“The things we see are the same things that are within us. There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.” ― Hermann Hesse, Demian
Greetings from Bangkok! It's 1:30 am here and I'm wide awake in the midst of a rain and a great lightning and thundering show. A monsoon makes me feel very close to nature -- a native in the middle of the endless high rises of this cosmopolitan city. The monsoon arrives two months early this year albeit sporadically. The real monsoon I experienced growing up was a steady rain most days for 3 months straight. Thais are living the climate change like the rest of us. Thailand, for most of its land, is still an agricultural country. Hovering over the outskirts of Bangkok while in the plane I saw much greenery and bodies of water. It took me 14 hours from SFO to Guangzhou and 3 hours from there to Bangkok. And there is a 14-hr time difference. I felt dazed upon arrival. To sooth and ground myself I soaked in warm water, which contains the opposite qualities of the air and space, twice on the day of arriving. The qualitative knowledge of Ayurveda is handy all the time. Making the immediate environment suite my needs is an active embodiment much like going to a yoga class even when life is busy. The body extends beyond the surface of our skin. It constantly interacts with the people and things around it. Being home is being interconnected.
This was the first time I flew on a China's airline. I'm more than half Chinese and every Chinese I interacted with including the flight attendants assumed I was Chinese. Meanwhile, Thais assume I'm a foreigner--Japanese or Chinese -- they can't quite pinpoint. While the Chinese spoke to me in their dialect the Thais spoke English with me. A Thai man saw me dropped something and called me "sir" for my attention. His English was limited but he took care to assume I wasn't Thai. I seem to have lost my Thai flare over the 26 years of living in the US. My sister got stuck in a traffic jam on her way to picking me up which was no surprise in Bangkok. Exhausted, I took a cab to my temporary home in a 36-floor building. The taxi driver too initially thought I was a foreigner. I initiated a conversation and we ended up talking about our mothers. Both of them are diabetic. I told him I've weened myself off rice, simple carbs and sugar which most Asians, especially women, are addicted to. The Chinese snack shop in Guangzhou airport was packed with people buying rice snacks and varieties of chips. Sugar is the most prevalent addictive substance. The impulsive mood--quick highs and crashes that the simple sugar generates sows reactive indulgences and reaps chronic personal and global destruction. It keeps us on consumption mode as opposed to creative mode.
The taxi driver politely complained about his mother's endless nags. I told him my mom used to do it a lot as I was growing up. I suspect both nagging and diabetes are due to the lack of autonomy in both food and life choices. They're addictive behaviors. Poor choices are driven socially whereas healthy choices are made individually. It doesn't have to be that way. I don't believe in trickle-down economics. Women and the poor are the biggest consumers and losers while those who create get richer. Creating wisely and compassionately is the way toward equality where we can all thrive. We are both creators and consumers. To embody the creative potentials our individual lifestyle needs to reflect the yin yang balance of getting and giving. So much of what we consume are powered and packaged by fossil fuels such as bags of chips imported and exported globally. I didn't share this much with the taxi driver while paying for the gas and his car. But our conversation sparked this blog. Observing the different states of mind during one on one dialogues allows me to question life narratives. The more we connect with sympathetic joy the more integrated life stories we can choose for ourselves. The state of mind is the true home. It matters less how far we have traveled and how many places we've seen. An open mind is like a welcoming home where guests are invited to join and transform the home into a social gathering before leaving the host to reflect upon the meetup quietly. My home sweet home is somewhere between reaching in to connect to my real values and reaching out to learn from others, wherever I am.