Archive for the ‘Hoi An’ tag
This isn’t really a good photo but made the cut because of the clarity of the Kingfisher that was sitting on the power post. I must admit that the whole point of the photo was to get a good photo of the bird which I was quietly stalking in the garden area of a village not too far from Hoi An, Vietnam. In truth, I had no idea of background as I took the photo while I was slowly creeping up. I never did get too close to the bird, but now in looking at the photo and seeing the man, the gardener, out of focus, I find so much more than the bird, my intended subject.
This little bird is a close as I can get to capturing a sense of ego-self. I see myself sitting on top of the pole observing the world around me. I see others doing things of worth while I watch. In a practical world, I am not very practical. I am distant, unsure of myself around people and not confident that anyone would actually see something of worth in me. I know that I have a high IQ and that I have abilities to perform useful paid tasks for the collective. But that isn’t really of value in terms of interpersonal relationships. I get stuck in my head, get stuck in “teaching” or as could be said in a different manner, taking care of others’ needs.
People looking at me, working around me, being my students or acquaintances find me a quiet and kind type of person, good adjectives but when placed alongside of distant and cool, it doesn’t enable many friendships. As one who is nearest to me comments, I am a man without friends, a man who doesn’t need friends, a solitary man. And these words, are actually truthful words. I don’t have friends. There is no one in the face-to-face world with whom I talk about psychology or other topics with freedom and abandon. When I do dare to approach any topic that has depth, I carefully choose my words as experience has shown me that otherwise people tune me out as though I am a visitor from an alien species.
At times I forget and in my excitement the words flow and I dare to challenge, to debate, to argue only to leave wreckage in terms of relationship. The friendships I am able to maintain are those in which I serve as a good listener, confirming the ego of the other and in doing this leave the other feeling valued. I manage relationships rather than engage authentically in relationship. One of the hazards in keeping my own counsel is that my quiet, kind, listening self feeds a silence within. I catch myself managing the inner world, keeping things within my head where they can be more easily controlled. I am certain that this shows up here in how I post, how few feelings are evident in the hundreds of thousands of words here. Though you, my readers, see these words and photos, you only get to see the persona that I dare to present. Even here I censor or limit my expression.
I have been told that my only friends are the people I meet here in cyberspace. These friends are also disembodied and as such, not real people. Real people are messier. Are you real? Am I real here in cyberspace? Or are we just blurry shapes like this gardener in the photo, in a land of spirit where bodies don’t exist?
I was being driven to view vegetable farming in a village near Hoi An when I say these three boats in the river. I managed to get the guide to have the driver stop so that I could take this photo. Though it seemed to crimp on the guide’s agenda and time, I finally got me way and walked back to the scene above. It only takes a bit of courage to say no to one’s guide when the guide forgets that it isn’t about the guide.
Sometimes, perhaps even often, this is the problem with counselling and therapy, the agenda is about meeting the needs of the service provider, than it is about meeting the needs of the one who comes for help and guidance. In seeking out a guide, one shouldn’t give up one’s autonomy and one’s ability to think for oneself and make decisions. One’s counsellor, therapist, analyst or shrink is not a god.
Okay, that small rant is over. I sometimes get heated because others want control that doesn’t belong to them, such as the guide that would have not stopped for me to take this photo.
There was something compelling about this man sitting on the edge of the busy street, oblivious to the traffic and the tourists while engaged in his writing. In a way, I saw myself. I have begun to notice the men here in Vietnam. This land, as is to be expected of all lands, does have a masculine as well as a feminine aspect.
Of the men I have seen most working bent over at their tasks on small boats, at sawmills, in rice fields and curiously, over sewing machines. One the streets, the motorcycle traffic is mostly men of varying ages, faces lined with determination and concentration as if engaged in on a battlefield. Life is serious. The men somehow find it harder to smile at a foreigner who is armed with a camera and a smile. Yet, there is no disrespect shown.
I have had opportunities to talk with some of the older men in French. With these men, there is a generosity that is surprising. Few of the younger men, men in midlife, can speak French. These men are focused on business, nothing more, nothing less. There is no room for the soul. I guess this is what surprised me with this man. He has taken time out from business, a business that is an art shop, in order to do his “personal” thing, perhaps “soul” work.
The day’s activities are done except for an evening of rest in order to journey to see ruins and then climb Marble Mountain near Da Nang tomorrow. As always on this journey in Vietnam, water draws my attention. I took this photo in the late afternoon just as some light began to show through the clouds on the western horizon. Life on the river is as vibrant here in central Vietnam as it is in the south. Of course, the ocean is only four kilometres away from this bridge at the edges of the ancient city of Hoi An.
In some ways, this journey is different from many other journeys I have taken in other countries. Though I am travelling in new territory where there is a new language, I feel more at ease. It’s as if I have learned to trust this journey into the unknown regions. Like these boats, I move across the surface of the unconscious, cutting a small wake, disturbing for a moment the surface. I know that the depths are dangerous should I fall into the depths; so, I am persuaded to avoid diving too deep. As I displace the dark waters, I open myself to change, gently.
Water – the unconscious – anima – my soul. For me, this journey through Vietnam is a journey that I hadn’t expected. I originally thought that my focus would be the masculine, phallos. But somehow, the feminine has stepped forward to claim my attention. I have taken almost two thousand photos in five days and I would have to say that images of women and water account for most of these images. I do find men in this collection of photos and the temples that men have built, but not all that many. I am often disconcerted as women look into my eyes and smile with invitation while I walk down the streets of the towns and cities while holding my wife’s hand. It is as if they are for sale, and as if they are asking to be taken from this land into my world, away from their lives as they now live them. Age is insignificant and I see that many foreigners search for these women. Many of the foreigners I meet here are found in the company of these ladies of the night, or have married them. Both the men and the women of these stories have fallen into the myth of “Miss Saigon.”