Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Eccentric Outsiders ~ Whatta Life!

Thailand Gal's Secret Garden from another angle

Recently I made an offhanded comment about being an "eccentric outsider" and it generated a few interesting responses. Of course, an astrologer friend says it was inevitable that I would be an outsider. I am a double-Aquarius. :)

I thought it might be interesting to explore how this life is different from so many others. I've come to see it as an identity, a specific personality type, a life path, and we're often misunderstood. Sometimes even despised. Dr Laura would find me appalling! (I think that may be a good thing!) Some see us as a little bit nuts ~ or maybe just plain certifiable. Some may see it as hedonistic (which it is not) and childishly irresponsible. (Hm. Maybe .. a little.) Some can be very judgemental about what they see as a life that is not "productive". (Calvinism be damned!) I see it as an occasionally difficult way of life but for the most part, completely positive.

This quote I remember from Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings sums it up well:

'What you looking at me for? I didn't come to stay.' … Whether I could remember the rest of the poem or not was immaterial. The truth of the statement was like a wadded-up handkerchief, sopping wet in my fists, and the sooner they accepted it, the quicker I could let my hands open and the air would cool my palms."

Like most young kids growing up in the 50s and early 60s, my parents put a lot of effort into trying to make me "fit". They'd try to cram that round peg into a square hole and I'd behave for a while. I'd pretend a lot. I'd pretend the things that mattered to those who surrounded me, mattered to me, too. Eventually, pieces of me would begin falling out the sides and the Potemkin village would collapse. I suspect we outsiders see colors differently and our perspectives are just a bit sharper. There's an additional dimension. We ask "why" a lot.. and not getting a sensible answer, wander away without giving it any further consideration. We don't accept something as fact, simply because it's "always been done that way".

We are willing to look at alternative ways of doing things and are rarely threatened by anyone's unusual ideas. Example: my ex-husband, also an eccentric outsider, was completely open to each of us having our private space in the house and our own bedrooms. I wasn't threatened by his going to visit a female friend for the weekend. He wasn't threatened by my exploring some very personal issues in my own life that involved other people whom he did not know. We explored ideas without emotionalism or defensiveness and had a "whatever works" attitude. C. (my ex) had a simple ethical principle that ruled his life. "As it harm none, do as ye will." When we separated and divorced, it was because it was the logical progression of our relationship. We were done learning whatever there was to learn from each other and it was time to move on.

My friends and I come in and out of each other's lives with a great deal of fluidity. It's not that we are shallow or uncaring. We care a great deal but we just don't feel the need for consistency that some do. No one is offended if one of us will disappear for a while, off to explore some new unknown. When he or she is ready to return, they get a warm, accepting reception. I have female friends with whom I correspond or visit a few times a year. And that's okay. One of us will call a "check in" and the other responds. Just last night, I talked on the phone for a few hours with someone I haven't heard from in a year. It was as though we talked last week.

It is a rather whimsical way to live but I've found that it has increased the depth of my personal relationships. The freedom we give each other "lets the air cool our palms".

There is a downside, however, and I've experienced that in its fullness, too. It's hard to see richness in it during the lonely times when nothing fits and nothing makes sense. There are no guarantees with this way of life, no entitlements, no absolute social support system. Living on the outside is living a life with vast, open spaces with very few landmarks. The condition of my life is my responsibility alone. When I crashed and burned in 1994, there was no one around to help me pick up the pieces. I'd left friends scattered around the country and world. None of them could drop everything and run to Arizona.

It is a life of and about choices and consequences. It's about creating. It is about exploring without iron-clad attachments and having to trust our ability to create again.

I find this knowledge central in my decision to move to Thailand. I am getting older now and my ability to "create" isn't what it once was. It costs more emotionally and energetically to start over than it did ten years ago when I came to northern CA. I'm a bit more tired these days. I want to feel secure. Thailand will be my final move. It is where I will grow old and eventually die. I will, once again, create a new circle of friends, a family of choice. My life will end as its always been, as an "eccentric outsider". I will leave nothing behind but an occasional breeze ~ hopefully a refreshing breeze ~ for the people who have passed through my life. I have built no empires and leave behind no heirs. In the final analysis, I don't think I would have done it any differently. Well, I don't think I could have! In that regard, it is not a choice.


Thailand Gal


Citymouse said...

Love your blog. I have two questions (because I am new) How did your interest with Thailand start? Second question-- have you thougth of hosting a student from Thailand?

Ginnie said...

I think that much of your "outside-ness" is because you are an Aquarian. So am I and I often feel that I am a little "off" from what is going on around me. But, one thing I want to caution you about...please don't make such definite pronouncements, (such as this move to Thailand being your last big move.) Leave yourself open to change and you might be amazed at what comes. If Thailand doesn't work ( and it well might not) then you can look further. I am much older than you and still searching...but that's the fun part.

Stephen Newton said...

Wow. Gee whiz. Gosh. Thanks for putting that all so eloquently. I wonder if your statement: "There are no guarantees with this way of life, no entitlements, no absolute social support system" doesn't apply to any chosen life path. There really are no guarantees that I can see. I had three children, all beautiful and wonderful and I have only one left, and he is damaged in so many ways. At this point in my life, (63) I'm starting a new career while all my friends are retiring. I'm definitely an outsider in that I have taken little thought for the "future", things just seem to work out. Good grief, with no guarantees, why not live on the edge?

Thailand Gal said...


I'm so glad you came by here. As I mentioned on your blog, you are such a delightful writer ~ and what a wonderful sense of humor! Ah. :)

To answer your questions, my interest in Thailand began when I felt the land beneath my feet. Everything made sense there. I was home. Even the air felt right, going into my lungs. It was truly a homecoming.

As for a student, no, I would not do that. There are two reasons: I am a middle-aged woman on a very small pension and can not afford to do so. Secondarily, I would not be able to present this culture in a positive light. It would not be a good match.


Peace to you,

Thailand Gal

Thailand Gal said...

Ginnie, you make very good points and I take them to heart. The thing with this move is that I will need to make it work. I am a tired person in many ways and need to find a place to land. Adventure is a good thing ~ but, like anything else, I may have had a bit too much. LOL

I appreciate your comments very much and will definitely think about what you've said.


Thailand Gal

Thailand Gal said...

Stephen Newton, you are exactly right. Of course, there are no guarantees anywhere, regarding much of anything. I'm not sure this is a good thing but will avoid a political statement at this point. :)

Living for the future to such a degree seems to be uniquely western, a Calvinist thing, and I've never been able to buy into it. Being sensible is one thing. Taking care of our health, not being stupid about our choices and so on ~ that is just maturity. We can certainly still "live on the edge" without being senseless. Empire-building is something that will never connect for me. Who cares? As the old saying goes, have you ever seen a hearse with a U-Haul attached?


Thailand Gal

Lucia said...

I love this post, mostly because it's about me too! (And I'm not even an Aquarius!)

Thanks for the book recommendation you left on my blog. I put it on hold at the library immediately and can hardly wait to read it.

Gobody said...


I am becoming increasing envious of the chances you had in your life :). I wish I have a relationship with my wife similar to what you had with your ex. Although, we have finally reached similar arrangements, it took many battles till my wife reluctantly consented to it with bitterness that I am “that sort of man who doesn’t want to share everything”, even though it is not about that.

I also believe that relationships (any one) serve a purpose and once this purpose it exhausted one has to move on.

“It is a life of and about choices and consequences. It's about creating. It is about exploring without iron-clad attachments and having to trust our ability to create again.”

I could not say this any better, and I wished that I could live it, maybe one day.


Thailand Gal said...

Gobody, Please be gentle with your wife. She is coming from fear. And.. she is also doing only what this culture has taught her to do. That is ~ to believe that something is only worth having if we can own it completely. Reassure her, try to be patient with her and let her know that there are two choices we all have ~ and that is to live from love or fear. She can choose love. So can you.

I am not meaning to be so forward and hope I do not offend you. I just don't like the idea that she is suffering or afraid.


Peace to both of you,

Thailand Gal

Gobody said...

I think you nailed the matter correctly Thaigal, she is operating out of fears. She is actually a control freak, she wants everything to be under control (guess whose control ;)). So she has been of course “suffering” with me, because I don’t operate from the same standpoint. I like to face my fears head on, and that doesn’t seem to be working for her. If you have read my post “me, myself, and my shadow” you would understand the dilemma that both of us face. But again, that is the challenge that our relationship provides, and that is the opportunity for our growth. But I assure you that next time I face a situation where our philosophies collide, I will remember your words.

Thanks a million.

PS: don’t fear offending me, I like forwardness. Everything I hear, read make me understand more, which is the point.

Pam said...

I enjoy your blog, from your point of view to your writing. I agree with much of what you say and think that "outsidenss" is another way of saying "individualism". I have always admired those that can hear, and listen to their own drummer.

As for our politicians telling us "how" rather than "what"...I agree, don't think it's going to happen.