Edited by my beloved friend K.L
The miracle of the universe
Strangely enough, for the past three years, the universe has been consistently saving one miracle for me every December. Even if just as surely enough, such miracle never just fell from the sky! It only happened after I pushed myself beyond my limits.
December 2021, the year I left my paid job to become a free-lance illustrator, the universe offered me a boost in credibility, in language skills and in the number of followers. That was the gift that I got after 146 hours of building this website.
December 2022, the universe blessed me with the first member of my team, with the legitimacy to interview the experts that I admire and with a community of creatives. This was the gift that I obtained after five interview articles and 90,000 words written in a single month for the series Illustrator: the profession.
December 2023, I wasn’t able to do anything special on the blog because … I hosted The Present Writer gathering 2023 in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, with, overall, 200 spectators in the auditorium and 1,500 joining us via online platform. It was the first time that the author and professor Chi Nguyen organized a face-to-face event with her community.
By the time I’m writing these words, both events just only ended. And I still have a lot to do before the end of the year, so I couldn’t tell yet what would be the gift the universe has in store for me.
But three miracles already came bathing me during the two events, and I cannot wait to share more with you!
The triple miracle of the universe:
1. Catching up with the universe
When I was a student, and even when I was a young employee, most of my nights and weekends were spent organizing France-Vietnam cultural events.
However, for some reasons, and mostly more erring to the relationship side of the job, that I decided to stop doing or managing events altogether, whether as a performer, as a host, or as an organizer. The after taste was enough for me to strongly believe that this kind of engagement would never cross my path ever again.
Well, one should never say never!
This time, my faith in the purpose of these events gave me the motivation to set aside my past fear of losing relationships, and to take on the responsibilities of event management again.
In one of our team meetings, I volunteered to be the host for both events that were scheduled for Chi Nguyen and The Present Writer.
At that time, I was afraid that my teammates would think that I was only craving attention and spotlight.
I was afraid that my level of Vietnamese might not be good enough for the MC position, and that I would disappoint Chi Nguyen and my teammates.
I was afraid that the audience might wonder why a brilliant author like Chi Nguyen would ever give the hosting role of her important events to someone as ordinary as me.
However, when the D-day came … I found myself on stage, being fairly confident that everything would go smoothly. Most of that was partly thanks to the support of my teammates, and partly thanks to all the works that we did together, joining hand in hand for weeks prior to these events.
At that very moment, I realized that things that were haunting me like misunderstanding, arguments and conflicts are not obvious occurrences when we run an event, even when we were in a rush! Just like how it is when it comes to love: the key is to find the right person(s).
2. Just because you can, it does not mean that you should!
Given Chi Nguyen’s popularity, I think she could have organized a face-to-face event like this years ago. Furthermore, this was greatly requested by people within her community of followers and readers long time ago.
However, Chi only made the decision to organize these meetings when she was sure enough that she could truly bring values to her community.
The Present Writer gatherings 2023 was not a fan meeting. It was an exchange of ideas, each gathering being an open talk embracing one global theme. The specific content was chosen from the public polls that was given to the audience before each event, and further developed at length by the exchange back and forth between Chi and the participants. All of these flew remarkably smoothly, both in presence and online, thanks to the efforts of our team.
At the gathering held in Hanoi, the topic was: “The truth behind balance in life”. During this talk, Chi shared her refreshing and unusual point of view based on her life experiences and personal stories, allowing the meeting to become a rather very warm and friendly place, where each participant could reflect on his or her definition of “balance” in life.
At the gathering held in Ho Chi Minh city, the topic englobed “Equality in personal development at different stages of life”. This time, Chi Nguyen chose an approach that was relatively more academic, more direct, and in a sense, even more brutal. The objective of the meeting was to see that each participant, while leaving the meeting, having the tools that he or she might need, to better dissect their own resources and better define their own personal development strategy.
The organizing process was complicated and delicate. Along the way, there were difficulties that were not shy at all to show up. And from time to time, there were still glitches that required quick and bold reactions from us. But we had a goal. And the whole team knew that we were contributing to something much bigger than ourselves.
What was happening also gave me a chance to review my current projects. “Why am I doing this?”, “Do I have a purpose, or am I just doing this because I can?”
3. I am an illustrator
On D-day, I was the host for the events. But just only few weeks before these, I was doing my usual job as illustrator/art director for The Present Writer. And just like all other members of the team, I did my part in taking care of logistics, communications and other tasks that needed extra helps.
The day before the event, with two teammates, we transported boxes and boxes of gifts for the participants to the main auditorium. And then, it felt like my heart stopped for a moment … when I saw my drawing on the backdrop of the event.
While rushing to get all preparation steps for the event in place, I only did my job as an illustrator and created a design suitable enough to the style and purpose of the events. I was focusing so much on the technical part that I completely forgot that what I made was deemed be the centrepiece!
And there she was, in front of my eyes, taller than me.
I feel like little An of years ago from my childhood and young adulthood was giving me a big smile. And with shining eyes, she whispered in my ears:
Tu Ha An