chiang mai: letting go
letting go. i can only speak from my own personal experience, but i have to imagine that this applies across the board, to the majority of beings ever to exist. letting go in life is a hard concept to not only become aware of as a struggle, but then to rewire and overcome. it took me until the age of 31 to become mentally strong enough to not only begin the process of allowing myself to be okay with letting go, but then to continue moving forward in a direction that is best for me, subsequent to relinquishing that which does not serve my best interests.
with receiving value in myself and the knowledge that "everything is going to be ok" a few months back, i have made some decisions in my life, taken some masive action that requires myself to work on this reigning "heavyweight champion" mental muscle. a mental muscle
that has weighed in time and time again, knocking out any opponent which stood into the ring which came equipped with "my personal truth." but when it came down to the final rounds, i never was able to make a decision that was for the best of me in a long term, career oriented, life molding kind of way. the inability to let go of one thing, relationships in general or in specific ways, a sport that i have dedicated years to, a mental process that has served me at younger years but no longer has a purpose...the reigning champion always got the ko.
why is this a common struggle for human beings? let me actually ask, why has this been a struggle for me? that way i can feel comfortable and confident in my answer since it is in regards to my life and not a generalization.
my personal opinion. when i was closeted, i did everything i possibly could do to hide myself and in turn, all my energy was expended creating and developing a false identity. during this time, i chose music, sports, clothing, what to laugh at, what to get nervous about, how to speak. i chose all this based on observing heterosexual, male counterparts, analyzing how they moved and operated, and then mimicked in order to fly under the radar, not be seen for who i truly am. no question, there were some interests of mine at my core that aligned with what i observed, so those were easier to swim in. but many, did not. it's a venn diagram to bring us back to our grade school days. but to be fair to myself, most of it was observed and copied, and did not come from the soul (whether or not i knew what a soul was til about a year ago is a completely different story).
so, this being true, i found comfort living in anxiety. anxiety by my definition, without looking into what webster has to say: an emotional state caused by living a life that is not yours. in some sort of vicious cycle, i was living learned behaviors, giving me approval by the heteronormative society i was surrounded by. i ran in this direction from as early as 10 years old and passed the days of coming out at the age of 22. at this point, i did begin to trot on the road of acceptance, but i was still trying to understand how to operate my life completely opposite from what i knew, constant anxiety continued to exist.
based on many many many circumstances and variables, truthfully this anxiety existed up until somewhere between 6 months and one year ago. at which point, as mentioned previously, i gained enough value in myself and faith in the unkown to make one of the biggest life changes i have ever made. leaving the family business to find my soul and follow my truth. i have let go of things in the past. my career path after graduating with an undergraduate degree in accountaing and passing the CPA in 2010. coming out in 2011 and beginning to let go of my old self, a flase identity. friendships as time has passed and as people have continued onto their personal journey through life. but this one was different. it came with a sense of confidence and excitement that i have never felt in my entire life.
traveling, especially solo and with the goal of meeting others, is a true and blue way to confront any inability, fear of letting go. you meet people at a hostel, take tours together, develop a deep connection that may take years back at home. you party a night or two together with these new souls you have met, letting loose and feeling an energy of liberation that is hard to discover in a routine at home. and then, all of a sudden, you move on to your next destination. you part ways with individuals who you began to share your personal journey with, and receive theirs. you became vulnerable to a level you were not aware was possible, and now you have to say goodbye. well, make the right decision and say "see you soon." we are definitely lucky in today's world with where technology has advanced to. anyone you meet in life is literally only one message away from reviving that connection, feeling that energy. it may not be the exact same level of energy as when traveling, but it is not entirely lost.
with meeting a handful of great backpackers in bangkok, and bouncing off each other's
energy (whether or not i spoke their language or they spoke great english, energy is from within) i began to physically feel a challenge approaching within my body. as mentioned, this guy is not great at being able to let go. guess what, time to step it up. get some social media contacts, squeeze hard on the hugs, and say my 'see you soon's because it's time to rewire.
was this easy? not easy, but not hard. when you are faced with a challenge and you have no options, you have to accept it and move on. letting go of great people and bangkok, time for some chiang mai action!
in the early evening i hopped on a sleeper train, which is nice cause it doubles down as a payment for an overnight stay, and met my bunk bed bud for the trip, niklas from cologne, germany. a stand up deutsche, who
L O V E S stats, youtube, documentaries...information. i could sit with him on an overnight sleeper train and become medically certified to perform a lobotomy, and i think that's actually what happened! he works for the purchasing department of rewe supermarket chain in germany, the frozen meats section i believe. awesome, i just quit my job at a german rooted meat market based in chicago, making weisswurst, kassler chops, kaiser spec, smoke thuringer, currywurst, and on and on, let's hash it out!
chatting, eating, reading, journaling, the time spent traveling within SE Asia goes fairly quickly for me. landing in chiang mai early in the morning, nik and i found a hostel for $3 american. sure, let's save some bucks for beers later on! got some brekkie together, walked around a bit and then decided to split ways for now as we had different agendas at the moment.
chiang mai is a beautiful city, no doubt about it. felt like thailand, tasted like thailand, was smaller than bangkok and not as busy. what was nice about chiang mai however, is that in addition to the pad thai, fried rice, crispy roti, lady boys, english brekkie, and buddhist wats (temples) galore, i got to experience a bit of additional touristy adventures.
after a full day of sight seeing, the germans i met at the hostel (in addition to nik), went out for dinner as i went to check out some thai boxing. ranging literally from 12 years old til about mid 20s, and both female and male matches going on for the next 2.5 hours, i was kept busy for the evening. crazy to see the youngins fight, but when they literally hug in between each round showing their friendship, i decided i didn't have to be as drunk as originally thought to watch. muay thai boxing, it's a thing, tonight's event was a must and glad i got to see some agression thrown down on the mat while i was on this trip that at times was full of butterflies and rainbows.
waking up early the next day, it was time to visit with some animals...thai elephants! as we got on the van to approach our ginormous friends, a few new adventurers were added to our team making it 7 tourists in total. a sweet french lady with the given name of irene plotted next to me on the bus. let the souls begin to analyze. within a few minutes of prodding around each other's lives on our personal backpacking trips and then deeper into our lives at home, it was pretty obvious our energy lined up and we were going to be buds for this elephant scrub down. if i am not mistaken, irene is a therapist at a nursing home of sorts, caring for individuals with alzheimer's and dimentia. hearing about her job was super interesting, especially understanding the humor they are able to find in conjunction with the patients on a constant basis and the thought of individuals with similar abilities living and breathing together in the same space. i remember once being told that stds are at their highest rates in nursing homes. irene, this true? great idea to question this, if you can only imagine where that conversation went for the next half hour :).
getting to the main women of this excursion, our elepha-ladies. i wish i remembered their names, but we shall call them the 3 stooges! it was an absolute privilege to spend the day with the stooges. feeding them, taking them for a hike, and bathing them! they never, ever, stopped eating. whether it was by our hand or their trunk while going on a 10 minute hike that lasted 2 hours, their appetite is incredible! if my memory serves me correct (an elephant never forgets :P) they do not have the most efficient digestive system. so, they poop often and intake more food than one would think due to their inability to retain the nutrients they are digesting. i may be wrong on this but just take it as gospel!
feeding them, cuddlinging with them, and bathing them with hammered down bark, was surreal. sounds crazy, and i am crazy so this sentence should not surprise you, when i was with them, i felt like i was in another dimension of time. i was removed of all worries of the future and regrets of the past! two possible reasons for this. a) living in the now is extremely foreign to my current person, so the now seems so inconceivable to me. b) there are other dimensions past the now that i am stepping into. ahhhhh, i am going to say its more a than b, but there is definitely plausibility for more dimensions to exist out there that some of us are currently unable to fathom.
this visit will go down in johnny b history as one of the coolest experiences i have ever done. thank you to the 3 stooges for helping me connect with more of nature than realized was possible. hope you enjoyed the scratches behind the ear, caues i sure loved wading in your poop infested pond! :P
ability to let go. traveling, solo if possible, helps develop this one hundred percent, especially if you are aware of developing this ability to let go within, as you are traveling. creating meaningful and deeply connected relationships is an amazing gift that we have in life. seek and find, create these relationships without fear. it's not easy to do at first for some, but this is how life is supposed to be. learn to let go, learn that comfortably letting go can become a habit for us to realize, and truly is a part of life.
for me, being a closeted gay man has created this strong ability to hold onto things longer
than needed. despite being full of anxiety and insecurity, through these relationships that i could not depart from, i felt comfortable. i knew how to operate in this mess, and had been doing so for years. i could swim, backwards, upside down, with my mouth open, in an acidic pool, and i would come out of it with a smile on my face (and no teeth) like absolutely nothing is wrong.
time to change. awareness, check. how does it serve me? not to well, hinders me from speaking and living my truth. what to do? surround myself with those who are willing to help me develop. while traveling, with a revolving door of relationships being built, practice. practice. practice.
The more you take a chance and share your story with those you do not know, the more opportunities you are creating to get the love you need to accept it. to accept you, through and through. not just 88% which, yes, is a good start, but all the dam way.
embrace your struggle, be vulnerable and share your life. gain the security you need and then you will create the space to move on and let go.
travel often, near or far. be vulnerable. live with no regrets of the past and no worries of the future. live in the now.