Benito Vacio

The road less travelled

What is the real essence of happiness?

What is the real essence of happiness? Is it earning a big income as an ESL/TEFL teacher in Thailand? Is it having a lot of Thai friends, owning a brand new cell phone, using the latest brand of notebook, having an Ipod worthy of envy by friends? Is it working in a school with the best director, amiable co-teachers, and talented students?

I met a Filipino teacher in a fast food restaurant in Lat Phrao. He was dining with a seven-year old Thai boy. In my curiosity, I asked, "Is he your son?" He answered, "No." I asked further, "How come he is with you?" With a smile in his face he narrated, "It's a long story... I help him because he is an illegitimate child.He lives with his mother, but his mother works only in a recycling plant. I take him out on weekends and make him enjoy life with me as his surrogate father. He has been happy for 3 years now. In fact, he gets "4's" in his English subject each term."

It's remarkable for this ajarn to make one soul in this world happy.

I have also a retired American friend. He was an international school teacher and has lived in Thailand for 35 years now. He is one person who has made a difference in many people's lives. In fact, he sponsored scholarships to four of my former students and twelve other scholars who are children of migrant workers from the Northeast provinces of Thailand. Likewise, he donated a high quality sound system and took the responsibility of airconditioning our new library. When asked why he does this, he said, "It gives me joy to help those less fortunate than myself."

At present, he volunteers to help in the English Club of that school. Besides from his philanthropic heart, he is also loyal to his friends, especially to his friend in a wheelchair.

One Filipino teacher from Chulalongkorn University Nonthaburi English Project told me that his mother adopted two street kids in the Philippines. The mother sends the kids to school and provides them their daily needs. What a way of attaining happiness!

I believe a generous heart is common to ajarn, my American friend, and the Filipina mother. They make other people happy besides from their own families. As David Dunn would put it, "they have done the responsibility to give joy to others and have accepted the challenge to bear each man's grief as their own."

Yes, when we think of happiness, it is giving unconditionally. You and I know of the greatest giver who died for all of us. Can we follow Him and share His Love with others? But, we don't have to die this way, do we? One classic example of genuine happiness is portrayed in the movie, "Pay it Forward." It is an old movie, but it is relevant to all generations.It"s about an intelligent 11-year old boy who changes three people in his life - a stranger, his teacher, and his own mother. This is how he understands his Social Studies homework, "How to change the world in making a difference..."

It really gives us the inspiration to know that a number of people these days take the road less traveled. Have you taken this road? I have tried it and gives me a more meaningful and a real existence in the sense. Come on. take this road now...


The "road not taken" Perhaps,should come first before the "road less traveled". I believe, there are "Good Samaritan" out there like anybody else who are helping the unfurtunate on their little way.

By ajarn sodjot, bangkok (13th August 2011)

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