It was only a week we were in Russia but there were quite some thoughts in head about the trip. Those three nights in Murmansk and other three in Moscow didn’t just turned out to be a fantastic getaway but also I got to learn something inside my head.
2017 has been an interesting one. Even though I spent most of it in Washington DC for eight months all up, it was fortunate enough for me to be there with friends elsewhere for their significant life events. And I am so grateful for that. In chronological order, there were cancer, marriage, death, and monkhood.
In December 2016 when in Bangkok, one of my best friends got a breast cancer and had an operation just before New Year. She was released from the hospital on New Year’s Eve. We gathered at her place to support her. How melancholy to start the year! Fortunately, she’s got a strong will. And eventually, she beat it.
February to June, I was in DC and needed to hop out of the country within 90 days. Another good timing in April when a friend, whom I worked with closely during the years in Bangkok, was getting married in UK. It was a perfect occasion for me to be her wedding guest. Actually, it was my very first time to attend a Christian ceremony. Also, it gave me some snippets of London after that too.
Got a break Bangkok in July and August. The last two weeks of that break was a real blow. My best friend suddenly got a stroke and passed away. His death got me think a lot about life. I always think about life but that reminded how to live your life worthwhile.
Back to work in DC in September to November. And I took a detour to visit a long lost cousin in Los Angeles before another break in Bangkok in December and January. Good news, another close friend was getting ordained to become a monk for three weeks. In Thai culture, this counts as one of the most honourable merits for a son to do for his parents. That was actually a pleasant way to end the year.
These events overshadowed what I original planned and thought about 2017. Since the bold decision to work in DC in 2015 (which got me the hindsight about the journeys that made me), I have been embracing my life to be back and forth in DC and Bangkok in 2016. The plan for 2017 was to get back on track on other aspects, especially on the hypertension issue.
I’d like to do something about my drinking habits. I’d say alcohol control has been better than the previous years in DC. However, Bangkok is still a challenge to be disciplined. But, at least, I could pinpoint where the temptations are. On top of that, I’m back on meds that was deliberately ignored when I first moved to DC and keeping monitoring blood pressure.
While back-and-forth life of mind sounds exciting to able to change the scenes constantly throughout the year, I just can’t help thinking about settling in one place in the future. In the end, we have to do it at some point but I guess I would keep pushing it while I could.
2017 was full of significant times of my close friends. It was mixed with sickness, joy, loss, and gratitude. Yes, gratitude, that I should be feeling about it. It also made me prepare for the years to come.
I’m back in Bangkok as usual for this time of the year. But there’s a detour to Los Angeles for a few days before heading to Thailand. The main reason is to visit a long lost cousin and his family. Reconnecting with them is something I have to digest more than it was anticipated. And this blog post should be something that I need to articulate it.
I remember they were the only relatives from my mother’s side my in childhood’s loop. Over 30 years ago, they left for the States and we lost touch since. So, apart from step dad’s extended family, growing up, it was a huge gap not connected to any of my own large families. Neither from mom’s side nor dad’s (the tie with him was cut off since the divorce.) That gets me excited to meet them.
A quick note on how we found each other. With the power of social media, my cousin was able to track my brother down on Facebook. It started from there. And I’ve got a luxury to physically be in just across the continent, not the planet.
A short time I get to spend with them includes. The first evening in LA, my cousin, with his wife, and I catch up at a Thai place called Palms Thai Restaurant. They drive me around Thai Town, which I plan to explore it on the next day.
The day after the following day, we—the couple with their son and his wife and I—had a yum cha lunch in Monterey. We get back to my nephew’s apartment in Art District. My nephew (with small age gap, I prefer him to call me brother) and I do a pub crawl in the area. I find that we have similar tastes and even some good core values. Our conversation over good craft beers in local breweries is very enjoyable. We finish the evening in Little Tokyo. The rest of the family joins us there for dinner at a place that my cousin-in-law is long-time regular.
The day with the long lost extended family is so overwhelming that I need to wind down in a bar by myself. And the plan to get somewhere, like Venice Beach, on the next day is scrapped. I spend most of the day being a veg in the room until my cousin and his wife pick me up for dinner at a famous Thai boat noodles. And that is it, mission accomplished.
I can’t help thinking about when I travel to Nong Kai to catch up my father in 2014. That one got me to the mindset to get on with my life. But this reconnection shines some glimpse about family. Frankly, that doesn’t come easily for me. I’d say it is one of those missing puzzles in life. In the End, we can’t reverse how we grow up. Certainly, we could pick up some pieces together to understand it. This one is definitely a real reconnection.
Why am I doing this to myself? Why do I have to move around, unlike most people who seek stability, when there were chances to settle down? What frame of mind that makes me choose this life path? Those questions have been buggering me for a long time. Last year, when I dug deep into Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it has become clearer to me as an INFP.
The self-revelation exploded while I was at Sigor Rós concert in Detroit. That strange moment gave me the senses of clarity, purpose, and relieve. I could be able to get INFP personality traits to answer those questions about ‘how’ my brain works.
INFP is one of 16 personality types widely used to indicate psychological preferences. It stands for Introvert, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception. The meanings of each character are not the same as dictionary definitions. In the nutshell: INFPs are idealists driven by own core values and desire to exercise their creativity. No wonder why I’ve got a job as a multimedia producer for an international organisation that promotes ending poverty.
What I find it makes sense that how I often make such dramatic choices around arts. I could trace this alignment as far back as at least in the teen when I had the very first decision to make about going forward in high school. I might have to recall those educational paths in another time for a full story.
Then about sticking to my core values. This is what the clarity of my purpose about. There’s a fantasy world I want to make it possible. And I think I’m on that direction because it’s also been how I make choose life path. Oh boy, big goals ahead.
On the other hand, this MBTI tool is spot on about some issues INFPs need for self-improvement. I actually looking to work on those, especially I want to break those barriers to get to those ambitions.
Now, know-yourself bit is almost done. There are still hard bits to go on. Life!!!
The past few weeks have been rough ones. One of my best friends passed away with a stroke. It was so sudden and unexpected. All of us were shocked. He would have done more in life. On the other hand, he had lived his life as its worth beyond many could have achieved.
I’d say he and I had a long history since the university almost 30 years ago. I remembered our first eye contact and thought this guy could be a cool one to hang around with. And it was rightly so. We formed a small circle of close friends who were pretty much got wasted every time we got a chance.
He always introduced us to his new buddies while drinking. Some were peculiar. Ones I would never talked to in the first place. (Not to mention a handful of girlfriends that we lost count.) Many continued the friendship until today.
We were casted for small roles in a same play in the freshman year. That was the first time we worked together. I never thought our professional paths would cross again.
After the uni, we parted with our jobs but still partied regularly. Until one day I got a call from him about a new position at a firm he was working for. We ended up working in the same event management company for a couple of years. His working style didn’t change much—direct but sensible. It was a tough time when Thailand’s bubble economy was about to burst. He moved on to another job and eventually started his own event business when I left Bangkok for another life chapter in Sydney.
Ten years later, I was back in Bangkok, his business became a success. Despite of that ten-year gap, we still caught up and talked rubbish over drinks like before almost every week.
Most of all, I was impressed with him on his passion to help others, for an example, volunteering flood relief in 2011 and his generosity with his mates. I couldn’t tell for others but, as far as I knew, he supported a lot of people big and small.
We also got a chance to work together on some videos including one of the most challenging productions for me. He was the one who took care of my apartment when I was in the transition with a new job in Washington DC. My stuff was kept in the storage of his firm. He also coordinated the repair of my bedroom floor that was damaged from building leaks just weeks before I left.
It was Thursday, two nights after I came back from a getaway in Koh Samed, when he collapsed at the gym. I rushed to the hospital from a local pub when heard about it. He was still in the operation when we got there. He survived the night and transferred to ICU with a life support. But there was a complication and he eventually had to leave us on Saturday morning.
That was quick but I got a feeling it was how he would want to go. No lingering…just like that. As far as I knew this man from personal and professional views, he lived his life to almost of his fulfillments. We might be living longer than he did (who knows for how long it would be) but he certainly made the most of his time. His presence would be missed tremendously.