Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Relaxing with a little help from nature

Do you sometimes take several days just to get to a point where you can truly relax? I do, and dislike the realization.

It is Day 4 on the island of Koh Chang ("Elephant Island") in the Gulf of Thailand near the Cambodian border, and it is the first day I have felt free of some unknown anxiety that has limited my relaxation time. I even felt hesitant to leave the house for the relatively short (4 hour) trip. I think it has something to do with my body and mind resisting the go-go-go routine of intense uninterrupted work even though by last Friday the students and teachers at the school showed obvious signs of fatigue after two straight months of non-stop interaction. I felt nervous and wound up, unsure of letting myself go. I realized then how differently I react to life now than when I was much younger. I miss the freedom I felt then. I asked myself, "Can I get more of that feeling back into my life?" I was hopeful but not sure.

Despite the isolation and beautiful scenery on this tropical isle, and the lulling effects of the slowed down way of life, it was only today that I was able to spend time without thinking about the time or checking for phone messages, and simply enjoy the peaceful surroundings. My muscles relaxed and my spirit soared as I wandered the beach doing nothing, read a chapter or two from a book, or floated on the gentle waves with no schedule in mind. I took the time to become more conscious of my surroundings and let go of the trappings that I allow into my busy work life, and which had accompanied me to the island.

Perhaps the signal that I had finally had escaped the grip of work was the sight of two beautiful butterflies flitting about the hedges, the female busily sipping nectar while the male hovered continuously over her, awaiting his chance to add his gametes to hers (There I go, back in science class mode). So involved were they that I was able to slip my hand under her and coax her to alight on my outstretched palm. Such a small event, yet one that more than anything illustrated how taking the time to watch and just be can enrich one's view of the world and slow the pace away from you, and shift it to nature's. I invite you to share in this wonderful moment by clicking on the play button below.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hot dog!

How does a fluffy canine cool off in the heat of the world's hottest city? Here's how one pooch did it. We found him fast asleep in the noon heat of the Sunday market, his breath forming puffs of fog as he slumbered on a pile of crushed ice, likely provided by a sympathetic vendor. Ahhhhhhhh!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Does Anyone Really Care?

One of the top stories on Yahoo this week went something like this:
"Khloe and Kim Kardashian are spotted just days apart in the same form-fitting frock. Who wore it best?"

To quote the great rock group Chicago, "Does Anyone Really Care?" This is what concerns America? More than anything, I think this obsession with celebrity signifies the absolute meltdown of intellectual pursuit in the U.S.

Come, on, really, does ANYONE out there really care? And if you do, PLEASE explain why!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Keeping the Faith?

Wandering the backstreets of Silom, one of Bangkok's busiest areas, I came across two cemeteries, one Christian, one Chinese, although the Christian burial ground was mainly of Chinese people. The neglect of the grave sites was not only a bit sad, but also somewhat disquieting. Photos of the deceased stared eerily at me as I walked by their overgrown resting places. These persons once laughed and cried, and were cared about long ago. Their bodies and ashes now give way to neglect and fading memories of descendants. It is appropriate, I thought, for nature to take back their remains and to slowly and imperceptibly take away their tombs grain by grain with each cycle of tropical storms.

The Christian cemetery

The roots of a sacred bodhi tree entwine a misplaced marker in the Chinese cemetery

Photographs on the tombs are personal links to those who have died

How many years ago was this incense last lit?

A faithful Chinese lion stands guard in perpetuity

A couple gaze from their resting place

Ashes no longer protected by the vault's seal.

The haunting glass eyes of a guardian lion keep watch through the encroaching vines