Thursday, March 01, 2007

Two Lifetimes In One....

**Note: Well, it's apparent that this topic isn't really of interest to most! :) (Gee, ya think?) Anyway, come by again tomorrow and I'll try to think of something of more general interest. There are days, you know....


This is probably a strange thing to write about but it's something that's been on my mind for the past week or so.

In my life here and even in blog reading, many people are talking about the past. They give snippets of their lives, where they came from, things they've done, people they've known. It caused me to become very aware of how utterly repelled I am by my own past. It's as though I've lived two lifetimes in one. There's pre-Thailand and post-Thailand.

When I look back to the past, it seems unreal, as though someone else lived it. Someone else was that shell of a person with no connections, no roots. Someone else was that person with "reverse charisma" whose inability to draw people was completely alienating. This went beyond simply attitude. It was an external reality. Karmic I believe. Someone else lived in that desert of the soul where everyone and everything seemed one step removed.

Or perhaps I was an alien.

Often I still feel that here but being able to detach from it at will, it never takes root. Just a fleeting feeling that comes and goes on occasion, like a long-forgotten scent. The way of life here feels very foreign but I can be selective about what and how I interact with it.

It's difficult to explain what happened in Thailand. Words are too one-dimensional to capture it. That will probably take the rest of my life. In many ways, Thailand was a homecoming but it was also completely unfamiliar. It was a weird tropical planet called "Southeast Asia" and it was so far removed from anywhere I'd ever visited, anything ever seen, that I wasn't quite sure why the instant recognition was so blatantly obvious. A part of me observed life there with detachment while another part grasped it in my palm as though it was the very ground I walked on and my survival depended on it. It was new ~ and I didn't know the rules yet ~ but I knew I was meant to be there. And it was, on an unconscious level, entirely familiar.

There was an instant recognition that Thailand would bring the one thing I'd wanted all my life: belonging. It came out of nowhere and I had no idea what it all meant yet. But a door had opened to a life I'd known was possible, but had never seen. In other words, I knew it would appear one day but didn't know where or how. That was my past ... searching for something, for something that would validate that, yes, I did exist and, yes, I did have a "home".

Despite my "outsider" status in Thailand, I never spent a single lonely or empty day there. I'd always been an outsider here but felt every single painful moment of it. I've spent thousands of such days here. My affinity for the people there was returned ~ and it wasn't the typical "worship of foreigners" most visitors experience. (For more detail on that, see Doodee's recent post on the topic.) There was a soul-level recognition, an immediate sense of community that I experienced with ex-pats and Thai nationals alike. That isn't to say I didn't have the experiences that Doodee writes about but I was able to glide by it quickly and find the people whose souls connected to mine. Some were Thai and some were farang but the recognition was obvious to all of us.

Thailand isn't perfect and my life there will not be perfect. Still, there's a connection that can't be broken by a few stupid people or lousy experiences. Or perhaps it's simply a matter of my inability to be broken. There's a major difference between "being home" and having to process normal life experiences and being where belonging is in such short supply that there's no cushion, no sense of security, no feeling of connectedness and having to deal with it. In the latter environment, every single negative experience feels overwhelming and permanent. Loss feels irreparable.

Kate asked a few weeks ago what connects me so strongly to Thailand. I told her at the time that it couldn't be quantified but that I would make an effort to at least define it.

How do you define "home"? How do you define the familiar? I'm not sure it can be done because the layers are so thick and there are so many nuances that writing even half of it would require a book.

When I get to Khon Kaen and get settled, I might do just that .. write a book. I'll write a book about transformation, the search for home, finding meaning, finding the roots that keep me connected to the world instead living the life of an empty shell, the existentially lost, the cloudy, vague and incredibly unhappy me of the past.




jen said...

i think you managed to find something many try and never are able to get to...the place on this earth that truly makes sense.

and better, you listened when it told you so.

i look forward to that book.

MsLittlePea said...

Makes perfect sense to me. Home is an emotion to me.

Bob said...

So many don't find something to belong to, a home to belong to. I am so glad you did.

meno said...

Oh, wouldn't that be great if you wrote a book from your home. I could say "i knew her when."

I know that many people feel like outsiders, but i am going to guess that it's a lesser feeling for most of us than for you.

I love how you recognized your home when you felt it.

Laurie said...

I'm glad you found your home. I don't know that a lot of people ever do that.

I'm one of the lucky ones. For me home is Absarokee, Montana, where I grew up. There's a spot on the drive home where it hits me. The road makes a wide sweeping turn to the west and I see the beautiful Beartooth Mountains and I know I'm home.

Rachel Briggs said...

what a fantastic post (and thanks for your kind words on mine, glad I found you! or you found me?!) anyway... It would be the perfect explanation for reincarnation, this sense of "home" that oyu felt. Although I don't know quite what I belive about that. I felt an instant "belonging" when I went to Sri Lanka, and something close in Mauritius. India calls to me but I have yet to make that trip. I so admire your conviction and the way you are engineering your life to follow this path. I shall now visit your blog with alarming regularity!!

Anonymous said...

I never commented on your previous post about reincarnation, but I intended to encourage you to investigate that further if you are interested.

Melissa said...

Quote Chani -
"**Note: Well, it's apparent that this topic isn't really of interest to most! :) (Gee, ya think?) Anyway, come by again tomorrow and I'll try to think of something of more general interest. There are days, you know...."

Umm, why make such a caveat? Not enough comments? Are you being too sensitive about comments again???

Thailand Gal said...

Jen, thanks. :) It is something I needed more than I can express.


MsPea, "home is an emotion". Yes. It is. :)


Bob, I'm happy about it, too. I needed it. One day, I might write about that. It saved my life.


Meno, yes, I suspect that's true. Being an outsider (in the negative context, not the positive one I have now) is very damaging. It was all I knew.


Laurie, oh.. the Beartooth Mountains! (sigh) Oh, yes.. that's beautiful alright! :)


Rachel, thanks for coming by. If you can, go to India. When something calls, there's a reason. :)


De, I suspect it's a given. There's no doubt in my mind that I left something unfinished in Thailand at one time.


Melissa, not in the context I think you might be implying. It isn't just a matter of comments. It is a recognition that not everything I write here will appeal to a larger issue that others may or may not have a position on. Certainly when people don't talk back, it is an indication (and a valid one) that something is raw and personal, unprocessed, and there really isn't much that can be said. It's the equivalent of a blank stare in a face-to-face context. In this case, I posted something that I know is not of general interest. It's not something I have grown into to that extent. It's still in process and I chose to talk about it. It's a way of letting others know that I know that.

Peace all,


KC said...

Home is wherever this family of mine is.

I'd love to read your book someday.