A letter from musician Trinh Cong Son to his lover, Dao Anh. 

It’s funny there are qualities that you have lived almost all your life with but you could never recognize until a stranger came and pointed them out to you. To me, it’s sincerity. 

I don’t have specific memories that show how I’ve been a sincere person all the time, but I remember caring for people, like my grandmother and my younger brother. I’ve been appreciating beautiful moments of life since I knew how to think and what needs to be remembered. 

But I have almost failed that task. The further I go, the more obstacles I face. In the face of hardships, it’s either “flight” or “fight”. And most of the time, I chose “flight”. I chose to adjust my behaviors so that I could slip away in situations easily, leaving no remarks about me being different from other people. That’s how I cope with life, most of the time before I realized how destructive and ingrained such patterns of life dealings have become to me. 

There will be some fortunate days where there are traces of honesty that I can see in life. The way somebody writes notes for their friends, for the ones they love. The way the two friends only sit together, still, but I know somehow they are in deep communication, somewhere. The way somebody is simply taking a moment to enjoy the fresh sunlight, the flowers that have just bloomed from last night. There are days like that that remind me of how pathetic I’ve been, losing my honesty, the sincerity that I’ve nurtured in me all the years. Of how I’ve been chasing the superficial, short-lived values that in my stupid mind may benefit me in life at the cost of losing the best of humanity in me.

But it’s hard, the deal and compromise you have to make in life. Sometimes I believe that living through this life is an art, wherein through the cracks of these materialistic hardships, some of us can lead an inspiring, beautiful life. We selflessly help other people, we die for our burning passion. My greatest wish is just to be one of them. 

I sought answers to that critical piece of me. My counselor told me to “fake it until you make it”. Classic. I’ve always associated this saying with a sketchy approach to problems. You should never fake anything, it is important to be sincere. Amid all the chaos happening in my life, this piece of saying makes sense to me for once. I come to realize that it is how we are doing things right now. We study the approach, try until you succeed. The saying itself is rather a journey of honing mastery, of becoming a better version. It’s a journey of innumerable trials for one success. 

As I take this on, I’m still invariably scared that it wouldn’t work. But should I have conviction in my sincerity, the universe will respond. At least that is my hope. 



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