I decided that since in the launch weeks of my new website/blog, ManageDevelopInspire I am publishing quite a lot of content there, and many of you (I hope!) are reading both, I would hold off on my personal blog content for a week or so.
Back again now though, and today is another Vignettes post, as the last one was very popular – but I find they take a long time to put together, with a fair bit of sifting the wheat from the chaff before you see them! Anyway, enjoy, and as before, let me know in the comments which ones you connect with most.
A long trip away
We talked over coffee, and I shared my feelings about my recent visit home, and said that despite the trip being a less-than-two-week visit, and hectic, it had been easier than my visit back in May, which although six weeks long had been non-stop. I’d put in some boundaries this time, I said, proudly. I asked her how long it had been since she last returned home and saw friends and family. Three years, she said. Huh, I thought. That’s boundaries.
It’s my first time driving the scooter on some of the island’s more mountainous terrain. The roads are very steep, and the curves very deep. I’m travelling slowly, carefully, trying not to grip the handlebars and brakes so tightly my hands cramp. Then I see a big sandy-coloured stick lying directly across the whole of my side of the road. I take evasive action but can see, in slow motion, I’m going to drive over it. I slow down to compensate, hoping that the bump as I go over it doesn’t upset my steering too much. Then the world slows down in turn as I realise it isn’t a stick. It’s the largest snake I’ve ever seen in real life.
I wanted to talk to you about a few things, I said, but the biggest one for me at the moment is doubt. I’m just not sure…how I feel about…things. What I believe. I believe in God, or a cosmic consciousness, or the divine, or whatever you want to call it, but everything else…I’m just not sure about. He smiled at me, and said, why don’t you treat it all like a scientific hypothesis. Experiment, try things out, and keep what works and leave the rest for now. Thanks Swami, I said.
I sit across the table, and I am laughing. I wasn’t sure about this, wasn’t sure if it would be quiet and awkward, two introverts with nothing to say to each other. But it’s been fun – challenging in topic as I struggle to be truthful and honest without those little inflation of ego touches that can sometimes slip in. I am challenging back – I ask questions without fear. I leave soon, but I hope we see each other again. But even if we don’t, I’ve grown from this interaction.
First Complete Thai Conversation (my contribution)
Sawadee Kaa (hello)
Mocha Yen kaa (Iced Mocha please)
Kob kun Kaa (Thank you)
She sends me an email asking for career advice. I send some suggestions, but also say not to worry too much, as I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but things are working out ok. She emails back her surprise, that she always had the impression I knew exactly what I wanted and where I wanted to go. Once again I’m surprised that the perception of me is so different from what I feel. And which is reality?
The room at TedxChiangMai has been fizzing with energy all day, despite the fact we have seen over 20 different talks and still have 7 to go. The violinist steps onto the stage, a small, slender man, who speaks with purpose, holding his instrument with a casual but alert ease. He talks about his life in Europe, learning with great violinists and playing with great orchestras, and how he came back to Thailand to help educate the next generation and encourage Thailand’s small classical music scene. Then he starts to play; notes of beauty, strength, grace, and tenderness. I am entranced.
I panic, looking through the selection. There have to be about 30 of them. I should have thought about it before I got here, but it just didn’t cross my mind. I look anxiously back and forth through the different samples, trying to narrow down my choice. This will affect me for the next 3-4 weeks I think. Eventually I decide. I’m relieved and I hope it’s the right one. A sort of shimmery light pink. For my pedicure.
I’m calling from Thailand. That’s why the line is bad. I try to explain, and excuse, why I’m a bit distracted, or seem mentally far away as well as there being a delay on the line. I wonder what she thinks at the other end of the line, what judgments she makes about me, as I try and communicate with her from thousands of miles away about something as mundane as insurance. And wonder what other equally non-fact based judgments I make about others every day.
I look up from the laptop, realising she’s trying to get my attention. In fact I think I’ve slipped into the conversation half-way through, and wonder if I was nodding along or mumbling in agreement while I was working. I snap into it now though, and decide honesty is the best policy. Can we start again? I say.
My fingers brush my toes, and I sigh with relief. Coming back to Chiang Mai, a small city of many cafes, restaurants and distractions, and having a visitor to entertain, I’ve gone three weeks without yoga practice – and the last one I did was somewhat desultory. I’ve been kind to myself today, doing my favourite positions (today the evocative Cobra and Shoulder Stand are those I’m drawn to) rather than pushing myself – but I’m glad I’ve retained some of the progress I made in 6 months at yoga school. I’m looking forward to going back in the new year.
I brush the dust from my room into the dustpan and empty it into the bin, before taking out the rubbish. I don’t have many responsibilities in my apartment here – sweeping the floor, getting drinking water from downstairs and doing my washing. Some food shopping, but I mostly eat out, so mainly only for milk and cereal. It’s a very uncomplicated life in that sense. I wonder if it’s why the laptop feels so important – am I clinging to a sense of purpose created by my digital admin now my physical and practical admin’s so streamlined?
I take off my glasses and switch off the light. I lie back onto my giant bed with my single pillow, smelling fabric conditioner and fresh air on my sheets. The benefits of having six windows open all the time. As my mind starts to let go of the day, I have an idea for a blog post. The words actually start to form in my mind, and there’s a paragraph drifting in front of me before I can stop it. I hesitate inside myself. I weigh up the chances of remembering the idea – let alone the actual words – in the morning, and sigh. I reach for the light, my glasses…and a notepad.
A matter of time
She slides off the back of the motorbike and heads to the street food stall she likes the best. Thai style pork in gravy with rice – and the obligatory boiled egg. She’s back in minutes, supper in hand, and she’s pleased. She hops back on the bike behind me, clipping her helmet back into place. This time, she can only hold on with one hand as the other’s holding our food. She talks into my left ear as I drive, telling me about buying her dinner and the stall holder with the cowboy hat and machete. She sounds vibrant and relaxed, despite the Chiang Mai traffic and heat. Hard to believe three weeks ago she didn’t even want to get on the bike. Well done Mum, I thought to myself. Quietly though, as Mums have hearing like bats.