Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One foot in the water, one foot in the sand

Some days, it is great to feel the cool, cleansing water splash against an individual leg testing the temperature of a rushing stream. The air outside is warm, and your body is moist from the humidity associated with the season’s heat. You know you want to fully submerse yourself in the flowing liquid, but you go in slowly. One foot first, followed by the other. After one foot broadcasts safety, the rest of the body joins in the fun. You may even put your head all the way under if you’re bold enough. What happens, though, if you find yourself perpetually caught with one leg in the refreshing, moving liquid, while one remains firmly planted in the sand?

For the last 2 months, I’ve been living in a city in northern Thailand called Chiang Mai. The city is known as the staging area for people wanting to explore the northern region of the country. While it boasts all the charm of Lanna culture, what it also offers is a beautiful mix of the west and the east. Amongst the busy Thai streets, one can only awe at the precision in which the two cultures are intertwined. Temples and monks are as ubiquitous as western style cafes, free wifi, and guesthouses aimed at backpackers. Pad Thai can be procured as easy as a hambuger, and the Wat Prah Signh temple exists caddy corner from a 7-11. It seems only fitting that my inner diatribe revolving around duality would come to light here.

With each passing day I come in to contact with two halves of a whole that create our existence. Be it the battle between good and evil depicted in most temples, or the separate, yet, associated existence of the rich and the poor. The world seems to be constructed of small parts that are actually the result of two distinct halves (call it the ying and the yang if you will). I’ve realized that I am no different. All things are one and all the things are equal, right? Why would my existence be any different? It is true that being a tumbleweed has its perks. My days are presented with an unrelenting sense of freedom. While overwhelming it can seem, if I want to hop on a bus, catch a flight, or just lay in my bed and read, I can do this. My free roaming lifestyle can’t last forever (damn you economics!), but at the moment, I find myself in a good spot. The fact is, though, most tumbleweeds, at some point, come to a impasse. While they have found themselves engaged in a new existence, a firm part of them still resides in a place which they call home. While they are physically in one location, remnants of their mind, body, and soul have yet to make the journey abroad. Normal, yes, but one has to wonder if living so torn is actually sustainable.

After a year or so into my travels, I’ve seen myself start to slowly drift towards one pole or the other. While I’ve definitely had stints of belief that I would return home soon, I'm nearly completely off of American news and media after watching the acquittal of George Zimmerman. But, with each step toward, I’ve also realized that my feet are no closer to meeting on either side. As things from my home start to fade away, or certain aspects of travel become less important, all that happens is the metaphorical cream rises to the top. The purpose of my travel becomes more apparent, and the people I love become even more important. I can’t tell you what the fuck twerking is or what happened at the VMAs (I did hear Drizzy killed it though), but I can tell you how much I care for those who are willing to brave the harsh reality of international communication. It may not be the most concise way to live, but as of now it hasn’t done me wrong.

Though the duality of my serrated life does weigh on me, I’ve started to see it in a positive light. Maybe there is hope for us strange few who choose to try and live in two places at once.

Photos courtesy of Training with Matt and author

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