Pint-Size Pilgrimage: The Sorcery of Intention

“All I’m saying is that to liberate the potential of your mind, body and soul, you must first expand your imagination. You see, things are always created twice: first in the workshop of the mind and then, and only then, in reality.”  From The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma


Last week, I snarled at someone that the law of attraction was a load of bullshit, a palliative sophistry spun to dupe fools and enrich charlatans.

There’s a habit that I lost a long time ago:  I don’t set intentions or make dedications at the start of practice any more.  I stagger out of bed, auto-pilot through making a cup of coffee, drain it, unroll my mat, line up my feet, and dive into the surya namaskars.  I don’t go to classes these days, so there’s no-one to remind me to set an intention.  Maybe if I was asked at 5:30 in the morning, I’d growl that my intention was to do these fucking surya namaskars, and shut the fuck up, you’re fucking my count.

Do you like the picture?  The kid on the left is my daughter Chubs.  On the right, we have Gia Huy.  He was Chubs’s best friend in  the year she went to daycare in Hanoi.  They were inseparable.  At potty time they’d be sitting on adjacent pots chatting.  At snack time, if someone had the temerity to be sitting beside Gia Huy when Chubs rocked up, he’d summarily shove that surplus little bastard off the chair so she could join him.

They were best pals, and of the many heartbreaks that leaving Hanoi dealt us, separating Chubs and Gia Huy was the worst.  In the six months since we left, she’s mentioned him at least a couple of times a week.  Taking Chubs back to Hanoi to visit Gia Huy has been on our minds, but life presents more pressing priorities than getting on a plane so your three-year-old can visit her long-distance boyfriend.

So two days ago after afternoon nap I flogged the girls out of bed, into sunscreen and helmets, and bundled them and a daybag onto the bike to ride out to the Marble Mountain caverns, one of their favorite local spots.  It was late in the day as we crested the mountain;  we were moving against the crowds, and I heard someone call my daughter’s Vietnamese name, which was noteworthy as it’s an unusual name, and I turned and looked around.  Then down and around.

Gia.  Fucking.  Huy.   Himself.

And there we were, a group of two toddlers staring awkwardly at each other, and five gobsmacked adults staring at the toddlers.

See, Gia Huy’s family had booked a last-minute package tour of Danang.  The intention of Gia Huy’s parents and grandmother had been to escape Hanoi for a couple of days to breathe some relatively clean air and see some sights.

Gia Huy’s intention had been to go to Danang to visit Chubs.  He told the teachers at the daycare that he wasn’t coming to school the next day, he was going to visit Chubs.  Now, his parents hadn’t called us or anything, I’m sure it didn’t even occur to them, this was just a quick weekend dash out of the big city, and more or less every hour was laid out in the schedule of their package tour.

But what his parents did or didn’t intend wasn’t Gia Huy’s concern.  Nobody walked him through the itinerary, and if they had, I’m sure they’d have been swiftly crushed under the avalanche of fucks he didn’t give.  As soon as he heard “We’re going to Danang”, it was a single-objective  mission for Gia Huy.  His parents did their part, they bought the plane tickets.  He took it from there.  And for a day and a half, he toddled along with the adults, scanning with inexorable determination.  Until he found her.


Now, what do you think his chances were?  Danang is a city of well over a million souls.  There’s dozens of tourist attractions, cycling through tens of thousands of visitors every single day.   And the little fucker’s not an inch over three feet tall.

But he found her. That three year old came to this city and found the precise three year old he came to see.  On his own.  No help from the adults in the movie.  He just plain found her.


Gia Huy’s family was on the run to catch their tour van into Hoi An, so we checked phone numbers and parted company.  We paid our respects at the cavern temples, then jumped on the bike, rode to Hoi An and rendezvoused.

Chubs and Gia Huy held hands and walked through the lantern-jewelled streets of the ancient city.  They laughed and pranced and set a candle-lit paper lantern afloat on the Hoai River.  Every few steps Gia Huy turned and seized Chubs’ hand in both of his and kissed it and babbled rapturous devotion while Chubs smiled coquettishly at him.

The next day they terrorized Bana Hills.  Cable cars, fantasy castle villages, princess dancing shows, all that bullshit.   The adults trailed along in incomprehending wonder at the beauty, the wildly improbable beauty, of the spectacle at our feet.


A thirty-six hour miracle.


Gia Huy and his family got on the plane back to Hanoi this morning, and Chubs is back at school.  Surya Namaskars recommence tomorrow morning.

And you can bet your ass I’ll be setting an intention.