I like Thailand. I don’t know why. I mean there is a lot to despise and be disgusted by. Like all the dog poo, exhaust and burning. The smell alone would make most people get back on the plane had they not paid so much to get here.

But this morning, after another night of rain, walking to the laundry mat I feel happy. Not run around kick up your heels happy but happy enough. Happy is a strange word because it could mean different things. With sad I don’t think there is any confusion. You could say happy to mean content or pleased. Some people think happy means grinning from ear to ear. But to me happiness is an inner experience. The last time I thought I was ‘outwardly happy’ I flew over the handlebars of my bike.

You see I thought I was with the man I was going to marry but it didn’t turn out that way. It’s funny as soon as I said it out loud I crashed. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. It turned out to be a bad relationship and I learned to wear a helmet. Well, some of the time.

I guess I feel like the more I experience life the more I want to maintain a balance or equilibrium with my feelings. This means I jump around when no one is looking. But it also means I’m not swept away by sadness or happiness in a soap opera kind of way. I feel a lot of people are though. They think they’re staring in their own reality TV show and perhaps they are but these shows are known for being obnoxious and showcasing the worst of human behavior.

Since technology has replaced a lot of direct human contact, we need to up the ante I suppose. But the amazing thing is because I am not acting bi-polar I feel emotions more deeply.

My friend completely missed it when I said, “Mr. X and I broke up” because I said it so casually. She kept talking and then she said, “What?!” Even though this relationship lasted over five years, I didn’t feel the need to be dramatic, to pause or declare that something big has occurred. I don’t want drama in my life. And I cringe from those who do.

This is not to say I didn’t feel the break up or pretend to be nonchalant about it. It just was what it was and I’m not going to act out. Maybe it’s like when you try not to cry you cry harder but when you give yourself permission to let it out you’re suddenly done crying.

It’s better this way. When I announce something wonderful has happened, I inevitably don’t get the reaction I wanted. When I overcame the fear of riding and driving a motorbike no one cared. It was the equivalent of someone clapping sarcastically. And why should they? My fears are not theirs. Only I know what happened. It’s my inner experience.

It’s like the strange phenomena of discovering the quietest people having the most to say. If you listen they will tell you their story. Or like those people who are trying to think of something to say when you are talking. They are the ones who don’t really understand the conversation even through they are ‘actively’ involved.

When there is forced effort emotions and meaning stay on the surface. It’s just a show or performance. But when you hold back, if that is the right word, if you remain still, the feeling sinks in. And as your happiness drops down into your heart and away from your head, you feel it in a way that is more meaningful. At least that has been my experience.

Isn’t it ironic then that when we feel the most joy it bubbles up from the inside, from the heart? So maybe that is why when I’m walking in a place that most would consider extraordinarily ugly or unremarkable that I feel sabai jai.

2 replies on “Beauty in restraint

  1. Really nice post. It made me think.And I love the juxtaposition of this: “It turned out to be a bad relationship and I learned to wear a helmet.” For the bike, or for the relationships? 😉 (Both!)


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