Thursday, April 12, 2007

Warm blankets and safe places....

A few days ago, Flutter left a message in my comment box that has stuck with me for the past three days or so.

Since I take language so literally and create pictures from the words I read, the "warm blanket" reference was significant.

What is better than a warm blanket after being out in the cold?

Just imagine for a minute... Coming in from outside. It's cold. It's windy. You sit in your favorite chair or lay on the bed and cover yourself with a warm blanket.

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

We all have something that represents a warm blanket for us. I got to thinking about mine ~ and that of course led to other thoughts. I am nothing if not entirely tangential.

My warm blanket is, of course, Thailand. The fact that it exists, that I share the earth with it, that I have been so blessed to find it, feels like a warm blanket in my life. Knowing I will be there one day, surrounded by the geography I love so much, the people I value so much, sustains me through a lot of things.

My greatest fear is dying far away from home and home is there.

I am surrounded by so much that is Thai ~ my clothes, my jewelry, my surroundings here at home, my amulets ~ all of those things keep me connected. There is a constant sense of gratitude within me for the generations of people who created the culture that I enjoy so much and live as fully as possible today. It's the greatest gift I have been given in this life.

It's the warm blanket that finally stopped my shivering.

It's always felt cold here. It's not that anyone is unpleasant to me. It's so rare for me to personally encounter unpleasantness in my day to day life that it's shocking when it occurs. You know, it stands out. People are honestly nice to me. They're kind. That seems to be the type of people I draw. In a way, I'm spoiled by that. I take it for granted. And I really shouldn't.

It's the warmth that had been lacking. I've never felt much warmth while living here or growing up here. I was so hungry for it yet couldn't define it until I experienced it elsewhere. I didn't know how to create it. As a kid, when I asked for it at home, I was ridiculed and mocked. I don't think I'll ever forget that day. I was around 12 years old and asked for affection. I never felt safe to ask again. Truly. I didn't know how to get what I needed ~ so I gave up.

I felt that warmth in Thailand. And I didn't have to ask for it.

The words aren't clear for me, how to describe the difference between kindness and warmth. It's rather subtle and it's still running circles through my mind. The warmth I felt in Thailand was a level of acceptance, an inclusion, a legitimate emotional affection. It felt like we breathed the same air. We were all human beings, sharing the experience of being alive together.

The kindness and pleasantness I get in my life right now is wonderful and I'm not trying to diminish it. It's just different. And it's that difference that I'm trying to capture with words.

Here, I get the sense that there's a wall around everyone ~ and, yes, they'll be nice but don't think for a minute that you'll ever really get in. And heaven forbid that anything should interfere with their oh-so-busy lives. There's a fortress mentality and a huge, alligator-filled moats surround the lives of most people we meet. It's like a land of islands ... millions and millions of little.. lonely.. islands.

I'm certainly not the only one who has ever noticed. It's hardly unique. Writers have written about it for generations much better than I can. Everyone wants a warm blanket, a safe place ~ not because of unhappiness or tragedy ~ but just because sometimes a warm blanket is the only thing we need.


On an unrelated note, I want to sincerely thank everyone who left me kind thoughts for the surgery. I have never ever had 21 people wish me well for anything. Not in my entire life! This morning, I'm sitting here smiling. I really do have so much to be grateful for these days.





Caro said...

I take words very seriously too, as you must know. And the image of you as a twelve year old being denied affection is making me cry right now. I am crying for the 12 year old girl (and give her a kiss on the forehead) but I am also crying tears of gratitude for the splendid lady who has found Home.What a journey you have had Chani...

MsLittlePea said...

OHH! Warmth. I've never read any words that truly define the word 'HOME' until I started reading here. To be ridiculed and mocked where you should feel safe and valued and adored----that's just heartbreaking.

Once again you've given me something to think about.

jen said...

oh, chani. i adore you. i really do.

my warm blanket is my home. even if it feels old and worn sometimes, i know deep in my heart that it is my home. (and i know you know i don't mean the walls)

slouching mom said...

So perfect. Everyone does need a warm blanket, whether down, flannel, cotton, or wool.

My blanket, lately, is the community I've found online.

It's also my children. Quite literally, today, when I snuggled with Jack, slumped and sluggish with a fever of 102 degrees. I felt myself willing the heat to transfer itself to me.

Beautiful post, TG.

crazymumma said...

This was a beautiful post. Its making me ache a bit as I feel very disconnected with my needs these days and cannot seem to find my warm blanket. Well, the Caribbean has become a bit of a hope to strive for anyway...

And who is kitty? I have a grey tabby as well (although she is in the doghouse at present...)but I love her dearly.

You deserve all of the kind thoughts and words you receive by the way. Good healing.

Tabba said...

This is a beautiful post...And your line about millions and millions of little lonely islands is resonating in my mind right now.

I wonder - do you think the warm blanket is limited to something or somewhere? Or do you think it includes people? Or is that too needy & dependent? Just curious on your thoughts.

Thailand Gal said...

Tabba, I wanted to answer you right away.

As for people being a warm blanket, I don't think it is too needy or dependent. I'm the first to admit that I have a interdependent type of personality. However, over the years, I learned that people here are not safe, not dependable..

Let me qualify that: I believe most people are kind-natured and want to do the right thing.

I also believe that US and north American culture discourages them from expressing that to its fullest extent by applying negative names to it like "codependence" or "neediness".

People like me learn to shut down and suppress that part of ourselves that wants to feel others are safe.

Part of the "coalition" that is my warm blanket includes people. They are people from another culture where togetherness and interdependence isn't considered to be pathology.

Peace ~ and thanks for the question :)


QT said...

Last night when I came home late, my BF was already sleeping. My dog came down and sat by me while I checked emails, etc. Then as soon as I swiveled in my chair, he leapt up in my lap and just - snuggled me, really, is the only description I can think of. I am a warm blanket for someone! Yipee!

Love this post, as always.

Thailand Gal said...

Tabba, I just thought of something else.

Here, we call that little plot of land in southeast Asia "Thailand"... just "Thailand". In that country, they call it either muang tai or prathet tai. One is the land itself ~ and the other is the nation.

Of course, I refer to the nation.. the people, the land, the culture ~ all of it.



Geneviève said...

A bit sad that the warm blanket is virtual and cybernetic, and not real. We are all in the same boat, since I am here too. Is it the new and "modern" way for communicating? I find it pathetic in some way.

Thailand Gal said...

G, I don't think it is for most people. The post I wrote this morning is actually referring to the people I know here in my direct environment... my in-person environment.

I certainly hear you though. It is unfortunate that the electronic neighborhood has become more neighborly than our in-person neighborhoods.

The cyber-community that surrounds me here on the blog circle is awesome! I would love to have many of these people as neighbors.

Wow.. another post entirely. :)



Thailand Gal said...

Caro, thanks so much for your kind words. Yes, it's true.. my mother was definitely a piece of work but her karma is her karma.

There are so many times that I think directly, "I don't want to end up like her." It can't be very pleasant inside her skin.

May she find her own peace.


MsPea, the search for "Home" is something that has driven me most of my life. When I was very young and someone would tell me to go home, I always wanted to say "oh? And where might that be?" Who would have thought it was in Southeast Asia? LOL

Home is something we create and develope. Really.. when you think about it Thailand is probably Hell-land for some people. It just resonates with me. I "fit" there.


Jen, thank you. As always. You know (or at least I hope you do) that I think the world of you as well.

And I know you don't mean the walls. :)


Slouching, I hope one day Jack knows how lucky he is to have you.

Personally, I don't see that much of a veil between people we know through the Internet or people we know in person. Maybe I am just more accepting than most.. or perhaps I am more willing to legitimize unusual forms of communication. The fact is that we are all real people here with real lives.. and the feelings and the connections don't just disappear when the screensaver comes on.

In other words, enjoy it.. It's just as valid as anything else. Just imagine.. we would never have an opportunity to exchange ideas at all if location was relevant.



Mumma, are you thinking of moving to the Caribbean? Wowza.. what a beautiful place ~ and a great place to raise your children, too!

The kitty isn't mine. :)

And thank you so much for your kind words about the messages I got last night. It was just like getting up and finding a lovely bouquet on the porch when expecting only the newspaper. I will be taking all of them right into that operating room with me.. not physically.. but in my heart ~ where it really counts.


QT, it's the same with my little dog.. and I absolutely love being a warm blanket for someone, especially someone as sweet-natured as my little Shanti. :)




Geneviève said...

Oh! I thought that when you wrote this:" On an unrelated note, I want to sincerely thank everyone who left me kind thoughts for the surgery. I have never ever had 21 people wish me well for anything. Not in my entire life!", you were referring to your cyber world...

Thailand Gal said...

G, no.. that was an addendum.. but truly, I have never had that many people (in person or on the computer) wish me well for something.

It was really special to me.




Geneviève said...

Hmmm, sorry to insist, but I don't see the addendum as an "unrelated note." On the contrary.
Glad you got so many kind messages.

Pam said...

"Millions of tiny little true. How wrong.

My heart breaks for the little girl, I know her pain. I know, also, that we both rose above it and moved on. The world can be a harsh and unforgiving place, it can also offer warm blankets.

Tabba said...

Thank you so much for sharing further and I completely get what you are saying :)

Thailand Gal said...

G., of course I am interested in your perspective... but I can't establish the connection. Maybe you see more than I do. It's certainly possible. I'm not always the sharpest tool in the shed.




Hel said...

I'm just sorry I was not quick enough to make it 22 comments.

And yes, yes, yes to a warm soft mohair blanket to snuggle under when life feels cold

The Atavist said...

You, Chani, are a special woman. I can't indentify with having the childhood you describe, but I do applaud you for emerging as the person you are: kind, measured, intelligent.

You touch people with your words and your example in ways that you might never know. That is a good thing.

Laurie said...

You remind me so much of my cousin Dale. You two are on the same wavelength in so many ways it is uncanny.

ellie bee said...

wow! I hope I am not too late to add my best wishes for the surgery...what a wonderful thing!

KC said...

Why should a child have to ask for affection? That breaks my heart.

I'm glad you've found warmth now and are spreading warmth to others.

*sending well-eye-surgery wishes*

flutter said...

Oh Chani, This is just so lovely

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have always distinguished between people I considered "warm" and others, even well-meaning others.

Warmth is indefinable, or so I would have thought until I read your post... you did a pretty good job of doing just that. But as Justice Potter Stewart said in 1964 about pornography, "I can't define it, but I know what it is when I see it."

I think of warmth as a personal quality quite apart from kindness, politeness, or even a concern for others. One either has it or one does not. And I'm sure the same can be said for societies.

You are making me want to go to Thailand, too.

Mary said...

Most people are kind. Very kind. But the kindness means NOTHING unless there is the warmth from heart to go with it. That's what is missing on those thousand little islands. I totally get what you mean. And I can tell, after only a few conversations with you, you have it. You are warm-hearted Chani, and deserve hugs in return.

Thailand Gal said...

Pam, we learn to live with it. Sometimes we can even learn to turn it around. I have come to a point of compassion for my mother. She could not have been a happy person. I suspect she never experienced real contentment of any kind. No one can with poison running through their veins.


Hel, thanks very much. :) And, yes, I agree that there's nothing like a warm blanket... nothing! I have my favorite, just like a little kid. LOL


Thank you, Atavist. I hope that if I can raise even a minimal amount of consciousness by using my life as an example, it will have been all worthwhile on some level. :)


Laurie, I admire Dale very much.. so I take that as a great honor. Thank you. :)


Ellie Bee, never too late! Thank you very much! :)


KC, there is warmth all around in so many venues. Learning to recognize it can be a challenge sometimes. :)

Thanks for the wishes. I know you probably know more about it than most. Cut open eyeballs. Yucky poo! LOL


Flutter, thanks.. and thanks for allowing me to bounce off your comment that way.


Susan, something tells me that Thailand would probably not be good for a lot of people. For some reason, I just love it beyond measure. It is a very "warm" society.. when you get to know the people and honor their way of life, they respond with incredible warmth.

I like your definition. :)


Mary.. thank you. I like to think I am warm. Maybe when I get older, I'll get beyond that still very hard part of me that resists changing.


Thanks, everyone! This was such a wonderful response to these thoughts. I was honestly concerned that it might offend. Obviously, I underestimated the quality of people who read this site.




mascot said...

Hello Chani I have just found I have been going to Thailand for many years and I am at the point of retiring there my friends ask me why Thailand and I have never been able to tell them how I feel when I am there but your warm blanket is a perfect discription of how I feel you have a wonderful talent for putting words onto paper