bangkok: it's all about the journey
it's cliché . cliché as it gets. it's all about the journey. whether you are interested in self development or you think the self development industry is just a money sucking vampire, you have heard this phrase time and time again.
no matter when or where i am at in life, i have come to find moments of realization, epiphanys, "aha" moments if you will. all sparking change, evolution in thought for my personal being. for example, the phrase "it's all about the journey." since i am driven by self development, phrases like this pass through the corneas of my eyes day in and day out, but do i understand what they truly mean, especially in the moment they are read? do i accept them as truth, do i believe what they truly mean. and if i do believe them as truth, do i allow these phrases to guide me?
for me, "it's all about the journey," sounds great! enjoy the time as it passes and the work that we do to achieve our goals, and not just the goals? that it? i don't know, seems blah, too straight forward. what does it actually mean?
for me, it has been just a phrase for many years that my eyes gloss over, i nod my head in agreement and then move on. it's all about the journey, enjoy the journey, life is a journey and not a destination. they look great painted on distressed wood and hung on the wall. i'm sure etsy has a ton of home decor with phrases like this planted all over them. honestly, i might order one while on my plane ride back home in a few weeks! but without actually understanding the phrase at its core, and allowing it to take over how you live your life, your entire life, they may just demonstrate that you are insanely good spirited and have a good eye for wall art.
from dzongs to wats (bhutanese and thai temples respectively), i was ready to start
meditating now that there was work to be done. compassion. not expecting the present moment to be any different than it truly is.
the grand palace, wat po, wat arun. gold, silver, marble, ruby red, emerald green. statues, chedis (structures of worship/meditation which contain relics), buddhas. and incense and monk chanting (both very important)! there was much to get lost in believe it or not, no matter which sense is your go to.
on my watch, depending on which wat i was vibing, i would measure up the temple as i gracefully approached, with or without my favorite spotify playlist rocking in my ears (or an audio of the chanting monks i had recorded earlier in the trip). after analyzing the wat from top to bottom, smells, sights, tastes, feelies, and sounds, i would remove my shoes, and respectfully enter each buddhist place of worship. game time. meditation for me is getting lost in the moment and attempting to lose any train of thought. this is near impossible for much longer than 10 seconds at times for this amateur, but it is important to remove all judgement, even when you do lose your train of thought. we are human beings for gods sake. as a majority, we have regrets from the past and worry about the future! well, this is what I am attempting to relinquish myself from.
if i was not meditating to remove all thoughts, i was focusing on the two previously mentioned goals. repeating in my mind to create a new, strong habit that compassion is to be my stronghold, no matter what or who may try to influence otherwise. and secondly, to not expect the current moment to be any different than it is, no matter how much pain or joy i may be experiencing. this is not to say i cannot live a life worthy of affecting the future in a positive light for myself and others, but to simply know that how my life currently is, is exactly how it currently is. if i can become blood brothers with this, at the roots of my life and my being, and allow happiness to be the choice i am making, i will be on the path that will continue helping me discover and become my created me.
in between temple hopping, i had pad thai every day, and for less than two dollars american.
breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert? sure...its pretty dam tasty whether you get it from a street vendor or in a restaurant off koh san road for double the price. koh san road is a street given to the backpackers of bangkok. if you fit in that description for a traveler, stay close to koh san road, amazing night life, elephant print clothing laughing gas balloons, ping pong shows (only google if you dare), scorpions on a stick, its got it all and then some.
in addition to all of this, i visited the maeklong railway market and the damnuen sadoak
floating market in terms of tourist sites. honestly, these sites are not must sees, but if you have time and are interested they are fun tourist traps. the floating market is not needed by the thai people like it was in the past, but if you are able to walk around outside of the main tourist area, you can get a vibe of the energy from the days of the past.
before leaving for this trip, and as i began meeting travelers left and right, i was having some anxiety in regards to male counterparts. back at the onion analogy. i don't think i was aware of this anxiety because i had much other work that had to be done mentally in order to make a clear path for this obstacle to surface. it's interesting because as i type this out, i feel like this is possibly an obvious struggle that gay men who were closeted, or i guess even if they had not lived a life in the closet for much, have to deal with. due to the rejection from the church and the hetero-normative/masculine society i was raised in, i feared the truth of my sexuality bleeding out. this has caused many walls which acted as lines of defense to be built in my head as a child/young adult. a defense mechanism i built over time in particular, i have feared heterosexual men (and really everyone) from seeing me the true me. different from fearing heterosexual men, fearing from being fully seen. I think I place a highlight on heterosexual men, because the distinct difference between this group of people in my life and myself was sexual orientation. and because i feared that being different was wrong at a very young age, i did everything i could to be like them. be seen in the way that would be accepted. even if that meant hiding my true being, which meant sexuality, and any part of me that might make someone question my sexuality.
knowing this. being aware of this anxiety i was having, and most importantly understanding its roots, i had more work cut out. when an anxiety surfaces for me, and i understand its roots, i attempt to understand how i can rewrite the script surrounding it. so for example, i am afraid to be seen as myself (sexuality and beyond) in front of heterosexual men, so i tend to hide from any conversations around dating, sex, etc. and any interests of mine that might not be typical for a heterosexual man. knowing this, i want my goal is to create new relationships/friendships with heterosexual men and when dating comes up, or interests that might make someone listening question my sexuality, or feel uncomfortalbe, i must push forward and not hide anymore. i need to be able to continue the conversation, answering exactly to what is my truth, no matter how the person on the other end of the conversation may respond or feel.
pffffff, this is not a fun one. but, i'm not turning this car around, nope. we live in a world today that no matter how someone originally responds, many of the younger generations will approve of the lgbt community, and of the older generations, it can be more of a crap shoot depending on what part of the world you live in among many other variables. luckily for me, with my family and friends i don't seem to have a problem with this no matter the age, merely internal struggle.
so to better myself and my life, i'm trying to rewrite, rewire. i'm attempting to make a new habit of mine in how i react in certain scenarios. ideally i get positive results the first handful of times or so to reinforce the opposite of what i had led to believe for so long. than if a negative response comes, that's ok, because i have positive data. this is an ideal situation, so no matter what i have told my self i'm pushing through. you have to know what your goal is, which is to feel more comfortable in your own skin, losing hesitations you may have from being unapologetically you. that should be the guiding light no matter how others respond.
so it's all about the journey, eh? in my eyes what that truly means...it means that no matter what part of your journey you are on, the cab ride to a temple or work, ordering a water bottle while in 100° f weather in bangkok at a 7-11 or getting a coffee from dunkin' donuts before grabbing the bus downtown, walking with complete strangers to koh san road for a couple of drinks or passing tourists in your big city looking for help. smile. say hi and ask "how are you doing?" to whoever you are interacting with whether it is a grocery store attendant or your tour guide. engage with people you do not know, period. enjoying the moment, is not hesitating to say whats on your mind if you mean no harm to a complete stranger, not being afraid to ask someone you do not know how they are doing and actually mean it, talking to the person sitting next to you and enjoying the 4 hour flight with you, even if it's just for the first two minutes. it is enjoying EVERY part of the journey, even the monotonous ones.
i know there is a spectrum from introverts to extroverts. i am not suggesting everyone has to be an extrovert and put themselves out there. but i think over time, the more aware we become as an individual, the more we are able to shake our insecurities and worries of how we are perceived, then we can do just that. enjoy the journey in the cab ride. enjoy the shoulder to shoulder walk through taste of chicago with laughs and smiles sent back and forth with family and friends even if you hate crowds. we are too trigger ready to complain about a situation instead of just accepting that the present moment we are in, is exactly how it is.
expect the present moment to be exactly as is. enjoy every single part of your journey. make happiness grow at your roots.