Monday, February 19, 2007

Regaining Balance....

Things are looking up, regaining balance.

Something happened yesterday afternoon that threatened the possibility of my swearing off humanity, at least until I get to Thailand.

I went over to Target to buy something. It's good for my 30-minute walk and the weather was rather extraordinary yesterday. A hint of spring.

For the first time I can recall, I got a negative reaction from a stranger.

Seriously. This simply doesn't happen!

I stood in line minding my own bee's wax and a woman close to my age was next in line. I began the process of taking stuff out of my cart to place it on the check-out belt.

Out of nowhere, unprompted by me, she said, "What's that on your wrist?"

Perhaps she was fearing that I was another Brittany. Who knows? I wasn't buying any shears though ... just boring stuff like Lean Cuisine, green tea and toilet paper. You know, nothing worthy of her attention.

I chose to ignore her question. It really wasn't something I felt necessary to address with her.

She actually grabbed my wrist to look more closely!

My eyes must have gotten as wide as saucers as I pulled my hand away. I wasn't angry, just shocked that anyone would do something like that.

"Thailand? What is that supposed to mean?"

Uncharacteristic of me, I snapped back at her with a terse, "Is it of some concern to you?"

"I just wondered why someone would do something so stupid."

Again, I was rendered momentarily speechless. I just looked at her and for the second time in too short a period of time, I responded with "I don't even know how to respond to that."

I also said that to the "Birthday Boy" (thanks, Doodee :) a week ago, almost to the hour.

She gave me a look that could have curdled milk and turned her attention back to her own shopping. I could physically feel her disgust.

I went on about my business, thankful that she'd turned her attention elsewhere. I am not one for ugly scenes in public places. I paid for my stuff and left. Jai yen. Jai yen.


On the walk home, I realized that I have started to draw negativity. There have been a few minor incidents over the past week or so that are out-of-whack. Ordinarily, I always meet nice people and have pleasant experiences ... nearly all the time! It's obvious that when we create the same experiences repeatedly, we are supposed to be learning something. I needed to pay attention.

Once home, I made a cup of tea and went to sit in the back yard. It was time to figure out how to turn this thing around.

I did some deep thinking, trying to understand why I was holding on to negativity of my own which would then draw it from others. After reflecting a bit, I realized that I was still angry at the "birthday boy".

Then came the question of what to do about it. Call him? Give him a piece of my mind?

That would be like playing the violin for a water buffalo. The guy wouldn't understand a word of it. How do you explain "objectification" to someone who has the insight of a garden snake? How could I possibly explain that while his comments weren't directed to me personally, they were often so disrespectful of women that I blamed myself, figuring I must be misunderstanding him?
How do you explain to someone with the intellect of a bottle of Coke that the inner rage of many women over the ages has been caused by that very attitude ~ that it is somehow our duty and destiny to exist solely for the physical pleasure of men?

Not my job.

That is what I decided.

It's not my job to educate him. It's my job to protect myself and other women from it as much as possible. And it's my job to let it go. His lessons are not mine and I don't have to "save" him from the consequences of his own beliefs and behaviors. I made a conscious decision to refuse to carry around garbage from other people's poor attitudes, ignorance or personal growth issues. I have to trust the universe, God, karma ... however you choose to conceptualize it... to deliver other people's lessons to them in its/his/her way.

I ritualized that process to a degree in the back yard last night. His name is now written on a slip of paper which will have a place of honor on my krathong when that time of year comes.

This morning, I feel like a weight has been removed from my consciousness. Today is a stunningly beautiful day, cool but sunny, a little taste of spring and I spent it in the garden. Weeding.




Ginnie said...

Thanks for reminding me to "regain balance"...I've been harboring a thing that's of little consequence but that has brought me low...and now I can let it go. Like you, I refuse to let other people's stupidity hamper my serenity.

meno said...

I am still stuck on the fact that the woman actually grabbed you.

That's totally out of line. I think you showed remarkable restraint not to swat her.

I like your thinking about the BB. When someone says/does something so outrageous that all you can do is stare at them across the huge gulf that appeared between you, there aren't enough words in the world to bridge that gap.

Laurie said...

I agree with meno. What outrageous behavior. I'm glad you were able to rid yourself of the negativity.

I need to do that myself. I've been carrying around a few things I shouldn't. Thank you!

flutter said...

Wow. That's just, wow. You are a peaceful being, Chani. I fear I would have tackled her and crammed a roll of toilet paper in her ear.

We must forgive those who don't know, musn't we?

Bob said...

One of the hardest things for me to do is to let go of negative experiences. When I was a young man I would dwell on them to a degree that was positively unhealthy for my mental health. I think I'm getting better at it, but it is still a huge struggle. Probably by the time I'm too old for it to help, I'll have it licked.

I admire your ability to do this.

Caro said...

I am still in the process of learning to release myself from negative experiences. I know that one of the reasons why I don't manage to do so, is because I don't completely surrender. I also know that I do that with the good stuff. It's one of the reasons why I eat too fast,walk like the devil is at my tail, read 3 books at the same time, have insomnia, work like a horse etc... I want to soar but something is making me hold back. That something is fear. Fear that the wonderful will be taken away from me. I'm working on it. Thanks Chani, I'll be sending light your way next time I do my daily yoga routine.

Sevenwinds said...

Wow, when I sent you that wrist band I didn't think it would become an object of such interest to those around you and end up putting you in such a position. I have worn mine on and off since I returned with no problems and a few questions, but always friendly.

Jerks are everywhere, but they are becoming more and more commonplace here in California. That is why I enjoy being in Thailand so much...less than 24hours before I get on that plane over...can't wait.

Preya said...

Hi there:) Sorry you had this experience. I just want to say that I'm glad I found your blog. I love Thailand too. I'm sort of in the same boat, as I can't go back to Vietnam (where I grew up) just yet, so I am trying to keep memories of Vietnam alive in my heart and on my blog!

KateMV said...

When I read this blog entry from the perspective of an American who prefers living in America, I think, "How unbelievably rude that woman was to grab your wrist!"

When I read it from the perspective of someone who has been living in Thailand for over two years now, I think, "So what else is new?"

Not excusing her rudeness at all, I want to say that being poked, touched, and grabbed on a regular basis on account of my bright white skin has become something normal. I don't like it at all. I think it's rude. But you have to learn to live with it here. They're curious about my white skin, and she was curious about your wrist band. Perhaps in a sense she was acting more "Thai" than American!

I'm not sure I understand why you didn't answer her in the first place. Of course, that was your option and doesn't excuse her behavior. But why not use her question as a teaching moment, if feeling like you love Thai culture is something that you are proud of? Why not explain to an American how you feel, even in just a sentence or two? Maybe she'd think it was weird, but then again maybe she wouldn't. No, it's not your "job" to educate other people... but if no one had that "job," then maybe no one would ever grow and change. Just a thought.

Anvilcloud said...

How do you explain to someone with the intellect of a bottle of Coke

I really resent you denigrating Coke like that and taking its name in vain. lol

Thailand Gal said...

Ginnie, I know that my life gets all out of whack without a conscious effort to stay in balance. I'm with you! Other people's "stuff" is their own, unless I can specifically help somehow.


Meno, it was the grabbing that bothered me. If she'd been less aggressive, I would have been more open to letting her look, whatever she wanted to do, even if she didn't like it. The aggression was the common thread that ran through both of those experiences ~ with her and with the BB. And you're right... there are no words to bridge that kind of gap.


Laurie, it always seems to be worth remembering. Often, I don't.. and then wonder when I start feeling icky or having repeated cruddy experiences.


Flutter, it was her anger that made me recoil really. I simply can't imagine getting that angry about someone else's choice of clothing, tattoos or any other personal choices. I might find someone's choices distasteful ~ but I keep my mouth closed about it.


Bob, it is definitely worth it to let go of that kind of stuff.

With my background, I had to learn that one well. Otherwise, there would be no chance of a relatively pain-free life.

Sometimes, I consider it to be a survival skill. :)


Caro, as long as the wonderful remains in your memory, it can never be taken away from you.


Sevenwinds, see my offlist note. It wasn't the wristband. I have a wrist tattoo. That is what made the woman angry, I guess. (scratching my head because, as I said, it's inconceivable to me why she would care.)

Safe travels to you! :)


Preya, I plan to visit Vietnam, too, once I get settled. Haven't been there yet. Thanks for leaving this message. Now I know to check your blog. :) Hope you are able to get back soon. It's hard to be away from "home".


Kate, I do know what you are talking about with the touching and probing. I experienced some of that in Thailand also. The difference is the level of aggression. The woman at Target was clearly *angry* about the fact that I have a wrist tattoo that doesn't meet with her approval and felt the need to express that.

That is my objection.

As to why I didn't use it as a "teaching moment", it was the aggression and angry presentation that kept me from having a pleasant conversation with her. My love of Thai culture is not an issue of "pride" with me and I feel no need to sell it. It is an integral part of me so having it come up in blog entries is a natural thing. It is a natural thing to discuss with friends and others who are curious. My customs and way of existing is highly influenced by it but I don't need to it into a contest of which culture is best. Some say potayto.. some say potahto. Some will be drawn to one way of life and yet others will want something else.

That kind of diversity is what makes the world an interesting place.

Growth and change requires an openness to something new or someone different.

Thanks for the good question. :)


Anvil, LOL!! True! Coke has more redeeming social value than the behavior of Mr. BB. (chuckling)