Monday, May 21, 2007

Blessed refuge...

Addendum: The name of the book is Many Lives by Kukrit Pramoj. :)


Today I had a special gift in the mail. An acquaintance in Thailand sent me a copy of a book I've been wanting to read.

Sometimes I think we don't notice when we're thirsty. Thirst is different than hunger. It's more subtle. We can go for quite a while before realizing that the roof of our mouth is parched. Hunger is in your face, demanding to be satisfied. Thirst isn't demanding. It just removes taste and energy in its own quiet way.

I came back to my den and began reading immediately.

I read while I waited for D at her post-surgery doctor appointment. I read while she went into Staples to pick up a few things she needed. I read at stoplights. I read while I watered the garden, one hand holding the book and the other holding the hose.

I read while I had lunch at a local restaurant. I read at Target while waiting for a prescription to be filled.

I read when getting back from errand running.

I just finished the book.

It was quenching my thirst. It was something known and refreshing. It was a reminder. It was a reminder that there is someplace with a way of thinking that matches my own. It was a reminder that there is a place that doesn't scratch my dry skin until it bleeds. It was a non-visual picture of the life I've chosen, life in the place I've chosen... the history, the customs... the way of life.

... the place I miss so much that I don't even dare think about it consciously very often. It would overwhelm me. It's the difference between water and air. It's the one thing that can bring me to my knees so I try block it out most of the time and refuse to think about it.

The book is about eleven characters, none of whom know each other. There is a criminal, a prostitute, a prince, a doctor, an actor, a monk, a writer, a mother, a soldier, a rich girl and a daughter.

It tells the stories of their lives up to the moment of the boat accident that takes all of their lives. The job of the reader is to determine the commonalities, to look at karma ~ how is it that all these people were in the same place at the same time and does it mean anything? Is it just random? The back of the book says "Was death a retribution, a fulfillment, a reward, an escape or merely the end to a long life?"

Those are the kinds of things I think about in my private moments. The book offers no answer. Just the question.




Christine said...

Oh, you describe the process of drinking this book so eloquently. Makes me want a sip, too. . .

meno said...

I love having a book so good that i don't want to do anything else.

Are you going to tell us the name of this book?

urban-urchin said...

That is such a delicious feeling- a book so good you literally can't put it down.

hel said...

I know the longing you describe. A sip every now and again but like a person almost dead from thirst it is dangerous to drink greedily.

Sining into the longing can easily turn to depression, turning each day away from that which we long for grey. Just slow sips to restore life and sustain us until we reach the stream of our dreams.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Beautiful post.

QT said...

Oh, I love it when I get into a book like that! I am glad your thirst was quenched for now, Chani.

Pam said...

Nothing is quite like a book that takes you in and keeps you 'till the end. I usually read books that good more than once.

And the name?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Beautiful post that expresses so well what we hardly ever address at all, the yearnings that could eat our insides out if allowed to.

The plot of your book reminds me of Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in which a bridge collapses, taking several people to their death. I haven't read it in many years and don't have a copy now, but if memory serves, it also tells the lives of those people, and what led them to their fatal trip across the river.

Lucia said...

Really...are you going to tell us the name?

I was also thinking about sometimes when we think we're hungry, we're actually thirsty.

MsLittlePea said...

I love those kinds of books that are written so well you think about the characters long after you finish the last page.

KGMom said...

You were indeed thirsty. The premise of the book reminds me a bit of The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder.
He was asked why he wrote the book: to answer the question "Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual's own will?" was his response.

Snoskred said...

The book you mentioned reminded me a little of Amy Tan's "Saving Fish From Drowning" - I'm going to read it again now.

Just FYI though you probably already know, I'm updating all my linkage on my blog and just added you back on. ;)

My heart runneth over... said...

Isn't amazing when a book can grab us like that and take us to another world entirely?

I love that feeling..

Paulo Cohelo's books do that to me!

All the best,

Tabba said...

Don't you just love it when a book (or any other relaxing pleasure) hits you in just the right spot & quenches that thirst?
And many times, we don't even realize just how thirsty we are.

KC said...

I haven't read a book that caught hold of me like that in too long. But I did listen to someone speak who captivated me, absolutely captivated me.

It's just what you need.

jen said...

there is nothing more enjoyable than being totally captivated by a book.

i am glad you went back (i read this earlier and wondered) and shared the title.

thailandchani said...

Christine, reading that book did so much to lift my spirits. You know, feeling like such an outsider here, it's nice to read something that is within the context of my own chosen way of life.

Right now, I am reading "Four Reigns" by the same author. It is a history of my homeland from the late 1800s.

It is just a bit sweeter than a drink of plain water. Flavorful and quenching.


Meno, the book mentioned in this post is "Many Lives".


UU, definitely! Each time I get a book like that, it is like a little gift from heaven!


Hel, I know you get what I'm saying. Most of the time, I do not give much conscious energy to acknowledging how much I miss Thailand. If I did that, it would immobilize me and make every day more miserable than the one before. God knows.. I miss it! Sometimes it hurts! For that reason, I really have to limit the amount of time I give to that frame of mind.

Thailand's there. It's not going anywhere.. and I'll be okay until I get there.


De, thank you. :)


QT, yes...for now. The book I am reading now which is a history of Thailand is much longer. It should last me through the weekend! LOL


Pam, I will definitely read Many Lives more than once. There's so much in it, so much thought-provoking material, that I'll need to read it multiple times.


Susan, craving is destructive.. and I know that. Occasionally, I slip and I begin to think about Thailand. I fall off the "no craving" wagon. Climbing back on is hard, too, but necessary.

When I first came back, I craved it constantly. Seeing anything related to that country was like dragging a bottle of Absolut through an AA meeting. Sheer torture.

Then I thought.. well, gee. Why am I using my very own discovered homeland as a torture device. I should be enjoying it, loving it, valuing it.

So I knocked it off. :)


Lucia, I think it happens more often than not. Some diet doctors talk about that, too.


MsPea, I can still remember small details about the characters in that book.


Donna, perhaps I will have to read that book as well. It's interesting that there is such a cultural difference. Many LIves is really about karma.


Snoskred, the Amy Tan book is on my stack. I'll be reading that very soon, too.

Thank you for adding me. I appreciate it very much. :)


M, yes... when I was reading Many Lives, it felt like I could have been sitting on the grass at Khon Kaen University.. or in an outdoor food stall.


Tabba, I hadn't realized how thirsty I was until I began to read that book and felt familiarity ~ and confirmation ~ that I have chosen correctly. I love that place!


KC, I'd love to hear about the speaker who captivated you.. and what he/she talked about. :)


Jen, nothing quite like it!