No Retreat

The traffic in Vietnam can be seen as a metaphor for life.

Vietnamese traffic has its own set of rules and to successfully cross the road one must watch and observe and learn what the local patterns are. You cannot go to a country such as Vietnam and expect to apply the same rules that you know and apply in Australia. It won’t work. But if you take the time to understand what is going on you will be better able to achieve your goal…get safely to the other side of the road.

This way of understanding and coming to terms with crossing the road in a country such as Vietnam can be applied to many aspects of life. When you join a new group, you will do best when you apply this same philosophy. Observe what the existing patterns and social rules are. And then attempt to fit in by applying these same rules. At some point, once you have an understanding of the ‘status quo’ it may be possible to introduce some individuality…but only after initially conforming.

When starting any new venture in life, the first step, like stepping off the curb onto the road is often the hardest. Then you take the next step, and then the next, even if it feels risky and scary. Until you finally reach your destination.

But once you have stepped onto the road as a pedestrian there is no retreat. You must keep going forward at a predictable pace. You must keep an eye on the on-coming traffic, you may need to slow down and pause a moment to let a bike pass in front and then continue to allow the next bike to slide behind you. It is like one of those slider puzzle you played as a kid, one piece needs to move first and then the next. But you cannot stop completely before getting across and you certainly cannot retreat.

Caught in the middle

Should we apply this also to our daily lives…no retreat? Stay true to your path. Be consistent. Pause, take breath but do not retreat. Dodge, duck and weave. Sometimes the dance that you dance or the steps that you take are your own only inside your head but you must appear to conform outwardly because this is what it takes to get you safely to where you want to go. But do not retreat

If each road is an obstacle in life then each time you step into the traffic, you should only concentrate on crossing this particular road. You should not be thinking of crossing all the future roads, that may or may not come up. Once you have decided to cross a road and you have taken the first step, do not retreat…

The time for retreat is in between roads. And this is not retreat in the sense of surrendering to negative thoughts, but a retreat that helps to recuperate and build strength and prepare you for the next road that needs crossing. In life, it may be a holiday, or reading a novel, or playing music, going for a walk, gardening, meeting friends…

In Vietnam, it may be sitting at the nearest Ca Pha for a cup of sweet, strong local coffee…Ca Pha Sua!




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