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]