I glimpsed the water, ran to the sand, stripped off my clothes and jumped in, rolling around in joy and laughter, ducking waves and summersaulting in the warm water. Phuket was a true place of restoration for me. I sighed in relief. I could not get out of the water to go have dinner after the sun had set. The whole rest of the crew was just observing the ocean from the beach… Like one of my dreams. clothed as they looked on to the liquid gold that i melted into. I felt alive again. I had almost forgotten what it felt like. To be completely surrounded and transported. On our way to the hostel we were staying at, I anxiously held my hands tight as I whispered to myself or perhaps too loudly “where is the ocean, where is the ocean”. I was soo afraid of ending up far from my love, I was ready to jump pout of the van on the next spot of beach I saw and just camp out there for a bit or forever.
I was so surprised and delighted to find out that though our accommodations were not physically royal they were enough : a spot to sleep AND BETTER, a minute walk from the beach where I ordered coconuts from a chill restaurant pretty much every day. It was really cool, to meet this beach. I used to have a fishing game on my phone in like 8th grade where you could chose different ports to fish at. In the moment of observing the shore, the colors, the haze, the width of the ocean and skyline I realized how beautifully different and diverse beaches are and how lucky I am to know such a different array of them. The beach culture of different places is also lovely to observe. We came during off season, there are resorts further down the cove but the beach was very open and few people came while we were there. Mainly locals playing in the water, digging in the sand for crabs? and ridding their motos down the beach.
The first night in Phuket was a nice time of fellowship, flowing conversation and interchange of our different practicum experiences as well as Adele and Michael’s time in the states promoting the program at different universities.
Our first day I reveled in the opportunity to roll in the sand, collect way too many shells, make some beach art, dance with Tippowan’s 2 year old Wana, do short spurts of yoga and of course roll in the water. Unfortunately I got pretty burnt. Oopsh. Not used anymore to my skin not being used to being exposed under the skin. Also not used to not having a huge amount of aloe verra on ready disposal.
The next day I was sooooooo excited to go snorkeling in the clearest water I have ever swam in. Adele had asked that morning “who has never gone snorkeling?” I said I hadn’t because I didn’t know it was like ” a thing” though I totally have grown up snorkeling just not around such beautiful colorful fish and reef! We took a speed boat out an hour from Phuket to visit the Similan islands. We went around 3 of the islands, snorkeling at two different assigned spots with about 20 people and the best crew we couldve hoped for. We stopped for lunch on one island that I found out you can spend the night at and we had snacks and a nice hike up to a rock formation on another. Our guide played around with us, taking our picture, really intent on having a personal connection and taking good care of us, always offering fresh fruit and drink after every excursion. seriously such a good experience! I was extremely skeptical as we arrived at the company in the morning and van after van unloaded numbers of asian and forang tourists but it is crazy to think how awesomely organized the members are and how you actually feel like you are being welcomed to experience this alongside them as different speed boats headed off in opposite directions and routes. These islands used to be primarily inhabited by sea gypsies, ethnic communities which completely resemble the hill tribes in their struggles as well as organization. I thought it interesting that this was the first of our encounter with the term. Our guide told us tourism is changing a lot for the people. Though I did also think about what unorganized tourism would do to the community. Would there be less because people are less likely to go rent a boat and drive to the reef or would the harm done in ignorance outweigh our impeding on the place in this way? Also though it might be false comfort I did feel a true enjoyment in the crew for sharing this with us… Though it was weird for me. Im used to being the insider or being with the insider, not an assigned tour. It was still an awesome experience. I got more sunburnt and went to buy an overpriced after sun cream which transformed practically overnight my awful deep pink burn.
The next day we ventured to the National Park and hiked a little yet unexpectedly challenging trail to a small sand beach where I yogad and swam in the rain. One of my fellow students remarked as we floated in the water “What are we doing?” we were talking about super hero movies and sports… I had just thought to myself how grateful I was to be sharing such benign conversation without angst or frustration but just small talk, sharing experiences and shallow interests as we floated in this perfect place. This was our life. in this moment. So beautiful. Perhaps it is difficult to live with this peace and awe and wonder, observing it unfold without always verbally expressing the immensity of it. Still I am seriously grateful that I can come into community with these people, that I can express my desires and they be heard even if they are shallow things like where to get good hiking gear.
We hiked back in an equally surprising time. It was sooo cool to be in a RAIN FOREST with rain. The leaves were shiny green, the trees and bamboos stalks brought refreshing aromas. We ate dinner at the restaurant at the end of the trail, with one of the best views ever. Perhaps surpassing my beloved Boat House in SB (though the boat house vibes cannot be equalled nor the site of bouncing dolphins. so ya.)
We rode back to the dormitory in the bed of a truck. The night life and lights bringing me new energy and excitement. I let my hair flow in the wind and took deep breaths as the scenery shifted. Freedom?
We spent one last day at our awesome beach. Lyndsay and I found some broken but willing boogie boards we had ALOT of fun with running into the waves.
I did some yoga. My favorite is going to the wake of the waves sun saluting and letting the water kiss my hands, flowing into my vinyasa with the water gliding over the whole front of my body in chatarunga and upward dog, when i take my deep breath and just smile.
I did not want to leave. I could not get out of the water. I would start walking out and then run back to it. I finally tore myself away and went to shower and pack. It was raining. The ocean was crying. That reassured me. There was a response to our departure. There was room for it. This might seem melodramatic but its really just the truth of my state of mind and heart.
As we drove towards the airport I let my mind wander. SO IRONICALLY that day I thought about pain and memories. I thought about a quote I had read. Something about how sometimes to move on you must leave the pain behind. I thought of my garden. Of how I have left holes in it and how I have buried things I could not look at, and how now, through sweat and tears they have transformed. Like compost. Like compost the fumes arise and send aromas around us. The memories of pain and people and atmospheres and moments. This is what is left of them. They have fed your garden, they have made you who you are but you cannot return and you will never face them the same again. The fact that you can observe these elements, without them bringing on pain, with a distance and with the knowledge you are no longer connected to them, the fact that they have been composted and you know see the fruits and flowers that have grown from their compost is perhaps if not more painful just as breaking. I say Irony because these thoughts would seem irrelevant the next day. Upon returning to Chiang Mai I was contacted by a friend with a heavy heart and a difficult situation. The pain of my empathy and inability to make any action but speak words of comfort and encouragement that seemed so useless resurrected with a rushing wind all of my deepest fears, insecurities and broken dreams, hopes and loves. Memories that I had forgotten, words I had hidden came back with flashing clarity and searing pain. Things I have been pondering and trying to find answers to about how to direct my life now seemed extremely dire and at risk. Everything everything was painfully shitty. To top this off, my wrists and ankles have been very swollen so before this even fell onto me I had told myself to let my body heal, free of straining movements. Not having a yoga mat for 3 months and the difficulties of having correct alignment on slippery floors is really starting to show and to hurt. So where do you go and what do you do when you feel like absolute shit and you literally have no way out? In fact should you even have a way out? I have been saying I need to feel pain. What I have been doing is feeling ok pain like the pain of previous years, the pain of broken relationships, the immediate pain of broken heart that I could not face. I’ve “felt” this pain but I’ve also trained myself into feeling its arousal and finding ways to deal with it. “healthy” ways vs ways that can get you completely lost into the darkness you fell in and saw no light out of. I went to a coffee shop with Bethany, asking do you just sit in the shit? and after a while what? does it seep away? When there is no escape at all.
The irony is that I was in pain about there being a separation and then the first feeling of actual pain that arouse, I felt a connection in that pain. In conversations with my mother I’ve come to understand the relationships of my past and understand how they had such an impact on me and my heart. How we find comfort in each other in our pain and we were salvations to each other… How I will never again be so low again and so lost so I will never again feel the deep connection of what it is to be in continuous pain, fear and angst with people that you find joy and happiness with despite. Those moments were so sweet and strong because of the intricate pain they were built on.
And now I have opened my eyes to feeling and not fleeing. And yes, it does shift away once you let yourself to sit in it. Still. My heart has been continuously tightened. Still, I have been turning my mourning into dancing 🙂 And I have been strengthened and comforted in this and in my vulnerability and knowledge that this is not the end and perhaps this very weeping and pain and sweat and sore has something more to it. That it shall bring forth new fragrances.
I am having new visions and dreams and will be putting them before you. I want you all to be a part of it, its based on the interaction and mutual inspiration of our hearts and minds 🙂
“When we walk through the valley of weeping, it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!
A single day in your Temple is better than a thousand elsewhere! I would rather be a doorman in the Temple of my God than live in palaces of wickedness. For Jehovah God is our Light and our Protector.
He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold for those who walk along his paths.
O Lord of the armies of HEAVEN, blessed are those who trust in you.”
I have been in His Temple Today. I have been within myself and I trust in the good things coming.
Today was our first day of classes. I read and follow a lot of inspirational yoga teachers and motivational speakers. The other day I was reading a post of a great writer Jennifer Pastiloff who I hope I can have the privilege of going on a retreat with, about “opening your heart”. How this is not simply something to think but something to intentionally think about and do. She stared at herself in the mirror, saying this “open your heart, open your heart”. I thought it was good practice of intentionality and engaged in it. Be careful what you ask for 🙂
Today I ended up in tears after my first class and spent most of the second in aroused emotional anguish. This is ME. The Me that feels and sees the world as so much more, so much deeper and that has felt misunderstood and shout down and could not handle the harsh reality of no one engaging on this level and of facing the crashing waves of my extreme emotions. And yet when you hear that door creek open again, when you hear whispers of dreams and inspirations how can you not go home to your abandoned cave of a locked up heart?
So I will continue to shed layers and I am so beyond grateful for these experiences and for these teachers, for this life of pain and sorrow and the beauty of what you can compost from this shit. Just keep dancing and you will shed.