About once or twice a month I get an email like this from a complete stranger:
Dear Mr. Couturier,
Despite the fact that I have only thus far read one chapter of your book A Different Kind of Luxury, I feel compelled to write you already and tell you how marvelous I think your book is. I find it so inspiring to me on so many levels. The writing itself is luminous, but it goes beyond that: your ability to draw us into the narrative of the person, and your personal experience of them in the moment allows the insights to reverberate deep within us. You talk of how San Oizumi's way of speaking brings out a level of self reflection in you as you listen. This happens in your writing as well, but not as a fast-thinking analytic response to what I am reading, more like a still reflection slowly appearing in a pool when the wind dies. Your humble attitude through the whole experience is as beautiful example to the reader as the words and lives of those you write about.
I am also inspired because, having lived in Vietnam for the last 15 years, much of what you say resonates on other levels, regarding the bravery of these people to dare to be themselves and follow their principles. Here in Vietnam, under the mass, high of an influx of cash and opportunities and fast-paced change, it is remarkable to meet people who are not caught up in this development, but at the same time, are not simply holding on to the past, or making tepid, trendy criticisms of the government with slick artworks in exchange for lots of cash, as some very talented artists here are tending to do as the market begins to open more to them. It is very challenging under the current government system here for anyone to openly stand out and do so without some kind of protective backing. Those that I have met have humbled me, but I doubt I could ever convey this so well as you have.
Vietnam has taught me many things about mindfulness and living simply which I am nervous and eager to attempt applying when I return to live in the Bay Area at the end of this year. Since I will also be bringing with me a nearly finished novel set in a mountain village of Vietnam, I am also excited to hear about your Book Completion Course. I am happy to have that to look forward to, especially from someone with your background.
Thank you so much for writing A Different Kind of Luxury. I can't wait to read more! My best wishes to you.