Choices In Life And Matters Of Truth
How many of us are happy with life as we have made it? Oh, some of us tell ourselves that we are happy with the life we have made – but I look around at a lot of my peers who have ended up either living alone – and lonely – or have gone through at least one marriage that failed due to any number of reasons. Seems to me that priorities change at various positions in the life cycle – but priority changes are not always positive or rewarding.
I remember a song by a group called Venice – "The Only Love I Had I Sent Away" – probably one of the saddest songs I think I have heard – and I thought of my own situations through the years and also events just the same suffered by others now residing in Thailand. The thought struck me that we are mostly in positions of regret, sadness, loneliness or penniless because of bad decisions made in haste (or desperation).
Apart from a few of the younger guys who come to Thailand to work or some who come to have short or extended "holidays" in Thailand, I do wonder how many of the "long-termers" are actually satisfied with the lives they live away from their places of origin. Those of the older brigade who have put aside a decent reserve to live on, have married a Thai woman and have a house they have paid for (in the name of the wife) may appear satisfied with their life as it is – but does satisfaction equate with "happiness"?
I have a long-time friend (45 years – since 1969) and, if you ask him the time, he will tell you how the bloody clock is made and you still don't end up knowing what the time is. He is, not surprisingly, an electronics engineer formerly employed with Telecom Australia – but, very occasionally, we are able to peel away the outer casing, layer by layer, and get to the nut of the issue – relationships long gone and the feelings associated with them. We trust each other because neither of us can tolerate people who lie. My old great-aunt always used to say "You can watch someone who you know is a thief – but you can never trust a liar". I think that was a very wise observation.
People would have trouble pulling the wool over my eyes because I have worked with all types – both in the newspaper industry and in music (and quite a number of other jobs in between) – and these characters ranged from de-frocked priests, brothel masters and pimps to thieves, convicted rapists, con-merchants, drug peddlers and users – so I am very circumspect in assessing people. This is why I have been able to escape being taken for a ride in the Land Of Scams. Reading body language is an art – and you can gauge a person before they even open their mouth. I cannot stand the company of garralous people. Unfortunately, most bars in Thailand have their oversupply of them.
I had to laugh at a friend of mine in Sydney when we were working for the Brisbane Edition of The Australian newspaper. He was around 28/29, quite obese and rode a Kawasaki trail bike. When he sat on the seat of the bike his arse cheeks hung down almost to the chain, like overstuffed saddle bags. He had just come from a rock concert and was slightly under the weather with weed and booze but I wouldn't call him "stoned" or "drunk" – I'd prefer to describe him as "temporarily proprioceptorally-disadvantaged" and he dropped in to have coffee at one of these Christian Drop-in Centres – when one of the chaplains sat down at the table and began asking him what he planned to do with his life – what goals he had. My friend said "I want to be a pimp". I was never sure if he was being honest or taking the piss out of the chaplain. There was a publication called the Nation Review (sometimes called "The Ferret") back in the '70s and we would often buy a copy of the paper because it often had "girlie" piccies and controversial (often salacious) articles of news to read. I was in a packed bus, on the way home one afternoon with a copy of Nation Review under my right arm as I strap-hung, standing in the bus and three girls were sitting in the bench seat facing toward me and proceeded to slip into a fit of laughter. I had no idea why, until I looked down at the folded Nation Review under my right wing. In 60-point capitals was the question on the page "WOULD YOU PUT STEEL SPURS ON YOUR COCK?" What could I say? Perhaps my saying "Let's give it a go" may have proved to be worthwhile. The article was obviously about cock-fighting (or possibly some analogy to do with politics of the time) – but that is how the story was quite often prefaced in the Nation Review. It was an interesting newspaper. I wonder if we shall ever see the likes of that in Thairath?
But here we are exploring that which is the facade – the humdrum or, sometimes, over-exaggerated exterior that people show – because most people build up this exterior of who they want other people to see. This is the projected person that is used to hide the real persona that they do not wish any of us to see. Without getting into deeper aspects of psychology let us just say that never, or very seldom, is anything as it appears to be.
I often wonder what life would be like for me now if I had decided to stay in the village where Natalise comes from, near Prasat. Supposing I had built a house on the piece of land that had been offered to us by Papa and Mama – what would I be doing? I hate to think – the most fun I could have is taking the 2-wheel Kubota Mini-taur for a burnout at the nearby crossroads. Would you ever get it to travel fast enough for that to happen? No – Papa would never let me near it again after that. I think that, after 6 months in that environment, I would be stark-staring bonkers – and a mental inmate at the local hospital. There is no way known that I could live in a quiet place such as a Thai village.
A friend of ours did suggest that I could buy one of those 3-wheel samlors – you know, the ones with the big wooden box on the front – and you pedal like hell to get it up to 10 kph. She suggested I could stock it up with saleable produce and go around the village to provide a home-supply service to customers. Can you imagine the consequences once the two corner stores found out about that idea? There would be two possible scenarios – the Police and Immigration would there in a matter of hours – or, if I survived the first day, it would be very likely that Muggins would be assassinated overnight. Of course it would be a case of an "unfortunate accident" that happened with "no suspicious circumstances" – despite the hatchet buried in my back.
All I can say to all those who do manage to live in country environments in Thailand is this: Although I believe you when you say you are satisfied with life – and perhaps that you even believe you are happy – I am far from convinced, from my own perspective, that anyone can be happy living in isolation with no stimulus other than being woken by the Head Man at 5.30 am cranking up the PA system – and where the main event of the week is the occasional trip into town to pick up supplies. I could not live like that. Even drinking with Papa every afternoon would hardly be enough stimulation for me.
I really do love Thai women – some more than others – but, for me to be happy with a Thai woman, we would have to live in a town at least as big as Chiang Mai – preferably Bangkok. It would also need to be in a condo as I do not like having to do house maintenance – been there, done that too many times in Farangland. It really comes down to "horses for courses" – as it usually does. Knowing your limits is an absolute necessity for even coming close to finding happiness – no matter if we are talking of Thailand or back in Farangland. Facing the truth for yourself is absolutely essential. Finding absolute truth is subjective and finding absolute love is elusive – and, both of these when put together, make another one of life's mysteries. The bottom line is "nothing is ever as it appears to be". Now, as Dana once said, "all Thais are Physicists" – so they understand that, perfectly – and you all need to understand that as well. The next time you want to know anything at all about life, The Universe or the laws of physics – just ask any Thai.