The Twelve Steps Of Thailand
- We admitted we were powerless over Thailand – and that we are ruined for life.
- Came to believe that Thailand is a power greater than ourselves – and that a tiny bar girl can bring us to insanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to Thailand – as we understood it — as an important aspect to our own lives, no matter where in the world we come from.
- Made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves and other people – then discarded it as judgmental, — accepting instead the “Mai Pen Rai” rule as the rule to live by.
- Admitted to God and to ourselves that Thailand is Paradise, in spite of any human problems common to all people – for simply being human. Thailand is always worth it, always beautiful: period, end of story. But don’t get hypnotized.
- We were entirely ready to ask God and the Thai people to forgive us, for what we do, drink, and say in Thailand.
- Humbly asked Him for Plane Tickets to Thailand. Economy class okay.
- Made a list of all people we may have harmed – and paid off their bar tabs, rent bills, and Sin Sot as restitution.
- Made these direct amends to the people we owe, but to never reveal the name of the Mia Noi – if we know.
- Continued to give money to the parents of the Thai ladies we love, because they created such beauty – as Antarai as Thai lady can be.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to understand the ways of the Thai people and way of life, — only to realize it can never be understood – just accepted and practiced as good for the heart.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we told everybody we know that one has not lived a life, if they haven’t experienced Thailand.
Recently, I relocated to Las Vegas from New York, and had to set up my home, work, and financial details that forced a re-scheduling of my mandatory Spring Thailand excursion. Needless to say I was heartbroken (– a lesser man would have been traumatized, being less Zen), but I came to terms with the setback by writing how I had changed and had been changed by my Thai experiences. Actually, I see it nothing less than a life transforming transition that was produced from my yearly trips to the Land Of Smiles. The changes in my approach to daily situations, setbacks, people, and the re-shuffling of my priorities come to mind first, though I am sure there are many other items. I used as a framework the 12 steps of A.A., initially humorously and in good-natured playful jest, only to realize that there is indeed truth in jest.
And just recently, I had dinner in Vegas with, of all people, Joe the Tour guide who had initiated my own Thai conversion experience, along with his friend Eric, who is in the process of selling his businesses and property to go there forever, and to never look back – should he do it right! Good thing Joe was there. Maybe my own relocation to Las Vegas is just a step in my own journey to The Promised Land also. I don’t know yet, I do not think so, but after going through the Thai roller coaster, I now never say never.
But more importantly, it is how the process of we so insidiously accept Thai ways (and becoming Thai-like in some ways is really what happens), and what makes us "work" when in Thailand, in the sense of functioning properly and living the Thai
mindset when in Thailand. It just all happens if you allow it – and you allow it if it happens to you!
Anyway of the steps define Thai attributes that greatly affect those who become closely involved in Thai life, relationships, attitude, and even marriage.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over Thailand – and that we are ruined for life. The Powerlessness is that we are haunted, captivated, and owned by our relentless Thai longing once having thoroughly experienced it. How many of us can’t picture, even imagine a vacation as a true vacation — if it ISN’T to Thailand? Come on, admit it! The powerlessness demonstrates itself every time we book tickets, our mouths are automatically on autopilot: “Where to?” “Thailand – where else?”
As for ruined for life, well, Thailand, once experienced, cannot be un-experienced, unforgotten, or ignored from here on out in our lives.
Step 2, Came to believe that Thailand is a power greater than ourselves – and that a tiny bar girl can bring us to insanity.
Once we admitted that our Thai longings are undeniable – we believe that there is something powerfully alluring about Thailand that changes us, believing it and consciously accepting it as part of our new makeup, not that we think then that we’ve somehow or in any way changed. But once admitted it is then accepted within us, “Yeah, it’s true, no doubt about it, that just the way it now is for me.” I mean, We Are Convinced, in capital letters.
As for the Bar Girls, and The Private Dancer syndrome: Bar girls have had a huge impact on me and others, as I had never become previously romantically, socially, or emotionally intimate AND captivated until ensnared by what others had harshly described
as a "peasant prostitutes." This is also a sadly accurate description if you foolishly chose to be see it that way – many Thai see it this way, and not that it matters. It doesn’t. For many, the GFE bar girl experience
is the initiator of the Falung-to-Thai conversion experience. For us, we come to realize some BGs have a fearsome capacity to invade our hearts and psyches – whenever she sees fit – along with other Thai life aspects, destroying both our
judgment and judgmental-ness in some ways as part of the process. The judgment damage is a reflection of the change we go through before we adeptly adapt. In a sense, we unwittingly adopt ad integrate some Thai attitudes, in the lessening of both
the judgment and judgmentalness that we formerly had. However, this situation will improve by continuing the Thai steps.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to Thailand – as we understood it — as an important aspect to our own lives, no matter where in the world we come from. It is at this point we totally abandon any hope or desire to undo these changes. We now go beyond acceptance into embracing it. We Want It for It Is Good.
Step 4: Made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves and other people especially – then discarded it as judgmental, — accepting instead the “Mai Pen Rai” rule as the rule to live by. This step is about Mai Pen Rai, abandoning judgment of ourselves, of others, and of "issues in general" as hang-ups. This is after initially we try to analyze and understand what’s going on with us and around us while in Thailand
in moral terms. It cannot be done; besides, who the hell are we falung. Simply put, it's Mai Pen Rai, ("Not important," "Let it go") or in a stronger English equivalent, "What the fuck." We now know the Thai
name of how we changed in a certain way, the Mai Pen Rai-ness taking over us. It has some good sides. From letting some petty incident slide in order to avoid a bar fight, to saying Pom Rak Khun when it is appropriate to say to our ex-bar girl
(not before) without shame or judgment, — a girl whom we now hope and try to instill enough discipline and rationality into to now make a partner for us. (If it doesn’t work out, – more Mai Pen Rai!) The fine book Private Dancer is about the dangers of trying to resist the process of Mai Pen Rai. Some call this Mai Pen Rai denial, some call it acceptance, some call it irresponsibility, some call it tolerance, but all these can only exist under abandoning judgmentalness
and moral inventories for a certain period, with both good and bad effects. The abandonment of judgment allows for later the re-insertion of moral assessment – but only as it applies to us, and not imposing it on others, after having abandoned
it for all. The process of "Thainazation" further unfolds…
Step 5: Admitted to God and to ourselves that Thailand is Paradise, in spite of any human problems common to all people – for simply being human. Thailand is always worth it, always beautiful: period, end of story. But don’t get hypnotized.
Step 6: We were entirely ready to ask God and the Thai people to forgive us, for what we do, drink, and say in Thailand. This
is Mai Pen Rai growing up, because apology forces change, allowing the addition of responsibility (not judgment) to be added Mai Pen Rai-ness. Examples: Drinking less or stopping (experiencing Thailand sober is very positive, especially for our
hosts!), butterflying becomes the caterpillar of one-lady-ness, learning Thai and proper Waiing, seeing Thailand beyond Walking Street and Soi six are examples of Thai step 6 growth. When we generally find that we no longer need to apologize but
now receive praise and smiles from Thai people, we’ve completed this step. When we are really ready to recognize our need to be forgiven, we also recognize our need to change – as to avoid doing things that require this forgiveness
in the first place. This is the sneakiness of the step. We change from it, and we now cringe at other falung because we once there but have moved on.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him for Plane Tickets to Thailand. Economy class okay
Step 8: Made a list of all people we may have harmed – and paid off their bar tabs, rent bills, and Sin Sot as restitution. Once we stop causing damage, we now have enough free time to reflect on the damage that we have already caused and fix it. Girlfriend, Girlfriend parents, mamasans, Thai people in general, and ex-pats top the list. Later on, and when we accept that Sin Sot is normal we can view it in the light that a 200,000 Baht Sin Sot is $5000, seemingly a lot initially. But it is also only the price of a used car, which is really nothing to spend to have a 25 year old angel dote on us — when only a few years ago we were praying how a fat bald old guy like me could EVER get a young doting cheerleader type winner as our love. Now we have her, and she is Thai, so even better. Pay the reasonable sum (don’t let it get too inflated!) and count your blessings, be thankful and amends oriented. But since Sin Sot is a mandatory cultural aspect and crucial for really getting the girl, help a friend with this, especially if you owe him because he trusted you in good faith.
Step 9: Made these direct amends to the people we owe, but to never reveal the name of the Mia Noi – if we know.
When you make amends, it is to resolve a moral debt and obligation for past transgression – you do NOT use it for self-agrandizement, “Hey, look at what a great guy I am, paying him back!” Nu-uh, you do it with contrition – directly to that person. As for the Mia Noi part, I threw that in, but it is good that it is there. “Side Action” is an aspect of Thai culture, and most well off people have a side lover they help support. Quite often it’s just a physical or social thing when the spouse is indisposed. Coming across it, you do NOT reveal it or discuss it, you are Sergeant Shultz: “I know nothsing, I see nothsing,” etc. Certainly, many wives assume or somehow know that the old man has a side thing, but so as long as it is DEFNITELY not rubbed in her face, it’s not that major an issue. If it IS handled indiscreetly, something terrible will happen to the husband that involves a steak knife and a Cuisinart food processor. Believe me, you doan wanna know, though the little lady will feel just fine and justified by it all, and her aggrieved sisters will salute her and say, “you go, girl.”. Ahh, the versatile uses of modern kitchen technology…
Step 10: Continued to give money to the parents of the Thai ladies we love, because they created such beauty – as Antarai as Thai lady can be.
It is assumed here that the parents had returned the Sin Sot, knowing you and your lady may need it. It is sometimes just accepted publicly as ceremony, as is your gesture ceremony. But it is usually real, allowing the letting go of the cash for your new in-laws comfort and survival as family, and as people most dear to your lady – her parents. But if the Sin Sot was small or returned, you DO have a family obligation to your new family. Many western men married to a Thai wife but living in the West send back monthly 10,000B ($200), a crucial help to them but a small amount for someone making $60,000 a year. If the wife is working, she should happily cover half. As for Thai lady Antarai, this is learned first hand. Remember the Mai Pen Rai-ness; this is especially important if another person has an “incident failure” of his or her own Mai Pen Rai-ness.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to understand the ways of the Thai people and way of life, — only to realize it can never be understood – just accepted and practiced as good for the heart.
**The process of Mai Pen Rai incorporation is now complete. You will now notice that the Thai people are normal if you do notice anything at all now, and that you are now Thai also, in spite of being a round-eye. You have been reincarnated within your current life to your true Thai nature, and through your own efforts, acceptance, and wisdom. You have made excellent merit and are at peace.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we told everybody we know that one has not lived a life, if they haven’t experienced Thailand.
Well, this is true – you life will be changed in a way that you’ll never be able to express enough gratitude for. You of course will speak of praise, respect, and gratitude, change your tone from, “Hey, man, you just gotta go there!” to quietly stating as fact,” You simply haven’t lived a life if you haven’t experienced Thailand.”