What To Do? – 5th August 2021

Son, I learned a lot of lessons in life
I should pass them on to you
But you don’t want to listen to me
Too old to know what you go through
*You’re going to learn things the hard way
That’s how I learned them too*
One day, you too will realise this
And then you’ll also wonder what to do

*pinched from Drive Like Jehu’s ‘Caress’

Teacher, teacher – 8th June 2021

When everyone laughs at you
It’s best to laugh along too
Don’t let things affect you so
Stand upright to any blow
Strength’s applied when nothing done
It’s not a game that must be won
Take it with a pinch of salt
It’s not really anyone’s fault
Emotions tug at simple minds
The simple comes in many kinds
Our reactions were never taught
Perhaps that’s something that we ought
To teach our kids in schools
Give them these important tools
Inner peace and satisfaction
As opposed to angry passion

Twenty years ago, saw a friend walking by and I stopped him on the street to ask him how it went – 16th February 2020

There’s a vast difference between the habit of getting by, and the habit of getting better.

This switch from the old way was easy of course, because in the meantime I’d become an adult—I’m running a far more capable system, I just hadn’t thought to update the software.

– Raptitude newsletter

As I sit writing this at lunch time, I am surrounded by 40 children in the classroom, running back and forth, banging tables, experimenting with musical instruments, attempting homework or chewing on sugary candies. Each shouting over each other to be heard, some making fun, some making fists, some making affections. Some dance, some pull faces, some expressing themselves quietly in their own minds before releasing a new found energy burst that no one cares to notice.

Why can’t I practice this now? Where did my time go? Why does the weight of responsibility bear down on me now? Why do we grow up and what does it mean?

There’s a balance to be found somewhere within your own personal timeline. Do not close the mind off, do not become the old fogey that doesn’t understand the kids today and complains that the music isn’t what it used to be. You’ve had your turn, so what are you going to do now?

You need to upgrade your software. The hardware will continue to fail at a more rapid rate and software is the only way to deal with this problem. Otherwise you will become redundant and end up dusty on a garage shelf, waiting for recycling one day.

Forever entropy

I got by for a long time. Instead of doing proper software upgrades I tinkered randomly and blindly with the code. I put them off for as long as possible in a vain effort to maintain an ideal of youth. But youth is clumsy, ugly, grasping for meaning in a darkened room, grasping for skin in a passion of tears.

The light at the end of the tunnel ever approaches – we know one day we will see the light. Let’s get better – this is no time to be getting by.

……and all he did was cry
I looked him in the face, but I couldn’t see past his eyes
Asked him what the problem was, he says “Here is your disguise”

I love it, I hate it, I love it, so how about you? – 9th January 2020

I am a masochist. I am completing a test.

I’m sitting here in a hot classroom with about thirty 10 and 11 year-olds dancing, screaming, shouting, crying, punching, singing, banging doors and hanging out windows. And this is on a good day.

But it is a good day. I am in the zone. I can hear and see the cacophony whirling around me, can feel the rush of air as little ghosts dash past. But I don’t notice it. Is this what a meditative state is like? I don’t know (yet).

I sat and listened to a meditation the other night. It had some special name and special components; it was interesting but made me very anxious. After relaxing into a quieter state you had to imagine yourself climbing a steep hill and huffing deeply, gasping for air. OK, I can imagine that. But this went on for what felt like 5 minutes. Huff huff. I wasn’t sure if I wasn’t getting too much air, or too little. Huff huff. I felt dizzy. Huff huff. Nauseous. Huff huff. Anxious. Huff huff. Muscles wound tight, I tensed my stomach, itched my arms and kicked my legs. Fuck this.

Of course, I understand the purpose and I’ll check this again – maybe in a morning, before I’ve had any coffee. The feeling of reaching the top of a mountain after extreme exertion will always have a relaxing satisfaction. It’s a long journey. Next time.

I’m jealous of those who enjoy the benefits of meditation and it’s not that I don’t think I can do it. I fill my time with many things and meditation hasn’t found it’s way onto that list quite yet. Well, it is on the list, but never ticked.

Recently I have been able to tick a lot of things though and I’m quite proud of that. Everything around is about a challenge at the moment. A challenge of change. I’ve pondered if I’m having my mid life crisis now. I think I had a minor one when I was about thirty but on reflection it doesn’t seem like it was that critical. I want to get that long story written down one day, perhaps just so I can still remember it or enjoy it again when I’m going senile. Who knows when that will be.

If I can tick off some little challenges and form some good habits out of them I think they will prepare me for the bigger challenges that may be ahead. The unexpected challenges, the ones that you don’t realise are messing with your head and your happiness. I’m looking for better reactions and outcomes as I know I am sometimes my own worst enemy. I want to change.

I’m in a place right now that I consider a little precarious.

Moving from Australia to Thailand didn’t feel like much of a big deal and I have been particularly happy since making this move. No longer being in such a financial struggle has allowed lots of spare time to read, listen to music, write and learn more about myself. I have never needed to be surrounded by lots of people to maintain happiness and now I am far away from those that I have made friends with around the world. So, no big deal, I can make new friends here in Thailand.

But here’s the rub. I’m very conscious of some of the nefarious reasons that people come to live in Thailand, and how many Thais can exploit that. I didn’t come here to get sidetracked with other people’s ridiciulous dramas. That rules out getting involved with the more visible of the English speakers where I am. Those people make themselves known.

I understand the comfort those people find drinking, gossiping and fornicating together. In a different time I would’ve happily joined in. I don’t want to judge them too harshly. I just don’t want to be around them.

Now, myself not being the most outgoing person in the world, I am struggling a little bit because I would at least like the opportunity to make connections with more people. Not superficial acquaintances but connections like I have made in the past.

I can now look back at the feelings my ex from Japan had as she found it difficult to maintain friendships in Australia with her fellow countrymen as the nature of migration is most often temporary (not made easier by some countries inhospitable attitudes towards migrants).

Now I find myself with similar feelings.

I am attempting to connect as much as I can digitally and I am mostly happy in my little kingdom at home but outside those gates is starting to become a little scary and precarious. I feel like the rug could be pulled away at any time without any hope of control.

I started to think more about this because I set myself a challenge to talk to a stranger every day. That’s when I realised that I am the stranger now. Whilst I can communicate with a Thai person on a superficial level it can rarely go deeper, rarely connect.

Otherwise I rarely see any other foreigners where there is an opportunity to talk but now it is in my mind. I tell the students here that they should run up to any foreigner they see and just start talking. Now, I have to tell myself to do that. It may be nothing…. No, it will never be nothing – there will always be something gathered from that challenge.

A friend may not be made; a connection may be forged; but a lesson will always be learned.

Now, I really should get back to studying some Thai.

Can you tell me
What it is?
Does it hurt you
When I do this?

I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it too
I love it, I hate it, I love it, so how about you?

Can you tell me?
‘Cause I don’t know
Why don’t you tell me
Why is it so
Confusing?

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that I can think through things better than I could before. Even though I haven’t been severely tested yet, every little piece of learning is helping to prepare me for any difficult situations in the future.

Every everything – 7th December 2019

It’s taken me more than a year and a half to recover!

When I returned from the CELTA training course I found my brain had changed.  I seem to flip between data driven thinking and artistic thinking and often cannot find a good balance.  The training was very linear and intensive (as it should be) and on reflection now, some 18 months later, was easier to complete than I imagined beforehand and during.  The pressure to achieve was very high but that pressure mostly came from within.  Now, I realise that I can turn my hand to anything if I wish to.

Of course, the circumstances since the training have mostly helped me arrive at this conclusion.  First I started doing some free teaching with students from the local university.  This gave me a little self confidence though I was often shocked at the students poor language levels, in the language they are studying for their degrees, whatever the subject.  I can suggest to myself that I could probably easily complete a degree at the university here purely based on the fact I can use the language fully.  Anyway, that’s by the by for now as I’m not really considering that as an option at the moment.

After a few months kicking around and enjoying much free time I ended up working with Grade 5 students at a nearby provincial school.  I have a million stories from there, many which I would like to forget.  I soon discovered the crazy dysfunction in the education system here.  If it’s obvious to me, an unqualified teacher starting their first job then the system must be pretty poor.

I don’t intend to tarnish the education system as a whole as that would be unfair.  The circumstances I was in influenced a lot of my impressions and I try to understand that what I saw was not indicative of other places.  It was, however, the belief of many others teaching here that things are not much better elsewhere in the country.  There are a million reasons for this and books could be filled trying to explain.  The main down side for me was that I felt that I was unable to do a good job and provide useful learning for the students a lot of the time.  I hate doing a bad job – especially when eventually someone else is going to suffer for it.  So that was the other down side – watching willing students deal with the inadequacies of the system which lead to inconsistency in almost everything.  Frustrating beyond belief.

Beyond that though I have found myself with a passion and love for the students that has made me incredibly happy.  It’s a job that I really love to invest my time in and to go to work to do it.  I’ll talk more about this in future.

Just a short one this time as I push myself to get back into this.

“Every heartbeat, every movement, every moment, every sigh.”

Gratitude Journal

I am so grateful and happy to go to school on Friday, which was hard as I had been sick this week and had a bad experience on Monday. The kids also drove me crazy and made me quite angry but I survived and talked to Kru Noon about strategies to get them to listen more. I will take her advice and try this next week!

We got that attitude! – 21st November 2019

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful to myself because I have slowly learned how to improve myself, to feel contented most of the time and to enjoy the little things in life. I’m grateful I have continued to grow and learn. I have had to change the way I think and behave over the years so that I have been able to find some peace. I can’t imagine being alive if I hadn’t made those changes.

Watch out for the spiders of compulsion – 6th February 2018

As it was in 1994, my year of change is marked by death.  Then, it was my best friend Steve.  Steve would have been the first person I would turn to in times of sadness and self-doubt when trying to settle in Australia.  Now, it is my mother.

This is a bigger cultural change, a deeper more emotional challenge, moving to Thailand.  I wanted to share it with my mum and listen to her advice.  I know what her advice would be but I would still like to have heard it from her own mouth.  I will stay strong, continue to make her proud.

This afternoon I have a Skype interview for the CELTA course (English teaching) in Chiang Mai.  I have done one of these interviews before in Sydney and was accepted to do the course but that time I was under no pressure and was fairly relaxed about everything and I ended up not taking the course at that time.  This time I am more worried.  This is something I need once I get to Thailand so that I can find work legally there.  I am also, obviously, not in a particularly bright and cheery mood.

These days are dragging now,  I’m getting impatient to take my next steps.  Why can’t I relax, take everything in my stride, enjoy the free time?  I often seem to be striving for the next thing, constantly on the move.

The fear of numbered days makes them pass too swiftly.

You fight for your life
Held back by fear of falling
You fight for your life
Held back by fear of feeling
You fight for your life
Held back by fear of freedom
Your only fear
The fear of freedom