and prone. Blame baked in. It leads from then to…
  • Now. Now life is a simpler equation for me. It rises and falls but only on me. My coffee sits on the table. No demands there. Being alone is not being lonely. Solitude when I want and often being with friends here. When I want. Vietnam grants me the view of friends and family. From a distance. And the distance leads to…
  • Tomorrow. No such thing. It never did exist. We just fancy it because like the hunter gatherers of the American west we create huge concepts for things we do not understand. For them rain and wind. Erosion and deposition. The god forces of life. For me, tomorrow becomes nothing. I move along through today. Now. Moments.

So when I give thanks it’s for what I have and have not. Silently as the iced coffee asks me to sip. Gratitude is not forced with me. Only limited. Forgetting is easier than blaming. So yesterday’s things fit into a bullet point of their own. One I have not listed. On purpose. Living in the past is it’s own hell on earth. My mom was fond to say,

We create our hell on earth

Yes mom. You knew.

February 12, 2021