Over 1/8 of the way into the trip, a time for some reflections:
Visiting vs Living
In Japan, we spent much of our time as if we were on a typical vacation. We went site-seeing and visited quite a few different places in relatively short period of time. if you’ve ever had that feeling when back from a vacation that now you need another vacation to recover, you know what i mean. It was a great experience, but also tiring.
We’ve been in Thailand for about 3 weeks now and we’ve spent that time entirely in one spot. We’ve visited a few beaches and went on one around the island tour. But mostly we’ve developed a more relaxed routine, focused on our priorities of exercise and mindfulness meditation. There’s a guided yoga class 3 times a week and on 3 other days a week we do our own combination of yoga, pilates and physical therapy (if we’re not recovering from the heat). We meditate everyday and a few days ago we had a half day mindfulness retreat where in addition to meditating we listened to talks from a number of teachers. The internet is a staggering resource of knowledge.
We read a lot, we watch some movies, we go to pool and we work on trying to sleep better. Sometimes we cook. One of my favorites things about traveling is exploring new grocery stores where there are things i’ve never seen before.
It’s quite simple in many ways. Mostly I feel quite present. In some ways, with so many mundane and simple things being difficult, there is no way not to be present. For example, going to lunch and picking up our laundry sounds like it should be a small part of the day. But between needing to mindful of traffic and in the heat, by the time you’ve done this seemingly small thing, you need to rest and rehydrate. So the pace of things is slow, but if you’re not in a hurry and fine with just being here, there is nothing wrong with that. I can imagine that if you were at odds with this mindset, things could be quite difficult.
I’ve also started the project on cleaning up the clutter of my digital life. With the amazing ease of taking digital photos, comes an astonishing number of pictures. Far more than most of us can actually enjoy on any regular basis or perhaps ever at all given how busy we are. So i’m going through and finding pictures which bring me joy and will get rid of the rest. Its sort of a minimalism for the information age. I should probably do this with other files and such as well.
If you feel like sending me a photo that makes you joyful, please feel free to do so, its been really nice to hear from people from time to time and this seems like an interesting way to here from folks. Just because memory is cheap and we can store as much stuff as we want to, doesn’t mean that we should. This sort of project is exactly the sort of thing that i’d want to do when at home in the course of my normal life, but one that i’d often feel like i didn’t have the energy for. I’ve just started scratching the surface here, but I think this will lead to some additional reflection and growth.
I think the balance between living in some places (the rest of thailand, southern Spain, Lisbon and as of yet undetermined places in Central America) and visiting others (eastern Spain, southern and northern Portugal and other mostly still undetermined places in Central America) will turn out to be quite nice. Both are good in different ways.
Things I miss about the US
- Thru streets In this US and many other places, if you want to go generally west or north or any direction not blocked by water or mountain, you can typically find a street or walkway that will take you in that direction. Not so here.
- Instacart (although we did get some Indian food delivered recently and it was lovely)
Thing I thought i’d miss, but don’t
- A good shower which is not to say that i wouldn’t prefer a good shower, and we had really nice showers in Japan, its just that, at least at this point, i don’t mind having a pretty low pressure shower. And don’t care at all about it being hot. The idea of taking a hot shower is repellant; wouldn’t cool down for days.
What I mean when I say depression
Like many people, I don’t experience depression as sadness. Its much closer to something like numbness or stark indifference. We have a poor vocabulary for talking about feelings as actual things that we feel. So, its hard to convey how I actually feel, but I often say things like my brain feels heavy or perhaps cloudy. There is a distinctly physical feeling that I’m aware of in my head, almost as if there was too much fluid sloshing around up there and pushing too much on the soft tissues of the brain. I tend to become extremely non-verbal. I’m able to respond to direct questions, but the idea of voluntarily uttering a sound if not absolutely necessary is too difficult. When its really bad, I don’t even have the energy to watch netflix, instead I can just sit and stare.
Sometimes, when I’m not feeling well, I think of sharing this and sometimes that makes me feel a bit better. It’s unclear exactly why, but there’s a Swedish Proverb that i’m fond of:
Shared sorrow is half sorrow, but shared joy is double joy.
I’ve never understood when people refer to themselves as alcoholics even when they haven’t had a drink in years. But now that i’ve gone for some more extended periods of time being sytmpom free of depression, I’m much closer to understanding. I wonder, whether in the future, if i’m fortunate enough to be without depression symptoms for years, if I’ll still think of myself as having depression. On one hand, this sort of thought process is kind of rough because it shows how much this has effected my identity in a relatively short period of time. But on the other, to even imagine with some hope the idea of being symptom free is quite lovely and feels good.
We head to Angthong Marine Park for hiking and sea kayaking.