for all I’ve learned…

NOTE: this is being written 10 days into being completely disconnected in the middle of northern Thailand in a village that is perched on the side of a mountain range in houses made of cinder with the breathtaking views in a host home filled with 23 family members*

**DOUBLE NOTE: we have already been to 2 other villages and have 1 more to go, for a total of 2 and a half weeks of living in agricultural rural villages**

This is being written in my personal journal as I do not have any internet access or electronic devices. I am using this as a sense of self reflection and a way I can center myself through experience. 

what i’ve learned……

from being so deep into this mountain range that it is impossible to see any sunrises or sunsets:

I’ve learned that I truly miss Mother Nature’s way of using a sunrise to symbolize the hope and peace that comes from new beginnings and from the idea of a full say of life to live. I miss sunsets symbolizing the fire and vibrance that comes from beautiful endings.

after 10 straight days of seeing neither a sunrise or a sunset, I was beginning to lose the sense of beauty from beginnings and endings. until I learned that for me, these concepts don’t have to come from a sunrise or a sunset, but instead can be formed through the many other ways that Mother Nature can express herself: like from the roosters waking up at 4am and deciding it was the best time to chat; or from the pink glow that the mountain outside our house gets right before the sun peaks over; or from the mist that moves over the tops of the mountains creating a mysterious decoration (@maddym).

I learned that it’s important to appreciate the smaller and less dramatic ways that Mother Nature expresses joy and that a lack of a certain expression means the addition of handfuls of others.

from moving from village to village and meeting dozens of farmers who practice vastly different ways of agriculture:

the hope and expectation that all of these farmers would be doing all good is a disappointing perspective to have. going into it believing that each farmer would have their own way of admiring the Earth and practicing fully organic agriculture was not accurate considering the amount if chemicals still being used and soil destruction going on. But, I learned to take the disappointment as what it was, and to admire the two small farms that were run by the two cutest Thai farmers that were focused on the good of the Earth and the ecosystem living within their farm, instead of just the yield. I learned that there is a massive amount of progress the world needs to make, but there are little shimmers of sunshine and hope. 

from living in homes made of concrete and strategically placed wood where the ovens are tiny fire pits and the showers are buckets and the toilets are holes in the ground:

I learned that I miss my squishy bed and warm shower and toilet paper, but I also learned that life is beautiful without the luxurious possessions. I learned that the joy that came from Lung Nua’s smile and eyes was purely from his fulfillment of creating a fully organic and sustainable biodiverse agroforestry that welcomed in as much biodiversity and as few chemicals as possible, not from material items. I learned that joy comes from internal fulfillment and pleasure and doing what you love, not from possessions.

from watching a captivated 1-year-old pig be slaughtered by students in its own home with a long stick and a knife at the end:

I learned I will never eat meat again in my life if I can help it (sometimes in Thailand you have to eat a certain dish that has been prepared by host families). I learned that buying meat at the store feels different than watching the life leave an animal’s body by the hands of a human being. I learned that each being is actually ALIVE and has a life and that no matter if it is a human or a tree or a microorganism or a pig, they deserve to life it.

*NOTE: I also learned to not resent people who eat meat. I learned that it is such a personal belief and decision. As long as I am acting toward what is good for myself I am happy. 

from going from my host siblings in Chiang Mai always being on their phones to playing soccer with the kids of Pang Dang Nai in a large muddy clearing using trees as goals and mud as eye-black:

I learned that these rural village children are vastly happier because they are having an authentic childhood. yes I am sure that they are having their own kinds of struggles, but on the surface level of a child’s life, they are far more genuine. instead of playing FIFA, these kids brought us to their muddy clearing and destroyed us with their soccer skills. leaving the game I was covered in mud, but was peaceful with the idea that these kids aren’t fully consumed by their technology. I was content with the fact that we couldn’t really communicate but that soccer is such a universal thing that brings people together through laughter and friendly competition. 

from being taken in by 5 different host families:

I learned that homesteads are challenging for me. it’s a constant feeling of not being totally comfortable and always being watched, but I also learned that human beings who are happy and live simpler lives radiate kindness and openness. being taken in as a child to people I cannot communicate with is a very unique experience. I have so much gratitude to the villagers of Don Jieng, Pang Dang Nai, Mae Sa Mai, and Maetha. Cap Pun Ca Hoka, Chad, Chai, Seeya, Lung Nam Set, and Mae Pim Tong. I am so humbled to have been able to experience such vastly different ways of and means of living with people who have such joy in their hearts.

so its been hard. it’s been mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. but it has changed me for the good. it has given me more life and knowledge and experience. it has helped me find me, and for that, Thailand, I thank you.