Saturday, January 17

Day 142-Hue

Here in the Imperial City of Hue, along the clean, green Perfume River, the centuries-old Citadel squats and crumbles in the gray drizzle of the early morning. Only the local market is alive with bright colors and strong odors. It is my birthday, my fiftieth, a day for reflection. Years back a friend of mine enjoyed her 50th amidst fanfare, friends and family. Knowing that my destiny had given me a different path, I began then to make plans for this round the world trip, vowing that I would be far away and alone when that day arrived for me. I am. And in a host of other instances of coordination and cooperation I have suceeded, but in days past I have also had some notable failures.

Trekking the hill country last week, I was fortunate to have as part of my group two very lovely ladies from Croatia, and one in particular really captured my interest. In our brief conversations we connected deeply and I was reminded that I once believed in love at first sight. On the train back to Hanoi our paths crossed, and we arranged to share a cab and breakfast before they left for the airport and home. As we made our way to exit the station, we learned that we needed our ticket, and I had left mine crumpled on the floor of the car. Amidst the hustle and crush of the moment, in a hurry to run back before the train left, I was unable to think, and lacking the practice to ask them to wait, I simply said goodbye. The Bhuddists say it takes 10,000 lifetimes for two people to meet, this encounter now lost forever, "like tears in the rain".

This failure of thinking has injured my heart, but another failure of emotion could have cost me dearly. The other night, fed up with a slow internet that keep crashing, I slapped down my payment and stormed out, cursing. Overzealous as I exited, I caused the door to swing wide, scratching the hood of a motorbike parked too close. As I continued mumbling down the street, the owner pursued me, and showed me the damage. I am practiced at accepting responsibility, so immediately offered to pay for the damage. But he was an honest man and did not wish to profit in this way, I think he only wanted to vent his anger and hear me admit my mistake. He generously waved me on, and I, gratefully, humbly, dashed for home.

I will continue to pass this day reflecting on the sucesses and failures of my past 50 years, and in particular the last 5 months. In doing, I hope to shape a vision of what I might achieve in my months and years remaining. And if I find that I have made too many errors on this grand trip, well then I shall just have to do it again!

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