Friday, August 24, 2007

Weekend: Temptation


I am still feeling battered and bruised this morning. It's amazing the effect sensory overload can have on us.

Last night, memories flooded my mind while I drifted off to sleep in the silence. Geckos croaking in the night. The smell of heavy air in the morning. The light is pale like the color of warmed honey. Sitting on the balcony at S's house, cup of tea in hand, feeling like all was right in the world.

And it was slow motion. The quiet. A woman walks slowly down the street, headed most likely to the market. I smile and she smiles back. No words. None are necessary.

I fit so comfortably and know I could do this for the rest of my life. I'm learning how to weave here, falling easily into the slow, steady hand movements. The beautiful threads. The clicking of the loom as I move the handle back and forth. The bosom of this place is where I find my nourishment.

I was not born here and that surprises no one but me. The prevailing belief is that we reap the consequences of former lives, that we suffer for the sins of our past in a variety of ways.

Maybe even by being misplaced, born in the wrong skin at the wrong time.

My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of a train in the distance. Probably filled with sacks of rice. Probably going to Bangkok. The season has just ended and people work feverishly to get it all processed, get it all bagged so that tired looking men can hook the bags, one by one, and throw them on the train.

It passes and I return to my strange thoughts, including a dismissal of the whole idea of karma. While I envy the coherence of the idea, it's too hard to imagine that acts from hundreds of years ago can come up and influence us now.

We have floods and snakes and malaria and mudslides here. That is enough of a threat. The idea of divine justice just pulls me down. To distract myself I go for a walk. People are beginning to rise, beginning to start their days and the talk filters out, into my hearing range. I understand very little of it, mostly the common phrases of people communicating in shorthand. "I'm going to the market." "Feed the chickens." "It's hot today."

I tune it out, thinking only that what Westerners call simplicity, I recognize as wisdom.

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31 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

What a beautiful cluster of images for all sense you created.

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

Snoskred said...

I wish my drifting off to sleep thoughts could be so peaceful as these.. :)

Snoskred
http://www.snoskred.org/

slouching mom said...

What a gorgeous post. Beautifully written. You helped me see it.

flutter said...

Chani, this is beyond gorgeous, just really breathtaking

MsLittlePea said...

"The bosom of this place is where I find my nourishment." What a great way to define your heart's home. You always have a way of reminding me how much I love the word 'home' because you have the most accurate definition. Home is not just a roof over our heads, it is where we go for comfort,love and nourishment(of all kinds). Thailand gave that to you.

painted maypole said...

simply lovely

Sober Briquette said...

Wow.

The wise can make anything seem simple.

Hel said...

Thank you for allowing us to see with the eyes of your dream.

Aliki2006 said...

I, too, lost my breath reading this post. It will resonate with me for a long time, I think.

Open Grove Claudia said...

How lovely.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is so beautiful, Chani. I cannot imagine that even those who have expressed doubts about your belonging in Thailand could fail to understand after reading this.

It really felt like I was there, too, seeing and feeling it with your eyes and your heart.

I could smell the tea.

The thought of karma should not be a downer, though, because all the good we do comes back to us sooner or later, not just the less-than good. And hundreds of years are but a second in the history of the world, and the universe, which always seeks balance.

I especially love your last sentence in which you have given a perfect definition of wisdom.

My Reflecting Pool said...

What a calm and wonderful dream for you!

Kyla said...

Lovely.

jen said...

you tell us about it with such vividness that i can smell it.

Christine said...

i love love love this. someday you'll be back there and will be sharing these wonderful words from your true homeland.

blooming desertpea said...

Wisdom lies in the simple things ...

... and I could join snoskred - "I wish my drifting off to sleep thoughts could be so peaceful as these."

River said...

I'm confused. Are you in Thailand? Or just feeling as if you are?

Cecilieaux said...

Why the anti-Western slam?

thailandchani said...

Julie, thank you :)

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Snos, mine drifting off time isn't always like that.. but thankfully it is most of the time.

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SM, good! There is more I could say about it but I try to avoid too much of it here. It's the kind of place that brings out all the senses.

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Flutter, thank you. :)

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MsPea, I looked so long and hard... maybe that's why I have such a deep desire to create word pictures about it. :)

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Maypole, thank you :)

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De, the two must be interrelated. :)

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Hel, my memories work that way most of the time. Funny thing is I remember the heat.. but I don't feel it again in memory. LOL

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Aliki, thanks.

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Claudia :)

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Susan, I have a better sense of karma now than I did back then ~ when those events occurred. At the time, it just seemed rather odd that something would store up quite that long ~ but I take your point. Our concept of time is rather limited. :)

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Reflecting, sometimes I can almost get there in that short period between awake and asleep.. and it almost seems like I'm really back there.

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Kyla, thank you :)

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Jen, it is that vivid in my mind.. even now. It never seems to go away.. for some reason. The memories are always right on the surface.

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Christine, yes.. I plan to do that. :)

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Desertpea, I agree. There's much to be said for simplicity. Life there is like that...

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River, no, I am not in Thailand. That was a memory.

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Cecileaux, I don't think I'd classify it as a "slam". Did it bother you for some reason?

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Peace,

~Chani

ThomasLB said...

I think the concept of Karma is somewhat overemphasized.

To me, the big question is not "How did I get here?" It's "How do I get to where I want to be?"

liv said...

simplicity, wisdom, heart knowledge, non-attachment= things to strive for!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I am impressed with Thomaslb's comment.

While I do have some intellectual interest in how I got here, the more pressing issue definitely should be as he suggests.

Knowing where we came from is only useful in that we understand and learn the lessons from the past. What we do with that knowledge is really our personal North Star.

Anonymous said...

We dont all call it simple and simple does not infer any constant either positive or negative.

mitzh said...

What a beautiful dream.

Cecilieaux said...

"Cecileaux, I don't think I'd classify it as a "slam". Did it bother you for some reason?"

There. That's passive aggression. You misspell the name, then you disqualify my qualifier, then you elide past the comment without responding, finally, you pretend you didn't understand.

What could "Why the anti-Western slam?" possibly have meant? Applause? Agreement? Unabating laughter? Sheer joy at the disqualifying "what Westerners call simplicity, I recognize as wisdom"?

Have you ever spent any time in a convent or monastery? Have you read anything at all about the Shakers, the Pietists, the Hassidic movement, the Desert Fathers (all part of European culture)? You think only Asians sit and chant?

And what is the conflation of "simplicity" with "wisdom" other than apples and oranges?

thailandchani said...

C, If you want to discuss something, we'll discuss it. Personal attacks and open hostility are not welcome.

Is that "passive-aggressive" enough for you?



~Chani

Hel said...

Chani,

I hope you are well. Big hug.

crazymumma said...

The thought of learning to weave a basket. The sight of a gecko.

Just the light itself.

I feel a bit calmer right now. I needed that.

may those thoughts soothe the overstimulation.

Cecilieaux said...

I wanted to discuss the anti-Western negativity in many of your posts, of which this last one is a sample. You declined to respond.

There is no personal attack nor hostility in describing your non-response. It was as coldly clinical as it comes.

I note: you still have not responded to the substance of anything I have asked. Do you really want questions and discussions?

thailandchani said...

C, we will have to disagree on the presentation. I saw it as hostile and accusatory. In no way did it seem to be in the spirit of discussion.

That's my view.

As for the substance of what you asked, my response would be this: I have never promised, nor made a commitment, to presenting an unbiased view in my writing here. My "anti-western" stance is primarily cultural and I've been very open about it.

I can discuss it with you or anyone else, but the chance that you will change my mind or that I will change yours is remote. We can certainly share views and accept each other's views as interesting or discussion-worthy but I have no illusions about changing anyone's mind here.

I only share my view.. and welcome questions or discussion on things that are unclear. That is entirely different than hostile debate or flamefests. That means no name-calling, unsolicited psychological evaluations or other approaches that are disrespectful or dismissive to me or anyone who comments here.

That won't occur. At all.

I hope that is clearer.


~Chani

thailandchani said...

Thomas, I agree.. and that's a very good point. Sometimes the questions seem almost overwhelming but your perspective is a good one to remember. :)

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Liv, exactly! Exactly!

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Susan, that's my view, too. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait until the afterlife to find the answers. Seriously. You know?

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Anonymous, very good point also! There is no dualism implied, no binary "right/wrong" implication. Thanks for commenting.

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Mitzh, as strange as it might sound, my memories of that place and my life there sustain me through a lot. If it actually goes deep enough to create a dream, that's a special treat. :)

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Hel, I'm fine. Thanks. :) I'm still reading your paper, by the way. Are questions okay? :)

If you're too busy for that, I totally understand.

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CM, when I was there, I was weaving cloth... but I would love to know how to do baskets, too!

And the geckos.. the sounds of that place in the night and the early morning .. sooth me. Even when it's just a memory.

:)

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Peace, all :)


~Chani