Thimphu Freak Out

I've been lying a little in this blog.  Life in Bhutan wasn't all prayer flags, green scenery and magical clouds.  There was another side too.
This is a genuine message I sent to a family member during my first days in Bhutan.  I read it now with a smile, with a sense of dramatic irony because I know that everything turned out OK.  But it's an honest artefact of how it felt to be a few days into a new life, completely removed from anything familiar or safe.  And -- dammit, I loved those headphones.

Well today has been a very very hard day for me.  It began with not being able to find a very nice (and expensive) set of headphones I bought myself, which made me much more upset than it needed to… I mean, they're gone, but… well, they're gone, and the suffering that came from that is the issue now.  It made me doubt myself and my ability to be responsible enough to look after myself.  Honestly it's a fear of the immensity of going to the east on tuesday, a frustration with how diffuse my attention has been in recent days (went out and got drunk the other night due to social pressure rather than a genuine desire to do so, etc.) and the simple fact that I'm fucking tired, tired with so much difficulty still ahead of me…

Last night I sat here enjoying the quiet in my room, enjoying a little island of familiarity by watching Premier League football on Indian ESPN, and then I was interrupted… by the sound of rats fighting in the hollow shaft that opens onto our bathroom.  RATS, squealing so loud they were louder than my television.  And this is the reality of the next year of my life: I send neat pictures home from markets, little masturbatory images of me looking all happy and enlightened, but sometimes it just really sucks to be here, and it will again, far worse than this.  And let's not miss the point that I could easily die here, people do, and if I look truly deep inside myself I don't know if I came just to post cool images that get everybody's attention on Facebook or to do something authentic and genuine.  I don't know, I don't know…

And this is the cry today -- I came here to relinquish control, but I ask God or the universe or whatever, how much control must I relinquish?  I feel myself being humbled and humbled and humbled.  Today I wanted a day off, one simple day, but instead I had a day where every single thing I tried to accomplish was simply impossible.  Even buying a simple watch - universe says no.  I know this is something I need to shed, I even know that I am here seeking this battering from the universe that few will ever encounter, that it's brave for me to be here, but today, today it hurts like hell.  Ultimately a day will come when I'm glad, but that day is absolutely not today.

I think the symbolism of those headphones is pretty clear: I bought them for those days when I need to drown out this world so I can retreat inside a place that feels safe and familiar.  Today I wanted only to write, which always heals me… but even that was impossible.  Why?  Because I didn't have my fucking headphones, I didn't have the one item I use in order to signal gently to others that I'm not available for conversation.  So I had to give up on writing because I couldn't for the life of me find even three minutes of consecutive peace in which to do it.

And this hotel room smells of piss.

So please remember this!  I won't tell many stories like this; I won't send pictures of my tears or my sadness, loneliness, my fear, my doubt.  I won't blog about it, I won't share it, but believe me, believe me, I feel it at some point every day.  I do now and I will when I get to the east; there are times I feel like I am falling too fast, out of control, and I want desperately to claw at something, grab something, go back, but I can't.

And I don't tell you this to earn your pity or to make you worry.  I tell you this to be honest, real, to share with you the absolute truth of how this is and how it feels.  I came here to die and to be reborn.  And it's happening.  Little things like losing headphones, that's the true death.  Not shedding the things I wanted to shed but shedding the things I wanted to retain.  These are the moments that hurt so very much, but without the pain there's no growth, no development.

So if nothing else I hope I can share this with you and you'll take something from it.  Yes, there are moments I do feel so happy, but there are days like today that I feel worse than I ever knew I was capable of feeling.  I guess this will be a year of extremes.  Who knows who, where, what I'll be on the other side.


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