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VFIS Story | 2021 Look back

Dear my beloved readers,

Nice to meet you. It is destiny that brings you to my sharing, and I appreciate that because it means we have some spiritual connections with each other. This is a part of my personal experience in 2021, so it should not be right or wrong. I did not take many pictures this year, so this sharing is more of a plain text sharing. I will definitely take more pictures for visualization next year. It is not much, and I am not yet confident with my writing as well as my decoration skills, so you can read this sharing just for fun. Please be open and welcoming when you read my sharing. Thank you, and I hope it will bring you something. 

Not only has 2021 been a challenging year, but it is also a year of changes - for both the world and me. The Covid-19 has affected many aspects of life, but we still overcame to get back on track with more effective and productive plans for treating the pandemic and for our lives. Most of us were limited to social activities because of the pandemic, but we adapted well to the circumstances by virtual learning, virtual working, and almost virtual “everything”. Thanks to that, we can now, at least, get used to working with technological devices compared to the days before. But also, we can not forget the ones who sacrificed their lives for others in this rollercoaster year of 2021. We owed them a big thanks. We can spend one or two minutes a day praying for them. Furthermore, instead of complaining about not being able to go outside, we can take advantage of staying at home and make it an opportunity to do something valuable for us. I cherished every single thing that happened to me in this year because I knew that I was still lucky for not being heavily affected by the Covid-19. And that's basically how I made 2021 a wonderful year for me. 

As for the fact that we could not run any social gatherings and had to stay at home, I spent most of the time for myself. It is obvious what I just said. I was surprised by the number of books I read in the summer of 2021 because I was not into reading before, or I can say that I used to be scared of reading. Everything started, as a coincidence, when my Vietnamese Language teacher created a project that I called "The journey of reading and feeling happy" for students in our class to participate in. The participants had to read books and write down several things that made them happy every day. I read somewhere around twelve books throughout the project, and obviously, those were quite short books: “100 simple secrets of happy people”, “Who moved my cheese?”, “How to win friends and influence people. How to stop worrying and start living”, “The Alchemist”... There were many moments of epiphany when I read those books, especially when I read “The Alchemist”, an amazing book about the language of the universe, omens, and signs - those were just my interpretations in the first two times reading it, and you might have different ways to view the book. After finishing those books, I realized that I was mostly reading soul healing and motivational books, and I was reading just in Vietnamese, my mother tongue. All in all, I had a wonderful time reading books in this year of 2021, so I aim to read books in English and expand my reading field in 2022. If you are a beginner like me, you can start reading from a-few-page books and always keep upgrading your reading skills day by day. Please do not force yourself to read, but read with an open and welcoming mind. After just about one to two months, you will find a lot of changes in your life, positively, of course, thanks to reading. 

On the other hand, staying at home gave me another precious opportunity to really take care and look back at myself. I spent lots of time looking back at what I did in one day and planning for the next day. Also, I enjoyed spending time alone looking at the surroundings and nature. I was always amazed by how magnificent and powerful nature is when I contemplated it. Everything, once again, started in a very coincidental way. I remember that day I was simply washing the herbs to prepare for a meal at my grandmother's house in my hometown when I somehow picked a leaf blade up and held it under the sunlight as an omen. Its venation was amazingly magnificent. I could see the cross-venulate patterns of the venation. I stopped washing and started contemplating that for a moment. I held it up and put it down several times. I saw the green and purple pigments, and I saw the "Master Work" of nature in that little leaf blade. Why didn’t I recognize that simple beauty sooner? Is that true that everything is so powerful and amazing like that? To answer that question, I spent time starting to feel and observe the surroundings. Those two weeks in my hometown were the best two weeks of the year. I looked at the front yard anytime I was free from studying or playing. I babbled with the dogs, and I rode a bike every single afternoon after the lessons. 

I can now be happy by seeing or feeling some small great things. But I haven’t reached the level of my mom, who can be happy even just by looking at a tiny rubber band. If you are still confused, I would suggest you something you could try to look carefully at as a starting point for the journey of recognizing the vividly beautiful world around you: the leaf blades under light, ice melting, water ripple, wood grain texture, your plain wall, an image or anything you find interested looking at. You could also try meditation to look back on your day and plan for the next day, and I did that several times for just a few minutes before bed. You could try having dialogues solely when looking at things or animals to improve both your oral skills and your awareness of the surroundings.

I have been just using the pronoun "I" throughout the story of acknowledging a part of my “Personal Legend” in 2021. I wish the pronoun could become "we" so that more people could recognize the beautiful meanings of life and live happier - not just on the occasion of the pandemic but also on any occasion.

As I looked back, I was amazed by how I have changed in just one year, 2021. My journey in 2021 was a colorful party of enjoyment and happiness. The Covid-19 does not have many slowing-down effects on me since I followed and behaved with the “VFIS”, a wonderful acronym for many elite but simple and penetrative personal traits- Vitality, Flexibility, Inclusion, and Sisu- of all VFIS students, spirit. To sum up my journey of the year 2021, I would use the words “mature”- because I have grown both physically and mentally; “inner peace”- because I feel kind of happy and peaceful when I look back at myself and when I spent time contemplating the natural world around me; and “emotional”- not just emotional for me, but this year was emotional for everyone, I believe. I started feeling a wider range of emotions. And how amazing that I sometimes cried, the thing that I was not able to do the years before when I saw touching stories. Oh, emotions are essential spices for this meaningful life. 

Thank you for reading until the end. It is my honor to accompany you in the past few reading minutes. On the occasion of the upcoming new year, I wish you all a year of new adventures and great happiness. May 2022 be a successful and meaningful year for everyone.  

Some of the books in Vietnamese, I read this year

A picture I took at my grandmother’s house


See you later,
Trần Mạnh Tùng