It is in the quiet minutes before I leave for school that I seem to find a time and place to write this blog. I am sitting on the back porch of the Lodge, my coffee steaming in front of me next to a plate of fresh cut mango. It’s hard to believe sometimes what my normal everyday life has turned to—mangos everyday for less than a dollar; kids who run to me on the playground, embracing me as if they haven’t seen me in years when really I only saw them a couple of hours ago; daily downpours that seem to make the world stand still and constantly remind me of my second home in Tacoma, WA.
Each morning I am grateful to wake up in this beautiful place, to go to a job that I surprisingly love. And although some days I am so exhausted after school I can barely move, the love and joy I experience from my kids is something I can only begin to express.
Life has grown comfortable here. We went to Chiang Mai this weekend for the four-day holiday break (it is the start of the Buddhist lent here). And while the trip was magical in so many different ways, I was happy to return to Nan—a place where I know the streets at least half as well as I did during my four years in Tacoma, a place where everyone knows if I have a flat tire on my bike, a place where I have to ask myself everyday “What has my life come to?” in the best way possible.
While many of you I’m sure are anxious to hear about my adventures to Chiang Mai, a city much much bigger than Nan, I am not so inclined to share those moments with you yet. I’m still processing some of the breathtaking and wondrous moments myself and I want to save those thoughts for when I have a little more time – but I will include a few pictures for you so you all won’t perish of my lack of photos I have shared with you over the last few weeks. So what am I going to write about if I’m not going to tell you about the fabulous trip I just took and which consumed my life for four days? Well, sometimes the intangibles are far more interesting to me than any moment or picture can say.
I confessed that life here in Nan has become comfortable. I am getting the hang of teaching, I love my kids, and I look forward to yoga each night before dinner. However, while my life may seem like a fairytale ending to many new college grads, it is not without its challenges. There are some moments when I look up and ask myself “What am I doing here? What was my real purpose of coming?” Sure, I know the answer when I stop and think. I came here to explore another culture and another part of the world. I came here to expand my thinking and gain an experience that I would otherwise never have the opportunity to have. I came here to teach and to learn. But while I can say all of these things in writing, there are still some days when I feel like any new college grad must feel—that the real world is tough. Going to work from 9 to 5 everyday is much different than a college class schedule. And while I kept myself overly busy in college, there are still times here where I miss Puget Sound like crazy. Where I miss the quiet moments with my family, watching the stars in the backyard underneath a summer moon. Where I miss being able to turn on a TV and zone out to a bad American reality TV show. Where I miss being able to turn to anyone and have a conversation.
Yes, I knew these moments would happen—these moments of intense longing and desire, these moments of doubt and hesitation. Moments where I feel in limbo, lost in the world, as if I will never find my way back to the right path again. And these are the moments, I know, that will begin to define my experience here. These are the moments where I will learn and grow the most.
I don’t want you to think that this post is to complain and nag, it is simply a reflection on some of the very complex thoughts I have had over the past week or so. Thoughts that I still have not fully processed and probably won’t until my time has finished here. With all my traveling I have come to learn that it is exactly these thoughts—the ones I cannot even begin to express here because I’m not entirely sure what they are—that will begin to shape and mold me into a new being. And ultimately that is why I came to Asia—to change, to become a new person, to learn. And so when I look up and ask myself “Why did I come here?” I must remind myself that the answer is in the question itself.