I am consistently amazed at the human capability to adapt to new situations. Our dynamic ability to adjust to conditions at any given time is inherent in our cells, it runs in our blood, and there is something inside of us that knows how to adapt naturally, more than we could ever attempt to with our own doing. Without taking mind to this transition into a realm of normality, we are completely capable of adjusting to new situations solely through the passage of time. Without a single moment of reference to mark the point of adjustment, this transition is made gradually, until one moment we realize that we are suddenly in the realm of the norm, and we are at home where we are. We have arrived.
With the intention of looking beyond the fact that I have become accustomed to certain conditions, I thought it appropriate to take daily notice of the things that I have accepted as usual, but throughout my entire life I would have surely thought twice. Besides the obvious that I am living in a different hemisphere, speaking a different language, eating different food, and interacting in a pool of cultural norms very different from my own, there are many details here that were once very foreign and very far off. In very little time they have become my own norm and my own daily reality. There are two fish living in the water basin from which I bathe from. Each morning, evening, and whenever it is too hot to stay out in the heat, I carefully dip a plastic bucket into the water basin and wash myself over in a bucket style shower, taking caution not to scoop up my little gilled friends and throw them onto my head and down into the drain. They are little creatures, no more than an inch or two in length, and are very kind to keep the bath water clean, only in exchange for some mosquitos and other insects that land on the water’s surface during their nightly business and bustle. Day and night, there are lizards crawling on the surface of the walls, seeking cool spots and corners to trap their meals. In the kitchen, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, you name it and there is sure to be a lizard slyly working its way around and eating little grubs and bugs. Some are small and silent, no larger than 6 or 7 inches in length. Some are larger, plump, and make a call that sounds like a bird with a conch shell stuck in its throat. Another variety is as large as 7 feet and look similar to a crocodile. The first time I crossed paths with a member of this species, it was a rainy afternoon and I decided to ride my bike home through a shortcut that cut through the back roads that pass by rice fields on one side, and marshes on the other. As the gravel road ended and turned to a trail of pooled mud, I got off my bike and immediately noticed a monitor lizard standing alert, only 10 feet away from me. It observed me for a moment, as I observed it, and then with movement that was a cross between sleek and clumsy, it turned around and returned to the marsh from where it came.
The night air is thick with sound. Silence here has a different meaning.The stillness that comes from the depths of silence is found in the constant chorus of frogs, lizards, birds, bugs, and insects of countless varieties. The sounds bounce off of one another, creating a droning rhythm without beginning or end. It becomes impossible to distinguish one sound from the next and where each one originates. The sound is seamless and consistent. It doesn’t take long at all to learn to appreciate this new frequency as its swaying rhythm brings me to sleep each night.
I am yet to experience the full range of weather here, but I have had the chance to become very familiar with what hot means in Thailand. When its hot hear you breathe it in with your lungs and your every pore. I have always been one to enjoy the bright sun, and the beauty of a sunny day, but here i have realized that a hot day means war. It means that you need tactics to conserve your energy. It means that every second spent exposed in the sun, void of shading or cover, is a second that will be transformed into sweat and energy lost. Last Monday I awoke to a pool of sweat, and the humid warmth seeping in through my windows. A shower and cool water was not enough to cool me down, and it was far too hot to ride a bike or get anything done. Needless to say, on this day I napped the heat away, lazily swinging back and forth in a hammock with a fan oscillating its way across my overheated body. This was my tactic all day long, and I was not the only one with this same approach to the day.
Each day is an adjustment in its own unique way. Each day is a progresive transition from the unknown towards the known. Some days the transition comes smooth and quick, and others I am certain that the evolution is moving backwards. It’s a very fluid process. I see that within this fluidity, I am in a pool and I am only learning to swim. Each stroke requires a new technique that I havent quite learned yet, but each day I practice and each day I improve upon this stroke the best I can. Some days I know I am getting the hang of it and glide through the water with ease, while others the thickness of the water, or the heat and exhaustion tell me that I am sinking and that water is working its way into my lungs. I have always trusted in myability to swim through any situation, but now I am also learning that there are other options. Sometimes we sink, and that’s okay. Sinking may be the process that allows us to see things as they are, and adjust in our natural way. Whether its sinking or swimming, we will surely adapt, for this dynamic capability exists in all of us; in our cells, in our blood, and deep down we know exactly what to do without even having to force any sort of artificial transition. The passage of time will take care; it will allow the realm of normality to present itself, and show us how to swim, or show us how to breathe underwater. For if its swimming we are to do, then we best learn the stroke, and well if its sinking then we sure as sure better learn to breathe under water.