When I win the lottery I plan on going back to Vietnam and giving lots of money to the Vietnamese woman who cared for me so lovingly and generously after two consecutive serious jeep accidents in the mountains a day or two before 9/11…but there’s a rub.
I was waiting for a train to take me back to Hanoi. It was an 11 hour train ride and I was quite shaken up from two consecutive accidents in the mountains (Bac Ha and Sapa) that happen hours prior. I sat at a table and ordered a cup of coffee to try to gather my witts. I was dizzy and nauseous from a large bump on my forehead I got when I hit the windshield of the 1950’s army jeep. Fortunately, it was plexy or I would have surely gone through it and not have been here to talk about it. I’ll spare the details because it bores me (so will surely bore you) to go into it and it’s not the point of the story. I will tell you I had a cut and swollen knee from hitting the metal dashboard that was the size of a small grapefruit, cuts on my hand, also from the metal dashboard, a huge bump on my forehead from the window and bruises on my chest and right shoulder….and very very shakey as I flagged down the last vehicles coming from the Bac Ha market for the day. I got a ride from another jeep back to the train station to catch the only train going out for the day hours later.
(Here’s the jeep after the 2nd crash–I was in the passenger front seat)
As I sat at the single table that was the cafe, visibly shaking, the woman who ran it came up to me to take my order. The table sat across from the train station on the empty dirt street. Many of the building that lined the circle in front of the station were abandandoned and the street was very empty of cars and people. Dogs walked down the middle of the dry dirt streets looking for food and a 2 or 3 year old boy squated in the middle of the street trying to deficate right next to the dog (as the dog licked his face) as his father looked on, encouraging him. I had taken a few laps around that circle with my backpack on my back, trying to steady myself…afraid I’d pass out and wake up God knows where. I wasn’t sure if I had a concussion or not. Keeping moving was the only thing that soothed. I took a sip of the coffee and realized caffine was the last thing I needed to soothe.
When the woman served me the coffee she notice the grapefruit and cut on my knee and the lemon on my forehead. She didn’t speak english but talked anyway pointing back and forth to both as I tried to explain the accident with a “Charades” delivery. She looked me in the eyes with such love, it washed over me like sunshine. She held up a finger (which I took as the “one minute” gesture) and disappeared into her house behind the table I sat at–a ladder of 3 rungs leading down to the level she prepared food, had the hole in the ground for going to the bathroom and had the grass mat she slept on, on the dirt floor.
WHAT of VALUE
She emerged with 2 large chunks of ice and put one on my knee—the other on my forehead, so lovingly and gently I thought I’d start crying like a baby. We looked at one another–eye to eye–soul to soul with what felt like days. Such love, such, compassion, such understanding…..as two human beings with everything in common. She came back 20 minutes later to remove the ice, emerged again from her house with a tube and held it in front of me–gestering how she was going to rub it on my wounds and it will help. She nodding assuringly and I nodded back. It was some kind of Tiger Balm. She lovingly rubbed it on, smiled and nodded and resumed her chores. I sat there feeling so many things…still dizzy and sick…shaking like a leaf still but so taken care of by a complete stranger. This is why I travel—not to see how different we are—but rather how the same we are. Human beings –by default I think– are basically good. In the worst of circumstances, we see it all the time. This woman had nothing yet she offered me not only herself, but ice and supplies that are precious to her and her family. Without expecting anything in return. It’s just what you do. And me being an American and the history of the Vietnam War and what we did to each other. I am forever grateful and moved and it has changed me forever. I didn’t have the presence of mind to leave her most of my money which I now regret. It could have made a huge difference for her and her family–I just wasn’t in my body or my mind at that time. I barely could get myself on that train and back to Hanoi. When I got back to Hanoi a few days later 9/11 happened and the shaking continued for me. But there were others along the way, in Hanoi, in Bankok, showing the same compassion and love as my train station friend, in different ways….in looks, in smiles, in their eyes and souls. What I learned is that we are never really alone because we ARE each other.
NOW FOR THE RUB–the Lottery?
I was told by a very wise woman as I shared this Lottery wish. That “she has already gotten her riches by being that for me”. Hmmmmm I thought….wow. We never know why other people have the experience they have in their life. Past life corrections, etc. This life she had–perfection functioning– being EXACTLY what she needed in this lifetime–just like it was perfection functioning for me and what I need to experience and learn. No mistakes. as a metaphysician we learn that it may not fit our pictures, but the way it seems is not the way it is—all of it! ALL OF IT is perfect. That woman looked at me…old soul to old soul. We see each other everyday, looking with recognition as we cross paths for however briefly. We recognize each others journey of perfections as well as our own..kissing each other with kindness or at least recognition. I was reminded.
Money would have been good
— in my assessment. But for that woman, that act, that exchange might have been exactly what she needed. After all, we both created it. We, feeding each others manifestations. I smile with her in my heart….and if I win the lottery I will go back and look for her….and I know she is already more wealthy than most of the people I see walking around unconsciously everyday.