In the summer of 1989, Chú Thưởng reunited with his immediate family once again. He sponsored his mom, two sisters, and the youngest brother to America. He had carried out his duty as a proud son.
At 14 years of age for Chú Thưởng, freedom was two things:
- Freedom from fear – Being free from fear and being watched by the communists.
- Future opportunities – Being free to pursue education and a career of choice for a bright future.
Thirty years later and reflecting back on his youthful years, Chú Thưởng had the best time of his life in Pulau Bi Dong. He experienced true freedom. He was freed physically and mentally. Physically, he was freed from any encumbered government and freed to do whatever he pleased.
Mentally, Chú Thưởng was freed from worries of everyday worldly news and events. All Chú Thưởng needed to worry about was his own simple existence of everyday life such as food, sleep, and having fun. It was heaven on earth. Nonetheless, during that time, he thought America was heaven which he longed to get to.
Now, it reminded him of the common cliche “The grass is always green on the other side.” From his experience, he is learning to enjoy the present and the moment instead of focusing on things that he does not have or cannot get to.
Today, Chú Thưởng is a successful Network Engineer and is happily married. Now Freedom carries a deeper meaning for Chú Thưởng. Chú Thưởng is very appreciative of living in a democratic country. However, there is yet another freedom that he still would like to achieve. It is the freedom only he can achieve alone himself. It is the experience of being at ease and not allowing everyday turmoil of greed, worries, current affairs, etc to be the deciding factor on how he should lead his life. At the end of the day, the ultimate freedom for Chú Thưởng is the freedom of the mind.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my cousin’s journey and his perspectives on freedom. What does freedom mean to you? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your comments below.