Before I left the Philippines, my daily schedule was that of a health buff’s. I saw to it that I get at least eight hour of sleep everyday. I had to wake up early, go to the gym and do weights for an hour and a half and a set of cardio exercise for thirty minutes. Not only that, the food I ate were quite healthful. It was supposed to follow a balanced diet scheme my grade two teacher used to paste on our classroom’s wall. I must have milk, and other high protein food sources. I felt I was at the prime of my health. I could jog around the oval field of Iloilo Sport’s Complex five times without any losing my breath. I could swim up to twenty lapses, freestyle, in a mini-Olympic-size pool. Although I was never a member of the college varsity team, I was never competitive when it comes to sports, I believed that one should be physically fit to really enjoy college life and all the things related to it such as intellectual pursuit, extra-curriculars, and other things you can think of. And even though I think smoking is cool, seriously I do, so as drinking, they never became a habit of mine. My health is of prime importance, then.
A month later, I arrived here at Hanoi, Vietnam for a scholarship program. Hanoi is a small city with narrow streets and beautiful parks where one can just stroll around leisurely. The people here are equally carefree like their beautiful city where one can see cafes anywhere he turns with people making hushed gossips, laughs, and savoring their iced black coffee. I remember a note written by my instructor in Comparative Literature at the back of my blue book three years ago. She wrote, “John, slow down and smell the flowers sometimes.” Now I am starting to appreciate it. I have so much time here to reflect and think about my life. I have so much free time that I am starting to have so much sleeping time, much more than the amout I need. Moreover, I don’t get to have any physical activities except for the daily bicycle ride from my apartment to my university. I eat only twice a day because I wake up at around lunch time.
I wonder why I cannot anymore insert daily exercises in my schedule here in Hanoi when I have so much time for myself. I was able to do it with my busy life in Iloilo before, but now it seems that doing it is so much of a burden. I face my laptop monitor much more than the interface I should have with people here to practice my proficiency in the language. In fact, I feel that my fingers are working more than any parts of my body. My brain, excluding, of course.
Well I guess, smelling the flower, as an advice, should be qualified. It must not be just “find time to smell the flowers” but stop for a while to smell the flowers. I think that I have overdone it. My life here has been far too different from my life back in the Philippines. Here, I am a student who has no other job to do but just to study and to study. Although I have always wanted to have a life of a scholar, I can only have rest for so much. I sense that this kind of life is not the kind of life I want to live. I’ve always lived a dynamic life with so many twists and turns in a day. And this kind of lifestyle I have now estranges me from who I really am and what I really want to become.
Don’t get me wrong. I know for a fact that a life of a scholar is a difficult and a serious one. Serious in the sense that it demands that you sacrifice your time with your family and for leisure for the pursuit of knowledge, but for somebody who is just starting, like me, the pace can be boring and too slow and dragging sometimes. For now, I just want to have a healthier body, do a re-checking of my schedule and try to go back to my old routines.
However, for tomorrow, I bet that I will wake up quite late again. Around 11:30, 7hours minus GMT. Maybe I can begin with my changed (and better) schedule on Monday. No make it Friday of this week. Or just next Sunday. Next month, promise.
Just give me more time to smell the flowers.