“If there was only one day left to live our life
We would suddenly realize how beautiful life is.
When we are so hurried in our daily lives
We have no peace when we’re leaving…”
I always do, I went back to visit my mother and my relatives who are
living in Montreal, Canada. This year I visited my family for two weeks
in late June. There was no need to say how happy we were to reunite.
was very hot in Montreal in the summer, sometimes over 100 degrees, so
my family usually went out for a walk to breathe the fresh air. I still
remembered the morning when the whole family decided to go to the park
so that the kids could enjoy nature. I was dressed and ready to go for a
long time but everyone else was just piddling around; it was almost
9:00 AM and no one had changed their clothes yet, especially the kids,
who were still busy with their games.
I started to lose my temper: “You are all like turtles! Do you want to go or not?” I
asked. My younger sister calmed me down. “Take it easy Sis, this is a
vacation! You live in America too long; you stay ‘stressed out’ so
much.” At the same time my younger brother also asked: “Why are you getting angry? Don’t you know that today is a ‘No Hurry Day’?” I was surprised, and thinking I had heard incorrectly, I asked: “What day? What is No Hurry Day?”
My mother turned on the TV. I saw that on every television channel people were talking about this special day. It was also on the radio. Many years ago, the Canadian government had decided to choose one day in the summer, usually on a weekend, as a “No Hurry Day”. This year that day was June 26th. For several weeks before, all the public TV channels and newspapers reminded everyone to prepare for this special day.
No Hurry Day started at 8:00AM and lasted until 9:00PM. Everyone
was advised “to sleep until you feel good enough to wake up, enjoy your
coffee, look deeply into your garden and listen to the birds singing.
If you like you can go out, and stop by any restaurant if you feel
hungry. Or you can invite friends to your house for a BBQ. You can ride
your bike around the city or lie down on the grass in a park near your
home and so on…”
speaking, the government encouraged their citizens to “enjoy every
minute in peace and happiness…” on No Hurry Day, and to “…live deeply
and benefit from the happiness around us…” as a reporter said on TV.
There were many interviews with local citizens: “What do you do on No
Hurry Day?” Many said that they’d spend their time with family members
and loved ones. There was one interview that I would never forget. A
very old man with white hair answered the question with a huge smile. “I
always love this day and wait for it to come around every year because
this is the only day that all my children and grandchildren are not
busy; all of them gather at my house with me. Thank you to the
government and to all of those who made this day such a special and
All of this changed my way of thinking. I told my family: “Since this is a special day, we should do something special!” Every
single one in the family responded in an uproar: “We don’t have to cook
today - we can eat out for fun,” said one. “The restaurants are too
crowded today, so we should go for a walk in the city,” advised another. My
younger brother wanted to bike around the city (in Montreal there are
many places to rent bikes where you just need to slide you credit card
and get your own bike.) The kids wanted to take a boat tour on the
Bateau Mouche. Some other wanted to go fishing or to ride
around the city in a horse-drawn carriage. We finally came up with a
solution by taking a more democratic vote. The final decision by
majority was to walk around Vieux Port (an old downtown) and took the
tour on the Bateau Mouche. We all started the journey, relaxed and
without any hurry.
the streets were slowed by traffic jams, but nobody honked the horn.
They sat in their cars with an easy mood, even rolling their windows
down to smile to others and say “No hurry! Be happy!”
actually absorbed the meaning of the three words “No Hurry Day” when we
got in line to buy tickets for the tour. It was a long line and it was a
really hot summer day, but everyone still wore a smile on their face,
talking and shaking hands with each other even with those they never met
before. It seemed like no one there that day was hurried or stressed.
The entire peaceful environment surrounded me in such a way that I felt
we got onto the boat, David - my 5-year old nephew - was in a hurry to
find his seat, but his little sister, at just 4 years of age, lectured
him right away. “David, today is No Hurry Day. Why don’t you slow down?” That made the whole family laugh so hard and I laughed too because of her innocent comment.
lunch time, hungry, we stopped by at a Chinese restaurant. It was
crowded with customers but everyone was happy while they waited in line
for their turn. While we were waiting, a Quebec lady standing next to me
started a conversation. She asked what I was doing today. I told her
about the happy day spending with my family. She smiled and told me that
she only had her two children, as her husband had passed away a long
time ago. As usual on this day she let her children decide where they
wanted to go and what they wanted to do. “Life is usually such a rush!”
she added. “This afternoon we heard about this famous restaurant. My
daughter loves Chinese soup and that is why we are here, waiting in
line.” I nodded my head and felt so happy in my heart.
After lunch, the evening was coming and no one wanted to go home so we made up our mind to go to the park for fun. As
I looked around me, there were a lot of people and I felt very happy.
Laying out a piece of sedge mat on the grass I stretched out on my back
with my arms outspread. It seemed that for the ten years that I had been
living in the US, I had never felt like this. While the kids enjoyed
their swings, riding down the slide and shouting at each other…I wore my
sunglasses and enjoyed each breeze in the fresh air, doing nothing and
reflecting on my life. How strange, because of this special day today, I
realized that I had never had a free day like No Hurry Day in my life!
was born in Saigon in a poor family, so I knew that only an education
could get me out of the poverty I knew at that that time. I studied very
hard when I was young. From elementary school to high school and
through college, my entire life was books and studied. My childhood
never had a No Hurry Day. Whenever my teacher was sick and we were let
out early, while my friends were looking for a place to relax or have a
cup of coffee, I was happy because I had more free time to study. I
rushed home on my bike, washed my face and went straight to my room to
study. When I took an examination, getting 9 points made me sad because I
didn’t get the 10 points that I loved so much. Everyone told me that
because I only expect perfection I would cause misery for myself.
five years of college I never had a No Hurry Day. I was busy all the
time with my classes and my examinations. I always wanted and tried my
best to get 10 points on every single exam. I was willing to stay up
late, to get up early, to do whatever needed to earn the 10 points that
brought me so much happiness! Once my best friend told me this reasonable saying: “Studying without playing is losing your youth; playing without studying is selling the future”. I replied right away, “I have to study hard because only an education helps us out of poverty!” She
laughed: “I choose both, studying and playing. I only need to pass my
exams and that’s enough. You will have regrets later…” I smiled back at
her without comment, but now I know that she was right!
I graduated from college in Canada and left school for work. I
plunged into my job, working hard in order to earn a lot of money in a
very short time. I was willing to work 7 days a week and at least 13
hours a day. Doing this for almost 3 years took all of my energy, so I
had to cut down to working just 5 days a week. For ten
years, I saved enough money and my eagerness to make more money quickly
brought me to the stock market. I became addicted to stocks and Wall
Street, to the rising and falling market of each company. I was lucky
with stocks, so overnight I became a millionaire, but even then I did
not have a single “No Hurry Day” in my life. Right after
instant success, my head churned again trying to invest in such a way
that my asset would double or triple. I took risks to gamble even more.
Quoting an old saying that “the more risk the more gain,” I reasoned
that I already have had lots of guts to make big money, so if I wanted
to get richer, I needed to be even braver.
stock market began to fail and I couldn’t react quickly enough so I
lost everything – empty handed once more. I encouraged myself. “There is
no problem. If I still have my good health, and if I want to get rich, I
can start from the bottom and one day soon I will have everything.” I
decided to move to the U.S. since America is a land of opportunity and
success. I again plunged into my work, working hard and saving to
rebuild my life. In the years after 2000, the pharmaceutical and
computer fields had such a shortage of employees, so everyone in the
world wanted to move to the U.S. for a better salary. I worked full time
five days a week and took all the overtime whenever possible. I worked
from very early in the morning until dark, eating food to go, spending
nothing, saving every penny in my wish to change my life… Opportunity
struck again when the real estate market exploded. Housing prices were
rising almost everyday, and if you were slow to blink an eye… the dream
house could be swept away just like that… sorry but you can just bury
your sorrow with it. I was swirled up in this “tornado” like million
my two days off every week I left my home from 8:00AM until 9:00PM and
drove to every dead end to look for houses with the sign “for sale by
owner” or any ugly house that needed a little fixing up, so that I could
“flip” it to make a quick twenty-thirty thousand dollars. Some days I
didn’t have time to eat, I just stopped by for food to go. The first
house was “flipped” and sold easily, wow! Then the second one, the third
one… The human greed is a bottomless pit.
Then suddenly, the real estate “balloon” bursted. Many
people lost fortune – including myself, empty-handed again. After a
second time being a millionaire, I hit bottom and owed money over my
head. I tried to work nights and days to keep all my houses. But
weaken-spirited, I sadly had to let things go because I had no other
choice. All of my houses were in shortsale before the bank
repossessed them. Now I would have to “go to plow” again until the end
my life to pay back my debts. This was a meaningful lesson that I would
never forget… you deserved it, you greedy thing!
day, lying on the grass, breathing the fresh air on a warm summer day
with nothing to do, made me feel so peaceful – a feeling I’d never had
before in my life. I’m not rich now but I have my peace, which I didn’t
have when I was twice a millionaire. I was deeply grateful to the
Canadian government and the respectful wise ones who established this
special day every year. It helped people to appreciate all the wonderful
things that they are given in life!
I remember just a few weeks ago when I ran into my best friend from high school at a fast food restaurant in California. We
only had time to say hello and have a short conversation. My friend was
rushing to pick up her children from school and I was rushing to go
back to work. My friend complained, “Why is our life so
busy that only when we stop breathing will we stop being busy?” I
smiled, “This is America…” She then asked for my email address and told me, “I’ll send you a beautiful article.” She
smiled and added “It’s beautiful to read, but whether we can apply it
in our daily lives or not is a horse of a different color.”
checked my email that very evening. I received a message from her, “You
should try your best to follow the advice in this article, but not me -
I still keep my life busy.” I laughed and opened the article to read:
Being busy makes us stressful and frustrated
Being busy diminishes our everyday’s social skills
Being busy suffocates our knowledge
Being busy shortens our life
Being busy makes us not see the beauty of our loved ones
Being busy makes us walk like we are chased by ghosts
The busy life is the most unfortunate life in the world!
Nevertheless, Human beings always try to find a reason to be busy
In the end, what good does all this ‘go go go’ lead us?
Learn to stop!
Relax and enjoy!
And let things go as they really are!
When the “30th of the month” (the last day of life) is coming we are free to go in the empty mind without any worries!!
it seems that every single person finds reason to be busy, and we have
never learned how to taste the meaning of life in our daily lives. As
I was writing this down I remembered my aunt Kim Anh, whose doctors
told that she only had a few months left to live. She told me that
“Everyone has his/her own destiny.” She was so happy that she could have several months to live in peace and happiness without any hurry!
As evening set in everyone began to leave the park, and my family started to pack things u. My little niece was so sad that she asked her mother, “Mommy, will it be No Hurry Day tomorrow?” My
sister smiled and answered, “It’s gone, every year in Canada there is
only one No Hurry Day.” “Oh, no!” my niece complained, “I’d like to have
No Hurry Day every day.”
sister answered right away. “That’s easy my dear, if you know how to
rest and enjoy your day. Don’t be in a hurry in any situation and that
will become a No Hurry Day. I stood there and swallowed each of my sister’s words and felt “jealous” of my little niece. She
was only four years old and already learned such a precious lesson
while I had lived nearly half of my life before getting that same
On the way home, my younger brother played the song I love the most, very loudly from the radio:
“Only when we are confronting life-or-death situations
Do we would realize just how beautiful life really is.
When we are always in a hurry with our lives,
We do not feel at peace when we finally leave this world”
very true - all my life I was always in such a hurry, so how could I
have peace? Once again, I was so grateful for this special day that
helped me to have a new and different viewpoint in life.
remembered my two best friends. The one who is Christian goes to church
on Sundays, has her Bible in her purse and reads it when she has free
time. She always told me: “We should follow the teachings of God so that
when we die we’ll go to heaven”. The one who is Buddhist goes to the
temple when she has free time, and recites the Buddha’s names. She told
me: “Living your life morally, observing the five precepts and doing
your charity work will help you to be in the Buddha land.”
that very moment I realized one thing: “If you know how to make every
day in your life a No Hurry day, you will have 365 days a year in Heaven
or Nirvana already!
It is my wish for everyone to have many No Hurry Days!!!