Last week it’s been exactly one year that I left the United States for the Land of Smiles. Looking back at the circumstances of then and now, lots of things changed since Richard and Game picked this greenhorn up from the Bangkok airport at midnight. I think I can safely say that this one year in Thailand has been more dynamic than the previous five years living the stale, relatively secluded life of an international university student.
From a financial standpoint, the year was a complete disaster. Not even my highest earnings here came even close to the comfy, 60,000Bt/mo salary I enjoyed as a researcher/teacher in the US. It took quite a lot of time (and quite a lot of my savings) to get used to living by local standards on local wages.
From a career standpoint, it appears at the moment that it was a downward move also. No surprises on either accounts. But I wouldn’t be the person I am if the above two factors would be the only things leading my life. I pity such people sometimes. Their boring 9-5 jobs, seeing the same people, the same places every day; living a life where genuine smiles, genuine happiness are as frequent as a white raven, not to mention real love. Their ineptitude makes them chained to a never-ending threadmill; they are permanently stuck doing the same, set routine over and over until retirement. The highlight of their lives must be when they are finally able to pay off their 30-year mortgage.
These five years in America taught me the lesson that most of these people figure out only when it’s too late. Everyone knows the cliche: lotsa money and a bright career alone won’t give you happiness, blah blah. The difficulty is actually believing it. Well, the painful lessons in the US made me believe in it for sure!
A lucky twist of fate showed this busy resume-builder a way out from the prison that he and the society were so eagerly building around him.
I still think back sometimes about what would have happened if I never knew about Thailand. I’d had to just endure my disgust and put up with the American lifestyle in lieu of any better alternative, living a loveless, cold life like the rest. If for nothing else, these five years were useful in finding out more about myself; mostly through the values I found repulsive, and in turn, wishing for the opposite.
Here, only after one year, I found everything that I was looking for during the previous 10 or so years on two other continents. Seeker is not seeking anymore. Money and career -sure, it would be awfully nice to have plenty of both now, but I can get those any time in my life, with some luck and relatively little effort, like before.
It’s the true, timeless values that make life worth living. The words to describe these values are used so frequently that they are reduced to meaningless cliches now. For me, one year amongst Thais was the way to discover the true meaning of these words again, from people who give it all, sincerely from their hearts. This is what helps to overcome the difficulties that come with such a lifestyle. Finally, a place where I feel I can fit in.
At last, I found home.