‘return to go’

traffic lights1 POSTCARD #121: Chiang Mai: I have an appointment with the doc about my blood pressure. It goes all right, arm placed in the tightening strap, BP is reduced slightly, get more pills and come back in 10 days. Downstairs and out; we have a slightly complex schedule today and I have to say there’s a small anxiety in me that’s saying maybe we can’t get it all done; M’s mommy is coming to pick me up in the car outside the clinic, then we’re going to the airport to meet Jiab coming from India. I get a call from M: How are you feeling Toong Ting? And I say yes I’m fine, where are you now? There’s a silence then M says: I’m in the car. I keep forgetting she doesn’t know locations… I ask, are you near? There’s a dialogue with mommy in Thai then: about 10 minutes from where you are. Okay I’m waiting outside the clinic bye-bye! Anxiety again about waiting there for an unknown period

Car arrives and I get into the back seat with M, mommy in the front, driving. I always have to get in the back with M – she insists. Jumps past the large arm rest in the ‘down’ position that divides the back seat to make space for my large body mass. A small smile as if to say you’re welcome, then the shuffling of play objects out of the way and debris of food wrappers on the floor and lately ‘the book’ she’s reading placed on the armrest. It’s her world, it’s where she spends a number of hours of every day going to and from school, and then stopping at restaurants to get fast food because Mommy has to work every day – there’s nobody at home to cook. I get in the back seat and there’s a sense that this is where M lives.

We get to the airport and have to drive around and around because there’s just nowhere to park. Anxiety returns. When it’s near the time I get out and meet Jiab, help her with her bags, car comes by and we’re in. Jiab has to sit in the front with mommy because M doesn’t allow her in the back – in fact there’s an immediate small resentment when Jiab speaks to me with some affection. Same thing when we stop at a Japanese restaurant Oishi Shabushi, I have to sit next to M. This is a place where there’s a moving belt of small plates of food and you have about an hour to eat as much as you want for a set price. The haste and urgency of it encourages M to eat a lot. The rest of us are required to show enthusiasm. So, once again I eat too much and we stagger out to the car park and drive back to the condo.

It’s obvious to me, with this high BP and expanding waistline I have to overcome this anxiety and try to get back to normality, the middle way, the Path; ‘return to go’ as they say in the monopoly game. Get back there and start again.

To be able to be unhurried when hurried;
To be able not to slack off when relaxed;
To be able not to be frightened
And at a loss for what to do,
When frightened and at a loss;
This is the learning that returns us
To our natural state and transforms our lives.
[Liu Wemin, 16th Century]


33 thoughts on “‘return to go’

  1. I really love your M posts and have been glad to see a run of them lately.

    It’s obvious to me, with this high BP and expanding waistline I have to overcome this anxiety and try to get back to normality, the middle way

    Probably true, but the important part of it is that you have to get back to ‘normality’.
    M doesn’t have to change anything.

    Maybe instead of trying to set a good example all the time you should try explaining to her that you are two different people in different situations and what’s best for her might not be what’s best for you. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that it’s vital to avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as taking a position of authority or superiority. The old “You should do this because I say so and I’m an adult who knows more than you” attitude. In fact it would probably be best to err on the side of inferiority. Like “I have to act like this because I’m a sick, overweight, old man. But that doesn’t mean you have to calm down/go slowly/stop eating/give up some sanuk too”.

    Oh, and try to avoid restaurants that encourage you to overeat or eat too quickly.

    (BTW, the last I heard was that although medications can reduce blood pressure they aren’t as effective at improving health and increasing life expectancy as the raw sphygmomanometer readings would suggest. Far more important are the changes to diet and lifestyle.)

    • Thanks Cabrogal, you’re right. It’s almost exactly what I’ve been thinking about, and how to handle it including the sensitivity of not appearing to be in authority as you suggest. What I’m considering is finding some way to tell her I have to go back to Delhi with Jiab, M’s school holidays are nearly at an end and she will spend a few days on Koh Krabi with her family from the South. If we can think of some good reason for me to have to leave, I’ll get back to India and consult with the Doc in Delhi so I can work on getting back to a normal diet and more active lifestyle. Thanks for your concern, let’s see how the plan goes…

  2. Hope you can get your blood pressure sorted out. Such a great post. Your posts are always such a joy to me, so earthy and rooted. Thank you.

    • Thanks Don for your comment. It’s the first time anyone has described the posts as ‘earthy and rooted’. It’s really meaningful to me, the posts have such a lot to do with what’s actually happening in conscious experience; moment by moment, description, dialogue all fit into place because I spend a lot of time editing out unneccessary stuff. Minimalism, the direct experience as far as posssible – something all of us can immediately understand. I have a plan to deal with the BP, motivated simply by the discomfort, anxiety of it. So I guess it’ll work out, it has to…

  3. I, too, believe that diet and lifestyle are critical indicators of the state of our health. Presently, I am stepping back from acupuncture treatments, although I have found them quite helpful. Like you, I feel the need to “return to go,” to sit with my being as it is and listen. I suspect there is something waiting for me, as it were. Best to you always.

    • Thanks for this: ‘to sit with my being as it is and listen’, a v meaningful phrase that says everything about ‘return to go’ that I intended. I have some friends though who would find it difficult to step back from long term treatment and it might not be so easy. I intend to give it a try anyway.

  4. Being caught up in the energy and wants of others can draw us away from our own practice. I like the idea of returning to go … it is always there for us.
    Take care T. as you navigate back.

  5. Mooji says that illness often brings us into the Self. There’s an urgency to focus on what is important. He says it much better than I do. But, yes, it brings us more totally to practice. As for the illness, when my husband got high BP I threw out the salt and, through the mail, I bought a bunch of saltless spices which are very tasty. He likes them though and we use no salt. I also buy the low sodium version of foods which means reading the food labels. I don’t know about Thai food and if there are labels with percentages of ingredients but try to check it out. I also bought a BP reader to check his blood pressure and gave him the herb Hawthorn, check it out, supposed to be good for the heart. Also garlic is good. And mushrooms. Of course, he fights me and has two high sodium foods a week. I get upset but am trying to remain calm though very upset. This is my call to practice because it disturbs my piece. But, restaurant food and processed foods are very high in salt. We also no longer eat beef, pork or lamb. I for humanitarian reasons. Tom would love nothing better than bacon. It is a rare treat for him. And, as his cholesterol was also high, we have been eating lots of wild, not farmed, fish, cut out cheese mostly and exist on non-barbecued chicken, egg substitutes and yogurt in lieu of sour cream. Plus I try to sneak in vegan mayonnaise and ice cream. I have no idea what typical Thai foods are but olive oil and nuts are also good. So do some research online. And, yes, getting out of restaurants and back to practice would be good. I have to swallow my own words because this stuff makes me crazy with anxiety and worry. My nemesis.

    • Hi Ellen, there’s something about the Mooji statement that makes sense to me. As for the teatment of high BP you recommend, it’s going to take some time to remember it all, but Jiab will help. Thai restaurant foods are high on salt I believe. Good to know olive oil and nuts are on the OK side of things. Thanks for your advice, I can understand your anxiety about discussing this sort of thing. I’ll get back to you later, sounds like we’re going back to India soon and all home-cooked food.That’ll be an opportunity to apply your suggestions. Should know soon, just some arranging to do…

      • Hope you will soon be in India and on a good homemade food diet. Google high blood pressure diet and see what comes up. The Practice. Not working well for me at the moment. Must get more immersed in it. So much anxiety. Too, too much.

      • Yes I’ll be back in Delhi soon and will Google high blood pressure diet and see how that works. Fortunately we have somebody there who cooks for us, she’s very good and interested in her subject. So that’s the opportunity. As for anxiety, that’s with me at the moment so I don’t have much to say right now, except that I know long slow breathing as a practice does help in creating stability. Perhaps soon we can exchange notes on this 🙂

  6. Another beautiful post, Tiramit. What shines through for me is your compassion. Maybe it is slightly out of balance, and I am sure you will find your way to beginning again, but the compassion in each step is what shines. I don’t think you can observe those around you the way you do without this. As this light settles on yourself in your healing “retreat” to India, I am certain the balance will emerge. You deserve it, my friend!

    Rest easy…

    Much Love

    • Dear Michael, thanks for this encouraging observation about compassion. The Thais have it as part of their culture, and from the beginning (more that 30 years ago) I have tried to emulate this in various naïve ways over the years. Now with M I’m beginning to see how it works. It is, as you say, a balance. Let’s see how it goes. When I leave here I won’t see M for 5 months…

  7. I wonder if the person who created Monopoly had the same thoughts as you today 🙂
    your thoughts are of everyday living within a hurry up world of busyness…
    I love my solitude, though these days it is a precious gift to find it
    I hope your blood pressure balances out and your waist lines fades in that balance…
    ( I wondered if you cooked with bitter gourd(Karela) for your blood pressure, just a thought 🙂 )
    I enjoyed wandering within your thoughts this morning, I have missed your post ( my own busyness in life gets in the way)
    Thank you for sharing your postcard, and wishing you a good day
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • Thank you Maryrose, and good to hear from you again. The person who created Monopoly was surely motivated by competitve greed but there is that opportunity; return to go and start afresh. Who knows? That’s how I see it. About bitter gourd here in Thailand, it’s one of my most hated things… but I will check it out on google to see if I should give it a try, thanks for the advice. Sounds a bit like your days/hours of solitude are surrounded by a great sea of the hurry-up world of busyness; maybe it’s all a state of mind; there’s flexibility in that. You take care too, stay in touch…

      • its good to be back if not sporadic these days…too much life got in the way 🙂
        I take care of my mom these days since both my sisters died last summer, it is a full time job, which makes life hectic with that busyness but I have learned a valuble lesson in patience and to not take things personally, I am the misfit, so I can never live up to my sister that lived with my mom and thats okay too, I wouldn’t want to be anything like her…
        bitter gourd is an acquired taste, but I don’t think that is possible, adding sweet cherry tomatoes,( saute them together with olive ) helps a bit
        good luck on using it if you do 🙂
        Hope you are doing well… beside the stress and blood pressure
        Take Care…You Matter…

      • Yes I know how that is, I had a short period of being a carer for my own mother – no time or inclination to do anything else. And all the truth is revealed… maybe it’s necessary. I feel wiser. Try to get more into blogging about some aspects of it?
        Bitter gourd sauted with cherry tomatoes in olive oil? Sounds more palatable. Thanks again for your advice…

  8. Oh what a joy to read your sharing. Oh yes I so know this toggle between being so called ‘in it’ (the busyness of ordinary life) and being aware ‘of it’. Bless you Tiramit. Thank you for your honesty and clarity. Mx

  9. Pingback: having apparently forgotten | art and awareness

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