the foreseeable future


POSTCARD#400: Bangkok: I carry my present time with me, through the shadows of the immediate past and into the near future. Before this and after that. There and then in future time becomes the here-and-now in the present, then in past time it falls away into a kind of death. The word mindfulness as we know it today, wasn’t in the collective vocabulary in my young days, only listening to the words of adults, paying attention to what was wise, thus being careful not to misjudge the dynamics of a situation, losing my footing, and I’m in pain and injury.

Like fumbling the ball, the object leaps free from our grasp inexplicably (how could that have happened?) and I’m brought to earth  by way of an accompanying collision subsequently in hospital with two broken ribs. I’ve been there, done that, and ready for further attempts by gravity to bring me down… the next could be my grave. In the meantime, as long as there is mindfulness sufficient to see the dangers of a careless and irresponsible way of life – as long as that level of mindfulness is present, it’s enough to be going on with.

25 December 2020, Unavoidably drawn by the crowds going to the Malls in search of something thought to be deservedly earned because we’ve been having such a hard time trying to obtain it. Besides, it’s Christmas. I see lights, hear applause and a band playing, drum-roll ‘rrrrrrrrr boom!’ cymbals ‘crash!’ Welcome all from near and far, situated in a wonderland or trapped in that predicament… regardless, whatever, we are propelled further along the path to where there is no exit. Choices are subject to skillful marketing research options, sales strategies, my innate ability to find the Path obscured in clouds of delusion, for now it’s gone off somewhere. Accordingly drawn like a magnet into the depths of this wonderful place and disinclined to get out of here. The whole thing cannot be anything other than what it is – we have to buy our way out.

The ‘me’ I live with is not an unyielding entity. I can ‘think it’ into this present time, and encourage and cherish its presence by clicking on the ‘unlock’ button to allow marketing options, gently nudging at the elbow. Other times it goes out of control an unsatiated demanding thing, as in Formula One Live Grand Prix Event; voracious hunger driven to catch, clutch, hold, eat. Fearsome, like a death unforeseen, unfinished, lonely… a sadness seeking completeness, searching for closure in this way and finding there is an antidote. It is loving-kindness (metta) for the unloved, a special kind of meditation. Click here for the full text.

It’s not difficult to practice loving kindness for the unloved here in Thailand because there are Temples all around us where Buddhist monks are sitting in quiet meditation very early in the morning, and in the evening. Thailand of course is a Buddhist country. Centuries of meditation, mindfulness and the quiet still mind of the lineage of monks has had an historical effect on the outer environment. This is still the Old World… or you could say simply that it’s just a gentle place, no extreme life-threatening conditions.

But there is another side to this – 25 December 2020: an unexpected outbreak of Covid 19, more than 1,000 people possibly infected in Samut Sakhon, a province adjacent to Bangkok on the Southwest side (Quite near to where we are). There is a large Myanmarese (Burmese) community in the fishing industry here. Undocumented migrant workers enter and leave Thailand, undetected by border-control-testing for Covid 19. They cross the border at night, going to Samut Sakhon for work, or returning to their families in Myanmar. Among them are those infected with Covid 19 who have come to Thailand to be treated in Thai hospitals because they cannot get access to treatment in their own country. There are also cases of Thai women in the entertainment business working in Myanmar and based in Thailand and going between the two countries on a regular basis.

It is a complex problem, likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. We are immediately concerned about the sudden proximity of the disease to where we are living. Another lock-down likely any day now.

16 thoughts on “the foreseeable future

  1. I’d never noticed the connection of ‘grave’ and ‘gravity’ until you used them adjacently. Good write. I need to keep up with Thailand, now so far away…

    • This is the thing about blogging, we meet here although from other sides of the world. I need to be reminded of how astonishing that is. Then there’s gravity, undeniably what it is but treated in a whimsical way sometimes. The blog post incidentally looks at the meanings of words in common usage. This is the thing about varying backgrounds, I come from Scotland and you are from the US (I think) – is that where you are now?

      • American, but currently in Guatemala, one of the few countries which will let us in, with proof of no Covid, and not a bad track record of dealing with it, themselves. I hope to get back to Asia before the new year is finished, if current trends hold true…

  2. Thank you for the reference to Ikeda on loving kindness. Comes at a good time on many levels. And not always easy.

    Having been in the epicenter of Covid in New York City last March and April, I feel your fear of Covid approaching geographically. I hope your area of Thailand handles it more intelligently than the U.S. has under Trump, with some 229,000 (or is it 339,000) deaths? New York had a good governor who got things going well. Still we were under seige, clapping and cheering the health workers at 7PM every night ( a very emotional custom) and it is starting up again. I have a feeling the Thai people will have a more cooperative spirit and response.

    • Hi Ellen
      The practice of loving kindness can be difficult but the principle is that we persist, stay with it!
      I feel for you in the midst of it there in NYC. It’s possible that Thailand will handle it better because, for one thing the Thai population generally heeds advice about wearing masks and social distancing. There’s reason to be optimistic in the US, I think we are through the worst of it – when the Biden government takes over and for the first time, a central plan is implemented. Yes, the front-line health workers deserve a special place in history.

  3. Thank you for your compassionate response. The US is still due for an upsurge after the people who traveled over the holidays come back sick and spread. This was predicted. Unike the Thai people, many Americans have this idiotic response to guidelines by professing the importance of individual freedom and lack of trust in science. Not a very loving kindness remark but the truth. The reality. In some places hospitals are overflowing to the point of having to treat patients in the gift shops and tents because of lack of room and are having to resort to triage of care . Jan. 20th and the Biden take over can not come soon enough. I hope so much that you will not have such problems there. The Asian regimes are looking far superior to our “democracy” under Trump and the people are generous in spirit and intelligent in their response to a huge world health crisis. Please stay safe with Jiab and M!!

    • Thank you Ellen for telling me this. We are following the guidelines to be safe and secure here, so much depends on mutuality of understanding and trust. It’s simple really, I’m hoping that as time goes by and the pattern of correct social behaviour evolves, enough of these reckless Americans who ignore the Truth will wake up to their ignorance, one by one. Thus the balance reaches the tipping point and the great wave of good health sweeps over us all.

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