Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wat's up....

Crazymumma asked an interesting question in yesterday's comments and it was a good one.

I would love to know what living on/in? a wat would mean for you. You know, the everyday.....

so curious as to how it would change your life.

I'm going to try to answer it. But first, it needs a foundation. There have been other occasions when I've tried to write about this and I'm not certain at this point that I have the writing skills to capture it fully.

This change I made... It's not just clothes and cute customs. My world shifted on its axis and I'm not the same person now as before it happened. No one was more surprised by it than me.

It was a heart change. It was a change in the way I view the world and my place in it. When I lived over there, in that hot, humid place I would gladly move to a more northern location, I fit in seamlessly. There is no logical explanation for it. There was something that "clicked" on such a fundamental level that I was never the same after that. It was as though my soul recognized it as "familiar". And after that recognition, my soul wouldn't be satisfied with anything less.

When I came back here and decided to bring it into my everyday life, to capture it and hang on to it, it allowed me to continue feeling tethered to the world. The disconnected feeling I'd lived with for more than forty years was something I was not willing to live with again. I immediately began to seek out others who shared common values.

The problem I had with the small Thai community in Sacramento is that most of them who lived here had no interest in the way of life there. They left there because they wanted here. And sometimes, typical of any convert to a new way of life, they became more here than people who have lived here all their lives.

Oh, sure, there were a few.. occasionally I meet someone who holds the same core values. They come here for other reasons... such as my language buddy who is very clear on why he's here. He's here to make money and take it home. He's treating this like any other job. He works his tail off for the benefit at the end.

In Thailand, the wat is the center of community ~ not unlike the way church is for many communities here. It is where the gathering takes place. It is where people meet. There are usually all sorts of cultural and educational opportunities there that can't be found anywhere else. I won't be living at the wat. I will just be living in close proximity so that I can participate.

This is why I am choosing to move near one ~ so that I can participate at that level.

The difference in my everyday life will be profound. It means I will be a part of the everyday flow of life which I am not here. It means that I will be able to participate in things that reinforce my way of life instead of alienating me. It means that I will be included in things that I am not included in here. It means I will have a real life instead of sitting on the sidelines, watching others.

One of the things that's important to mention here is that no one is excluding me intentionally. No one is being mean. I'm a big girl and I'm a big girl with a degree in Sociology so I understand how group dynamics work. It is natural for people to group together who share common values and customs. This isn't rocket science.

I knew this would be a problem when I decided to become who I am today. But that doesn't make it any less difficult emotionally, simply because I have that intellectual knowledge. The logical step is for me to surround myself with people who share my chosen values and customs.

And that doesn't mean that I will be excluding everyone who is not like me. It will actually enhance my experience with friends who are different than me. It will make me a happier, more fulfilled person, so I will be able to share that with friends. I will have more to offer those who surround me, no matter who they are.

The truth is that I should have done this as soon as I came back from Thailand and realized fully the implications of my time there. I should have picked up and moved then, knowing that I probably would have saved myself from a lot of heartache over the past four years or so.

But one of my characteristics, unrelated to Thai culture, is that I don't like change. I resist it. I don't like moving and I don't like newness. I get set in my ways.

Just the same, sometimes we have to do what we don't want to do to get something we want and need. Even me.. and even when I don't necessarily like it.

I hope that answers the question a bit, puts it in some context.



Open Grove Claudia said...

I think change is really hard. I admire you for seeing what you want, or maybe where you fit, and making that change. It's impressive.

We give so much thought and support to gay people when they "come out", but I honestly think that we all need to "come out" - admit who we really are - to the people who love us.

Good for you for doing that.

slouching mom said...

are you kidding?

you've just proven that you have the writing skills to "capture it fully."

what you've written is not only completely comprehensible to me, but so self-aware that it's astonishing.

Julie Pippert said...

Great explantion. Actually, an incredibly eloquent post revealing rich self-actualization. I can't imagine a lack of understanding after this. This one needs special preservation.

Using My Words

Christine said...

i;m with sm--this was an eloquently written post, that explains your feelings and thought beautifully.

i am so happy that you are going to do this. to move and find a real life community that you can really love and be a part of.

QT said...

I am with the previous posters - this makes perfect sense and was very eloquently put.

But you know, perhaps hindsight was necessary here - if you would have gone straight to exposure to the wat after coming back from Thailand, maybe some lessons would have been lost?

In any event, I am so excited for you Chani. It will be good for you to be surrounded by like-minded souls ~ in real life, that is.

Anonymous said...

You explain it perfectly. When one doesn't fit, they just don't fit. It is easier to change locations than to change who you are.

My husband and I lived in San Antonio for 5 years. The people, faith, lifestyle, politics, community,everything, made me feel like a complete outsider. My sense of humor didn't even seem to work there. All of the friends I'd made there, except one, were from else where. Moving to Connecticut was the best thing I could have done for myself and my family. (don't get me wrong, I like a nice looking tush in wranglers as much as the next guy and nothing compares to Texas BBQ)

I hope you do find your place and peace. Its very important to have a sense of community and support.

thailandchani said...

Claudia, I think that's important, too. Admittedly, I am one of the first on the block to welcome someone out of the closet.. and that would probably extend to nearly any "coming out" process.

Because my external life has changed, it's not quite possible to hide and blend in.. so I kind of understand how gay people feel. :)


SM, thanks. This is something that I have such a hard time with for some reason, you know, describing it. It seems so big that condensing it into a little blog template feels intimidating. :)


Julie, thanks. Maybe it will come in handy in the future. I've tried to write about this.. but end up with the proverbial crumpled sheets of paper all over the floor near the typewriter. :)


Christine, that's what I'm after. We all need a place to contribute, just as much as we need a place to belong. I can't contribute to something I have an ethical or moral issue with.. and that's immobilized me quite a bit.


QT, it's hard for me to see those lessons when it gets too dark in here.. but I understand what you mean.

It's like looking back.. and knowing that if I'd had the sense to find a job teaching English, I would have been in Thailand all this time. I wouldn't have returned at all. The only reason I came back is because I ran out of money.

Hindsight is always perfect, as they say, and when I'm out of this situation, I'll bet I'll see things very differently.. including the lessons.


Reflecting, that is just it.. exactly. When we don't fit, we don't fit. I have tried every single way I know how to fit in this culture.. and it doesn't work. It only makes sense to do something about it while I can still hold on to the things I enjoy (cheeseburgers.. french fries... American generosity and spirit.. all those things that have made living here a *good* thing). Otherwise, I'll just end up resenting all of it and lose the good with the bad.




Jen M. said...

That does answet it - and we have the same degree :)

Anvilcloud said...

Ah, you are on a grand journey. I hope this next step proves fruitful.

jen said...

i love how this continues to unfold and how this blog world keeps allowing you to share and question and move a bit further along. (or at least that's how i see it, given all the support)

Snoskred said...

Change means stepping out of your comfort zone. That is why so many of us resist it. We like to feel comfortable and we also like to know what to expect.

My own Mother struggles with this daily - or I should say at the moment, weekly. We decided to start visiting a few of the other restaurants around here for our meal out each Saturday night. She likes to go to the place where she knows what to expect. She reacts to change by getting angry, and it's a trial for all of us. So much so we only managed it for one week, the next week I think we were all happy to take a week off and we didn't go anywhere.

Once we got her to the new place and she saw how everything was, she was ok, once she felt comfortable.

A lot of the things I have been doing lately have meant stepping out of that comfort zone. I've been doing so much of it that *uncomfortable* is the new comfortable for me. ;)

I'm just off to take a load to the new place in the Ute, which is like your pick up truck in the States, and then I am doing something special - my first beach walk. I've been going there for three days now and I have not seen the water. It's time.

That part of it is worth all the uncomfortableness to me ;) That, and the fact I can see lots of trees from every window.


flutter said...

You are profound and complex and eloquent far beyond your wordcraft. You are striving to walk the walk.

I am so glad I know you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have found that the things I most resist are usually the things I need most. Change is hard, but not changing can be even harder.

I cannot imagine anyone deliberately excluding you, so I'm very glad you clarified that no one was doing so. I'm pretty sure that you have been excluding yourself from philosophies and lifestyles that feel incompatible with who you are. I think we all do that to some degree; the difference is that many people have no idea why they don't feel as if they belong and so they are unable to change their circumstances.

You are making the healthiest of moves, and I believe it will be easier than you think. I have also observed that when we are on our right path, it is like the Red Sea parting. Everything happens just as it needs to, easily and effortlessly. There is a lot to be said for what used to be called "going with the flow."

crazymumma said...

'It will make me a happier, more fulfilled person, so I will be able to share that with friends. I will have more to offer those who surround me, no matter who they are.'

Doesn't that just about say it all? I am honoured that you wrote so beautifully in response to my question.

And maybe you know, the four years you have spent here, not in Thailand have simply served as an affirmation as to how much you truly want and need it. I see it not as time wasted, but as time making sure....

Aliki2006 said...

This *was* a wonderful explanation, and I continue to be fascinated by your choices and by how you express yourself so clearly and with so much passion.

painted maypole said...

that makes it very clear - and clear why you want to do it

Laurie said...

I wish you the best in your journey, Chani.

Anonymous said...

I keep on being puzzled (apparently I am the only here) by what you call "value", "chosen values", core values", "common values"... What "values" exactly? Are there typically Thai "values"? And, first, waht a "value" is?

thailandchani said...

Jen, have you found the degree as useful as I have? NOT! LOL


Anvil, thanks.


Jen, yes.. it does provide an opportunity to get feedback from others, some support.. people trying to understand.. and some understanding. Very true.


Snos, change is a big subject, of course. I think my resistance is largely a result of the kind of instability I lived with for so many years. Now I want things settled.. and that's okay.


Flutter, thanks. Yes, I am trying to do just that ~ stay true to the things I believe are important and find others who value that.


Susan, yes, you're right. I have excluded myself to a degree. There's been almost no choice really since I'm the sort of person who finds it impossible to pretend something is meaningful to me when it's not, to participate in something that I don't find consistent with my own values or just can't feel some honest connection.

I've tried.. but most people are too smart for that kind of thing and recognize it without much trouble.


CM, yes.. it has done that. :) It was a good way to confirm it. Aside from the heat, the humidity and the bugs.. well, it's just the right place for me!

Do you suppose they'd let me hire 5 or 6 hundred cranes and move it just a bit north? Oceanside property in Cambodia! LOL :)


Aliki, Maypole and Laurie.. thank you. :) I appreciate so much that people reading here have been open to hearing all of this. :)


Genevieve, values is a huge subject... larger than I can tackle in a comments section. I would recommend though that you visit Julie's blog. "Julie Pippert: Using My Words". It's on my sidebar and the discussion is about values. I can't address it without addressing it holistically and that would be a book.




Emily said...

QT is right -- hindsight is often the only way to know what you want. This was a really interesting post, both because it answered some of my practical questions and because it told me so much about you.

thailandchani said...

Emily, I'm glad. Some of this is very hard to explain. :)