Last month I finally graduated. To be honest I hadn’t been that bothered about going to the graduation. It reminded me of what you said before the Asia Europe People’s Forum, that certain people were more focused upon the teacup than the tea–what is important is the experiences and learning gained over the last 5 years of working on the PhD not being presented with a piece of paper saying that I am now a doctor. But in the end it was a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends celebrating the culmination of the process. You were present in my thoughts throughout the day, just as you are present in my thesis.
As I reflect upon what I want to say in this letter I realise the personal impact that your disappearance has had upon me.
This world is not always an easy place to live. Clichéd though it is to say, it feels like every time I see the news there is a new atrocity about which I feel both angry and helpless. Your disappearance has, perversely, given me a way in to really reflect upon and connect with the complex human aspect of these distant news stories.
When I think about what has happened to you I am filled with rage. Every time I see Shui Meng’s and Jit’s facebook posts talking about how much they miss you my heart breaks over again. But when I think of you I often think of you laughing at me, telling me not to take life so seriously and that happiness isn’t as complicated as I’m trying to make it and that all I can really do is focus on calming my own mind. I think of your love of Laos and Lao people and your commitment to the traditional wisdom of Lao communities. I think of the impact that you have had on so many Lao young people and the ongoing impact that your ideas are having in the country and beyond.
Happiness is both complex and simple. The world is both unjust and wonderful. I am capable of simultaneously feeling unbearable sadness and overwhelming joy.
Thank you for being so honestly you. You continue to inspire and provoke me.