Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Retirement of a Cultural Dissident....

I've spent more than a few mornings on this balcony now. The smell of the air around me is invigorating and peaceful at the same time. The conversations with others have been flowing easily like a lazy river. The tea is wonderful! I love this place. I love everything about it.

And all that's good but part of the reason I took this trip is to make some decisions.

Just before leaving, my rage level was getting out of control. The slightest thing set me off. It seemed that ordinary irritations were amplified. I was haunted by memories that I'd rather forget.

I've been a warrior all my life. Injustice doesn't just bother me. It enrages me. The things I grew up with were too hard to simply accept as "human nature" and I mounted my wild pony, spear at the ready, and set out to right all the wrongs. I marched. I participated in social justice movements. I did all the things the civics teachers told us we should do.

I've come to realize there's a thin line between commitment and zealotry.

I fought and I fought hard. There have been negative consequences. I've been dismissed as a crackpot, kicked out of schools, put in jail and lost friends. I've been yelled at, shunned, called names and have had my life threatened. I became a zealot. Nothing could temper the fire in my belly.

People hold tight to their most cherished beliefs, even when they are not sure why they believe them.

I am included in that. This was never about fighting for Thai culture. Actually, it had nothing to do with Thai culture. The reality is that I fell in with a very traditional bunch of people here. Most Thais can't even handle the kind of "Thai culture" that I live. My dissidence started a long time before I knew anything about this place. I couldn't have found Thailand on a map.

But still, I had my cherished beliefs. The world was filled with corruption and conspiracy, ill-intent and brutality. And they had to be stopped. There was no exit strategy. No rebuilding plan. I pounded my fists against the prison walls until my hands bled. The chains rattled so hard that it was deafening.

I'm getting older now. The energy and vigor of youth is waining. I am older than my chronological age. I'm not as flexible and resilient as I once was and the bouncing back is much harder.

The reality is that it's time for me to lay the mantle down. It's time to pass it along to those who are younger and more energetic, those who aren't shell-shocked. In fact, that is what I am. Shell-shocked. Battle weary. I feel like I've been at war for 40 years.

I don't want to do it anymore. I don't want to fight anymore. It's time to lay down arms.

It's time to relax into the life I have found here. Maybe there is some weird, cosmic system of punishment and reward and this place is my reward for all the years spent fighting in the belly of the beast. At this point, that is what I will do. Live here. Peacefully. Even though I do have to come back there for a while, I need to stay focused on this, my center. My foundation. Home.

I don't regret anything I've done. Maybe it has made a little bit of difference. Seeds planted. Watered and nurtured. Lives changed. Perhaps improved. It might have only been a scratch mark on the monolithic brick wall.. but it was my scratch mark.

There's still much that needs to be done. Carry on, warriors.

I've got your back.


Girlplustwo said...

i've just let out a warrior cry in your honor. i am so entirely happy you've chosen your next steps in such a certain, knowing way.

you go, C. you rock your new peace thing.

anne said...

It sounds like things are becoming nice and clear for you. I'm glad you are enjoying your trip - it must be beautiful.

I don't think anyone can push themself to the limit forever - you would be bound to burn out. Even the best fighters have to retire someday.

Except maybe Rambo. And James Bond. They just seem to go on forever.

But seriously, you can still live for your causes without being on the front lines - even if it is just through example.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You have more than earned your rest and your favored spot of green earth to do it on.

Joan of Arc was a teenager. Most of the scratch marks on brick walls are made by the very young. You can do more now to advise and comfort them as they continue the fight, which has become their fight, for there will always be a need for warriors of freedom, justice, and truth.

So chill, Mama.

Christine said...

oh chani. this post just moved me so. you were a warrior that made a difference i just know it. find your peace now. be happy. enjoy your home in thailand.

Jen said...

With age comes wisdom. It sounds like you've found yours. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Living a good life is the best victory. Figuring out who you are and what you really love and honoring all of that is such profound victory, Chani. I think there are many ways to wage war. I think you're still a warrior. A wiser one.

Mariposa said...

I'm rageholic, and I struggle not to give in to it...you're doing a good job at it, so I'm hoping I'll do the same.

S said...

This moved me so.

Beautiful, beautiful post.

Liv said...

I'm just really proud and happy for you. This peace. Yes.

~om shanti~

Unknown said...

I am moved by your words, my dear warrior friend. My blessings to you along with much shalom.

flutter said...

I'll fight for you.

thailandchani said...

Jen, thanks. Lots of new things coming up when I get back.. new peaceful things. :)


Anne, I think part of the natural process of things is that the elders of the tribe retire and the young ones take over. That seems to fit in most circumstances and is cross-cultural. I'll lay down the mantle and concentrate on learning to be a better elder.


Susan, thanks. :) Joan of Arc is one of my sheroes, as you know. If she had lived, I think even she would have eventually rested. It's true... I will guide others if they need it, share my experience.. but no more fighting for me!


Christine, thank you. :) I will.


Jen, I hope so. Thank you :)


Angela, it's hard to give up the warrior spirit, even when the arms are put to rest. I'm sure it will always be there, a part of me... hopefully, a wiser me.


Mariposa, you will. It's all a matter of really getting it that we can't control much of anything so there's no sense in the rage. All it does it hurt us, our bodies and our communities.

I say this as one who has a nuclear temper.. so .. I understand. Really. I do!


SM, thank you :) I'm glad. Really.


Livi, thank you. :) Om shanti.


Nick, thank you. Peace to you, too!


Flutter, go forth! I've got your six. :)


Thanks everyone. I don't know when I will be able to answer comments again. For some reason, the page load is extremely slow and typically it times out. I'll try again later today though. :)



Carla said...

There comes a point when we all need to rest and rejuvenate. I'm so glad to hear that you know where you belong. Enjoy.

QT said...

chani - even your words sound more peaceful and at rest. I am so glad you went on this trip.

hele said...

This post made me happy.

Anonymous said...

Chani, I am glad that you are able to lay down your arms.

I am excited about your new, peaceful upcoming topics. I, for one, am not a warrior. I need peace just to survive the day to day, and a lot of that is drawn from the strength of others.

Anonymous said...

And I've got yours.

I'm of the mind warriors are always warriors and part of being a warrior is knowing when to go into battle and when to rest, when to offer the sword or the flower.

There is great wisdom in being a tiger laying in the grass between tall trees (or something along these lines), says Amy Tan in "The Joy Luck Club".

And I hear your sound, I know it from the inside.

Carry on, Chani, you carry on. We're all floating down the same river.

Happy you are centering once more. Peace is necessary. Like air.


blooming desertpea said...

I don't know you in person, I just know your thoughts and even if this might be the more important part what I am gonna say may sound strange - but I am immensely proud of you, for fighting against the odds and not having been discouraged by the obstacles that society has put in your way. And if you think/feel it's time to rest - then may you find peace ...

Julie Pippert said...

Chani, it's so bittersweet to read this. I am so glad for you, that you have found what you sought.

How beautiful this is, in all respects.

x said...

Chani: I am very happy for you, that you have your magic place inner and outer, such a rarity in life. I'm not sure in what ways you've been a warrior. I just know I've seen examples of your spitfire spirit and deep well of moral conscience on your blog. While you may lay down your arms, I suspect like psychotherapist that the warrior will always be there albeit transformed, resting, changing tactics, wisely smiling.

niobe said...

What a powerful post.

dmmgmfm said...

I am very happy for you, Chani.

painted maypole said...

oh chani. relax. home.


nina at Nature Remains. said...

One never knows the effect one has had, even if feeling weary and battle-scarred.
Living by your convictions is admirable.

Unknown said...

At least you look at your rage and recognize it as part of who you are. A lot of people never get that far and I think that is what makes it so destructive for them. I am sure that your rage has served you well in some ways. It has probably held you up when you might otherwise have fallen. I hope you can find a way to thank it and let it go. It has served you well and you seem to be out growing it as you did your clothes when you were a child.

peace to you.

JCK said...

This post gave me chills! I am eager to see where this journey takes you.

Anonymous said...

When I was younger, Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man" spoke to me because I wanted to change things like the title character. Now, I realize changing things is much easier without anger.

I am glad you have found peace.


Anonymous said...

I'm so happy and really proud of you, Chani.

thailandchani said...

Carla, there is literally nothing I am more grateful for in my life than knowing where I belong. :)


QT, me too! In more ways than I can possibly describe!


Hele, :)


De, I'm hoping to have some good stuff here, coming up. I'm learning though so it might be a bit scattered for a while. Learning a whole new role and new way of being in the world is a bit of a challenge. :)


Wendy, yes.. the same river. I don't think my warrior spirit will ever leave. It's too ingrained. But I can take on a different direction with it.


BD, thanks. It was one of those "wisdom born of pain" things. My life was getting too painful.. the way it was.


Julie.. thanks. :) I'll find another direction.. and hopefully have something else to share here besides syllables and syllables of rage at the machine. You know?


Tiv, exactly. I'm not going to suddenly end up sitting under the Bodhi tree, dispensing wisdom. I'm still get totally overtaken by samsara.


Niobe, Laurie and PM.. thanks. :) it feels really good!


Nina, thanks.. and thanks for coming by. I look forward to seeing your blog when I get back.


SS, yes... it served as a protective barrier between me and the world. Somehow I could face the world much easier with the fire in my belly. Learning to do it differently will be an interesting exercise.


JCK, thanks. The one thing I know for sure is that it will take me somewhere. :)


Emily, I think I was coming to that point. "The Angry Young Man".. boring as hell. Indeed. :)


Mitzh, thank you :)


Still having some access issues here. I'm up in the middle of the night doing this.. but I will check in again soon.. and come up with a new post. :)


Ian Lidster said...

What a wonderful state to have attained. Bless you.

Amy Y said...

Hey Chani!
I've been catching up with your trip and it sounds like it's going really well ~ so happy for you!!

By the way, I can read your posts on google's reader but when I go to the most recent one to leave a comment, the page refuses to load. So don't think people have forgotten about you!!

Enjoy the rest of your stay back home... :)