Readers' Submissions

Get In Line

  • Written by BKKSteve
  • January 27th, 2007
  • 14 min read


Black Pagoda Patpong Bangkok

By BKKSW


It seems like my entire life I’ve been waiting. When we were young kids we could hardly wait to start grade school, then we could hardly wait to start middle school and then high school and then perhaps this was when our first big decisions about life started being made. Did we move on to college? Enlist in the military? Start working? Get married? Major crossroads time for most of us since we all didn’t have money for college or any real direction… so for some the cards fell and we picked one up and turned it over and took life at face value. Life has a way of weeding out the chaff and often despite great odds the cream still manages to rise to the top.. so back in line. For me it was one training session after the other, finish them up in the number one position and move on to the next one. Eventually there we are out in the real world putting that training to use and again the quest to be number one. Why? In my world being number one meant getting back in line and going to college. What do I mean by number one? To be selected for the program I surprised myself by earning I was one of 87 people that year from our entire military services to be selected. With only 3 years in service (2 spent in military schools) I was the most junior person selected by about 8 years. I’m still convinced they made a mistake but there ya go, back in line please.. Here we are finally in college, can’t wait to finish up and graduate. Before I graduated I learned there was another line called grad school.. to the head of one line and to the back of another.. Then retirement. Did you know you can retire with a not too shabby monthly check at the age of 37 with full medical and benefits? Ya, wonders never cease and at 37 I’m looking for a new line to stand in. I haven’t found “the” line, but I’ve stood in a bunch of them looking for the right one and to this day the search continues. If the ideal line presents itself you can bet I’ll be there and you can bet I still don’t know what number two is. Why the obsession with the number one? Simple, it’s the only number where the line moved.

So what was that all about? We’ve all heard the words of wisdom telling us “it’s not the destination, but the journey?” I’ll admit, my journey has been like the world's biggest, fastest, tallest rollercoaster. Many wonderful ups and many crappy downs with the transition between the two often happening at breakneck speed. Still the journey continues. But to where? Where are we going? Death and taxes right? I’ve been taxed so the only sure thing that’s going to happen in my life is death. What exactly is death? If anyone knows please don’t tell me the ending, I like surprises. Some people claim to be very religious and have the answers, some claim to be not religious at all but strangely enough they also have the answers. I often wonder if the devout religionist and the devout atheist are really the same? Like hate and love at divorce time? I was raised with a religion, my mom saw to that. At the time she died and for many years before she was a wonderful person, but by no stretch of anyone’s imagination could she be confused with the practitioner of any specific religion. This brings me to another observation of life and that’s that there is a huge difference between spirituality and religion. At this point in my life I suspect I’m very spiritual, I definitely believe in a power greater than myself, and I sometimes find myself pondering exactly who/what/where that power is. I don’t for a second believe there was a big bang, or that we developed from single cell bacterium, or any of that crap.. but I do recognize a person's right to believe they’re evolved pond scum (single celled.. ), but when I look around this world of ours at all the great things, great places, great art, great people, great women.. I simply see a higher power as responsible.

Did we evolve or were we created? So much debate and argument has gonet into that question yet I’ve always been certain of the answer. The answer is we did both. I believe in the science of evolution if not the wingnut theories that abound and I believe the science is not at all at odds with religion. Seven days and seven nights? Why not? Who’s to say how long a “God day” really is? Hell, we easily accept “dog years” in our everyday thinking so just spell dog backwards and change years to days and you’ve got this complicated concept down pat. This probably puts me in pretty good company as the vast majority of scientists, including famous ones like Einstein, believe in a higher power. Please understand, this submission isn’t about religion or evolution or trying to say anyone is wrong about anything, this submission is about me waiting in line and why I’ve got in the lines I have. I completely respect your right to get in any line you choose, even if it’s a line I’d never get in myself. We live in wonderful times and wonderful places to have this choice and I’m sure we can all agree on that.

Still, I’ve got this nagging question and I remember back to those boring church sermons my mom dropped me off at (ya, she never had time to go inside..:) when the minister would occasionally talk about God instead of politics and I’d find myself asking this question as early as four years of age that I can distinctly remember: Where did God come from? Ok, here’s the concept.. if we big banged, evolved from single cells, or were created in seven days and nights (God days and nights) or any other popular theory including whatever Britain’s 3rd largest religion (Jedi Knights, no shit.. Google it) has come up with.. then we’ve all got the same basic question: Where did it start? Where did it all begin and from what? Did God evolve from single cell bacterium? Or did God make single cell bacterium and we evolved from that? Where did it start? Where did it begin? Even if we’re some kids ant farm of mould growth on the slide of a advanced life forms microscope.. that advanced life form began somewhere right? Didn’t it? So, from four years of age this question has been bouncing around inside of my skull like a superball on steroids trapped inside the empty hard head of Rosie O’Donnell. I’m not the only one right? Surely anyone capable of thought just doesn’t ‘stop thinking’ at God, or pond scum, or some big bang? Even Homer Simpson at one time or the other had to stumble on the question “Doh! What was it that banged in the first place?” And please, I’m sure some of you have bought one of many available stories that cosmic dust traveling at the right velocity collided with Rod Stewarts future ancestor’s bacterium strain and “Tonights the Night” wham bam you’ve got all the answers.. just resist the urge to tell me about them. For now, at this time, in this moment, today, I can live with the thought that these answers are beyond the understanding of my human form.

Have you made it with me so far? I’m sure by now you’ve all moved on to the next submission thinking I must have picked up a bad case of Beer Lao but just in case you haven’t get in line…J What is all this about? What am I working up to? I had a revelation about myself recently and I’ll tell you about it shortly but first lets discuss what happens when you fall out of line and you’re really not sure where you’re heading? For the first time in my life that would be me. I have no long term goals to speak of, no plans for the future, nothing of any urgency beyond finally turning in my dissertation later this year, nothing I can tell you that would betray my ultimate destination. I’ve known people like this in my life and they’ve either been losers or serious drug addicts and I don’t do drugs. I’ve never thought of myself as a loser either. I’ve been decently educated, earned a retirement, have a nice wife, kids I enjoy, two parrots who make me laugh, money isn’t an issue.. or more accurately lack of money isn’t an issue.. and I have no disease slowly killing me. Hell, I even have a couple of nice sports cars and some other neat shit in storage back in the world. Yet I’m not in line and this makes me feel so empty. I gave some thought to this being a form of depression but looking back on my typical days I don’t feel depressed at all. I eat, I joke, I laugh, and I experience all the normal emotions you’d expect. So what is it? Have I simply reached a part in my life where I really have no serious worries that require setting goals, more education, and working my ass off for? And no, this isn’t about any sort of retirement syndrome.

In a not so small way I feel like I’ve worked my entire life to get to where I am and as soon as I stepped off the train I was told I wasn’t needed anymore and my entire life up to this point has been for naught. Boredom? Sure, despite keeping myself busy in many ways without a goal it all feels pointless. But that’s not it. In my previous life I had a lot of responsibility and judgment and rapid decision making were key skills. In all seriousness, in my previous career I had huge responsibilities and if I screwed up the price of my errors would probably be exacted in human life. This sort of thing, especially after 20 years of it, sets the stage for not only a certain mindset but also a certain type of life which is very demanding. “Disconnected” would be an accurate emotion. I feel completely and totally disconnected from “before” and everything professionally related. Many people find themselves in this position and they go on, they find a new job, new careers, and basically just get in a new line. I’ve really looked for a new line, tried to like ordinary jobs like being a department head, running my own studio, even designed and built prototype state of the art interdiction tools. So far nothing has clicked, nothing feels like it fits, nothing has instilled that sense of urgency and purpose I’m used to having in my life. Sure, I miss these things but I’m not convinced this is my problem. Perhaps a symptom but not the problem.

What is the problem? My revelation I think is a problem and this is it. Perhaps because of everything I’ve discussed in this submission it feels like I’m no longer at the back of the line, or in the middle of the line, but instead I’m at the front of the line and waiting. Waiting for what? Easy, it feels like I’m finished here and now it’s time to move on. I’m talking about death. I feel like I’ve finished up this life and have done a pretty good job of it, yet I’m at the point where I can go no further and I’m not in a position to do anything more meaningful and I’m not the type of person who is happy standing still and biding my time doing insignificant things with my life. I feel like it’s time to die and more, when I die I think I fully expect to start over in some way and I’ll find myself in another line doing it all over again, but differently. Does this mean that I believe in reincarnation? I’ve never thought about it much and I don’t think I do, but I feel certain that if I died this very moment that “I” would somehow move onto the next stage of existence and be in a new line somewhere with a new purpose and that purpose would be meaningful like my life up till now has been.

When I get there, and make no mistake – I will get there and so will each of you, will I be privy to the big question I started off discussing? The question of where “it” all started? Or will I be in a vessel capable of a higher understanding and we’ll find that a beginning and an end isn’t required or even part of my next existence? If that’s the case what would be the point of existence? What’s the point of this existence? I have some noble beliefs in this area and I’ve spend my life in their pursuit but that’s not where I want to go. My point is would the point of our existence be different once we get there? The odds are great that a human form won’t be required, even with reincarnation and living in this existence over and over again we might be a bug, a cow, a fly on the wall. In our next existence we might be pure energy and the senses we take for granted like sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste will be replaced with other senses we’ve yet to even consider.

This feels a lot like a self paced instruction set. What? Some of my military schools were what they called “self-paced”, we simply checked into the classroom at the beginning of the day and worked on the course material by ourselves and when we felt we knew the material we’d be tested and if we passed we then moved on to the next course. It feels like I finished my life early and now it’s time to move on. How early? Going by my family history I’ll easily live as many more years as I am years old now. You can see I’m not very old, you don’t understand what the hell I’ve been yammering on about, I’ve talked about death and moving on, and if you put that all together you’re thinking it’s time for the guys in white jackets and heavy does of lithium or something similar. But no, there is no thought or danger of cheating to get to the next line. You’ve all probably heard the corny line “when one door closes in your life, another door opens and it leads to something better?” That used to hold true for me for the most part, but now the doors are all made of 4 inch thick armored steel and they’re locked with huge chains and armed guards. You might be thinking I need to get laid in a big way? This is probably true, but I don’t see it solving my problem. Certainly I don’t want to create the illusion that I’m necessary in some young things life and get caught up in that mess. No, there must be something else.

I’m going to revisit this.

Until then…

Stickman's thoughts:

What to me is interesting is whether you would feel the same if you were not based in Bangkok.