Defenders of the world we make believe in – 5th February 2020

This morning’s breakfast was interrupted by a special cat delivery of a small baby bird. Once extracted from her mouth the bird attempted to fly away but couldn’t get too far. Some missing feathers, some blood and maybe a broken wing. Better the delivery was already dead. Now we will guiltily try to nurse this baby back to health or comfort it to it’s demise.

When bleeding lizards and frogs are delivered we simply throw them back in the long grass. What makes us more sympathetic towards some animals over others? In the same way meat eaters think it’s disgusting to eat cats and dogs. Why I can justify eating fish to myself?

On returning home in the afternoon, the baby bird had indeed demised. The killer (pictured above in gentler days) strutted around oblivious to Amy’s admonishments and sadness. It was dinner time. “Feed me!”

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be able to see the sun rise over the hills. This morning I videoed it for a couple of minutes. It was beautiful.

Kill confusion by killing options – 4th February 2020

Most disputes are a waste of time even if you’re in the right….

– Haters blog post by Paul Graham

I can recall a thousand arguments I thought I’d won, “That showed them!” Only now to realise I had lost.

Some people start arguments for an unknown reason. Why do we bite at it? Sometimes it’s something we just know we can easily win. An opportunity to show intellectual superiority. What did that achieve in the end?

Sometimes people just sound argumentative perhaps not eloquent enough to express themselves any other way. Being able to defuse situations like that takes a special skill, worth practicing.

Some people don’t argue at all and start with a closed fist. They didn’t like the way you looked. The air sizzles with violence. Mostly recognised from younger days, too old to be a threat to anyone now surely.

Another option often chosen is to simply run away from it, waiting until calmer heads prevail. But what if it didn’t come?

I hate arguing, it’s a waste of time and energy. That doesn’t mean I won’t stand up for what I believe to be right and true but those opportunities rarely actually appear in life. Most arguments are petty and ultimately inconsequential. So the aim is not to win or lose but to just not waste time.

I’m sick of emotions always tearing me inside
Watching things crumble, letting all things slide
A very temporary waste of time
Is there really such a thing as a waste of time?

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my medicine. I didn’t realise I didn’t take it yesterday and I felt pretty down most of that time. Only realised this morning when I found the tablet on the bench!

If you can fool yourself, you can fool anyone – 3rd February 2020

I have all the character strengths I need at my disposal but there are some I need to practice more and improve.

Perspective: Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others.

I see myself on a journey where the destination is wisdom and contentment. My challenge is to acquire these attributes before I die. My default assumption is that everyone else is on the same journey whether they know it or not. Many have already met their challenge whilst others are still travelling. So I sometimes find myself being able to provide counsel for others and other times go in search of that counsel myself.

Social Intelligence: Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.

This is one I really need to practice more. I have gotten better at this since I was in my 20s but even now I just avoid social situations if I feel they don’t suit me. This is slightly compounded by being in Thailand where some situations may mean I’m the only English speaker or there may be myself and one other English speaker, almost forcing us to be socialable with one another. Then there are other times I may only be surrounded by other teachers, where our only connection is our profession and conversation devolves into complaining about our schools, which becomes unproductive and boring. Finally, there’s the rest of the ex-pat community who I generally remain suspicious of, mostly through negative experiences when around them previously. Well, I guess it’s a fertile ground for improvement at least. Must push myself. (Today I just want to shut down and sleep.)

Spirituality: Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

I believe life ultimately has no meaning so we must give it our own meaning somehow. These days I am doing a lot of thinking around all these ideas but it is becoming time to put things into action (shaping my conduct).

I remember one time when I was working at the check outs in a supermarket and a regular customer I would chat with was contemplating out loud what the meaning of everything was, to which I responded that life is pointless. She readily agreed but we understood each other that this was a motivation for giving it meaning rather than giving up on it. I have definitely changed my view on this over the years. When I was younger, with lots of time ahead of me, I sometimes thought life was pointless so just gave up on trying to do anything. I’m questioning this statement even as I write when I consider all the many things I actually achieved during that time. But no matter, those negative thoughts were in my mind.

Kindness: Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.

Sometimes I don’t give myself enough acknowledgement for doing this. I perhaps consider kindness as being normal so forget to account for it. But there are definitely other times when I think back to times when I could have been kinder and offered to help someone with something that they were doing, rather than concentrating on my personal tasks.

Teamwork: Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one’s share.

I wonder if this characteristic is an issue for most only-children? I’ve learned to rely and depend on myself, even more so having been raised by a single parent. I do prefer working alone but also happy to be part of a team so long as instruction is clear and meaningful. When part of a plan doesn’t make sense I just won’t do it. Perhaps I am sometimes thought of as cantakerous because I am not afraid to speak my mind. See next point!

Prudence: Being careful about one’s choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

Me and my big mouth.

If you’re led around by your nose
You’ll never get to see how the garden grows.

Cool hidden cafe. On the edge of Burma.

I am sometimes good at doing these things but often get wrapped up in myself too much instead. Perhaps people who know me would be surprised at these choices; perhaps they would see me differently. That would be nice to know but ultimately there’s only me that has to live with my thoughts. Only me that can think, and then act, my way to improvement.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to be invited for a bike ride by Boyan this morning. I was quite surprised. I think he feels a little more comfortable to talk with me now. I’m happy if he feels that way.

From the ground and in the air, it’s a fabulous spectacle – 2nd February 2020

Oh! I went riding around in the hills and valleys again today and I savoured every minute of it. The cool morning air countered the sun and heat, the sky white with mist and smoke, though thankfully not the thick cancerous smoke that will soon be with us every day until rainy season. Every paradise humans have found required a garbage dump.

I’m surprised I’m energised this morning after a 7 hour drunken sleep, woken somewhere in that time by Indian indigestion. I guess the two coffees kick-started me well enough so as soon as I got back from the cafe I hopped on the bike, no destination in mind.

The locals stare curiously at this white-haired monster screaming through their quiet village daily life but return the big smiles I beam at them. Spread the love. I get stuck behind what may have at one time been a truck but has been mangled into a new form so as to navigate its territory. On the back, two old uncles cling on to the stack of metal merchandise, though one is drunkenly singing and dancing to the traditional Thai folk music blasting from the rigged up PA system. The audio system far more important than the vehicle, which drops bolts and parts to the ground as it bounces around. It’s just turned 10 am.

Finally, I turn off and deeper into the hills through dirt tracks, some familiar, others new to me. Besides the divots and bumps, sleeping dogs must be navigated, their nerve holding much longer than mine.

Eventually, time to turn back, sore butt yet soaring thoughts. For brief moments in time it is wonderful to be alive. Let’s seek them out.

Suitably invigorated I set about the task of finally moving the stack of bricks that has been sitting in the middle of the garden for the past two years. They had become so familiar that they were practically invisible now. Every now and then I would be reminded by the cats sitting atop the stack, surveying the garden, waiting for birds to fly into their mouths.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the garden and half the clothing I used to wear has decomposed, my sweat probably had eaten through the fabric. Stacking 12 blocks at a time into the wheelbarrow I soon regretted not having gloves but whatever, time to toughen up these dishwashing hands again.

Nearer the bottom of the stack, I started to notice discarded snakeskins so thought to be a little bit more cautious, particularly as the blocks have 3 deep pockets through them. And finally, in the bottom of the pile, a small shy snake tasting the air with its tongue from within one of the pockets.

I carefully removed all the other blocks, keeping a good eye on the snake in its home. At one point it decided to make a break which gave me chance to capture a photo which I could get an ID for the snake later on Facebook. The snake exchanged one pocket for another as there was nowhere else safe to go, just open spaces around.

I figured I’d give it some time to chuff off on it’s own accord but then realised the nearest place of solitude was in our room where Amy teaches. Not the best option. So it was, pockets facing away I carefully picked up the whole block and chucked it over the fence into the deep scrub and long grass outside. Situation dealt with.

Godspeed….

Through the Facebook group, I discovered the snake was a highly venomous Thai spitting cobra. In our ignorance of its existence until this day our cats and I had been lucky and likewise, today this shy, delicate yet deathly dangerous beast let our relationship end without grief. I just hope our relationship has ended permanently.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful at my ability to bounce back and be positive again. I remember a time a minor thing would play on my mood for many days.

My war, you’re one of them – 31st January 2020

“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on—it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.18.5b

I’ve never been a manly man. Well, I say that, though I can remember trying to be one from about ages 11-14. Then I started getting bullied a bit at school and realised I wasn’t ever going to be a strong boy physically.

Not me but you get the idea…

I retreated into my mind but taking resentment and bitterness there. I filled myself with seething hatred for everything around me, confusing what I considered personal injustice with larger injustices of the world. Everything was against us. It was us and them, whoever us was and whoever they were.

I dove head first into the moshpits of punk rock. Besides my mother, punk really was a rock for me to hold on to. Sometimes I clung too tight but eventually I found my way.

Justice and fairness are still amongst my top character strengths, thankfully along with curiousity and gratitude – those two came later.

These days I’m trying to calm my mind to bring some inner peace but the tunes of yesterday still rattle around from dawn to dusk. This inner noise is it’s own sort of peace, it’s familiarity calming, the anger gone.

Man is spelt big M.A.N. it’s the letters of the law,
Man is spelt big M.A.N. that’s who the law is for.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the supportive teachers around me. They have helped me cover a lesson today and it was easy to stand once I found the right person to talk with.