Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Puzzle pieces




I don't like puzzles. I'm not big on attention to detail or patience. If my life depended on putting together a puzzle that was even mildly difficult, I wouldn't be long for this earth. Luckily, this situation hasn't come up (yet).



I do however think we are all creating a giant life puzzle. You decide how big, spectacular, detailed and ambitious your puzzle will be. I think that we are always constructing our puzzle and looking for the right pieces to continue building. Our jobs, passions, friends and lovers all are pieces. Some pieces are bigger than others, some fit nicely in while others we have to search for, re-arrange, and put down until the puzzle comes more into focus. As it happens, sometimes wrong puzzle pieces make their way into the box and you can't use them for your amazing puzzle. It doesn't necessarily mean that that puzzle piece isn't great or unique; it's just not in the blueprint for your masterpiece. We sometimes struggle with certain pieces and how they fit into the bigger plan. Trying to fit wrong pieces then eventually finding the right one makes assembly more rewarding. Kind of like my nephew's toy that has different sized holes for different shapes. The triangle just won't fit into the circle hole (trust me).

"There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."

Deepak Chopra


I think we are all puzzle pieces looking for other pieces to make us whole. We spend time with people to try and figure out if and how they fit into our lives and how they can make us better and vice versa. It might take a while to figure out a certain piece doesn't quite fit but that's the fun of making a puzzle. Some pieces fit together instantly while others take time.

Build the biggest most magnificent puzzle you can; it might never be fully complete but it seems like we have been given time to start building. Just make sure you start with the corners.



"The problem is that we always look for the missing piece of the puzzle instead of finding a place for the one in our hand..."

Alina Radoi


Monday, August 11, 2014

Does travel change you?


Does travel change you? It's certainly a theme you hear when people discuss the merits of traveling and life abroad. It's said that travel puts you in situations you wouldn't normally face at home, it forces you to live outside of your comfort zone, you meet people you wouldn't come across in your home town and gives you a glimpse into the lives of others. I can agree that all of those things are true as well as many more but has leaving home and being away for three years changed me? I'm a little skeptical but not so oblivious to think that my adventure hasn't had some impact be it conscious or unconsciously.



“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

The thing about change is that it happens gradually. Just as it takes time to see results after exercising for an extended period, personal growth and development take time. I think the issue I might have is with the word "change". I don't feel like I've "changed" or am considerably different from the Bert who never left North America. That Bert and this Bert still love sports, his circle of family and friends, hanging out and sleeping in. I still love laughing, going out and driving around. I doubt that anyone I'm close with would say a different Bert has returned home. My priorities are a bit different as well as where and what I think I will be doing in 5-10 years but everyone goes through that. Life changes you. Monumental moments change you. I can only imagine what getting married and starting a family would be like. I'm anticipating that to change me for the better. To put other people’s well-being and happiness in front of my own will be a massive change but one that I will welcome. I think people you love dying changes you; it did at least for me when my dad died. That changed me and I'm still not completely sure how but it made me realize this is the only shot we get so we need to decide who and what is important and strive for that. It's also made me want to be an extraordinary father and husband. I'm very excited for that part of my life to eventually start.


 “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
 The thing about change is that it's a very personal thing. An experience that might really hit home with me might not even be worth a second thought to you. Being away exposes you to more opportunities to realize what you like but might not have had access or cared to at home. For example, I had never been on a tropical island before living in Thailand. I wanted to find a secluded beach, sleep in a bungalow for a few dollars a day and sleep my days away. Little did I know that having no one around takes the fun out of it. I learned that even just having a small handful of people around somehow makes the experience better. I also never knew I loved mangos or eating fried chicken with sticky rice for breakfast until that became my reality. I didn't need to move across the world to figure out that I love cashew nut chicken or that I love teaching kids but they were opportunities that I just happened to explore because I was away. If I never would have left I still would love all the new things I love now but I just wouldn't know it. Before leaving I didn't think Asians were that attractive but that changed. Right now I wouldn't put marrying a Mexican woman on the top of my list but I'm sure living there for 4 days would change that.


 "To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark
 The thing about travel is that you learn about you. There are tons of things that I've never tried but I would love doing. I've never knitted anyone a sweater or re-enacted the civil war but maybe one day a Nepalese woman will show me the ropes or that older man at the bar with the costume on will invite me along with him one day. Did travel change the fact that I enjoy these new hobbies or was I merely just exposed to these new pass times? I don't think being away fundamentally changes you. I think of it sort of like in the movie "The Mask" where Jim Carrey comes across a mask that brings out was in already deep inside him. The mask accentuates and amplifies what is already inside. When he puts on the mask he becomes more confident, charming and fun. On the other hand, the evil villain who gets hold of the mask becomes more violent and evil. The mask just exposes what's already there. Travel digs a little deeper under the surface. Kind of like an archaeologist which sort of makes me Indiana Jones. Yeah that analogy works.

 "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
 The one caveat I can think of that I've never experienced is visiting a country or place that has been torn apart by natural disasters, war, famine or drought. I've never visited anywhere I haven't felt safe or worried where my next meal or bottle of water will come from. I can see how having an experience like that would change you and have a profound effect on your future.


While I may have changed in ways I haven't realized yet, there are a few things that I can point to that travel has helped me with. I'd say I'm more confident, happy, open minded and laid back. I'm hopefully more fun, have more stories and I've created new friendships. 
Travel helps you grow, learn and experience. It opens you up to adventure, heartbreak, joy and happiness. I don't think travel has changed me but I do think it has taught me.


 "A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

Being a regular guy

If you missed my last post, let's catch up. http://bertbrandon.blogspot.ca/2014/06/back-in-canada.html?m=1

I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes me different from any other guy I might come across on the street, subway or while at work. After all this pondering I've come to an answer: not much. Most guys like beer? Check. Most guys enjoy the weekend and looking at girls? Check and double check. Love your family, sports, the outdoors, money, laughing, BBQ, sleeping and just hanging out? Welcome to being just another social insurance number. 




Maybe being just another Joe who pays taxes, aspires to have a family and a home isn't the worst fate. Blending in with the crowd, complaining about politics and the weather seem to be working for most people but it just doesn't sit right with me. Maybe I'm wrong, young and short sighted but being just like my neighbours complaining about how the mail is always late on Wednesday afternoons doesn't seem very exciting. For some reason, it doesn't feel great knowing that I'm essentially replaceable in every way to basically everyone who knows me except my mom because she has grown quite fond of me over the years. I am also working under the impression that other people perceive me as just another guy. I'm keenly aware that a certain percentage of people I come across don't get me, think I'm weird, wonder what it is that I'm thinking about while occasionally laughing very loudly at random times. I'm okay with not everyone being on board the Bert train. I have a running joke with one of my friends that 1 in 3 new people I meet will like me. Not a terrific average but if I meet enough people it works itself out. 


So if the issue is that I'm just like everyone else, how do you stand 
out from the crowd and be someone that people meet and
remember because you are remarkable? Wouldn't it be great if I 
was good at writing and thinking and I laid it all out and the answer
 made me feel way better and changed my life? As you might have 
figured out these last three years, that isn't really what takes place 
here. 

I imagine you stand out by being passionate about your day-to-day life. Waking up excited to get out of bed, shower, eat a heathy breakfast and show the world what's up. Wearing clothes that are unique, fun and make you feel confident would also be a nice 
touch. Having a variety of hobbies andworking on developing new skills might set us a part. Embracing change, opportunities and new friendships is a way to step away 
from the crowd. I'm aware that there are people out there who are just killing life right now with productivity, money, women, heath, travel and any other category they want. I just need to find a 
Toronto mentor to show me the path I seek. It has also crossed my 
mind that spending so much time in Thailand being in the extreme minority to living back in Canada where I am just another white guy might add to this feeling of mediocrity.



"By definition, it is not possible to everyone to be above the average."

Jim Collins


http://addicted2success.com/success-advice/how-to-develop-an-allergy-to-average/


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back in Canada




I've been home over a month and I'm not entirely sure my exact feelings about it. A few things stand out:

-Seeing my nephew basically every day, picking him up and dropping him off in the morning and night is the highlight of my post travel days. Cheese, bus, shoe, up, mom, dad.....so cute.

-We Canadians are insanely polite. Not sure I've opened a door since coming back. Run into someone? Don't worry, they'll apologize. 

-I'm fully aware that the majority of people aren't curious or interested when they ask what I do and say I've been away for three years. I get it, most people aren't interested or don't care. It is surprising the people that do care and ask real questions. Not sure what that means. 

-I am happy to be back. I am. I do feel sad more than I thought I would, I feel alone even though I live with my family and have great friends in the city. I don't want to say I don't belong here but I don't feel completely immersed. The thought of spending the next 16 months here doesn't fill me with hope or excitement. I want to love it. Maybe it just takes time.

-I want to explore a foreign country all by myself extremely badly right now. Adventure and new countries has become a new part of who I an.

-I love seeing and hearing Asian people around me speak and not understand. It's wonderful.

-Showering in a real bathtub with my good gels, water pressure and heat is incredible.

-My mom loves me very much.

-I went to see X-Men all alone at the movie theatre. I'm very busy and popular.

-There are tons of beer here.

-Watching hockey and basketball live on tv makes me 
happier than it should.

-We say eh a lot eh?

-Being able to attend Lauren and Abim's wedding was good for my soul.

-I'm not super friendly

-Essentially everyone has more stuff and money than I do.

-I wish I could post more but my life mostly consists of eating cereal, playing with a baby and thinking of Thailand.

-I'm 90% sure I will be living in Bangkok next year. 

-I went to a bar that only played country music and everyone loved it. So did I. 

-Nobody stares at me, gives me attention, calls me 
handsome or cares that I'm white. I'm trying not to take it personally. 


-I am incredibly lucky and grateful to have experienced 
these last three years and hope that this is only the beginning. 


This isn't supposed to come off as negative or me complaining. These are the things that have stood out after being away for three years. If you'd like to let me know what you think you can send me a message, just let me eat my cereal first.



"Sorrow is part of everyone’s lifetime and the consequence of an open and passionate heart"


http://markmanson.net/10-life-lessons-excel-30s


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Time to come home

I’ve been away for roughly over 1, 000 days and I would rate it a tremendous success. Three years passes by in a heartbeat. The main reason I came back is because I applied and somehow managed to get accepted into Teacher’s College to the University of Ottawa. I start school at the beginning of September and will be spending my summer in Toronto, living with my brother, his wife and their extremely cute and well behaved baby that I have quickly fallen in love with. I landed on Friday night and was greeted by my mother who to say the least, is over the moon about her baby being back on the same continent as her. I have already eaten two poutines, received a parking ticket and joined the twenty-first century in finally getting a smart phone. Things are changing.


It feels good to be back. I was fairly sad to leave Thailand, my school and my friends. I love Thailand from the bottom of my heart and have already started to plan my eventual return. The goal of coming home is to become a certified teacher, learn new skills, make more money, continue travelling and work at an international school. It’s great being able to watch sports at a normal hour and have hockey and basketball on the television. I’ve already seen a lot of my family and it is probably good for my heart to reconnect with them. I suppose I will keep writing this summer about what it’s like to be back, what life in Toronto is like and any fun stories that happen to me. I heard and read a lot about reverse culture shock and I’m sure it might be real to some people but in my opinion, this is my home and this is my normal. Yeah things are different abroad but this is what I’m used to and it won’t be hard to get back in the swing of things. I’m making a conscious effort not to complain about anything, not talk too much about the last three years and just move on and have an incredible summer, work hard at school and see what the future brings next year. Thanks for staying informed with my life for however long you have been reading. I enjoy writing and hope to continue to get better and add some sort of value to your day. Have a great summer and message me if you would like to hang out.


PS
Thanks to everyone I've met on this adventure. People over places. To everyone who helped me when they didn't need to, help me find a job, a place or a bike. People who went out of their way to make Thailand manageable, fun and eventually home. Thanks to all the Thai people who let me drink out of their drink, yelled ''HELLO" at me while I was driving, the countless stares in shops and restaurants. Thanks to the doctors for fixing me when I needed fixing, to the random people who helped me fix my flat tires, to the lady who helped me get my name notorized, to the kids I would try to play with and who would instantly cry in fear. Thanks to my two breakfast ladies who fed me consistently for two years and to the lady with the magic fingers that washed my hair. Thanks to all the Thai girls who never talked to me but made it clear that I wasn't the ugliest guy they have ever seen. (Lor mak) Thanks. Thanks to my barber who doesn't know anything about me other than the fact that I'm super lazy and incapable of shaving myself. Thanks for being nice to me and being my friend. I needed it. Thank you.

Bert

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A dash of philosophy





This one is going to be a little different. I recently read a book called "Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain de Botton. I found it really interesting and it really made me think. I certainly think more than I should. I remember being told by Miss Kaitlyn Poisson to "Feel more, think less". I don't think I've been following her advice. I re-read it and decided to write down the parts I enjoyed the most and give my much valued opinion on it. Here we go. Blue writing is from Alain de Botton, orange is from me. 

Happiness, an Epicurean acquisition list:

1-Friendship
“Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.”

Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you eat or drink: for feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf.

I couldn't agree more that friendship is essential in being happy. I believe our lives should be shared and filled with people we love. People over places. It doesn't matter where you go in life, it matters who you have beside you. You could be at the most stunning place in the world but could still feel lonely and want to share that experience with someone. You can also be at the worst dive bar in the world with two of your friends and have the time of your life. People matter but I do disagree that you should be careful who you eat with. I'd much rather eat alone and not have to make small chat. We are there to eat not have a debate about importing or exporting.





2-Freedom

Epicurus and his friends accepted a simpler way of life in exchange for independence. They bought a garden and grew vegetables. 

Simplicity did not affect the friends’ sense of status because, by distancing themselves from the values of Athens, they had ceased to judge themselves on a material basis.

3-Thought

Wealth is of course unlikely ever to make anyone miserable. But the crux of Epicurus's argument is that if we have money without friends, freedom and an analysed life, we will never be truly happy. And if we have them, but are missing the fortune, we will never be unhappy. 

Why, then, if expensive things cannot bring us remarkable joy, are we so powerfully drawn to them?  Because of an error similar to that of the migraine sufferer who drills a hole in the side of his skull: because expensive objects can feel like plausible solutions to needs we don't understand. Objects mimic in a material dimension what we require in a psychological one. We need to rearrange our minds but are lured towards new shelves. 

For Epicurus, most businesses stimulate unnecessary desires in people who fail to understand their true needs, levels of consumption would be destroyed by greater self-awareness and appreciation of simplicity. 

Isn't this a reason people go shopping when they are mad or lonely? Buying things is fun, I will admit that but it doesn't last and should't be a way to cope with stress. Even if you desire an object and save for it, once you own it there will undoubtedly be another thing that you want that we think will make us happy. Living in Thailand has definitely simplified my life. 


File:0 Sénèque - Musée du Prado - Cat. 144 - (2).JPG

Seneca:

Frustration:
At the heart of every frustration lies a basic structure: the collision of a wish with an unyielding reality. 

Anger:
"Anger results not from an uncontrollable eruption of the passions, but from a basic error of reasoning." 

In the Senecan view what makes us angry are dangerously optimistic notions about what the world and other people are like. 

How often do we need to go over this whole expectations issue? If we don't have expectations, we won't be disappointed when the cookies are burnt, the hotel wasn't clean enough or your flight got delayed. No expectations.  

How badly we react to frustration is critically determined by what we think of as normal. Our frustrations are tempered by what we understand we can expect from the world, by our experience of what it is normal to hope for. 

This was one of my favorite parts of the book because it is incredibly true. When you think about it, why are we mad about something? Oh, my helmet got stolen. Ok, so you live in a world where nobody has ever had their helmet stolen? We are also prone to blaming other people when things go wrong. Lately I've just been assuming that any negative thing that might arise in my lie is because of me (that's because all of our actions have a certain reaction to them, we just can't always know what those reactions will be at the time)

"We aren't overwhelmed by anger whenever we are denied an object we desire, only when we believe ourselves entitled to obtain it."  

This might have been my favorite quote in the book. I find it fascinating that people who lived in a completely different era than us can still resonate in the present. Seneca didn't know anything about Google, spring break or all you can eat buffets but he can still have an impact on the way we act and think. Amazing really. 


We will cease to be so angry once we cease to be so hopeful. 

This might sound a bit pessimistic but I definitely agree. We get angry because we expect a certain result or behavior. If we hope for less, it would stand to reason that we might not get so angry. I don't think I get angry very often, I probably did more when I was a kid but now it doesn't seem worth it to get worked up about things. On another note, I taught my class that if you combine angry and hungry which usually happens when you are angry and hungry, we call that being hangry. They loved it.

Because we are injured most by what we do not expect, and because we must expect everything, we must hold the possibility of disaster in mind at all times. No one should undertake a journey by car, or walk down the stairs, or say goodbye to a friend, without an awareness, which Seneca would have wished  to be neither gruesome nor unnecessarily dramatic, of fatal possibilities. 

I try to keep this in mind at times. This could all be over very quickly. We must embrace life and love. We don't know how long we have here so let's try and make it count.

You say: 'I did not think it would happen.' Do you think there is anything that will not happen, when you know that it is possible to happen, when you see that it has already happened...?

Isn't thinking fun? Just sit around and ponder all day. How great. 



Anxiety:

A condition of agitation about an uncertain situation which one both wishes will turn out for the best and fears may turn out for the worst. Typically leaves sufferers, unable to derive enjoyment from supposedly pleasurable activities, cultural, sexual or social. 

Reassurance can be the cruelest antidote to anxiety. Our rosy predictions both leave the anxious unprepared for the worst, and unwittingly imply that it would be disastrous if the worst came to pass. Seneca more wisely asks us to consider that bad things probably will occur, but adds that they are unlikely ever to be as bad as we fear. 

If you wish to put off all worry, assume that what you fear may happen is certainly going to happen. 

What great advice. It works. I think we worry way too much about events that will probably never happen and even if they did, we don't know for sure how that new situation would make us feel. I think of a wife who might want to leave her husband but is afraid of starting over and being alone. One day, she finally has the courage to leave, is no longer around a deadbeat and suddenly feels way better because being alone isn't the worst thing in the world and you can now do whatever you want. I think tons of people would be happier if they just embraced change and did what they thought was right in their heart. Deep down we know what is best for us, we just don't always listen.




Consolation of a broken heart:

Arthur Schopenhauer

Schopenhauer gave a name to a force within us which he felt invariably had precedence over reason, a force powerful enough to distort all of reason's plans and judgements, and which he termed the will-to-life defined as an inherent drive within human beings to stay alive and reproduce. 

It was the will-to-life that drove people to lose their reason over comely passengers encountered across the aisles of long-distance trains. 

The importance of the matter is perfectly in keeping with the earnestness and ardor of the effort. The ultimate aim of all love-affairs...is actually more important than all other aims in man's life; and therefor it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it. 

I'm just going to go ahead and agree with the last part. I'm not convinced about this will-to-life thing just yet.

We are, suggested Schopenhauer, split into conscious and unconscious selves, the unconscious governed by the will-to-life, the conscious subservient to it and unable to learn of all its plans. An exclusion which explains how we may consciously feel nothing more than an intense desire to see someone again, while unconsciously being driven by a force aiming at the reproduction of the next generation. 

"The moment when two people begin to love each other is actually to be regarded as the very first formation of a new individual."

That's cute eh?

The will-to-life is seeking evidence of healthy children. The will-to-life must ensure that the next generation will be psychologically and physiologically fit enough to survive in a hazardous world, and so it seeks that children be well-proportioned in limb and stable of mind. 

The theory of neutralization gave Schopenhauer confidence in predicting pathways of attraction. Short women will fall in love with tall men, but rarely tall men. Feminine men who don't like sport will often be drawn to boyish women who have short hair.  

I'd say being tall helps. Having really great eye-lashes and a dashing sense of style and humor also helps.

A person who is highly suitable for our child is almost never though we cannot realize it at the time because we have been blindfolded by the will-to-life very suitable for us. 

"That convenience and passionate love should go hand in hand is the rarest stroke of good fortune."

The lover who saves our child from having an enormous chin or an effeminate temperament is seldom the person who will make us happy over a lifetime. The pursuit of personal happiness and the production of healthy children are two radically contrasting projects, which love maliciously confuses us into thinking of as one for a requisite number of years. 

I strongly hope that this isn't true. This man also didn't do very well with the ladies so I'm not sure I trust him on this subject.

He had consolation for rejection-the consolation of knowing that our pain is normal. We should not feel confused by the enormity of the upset that can ensue from only a few days of hope. It would be unreasonable if a force powerful enough to push us towards child-rearing could-if it failed in its aim-vanish without devastation. Love could not induce us to take on the burden of propagating the species without promising us the greatest happiness we could imagine. To be shocked at how deeply rejection hurts is to ignore what acceptance involves. We must never allow our suffering to be compounded by suggestions that there is something odd in suffering so deeply. There would be something amiss if we didn't. 


That has to help you feel better.

What is more, we are not inherently unlovable. There is nothing wrong with us per se. Our characters are not repellent, nor our faces abhorrent. The union collapsed because we were unfit to produce a balanced child with one particular person. There is no need to hate ourselves. One day we will come across someone who can find us wonderful and who will feel exceptionally natural and open with us.

We should in time learn to forgive our rejectors. The break-up was not their choice. In every clumsy attempt by one person to inform another that they need more space or time, that they are reluctant to commit or are afraid of intimacy, the rejector is striving to intellectualize an essentially unconscious negative verdict formulated by the will-to-life. Their reason may have had an appreciation of our qualities, their will-to-life did not and told them so in a way that brooked no argument-by draining them of sexual interest in us. If they were seduced away by people less intelligent than we are, we should not condemn them for shallowness. 




Nietzsche

"What if pleasure and displeasure were so tied together that whoever wanted to have as much as possible of one must also have as much as possible of the other...you have the choice:  either as little displeasure as possible, painlessness in brief....or as much displeasure as possible as the price for the growth of an abundance of subtle pleasures and joys that have rarely been relished yet? If you decide for the former and desire to diminish and lower the level of human pain, you also have to diminish and lower the level of their capacity for joy."

I'm of the opinion that great pleasure goes hand in hand with displeasure. Everything we have we will eventually lose. I'd much rather have high highs and low lows then always be in the middle. Some people like the middle but I think it's important to feel as much as possible. We don't decide to "feel" being sad, we are just sad. We don't think "Ok, now I'm angry". Our emotions don't work like that.

 I hope you can find one part of this post to think about and hopefully make you feel better about some aspect of your life. I have essentially have the next seven weeks off so I will try to write more but I usually say that and don't so let's not play games. I wouldn't..........expect.....much from me (get it? Because earlier we talked about expectations....yeah you get it)



"Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us. Not everything which hurts may be bad"



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Don't be greedy


 http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_CNRDiW7_t8A/SfJTwe94y3I/AAAAAAAABpU/_DhCM83daN0/s320/money-lifestyle-greed.jpg
5 weeks! It apparently has taken me this long to get into the 2014 writing swing of things. I apologize. I know you pay good money to read my thoughts and this won’t happen again until I decided that I will stop writing all together. Since my last post, I have triumphantly returned to Thailand because getting a full-time job in Hong Kong proved a bit more difficult than expected. I had a great time there and understood what my day-to-day life would be like. The high cost of living and having to make a whole new set of friends was also a factor. You should absolutely check it out but six weeks was a good amount of time and I saw a decent amount of Hong Kong. I thought about whether to stay or to come back more than almost any other decision I have ever made in my life. The minute I was on the flight back to Thailand and saw Thai people speaking Thai and wai-ing each other, I knew I made the right choice.  Within 10 days I had a new job at a new school in Nakhon, have a temporary place to live and couldn’t be happier about being back.
 http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-kNeBWjRl42E/T1q_KLort8I/AAAAAAAACig/LnSJzDaY0CY/s320/Charming-Thai-Wai-Greeting.jpg

Returning to this Bangkok Shutdown protests has been fascinating. This is just a great place to live. I was taking my class to the computer room about 3 weeks ago when I heard cheering, kids screaming and whistles blowing. After we got downstairs, there were kids everywhere, random people with huge flags and whistles who were trying to shut down our school. It does not take much to shut a school down here. There were probably less than 20 people but as anyone who has ever shut down a government school before, all you need are some flags and whistles. We ended up missing the next two days of school which I was very distraught about. I don’t want to bore you with the politics of it all but basically there are red shirts in the north that support the government and yellow shirts in the south who think they government is corrupt (can you imagine?). I live in the south so I’m essentially on whatever side won’t get me murdered.
“You guys protesting something?”
 “Yeah the government, what about you?”
 “Ummm yeah, I hate the government too, let’s all be friends!”
All of the districts didn’t vote on Sunday so now they have to wait for those areas to vote and it looks like none of this will be solved for a long time. I just hope I don’t miss more school.. 


I haven’t given any life thoughts lately so I thought I would give you a quick one. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about not being greedy. I’m extremely happy to be back in Thailand but things are by no means perfect. My $15 phone I’ve had for over two years is being kept together by blue duct tape. I’ve been paid once since the middle of October. I am making less money now than I was when I first got here. I am currently computer and family-less (my own family that I have made, I understand I have a 'real' family). Are these things to complain about? Probably not. Even if I was making more money, I’d still want more. Even if I had a better phone, I’d still want to upgrade it. Even if I had a cute baby girl, I would just want a boy after that. There are only a handful of things I would change about my life right now if I could and those things might not even make me happy in the long run. I think that it is important that we are grateful for what we have and understand that at no point will buying one more thing or going one more place will leave us completely satisfied.
Let's play a game. Let's say I could give you anything in the world right now that would make you completely happy, what would it be? Think about it....I return in one month, are you still completely happy? What if I told you I could do it again? How long would it last this time? And this is with giving you things that you probably couldn't accomplish quickly on your own. And we are trying to buy happiness with things that are within our reach? Not likely.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to improve our lives. Of course we should try to get a better job if it would fulfill us to a greater degree but not just because you can finish your new basement. Don’t break up with your boyfriend just because you found a better looking one. Be happy that you can use your eyes to read a book or use your ears to listen to music. Be happy that you have a friend would will listen and eat dinner with you. Be happy that you can walk up and down the stairs or that you can go outside and breathe fresh air. Be grateful that your parents put up with you and raised you to the best of their abilities (thanks mom!) Life is too short to always be searching for more and not being content. Life is good. It really is. Sometimes it is easy to forget that. Be grateful.


 




















“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” 
-Epicurus


Article: http://markmanson.net/shut-up-and-be-grateful



Ted Talk about being grateful:
http://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful.html