Roots


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Often times we stop appreciating who we are and where we came from. Not because it’s unimportant but the fact that it simply becomes normal to us. When things become normal or routine, we tend to ignore the significance of what it represents. Do you ever find yourself so engrossed in something you’re never seen, experienced, heard or encountered? I do. All the time. Yet, with so many things that make me, me…I tend to find quite uninteresting.

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Last weekend I made an impromptu trip (I love spur of the moment adventures) to a farmers market in the Fresno, California. For many of you who may not know, Fresno is a city located in the heart of Central Valley California. We arrived around seven in the morning and many vendors were barely setting up. We ventured through the open dirt lot and stopped by several Hmong booths who sold traditional Hmong costumes, hats and jewelry.

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Fresno is home to the majority of Hmong descents living in California. Should you not be familiar with the Hmong, please do feel free to google. I too, am Hmong. Though I was born and raised in the United States, I was also raised traditionally. Therefore, I speak fluent Hmong and am quite accustomed to the culture. However, it’s been years since I’ve last step foot in a vicinity in which Hmong related items are displayed. Now that I’m grown and living on my own, I don’t often practice the traditional ways of my culture. I take a western approach to almost everything in my life.

On this visit though, I have to admit…I was fascinated, engrossed, and even excited with the things I saw. I developed a new appreciation for the culture. Unconsciously, I kind of took a step back and delved into this experience as if it were my first time. I don’t know about you, but first time feelings are the greatest of all feelings for me. It’s fresh, it’s new, and it eye-opening. The vendors were extremely sweet. One lady actually encouraged us to try on the items and take pictures. Hence, the photographs.

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Although this was only a small glimpse into my culture, I walked away a little giddier than I was when I arrived. Little experiences like these allow me to reflect upon myself: where I came from, how far I’ve come, and where I may be headed. My culture is a beautiful one, even in the chaos that many may feel plagued by at times. Whether you hate it or not, at one point, it was what made sense. It’s my root and I’m proud of my roots.

I really do encourage everyone to reflect upon your culture and appreciate the beautiful things that make your culture what it is. You don’t need to immerse yourself in it everyday to see the beauty of it nor do you have to practice the traditional ways. All you need to do is reflect upon it, see it for what it is and acknowledge that it’s yours.  I came home and asked myself: Is it possible to fall in love with who you are? With little hesitation, I answered: Abso-fucking-lutely.

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Love, Paku

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