It’s been a rough few weeks, getting my bearings in a new country while simultaneously letting go of something that might’ve been. I wasn’t eating very much and barely sleeping 4 hours a night. It was pretty pathetic for a while there. I didn’t feel social at all and didn’t really want to talk to anyone new. I walked in a zombie like state through the streets just sitting in temples and stopping to eat when I’d get hungry. It wasn’t even that I was just upset about the loss of J; it was that I felt lost in a general sense, not having a clear view of my path or purpose anymore. It’s ok though – it’s a process – this is grieving.
Somewhere in the darkness, I ran across a quote.
“For all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these; it might have been.” ~ John Greenleaf Whittier
This kept running through my mind over and over again. As I recited it to myself, it was really pissing me off as I went through all the scenarios that might have been.
Can we talk about that ‘might have been’ concept? Why do we find it so hard to accept it when things don’t work out the way we want them to? As humans our minds have this propensity and innate flaw to grasp to an expectation. It happens every day, whether it’s an expectation of how long we’ll have to wait at the crosswalk to cross the street, getting impatient and angry when it takes too long, or with an expectation we place on another human being in a relationship.
In actuality though, if we would release the expectation and let the ‘might have been’ go, fully appreciating it for what it is/was, then we’d be a lot better off. I am hurting because J didn’t turn out to be right for my lifelong romantic partner, but if I look at what I gained, I am so incredibly grateful for the time we spent together and that he will forever be a part of my life. If we really can come to grips with the idea of impermanence, knowing truly that all we have is today, we’d be able to accept things for what they are and not what we’d want them to be. We’d be happier with ‘what is’, and less unhappy with ‘what isn’t’.
But I’m all too aware these are lessons easier philosophized than lived.
It’s ok though, and I’m feeling so much better than I was before. I’m making my way through the 7 stages of grief; shifting away from denial and anger, now sliding into acceptance and hope. I’m lucky I don’t have work or kids to distract me from the grieving process; I think that helps me to just experience it all in real time and move through it. That’s my theory anyway.
I’ve moved guesthouses 4 times, finally breaking down and getting a room with A/C. First I had a roach problem, next I had a bug-in-the-pillows problem, leaving 82 bites (no I didn’t count) on my neck, shoulders and back, then I decided it was just too hot for fans. I needed some freakin’ AC! After two weeks of hardly sleeping, I was desperate; I had to try something different. A/C seemed to do the trick. Now I’m sleeping like a baby and it’s a really nice place with a pool; still less than $18 per night.
With my lack of sleep I was being a real chicken about renting a scooter. It was restricting me on how far I could explore though, and that wasn’t helping my mental state, so once I caught up on my sleep, I set out to rent a scooter.
Luckily an American guy owned the scooter shop and taught me how to ride one. I drove a few circles in the parking lot to get comfortable and then he escorted me to a shop I could buy my own helmet. They offered one at the rental place of course, but I couldn’t stand the thought of wearing a helmet that had been worn by thousands of others – in this Chiang Mai heat? No thank you! Especially when I asked him how they cleaned them, his face said it all, ‘Cleaning, Ha!”
Leaving the parking lot of the scooter store and getting out on the road was high-pucker-factor, as one of my friends says. It took a little getting used to but I’m getting more comfortable now. And I instantly felt better just having the freedom to go anywhere and explore new places. Yes, this scooter is good for me!
A few days later I got a surprise visit from a woman I met earlier on in my trip. We’d met in the 10 day silent retreat last year in India and since we were silent and all, we never had the chance to get to know one another very well. Through the magic of Facebook I happened to see that she was visiting Thailand and realized we were both in Chaing Mai. She was only here a short time before flying back to Norway, so we only had breakfast together, but I was so happy to see her!
We talked about India and the retreat we’d participated in and lots of things that have happened in between. She told me about her work, she’s an architect; an architect for goodness sake, we have so much in common! We talked of love futures and loves past. It reminded me I wasn’t alone and that you never know when someone interesting and meaningful will pop into your life; this happens often when traveling. Just spending the morning with her gave me a little kick-start and put me in a happier hemisphere.
I’ve also been talking to all my people around the world and that’s been helping me hugely. Now that I’m back to good wifi I’m skyping and face-timing lots of people. Thank you, thank you for being there for me!
This leads me to end with a happier quote that I’ve always loved. It’s about acceptance – and hope. From one of my favorite movies, Cast Away, written by William Broyles, Jr.
“So now I know what I have to do. I have to keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise; who knows what the tide will bring in.”