May 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Since I last ventured into this space, a lot has changed.
I have become attached to a fixed identity: a student. And an even more specific identity: a development student.
Time has become fixated on due dates. The compression of time has resulted in a significant inner change. I am so preoccupied with my outer world, that it has become increasingly rarer for me to venture into the inner. The worlds do overlap, but it depends on the week, the subject, the challenge. Less does the entry into the inner world revolve around relationships, love and the parts of me that drip away as I stumble through life, people and places.
It is not to say that study inhibits self reflection. Quite the opposite really. I have been forced to really check myself, my purpose, my intentions, my values: more than ever before. It is a more critical self reflection. The world of emotions and feelings that used to dictate every part of me have been replaced with more nuanced reactions. The part of me that required a bowl of Pho to ease my soul has become more complacent. Perhaps that is the reason I have kept so quiet here. The need to enter this space has declined.
But now, a new need has presented itself. A need to share my inner and outer experiences of my new identity: the development student: the identity that I am currently wrestling with, working through, exploring, critiquing and occupying.
Here I suggest a point of departure. Mulling over the Pho bowl will now be more about broader philosophical questions, that include both my inner and outer worlds, but focus on: ideas of development, being a development student, and the ‘state’ of the world, and my ‘place’ in this big old place.
I suppose the way I think won’t change. I start with a tumultuous sea of thoughts, clashing, wrestling, mull over them, until I get to the bottom, where there is a sense of calm… clarity, coherence, convergence.
This will be my little study refuge. To help me deal with my new identity. To question the intentions of development, my own intentions, my own values and the idea of action, of change.
And I shouldn’t lie. I want something to track the changes I undergo in the way I think and deal with these complex issues. Annnd… I was hoping jumping over here might help me map out some of the concepts I’m learning, help me to study, help me to prepare for exams, help me to apply, explain and tangibly reflect on what I am learning.
I guess all I have written previously written is just a different expression of the same general themes.
While I don’t suggest I have any answers, something about me won’t stop interrogating the nature of reality, change, people and my own reactions until I feel satisfied enough with some kind of answer….
May 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
Duelling Love Poems
Love hides in sidelong glances
Misappropriated from chastened eyes
Though never crude-
Love is eloquent in sidelong glances.
But what is love
But a misadventure with nothing gained
Save the waste of your sweetest phrases
And the hardening of your softest places
Love is a mirror of your mistakes
And only a fool can look at it
And not see its ache
Poet I saw at National Folk festival- more to follow on why these words had a profound effect on me……
“Becoming a whole person is lonely. But it’s the only way out. It’s the only way out of the basement.”
March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
March 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
I like to count days. A day is such a natural measurement of time. It helps me make sense of weeks, and months…. and sometimes years.
Lately, I’ve stopped being able to count.
I can’t tell you the last day I ate Pho. It wasn’t so long ago, perhaps a month now -but it wasn’t real.
No. The last real Pho has slipped away into too many days to count… faraway from this reality, this reality of the present.
I no longer wake up leisurely, hop on my motorbike, head to the nearest Pho shop to meditate on my soup.
No. I wake up with a pressure on my chest that doesn’t allow leisure. If I hop on my motorbike I gear up with gloves and a jacket, and slug myself somewhere. The nearest Pho shop is at least 40mins away -and worst of all, I can barely stand to close my eyes and hear my thoughts, let alone meditate.
How did I get to this? This mess of pain, bitterness and grief? How did life form this moment, these moments… These moments that are filled mostly with a pain in my heart, and a feeling of loss that underlies everything. How did I come to expect nothing but the negative from the human race.
Love- what is love but a human weakness, a selfish act of fulfilling the missing bits, a dependency & shroud clouding the truth.
How can this be life?
I woke up today and saw my whole year unfold in my mind.
Wake up. Go to the gym. Go to work. Study.
Wake up. Go to the gym. Go to work. Study.
Wake up. Go to the gym. Go to work. Study.
I saw the routine happen every day for the rest of the year. Filled in with moments of useless grasping for validation, or meaning. Useless moments of pursuing ‘love.’ Useless moments of distraction from the m.u.d.a.n.e existence of life in this place.
I watch others pursue others hoping to find something. It would appear people believe love is the only way out. I suppose that’s true, but they are lead astray, lead to believe somebody else’s love is the way out, when it all comes down to how much of their own love can sustain themselves.
We’re all units. Individual beings. We shouldn’t need others. We shouldn’t rely on others. We should be sustainable. We should be able to love ourselves before we place that burden on another. We should make peace with that part of us we hate. We should be focusing on the development of ourselves. We should be putting all that energy we waste on others into our own souls.
But it doesn’t work that way does it?
When life throws a punch, the best cure is another’s love. A friend, a lover. We pull out and draw others into our tangled web, hoping that maybe they will take the pain away. And they do, to an extent. But then one day, we’re left alone, with just ourselves and all that pain, it never went away, it was just anesthetized, and a bottomless abyss of all the moments we couldn’t quite deal with is opened up and we are swallowed by the ocean of pain and grief within.
And we are left alone, dealing with ourselves. Because nobody can jump into that abyss for us. Nobody can get quite that far down.
& that’s not acceptable. To end up that way. When you wake up everyday questioning the point of it all and hoping you find a reason for doing it.
So you end up silenced. In the unit you started with. Not a developed and capable unit -a failing and crashing unit. Because you never did take that time to fill yourself up. Never did find a way to love that abyss that exists somewhere in the depths of your being. You spent your time searching for validation outside yourself. Chasing people. Becoming overwhelmed when affection was shown towards you. Loosing yourself in others.
So here I find myself. Wanting to be my own unit. Wanting to be able to have inner validation -yet like most human beings, finding myself craving love from outer sources -subsequently ‘beating myself up’ when I have such cravings. Unsuccessful in my own view of life, and unsuccessful in the m.u.n.d.a.n.e life. Unsuccessful in a higher way of living.
Unsuccessful -falling into the abyss below.
& a bowl of Pho is too far away to soothe the torn up pieces. Too far away to give a moment of soft clarity. Too many days away to meditate upon.
& there you have it -Life without Pho is unsuccessful.
January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment
Today I have reached out and snatched a moment of time. I better use it quickly before somebody sees and cries “your time is up!”
Lately, my time has been shared with others. Which is not a unpleasant, in fact, quite the opposite. But when I felt the hand of misery strike every part of me for no apparant reason this very morning, I decided perhaps I better give myself a little attention -a little time.
I arrived “home” 19 days ago, after being away for 176. Life was so intense when I touched down that I don’t think time allowed me to feel any strong emotions at all.
It is only now, that the general commotion is coming to an end that I am starting to feel the pain I was afraid I would. The misery, the suffocation, the frustration. The weird part is how aware I am of these feelings. It is as if they are little friends, I can recognize them and acknowledge them. And with some effort actually evaporate them. I don’t feel like I am drowning in them. When I cried this morning, it wasn’t for long. I could see why I was feeling this way, could accept the impermanence of these emotions. But I am still human, I still feel, and sometimes, it still hurts.
I have come here today to seek refuge.
The world can be overwhelming, and sometimes it is hard to cling onto a moment, or to create some time for yourself. But it is hugely important that the time for you is found.
So here I am- sitting next to me are my notebooks from my time away. So many things I wanted to share, so many long overdue posts.
But I think today is a good day for reflection. A good reminder that out there is a life I loved. & perhaps it will help me love this one a little more today.
November 15, 2010 § Leave a comment
My last week in Laos was not as expected.
The brand new (rather fancy) phone I had just bought got stolen. After 4 months of good health, litres of street food & tap water, I got sick. Whilst eating a pizza part of my molar fell out. & I met more people in that week then I did my entire time in Vientiane.
It was not easy to leave. 4 months seemed like just the beginning.
My last weekend was a lot of fun- as blurry as some parts may be-
Lunch with dear friends – Nights out dancing and being foolish- 3am dinner parties- New faces, new stories – Lovely dinners with wonderful people ~ the perfect end to an interesting time.
The wonderful people are always the hardest to leave behind, and even though my new adventure was exciting, my heart was heavy as I packed my things and headed to the airport.
Turns out my flight was delayed, and I was sent back into town (the Novotel) to wait – kind of strange as I had just made peace with leaving.
Laos had become so comfortable – truly felt like home. To leave and enter a new place seemed a little daunting. Even my first stop – 9 hours in Delhi airport. Every one tells horror stories of India, and Delhi Airport was no exception.
When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find a brand spanking new airport, something that had been done for the Commonwealth games. Shiny and modern, and not at all like the writhing dirty airport in my head.
I don’t know if the relaxed culture in Laos was to blame, or my own lazy nature, but I didn’t seem to do a whole lot there. The little spark inside me kind of went to sleep, and my inspiration took hibernation.
It is strange to have a profound experience inside an airport, which are always such sterile places. But perhaps it was a little of the magic of India finding it’s way through the cracks under the doors.
Firstly, it was so strange to be in India – but not in India. After all these years of dreaming and yearning, I was there, but unable to actually touch it.
The minute I stepped off the plane it was like the little dorment spark re-ignited, and my inspiration crawled out of it’s dark cave.
Outside, the fog of Delhi air pollution limited my view of the land I have been so desperate to see. Inside, in the clean sterile environment was balanced out by the fascinating people inside it.
Ridiculously confident, handsome men, in all sorts of different attire. Stunningly beautiful women in multitudes of coloured Saris. Adorable children with huge eyes and intense curiosity. All the cliche things you would expect.
But it wasn’t the look of the people that snapped me out of my dark cave – it was the words – the conversations people were having.
Nobody speaks English like a well educated Indian person. I think we should hand our language to them, as they truly use the words to their full effect. Words we haven’t used for years are common, and every sentence is arranged in such a poetic way. I couldn’t help but grinning as I listened in on all these conversations. & the people had fire. The ability to tease and make witty remarks. I would ask a question and would get the most sarcastic response. In Australia I would find this rude, but there it brought me such joy.
Every encounter left me laughing. At the “Airport Information” desk I asked if there was anywhere to sleep, and the (extremely handsome) young man replied, “I can tell you where is the most cosy place in all of Indira Gandhi airport,” like he was telling me a precious secret.
In the ladies bathroom two young friends were using the toilets. One finished first and came out to wash her hands, then proceeded to ask the other girl when she would be finished. Halfway through a conversation she would say with irritation “oh, when will you be finished?!”, then continue the conversation, and again ask “tell me when you will be done.” After a few minutes the girl in the cubicle relied “Oh won’t you give me 5 minutes and I will give you 2 back!”
Having come straight from Bangkok airport I only had Kip and US Dollars on me. As I had a connecting flight to Kathmandu I stayed inside the airport. Apparantly, only Indian nationals were allowed to change money into Rupees. This would not have been a problem if the shops took dollars, but they seemed to only take Rupees. Also, this would not have been a problem if I wasn’t staying there for 9 hours, but in that time I was bound to get hungry or thirsty.
I ask the man behind the money changing desk how I was supposed to eat (jokingly) and he seemed very concerned, but unable to provide an answer.
A handsome young Indian National who was waiting to change money asked how much I needed, and I told him I just needed enough to buy a meal, and if I could give him $10 maybe he could change it for me? But he refused, instead insisting he buy me dinner.
Most of these situations end up being creepy and weird, but this was genuine and one of the most lovely meals I have shared with anybody.
We ate McDonalds, which was kind of ironic as he was a budding chef about to start culinary studies in Singapore. We talked as we ate, but he was a quiet young man. Not shy, just didn’t seem to feel the need to fill every moment with chatter. Sometimes this makes me feel uncomfortable, but in this situation it was like we were two old souls who didn’t need say much.
I thought he was going to go off after dinner, but again he insisted we share some of the chocolate he had bought. We sat for a few hours, talking when needed, and comfortable when there was nothing to say.
I watched the people around me. A huge grin on the inside. People were discussing world politics, religion, spiritual practice, self development. It was quite incredible to listen to.
Eventually he left to board his plane, and start his new life in Singapore.
Usually us Westerners demand each other’s details; facebook or email, but in this case it wasn’t so, there was no need. A simple impermanent encounter with a stranger.
Later that night I walked around (still grinning). Behind all the of the white tiled counters were characters bursting at the seams. At a coffee shop I encountered a Swedish woman, white skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, in a beautiful Sari, singing a Hindi song. The staff of the coffee shop, in their perfect matching uniforms crowded around her, giant grins plastered over their faces, clapping in time and joining in the chorus.
I found a chemist and asked if they sold pens, the woman looked at me with pity as if I was painfully stupid and pointed across the way “try over there, after all, they carry books.” Her tone was horribly sarcastic, but still, my grin was firmly in place.
Having been brought up only with natural remedies, it brought me great joy to find the airport convenience store full of Aruveydic medicines and herbs, all for under $2!
I guess it’s small things that bring all of us joy, and these experiences, whilst not seemingly that interesting, managed to shake the dull veil I had been wearing in Vientiane.
Later that night when I went to my “cosy” place to sleep, I was just about to nod off when I heard what sounded like a hundred men shouting. It was frightening, as airports are rarely that loud, and the people within, are rarely that expressive. The shouting was a kind of call and respond, and the only words I could pick out were “Allah, Allah.”
To be honest, I felt a sense of panic rise as my wild imagination took over. It sounded like a riot, and the shouting sounded angry and heated. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
But as I looked around, I noticed none of the Indian security guards seemed to be too concerned. Guards of all different faiths, some Hindu, some Sikh, some Muslim – all standing together with a look of bemusement on their faces. The shouting stopped, and then a few minutes later started again. Eventually it was only once every hour, and then, it stopped all together.
Somehow, even this added to the sense of re-awakening inside of me. Even in this sterile airport people were full of fire, and fire was just what I needed.
At 6.30am I boarded the plane for Kathmandu with a little candle burning inside. A fresh mind, a new outlook, ready for my next adventure.
October 27, 2010 § 1 Comment
Some times I guess things are just not meant to be said. I spent the past 5 days and several thousand kip writing a new post -a post that was helping me deal with everything.
But, something out there doesn’t want me to express myself. I couldn’t even log into my blog yesterday. And when I finally could, I found my draft only half there.
And now, since the first piece of writing 5 days ago, something so much bigger has taken over, and I feel I will never be able to express it -ever. But perhaps I will try.
October 12, 2010 § 1 Comment
Once you leave the toilet room (yes, a room with ONLY a toilet, no paper, no bum gun) you enter the room with the shower and the basin.
Of course, only the most useful items can be found inside:
Who would be so silly to put soap and a towel in a room whose sole purpose is to wash your hands and your body?
I am currently sitting, looking a little forlorn, with a bunch of other Falang in an internet cafe. We are all glued to our screens. Outside, it is is raining. Pakse doesn’t seem to leave any one feeling impressed. All look irritated and on the verge of cursing this town, and its miserable weather.
I have enjoyed my short stay, but don’t feel I could stay any longer…. My favourite experiences have been speaking (the tinnny amount of Lao I know) with the locals, who seem rather perplexed with my pronunciation and simply say: “Vientiane, bo?”
October 12, 2010 § Leave a comment
Impressions of Pakse (down in the south of Lao)….
There seems to be a ridiculous amount of:
Am I in the party capital of the world or what!
October 2, 2010 § Leave a comment