While in Hanoi, Vietnam I had a morning off from work and decided to meander around the city and see where my feet took me with no conscious plans in mind other than writing and enjoying the day. My feet ended up taking me through the twisted streets of the Old Quarter and up a floor to the balcony of a vegan restaurant where I sat perched outside writing and drinking a blended green juice. Wanting to capture the moment, I went back inside and asked the first person I saw (there were only four people there) if it would be okay if he took a picture for me. Here enters Trent. Trent was one of two bearded men in the restaurant (the other one was wearing plaid) and had he been there a moment too late or soon, I would have gone with the other lumberjack. I’m so glad Trent was there when he was. We soon discovered that we were one of the same and had kindred souls. I have never had a conversation with anyone ever where we immediately were thinking and conversing on the same wavelength. It was inspiring and a unicorn moment to say the least. After realising that Trent was a fascinating and compelling person after a hot minute, I asked if I could intentionally interview him.
Before we proceeded he gave me the warning that he was at a weird point in his life. All the better…
Kaila: What brought you here?
Trent: Lunch. I come here and I like it and I return. Plus it still smells like fresh wood so that’s a bonus. For character development I like the smell of fresh wood because my grandfather was a carpenter/woodworker.
Kaila: What are you doing in Hanoi, Vietnam?
Trent: I spent the last four months after Korea (he taught English there for a year) traveling through Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, back to Thailand and after all that s*** I decide to come to Vietnam and make back the money I spent…which was too much. I went to Ho Chi Minh City and my friend said it was a h***hole that I wouldn’t enjoy and told me go to Hanoi because it was more low key and sleepy. I cam here to restore my back account through teaching English.
Kaila: What did you think of life when you were my age?
Trent: I swore to god that I would never come to Asia and my brother taught here for shot minute and hated it. But when I was fourteen, I taught in Ukraine and loved it because I got to travel the world and talk to people and that is what I knew I was going to do post-college. I knew I was going to be travelling the world, but Asia..that was a surprise.
Kaila: Do you feel like you live of life of nonsense that most people don’t understand?
Trent: Yes. But let me quality that. I hang out with a lot of people who have just arrive in Asia and are like pointing at things like “wtf is that” and “omg what is that.” And that partially makes me feel jaded about being here because I take so much for granted. But at the same time, I can’t spend my whole time in wonder…I got to shop, get my food and go to work.
Going alone allows you to be really weird when they are other people around. And there has been a lot of that going on.
Kaila: What is your perspective on life?
Trent: People tend to tell me that I look at things in an odd way. I was raised in a cult and went from living in the backwoods Jesus cult world to the middle of the most dangerous hub in America in Michigan then to Ann Arbor which is the vegan hub of the world. I enjoy it. I like my perspective.
Kaila: Have you found yourself in all your travels?
Trent: Yes and no. I’ve been trying out a lot of s*** while I have been traveling. Basically just yeah. Have you ever read Hariku? One character feels generally empty, like a receptive emptiness that allows meaningful people to nest in him. I like that.
Kaila: What was it like being in a cult?
Trent: Totally normal because i was a child and didn’t know what has happening at all. But now i look backwards at the backwood s*** and I’m just like I was educated in a trailer of a parking lot and my principal used to beat the s*** out of me for asking questions because I was curious and wanted to learn. I wanted to know why about everything and would ask a lot of questions and when you do that, some people don’t respond nicely. My principal used to set me right on that one.
It was normal until I got out in the world and I realised that there options and no on bothered to tell me…or rather they just actively hid it from me.
Kaila: What scares you?
Trent: I see a lot of people who are older and have no idea who they are and have no idea who they are and who they want and have hit this elusive imaginary world around them and that scared me. Getting to that point in life and living in a sitcom version of the world in your head.
Kaila: Who inspires you?
Trent: I don’t know. I am not big on role models. I realised that a few years ago. Okay first thing that comes to my mind is Shane Carruth who is just some dude from Texas and was a software engineer who got bored and had $7000 and decided to shoot a film that ended up winning at the Sundance Film Festival. He is just smarter and does everything for his own films. He composes his score, writes, directs and does everything on his own. It’s an insanely unique style as it purely his voice and style. He realised his own vision and with no compromise found his own voice. And he quit his own reliable, sturdy job and used the proceeds of his past movies to fund his new movies. So much respect.
Where have you been?
Just going to go literal with that. Mostly through Asia. A few parts of Europe and the most meaningful time was in Myanmar. That was on of the places that I felt present. For a lot of Thailand and Philippines it felt as though I was in a collective series of postcards of images you find in the dentist office. Myanmar was a real place.
Where are you now?
In a really weird zone between being raised in a hyper religious place, then high school which was a predatory school for pastors and I went completely atheist and now I’m out of agnostic and searching for spirituality and trying s*** out.
Where are you going?
Hopefully on the path to enlightenment. No hopefully o a place where I don’t have other people’s s*** clogging up my head (laughs). I was just reading the Dao de Jing so int hat sort of realm, I am going words the silence at the center.