I have been fairly absent from the blogosphere for the past couple of months. I have found inspiration in hundreds of things that I find every day here in Thailand, yet I have not had the motivation to write it out on paper. I have an inkling as to why this is, but it will be difficult for me to form a coherent blog post out of it. Nonetheless, I think I owe an explanation, and maybe even an apology to those of you who have gone so long without hearing anything from me, especially since I was a fairly loyal blogger back in the days of France.
Life here has taken on a sense of normalcy. I'm at the point in which I have to physically remind myself sometimes that I am in Thailand, a country that is thousands of miles away from my home in the United States of America. I've reached what is to be considered the "Surface Adjustment Period" in my time abroad. I have started to get used to Thai customs, traditions, and culture, and it has reassured me that yes, although it will be hard, I will be able to survive this year.
Culture shock was an undeniably awful experience, but I am glad that I had to go through it. After spending days trying to divise a proper escape plan and feeling like crying every day when people addressed me, I gained a lot of insight into my psyche.
I have been grappling with a lot of unanswerable questions lately, and in recent times I have struggled to find even an inkling of intuition in the ever-flowing stream of consciousness that my brain throws at me. These two vastly different cultures that I have been forced to accept and appreciate really make me question myself and human existence. Things like "Why am I here, in Thailand? What do I want to accomplish? Where should I start?" have slowly morphed into inquiries such as "What do I need in order to survive and thrive as a human being? Why I am here, in the world? What has led me to make such decisions in my life? Why do people act as they do? How can a culture withstand time?" In the past few months, these questions have led me to see the most unpleasant and best sides of me.
I am an imperfect being. I am self-conscious, introverted, and abrupt. I am made up of unbalanced dichotomies of light and dark, good and evil, and I have trouble coping with that. My first month here brought out the most extreme versions of myself. I receded into the solitude of my own mind, I would only really say something when I was unhappy. It has gotten ten times better, but I can't forget how I acted then.
I've often thought that regret is the worst feeling in the world. I look back at my first month, and regrets flood back like a tsunami in the south of Thailand. You see, memories leave scars. Some scars you look at and think to yourself, "How badass," or "It gives me character." But others, regrets, leave deeper wounds. They come back to haunt you and leave you with a bitter feeling in your mouth and disdain for yourself and your actions. The problem is, the scars of regret are always left in the most obvious of places-- in the center of your calf, or in between your septum and the top of your lip. These scars seem to be here to torment you. All you can do is look at them, recall how you got them, and kill yourself for letting it happen. The past is a haunting thing. These regrets have a way of seeping into my everyday life and keeping me from living it. They come in the form of jealousy, frustration, and embarassment.
Exchange is a surreal existence. It truly is living two lives at once. Even if you aren't on Facebook or Skype, it is impossible to keep yourself from thinking of the past, which indubitably, includes your life somewhere else. This collision of lives makes memories from your previous life more acute and sentient, as well as exacerbating the present moment. In this black hole that is created, this dimension-less in-between, your mind is constantly filled with ephemeral ideas, thoughts, and reminders of then and now, and regrets and painful memories resurface with more fervor than ever. But at the same time, exchange makes things so much more beautiful. Earlier this evening, my host sister drove me back from the park on her motorcycle. I love riding on the back of motorcycles. In a car, you can easily drown out the world around you and lose yourself. Being on a motorcycle enhances your senses and makes you appreciate every little thing you see. As we drove around the park on our way out, I looked up at the palm trees with awe and saw hundreds of little stars glowing in the sky. I was truly speechless as we continued heading down the tiny streets, hanging street lamps swarmed by mosquitoes and flies lighting the way. In addition to emphasizing the hard times, exchange also allows you to see the irrevocable picture that is the world we live in.
I've strayed from the topic at hand, but I think that it is an accurate representation of what I've felt while abroad. My mind is brimming, and the thought of writing a blog post has been so daunting to me that I haven't even tried. The most I have done is journal in incoherent bursts, occassionally proclaiming a shortcoming or triumph that I have had, and even less so trying to sort out the overactive nerve endings in my head.
Back in my senior year, my English class was the most inspiring course I have ever had in my life. My teacher, Miss De Soto, taught me not only about literature, but also about life. I'm eternally grateful to have had that year before coming here; it taught me so much about myself and really helped me to accept the mass of unresolved contradictions that make up my being (I've already referenced this class four times in this post... hehe). At the end of the year, we had to do a project called the "Senior Statement." In this assignment, our goal was to take a leap into the icy waters that separate us from our comfort zone and tell the truth about ourselves. I gained respect for so many people during the four or five class periods we took to present them all, but one student in particular really took my breath away with her perspective. Simply put, she mentioned having so many thoughts in her head that she needed to get them out onto paper in some creative form. Therefore, what she created was not just for fun, it was truly an extension of herself, and therefore she held it dear to her heart.
Similarly, I find that I am constantly being bombarded by a series of tiny revelations and thoughts, and it seems to be impossible for me to keep them around for long enough to be able to cement them in a journal entry or a blog post. They just keep coming and going and coming and going, and while I am in the middle of trying to properly format one into an acceptable creation, be it in an essay or poetry or art, new ones find their way into my brain, and I fear losing them, because it feels like I am losing a part of myself. I beat myself up because I feel like if I can't create something great, I may as well not create it at all. But I know that is not the right way to look at life. If I could just manage to organize my thoughts and understand what it all means, I might just be able to figure out this crazy thing called exchange, and more importantly, life.
Maybe dancing will help.