POSTCARD#46: Bangkok: Sitting in a taxi that’s stuck in traffic and I see these buildings through the window, take the photo thinking, wow! I can write a post about that. The floating staircases look like they were put in as an afterthought. Somebody came up with the idea and sketched it out on the back of a beer mat. Creativity. Things are linked in the mind – the symbol of a bridge, everything is connected. It all fits. Taxi still stuck and I’m searching around in the memory for something, through the staircases and corridors of no-words-to-describe-it, looking for a starting point. How to begin? A small insight comes along; it’s the karma of circumstances.
That’s why, who, where, what, which, when and how I came to be here in Bangkok, strange as it may seem, having started off in such a far-away place over the mountains, over the sea… the Northern part of the world, near to the Arctic region. Up there, the polarities of shady darkness and never-ending light inspire one thing above all: the desire to get on a plane to a sunny place in the Southern Seas and never come back. So that’s what I did.
When I came back I discovered thirty years had passed, the Rip Van Winkle effect – look in the mirror, hair gone white. Most of the people I knew are dead. It had been so long I’d forgotten the ‘me’ that used to be there. I gave some thought to the ‘me’ left behind in the sunny place in the Southern Seas, went back over to check on that but it wasn’t there either. All these hours and days over the years, looking out the windows of an airplane and the world coming in through these eyes but seeing it like it’s not ‘me’ personally that it’s happening to, more like it’s an extension of what’s out there.
There’s a connectedness. No ‘me’. The temporary self-construct that used to be ‘in here’, a tentative sort of half-existence, has gone. Gone is gone. No ‘self’, anatta, nobody at home. Elvis has left the building. I am a metaphor of ‘me’ looking out of the window of a moving vehicle going away to, or coming back from a place called ‘home’ in Bangkok at the present time but next week I’ll be in Delhi again and looking at ‘home’ from that location. I know that three weeks from now I’ll be in Chiang Mai in that place there called ‘home’, hang out for a while, contemplate the space I’m in, then after that, no plans…
Is there anything I can call a real home? (hold that thought)… there’s a memory of something being ‘home’ when I was a kid. I remember long nights and short days, aunties and grannies wearing comfortable wooly cardigans, porridge in a cracked bowl, coal and wood fires, a black-and-white sheepdog – and incidentally, the rural/urban thing about Asian cities, cows sitting on the pavement, goats nibbling and chickens pecking around, the sound of a cockerel in the distance; all this reminds me of the farmyard scene where I was brought up. There’s a familiarity about it
Fond memories, pictures in the gallery of the mind, and yes I’d like there to be a real home, but for a very long time now there’s been only a series of temporary homes – all good, I share my life with Jiab and we’ve gotten used to the way things are. In each place I have my favourite chair, books, and all the things I need. It works okay except sometimes I might spend a long time searching the bookshelves for a book I’m sure is there then realise it’s not in these bookshelves, it’s the other bookshelves, about 2000 miles away. So I have to let that one go, although I can see it there in the mind’s eye…
I feel dispersed, an okay sort of feeling. It suits me well to follow the Buddha’s Teachings: homelessness, non-attachment, no-self. Whether there is a ‘self’, yes/no, is best not thought about too much because saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to it is, in itself, identifying ‘self’’. Words identify things, language has a default mechanism that allows me to select what ‘I’ want it to be (also what I don’t want it to be) and the resulting attachment to all that I love and hate. I see it happening, stay mindful about where the exit is located, and open the heart/mind citta to the world as wide as possible.
‘I place the word “Jesus” into my heart, and in a magical instant all those wordless, intangible sensations I have come to recognize as His Presence fill the room, as if that word was a seed dropped into the planter of my heart, which took root, and produced an entire orchard.’ [Excerpt from the post: Trending Towards Holiness]