[Midyear pause] thoughts from chiang mai

Today, the BBC posted an article on the joys of daydreaming. I didn’t really need anyone reminding me of the pleasures and benefits of a little midday dreaming. But even though we know, we do forget and neglect.

If april brought the best collection of challenges for me yet. May got extra interesting. It began with a Labour Day breather, which i always thought wonderfully ironic – we break, in celebration of work. May then came to a close with buddha’s birthday. A nice bracket, considering just 3 weeks after labour day, i was skidding into autopilot again.


Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai, Thailand

[Chiangmai, thailand. wat suan dok. previous posts here]

About 2 years ago, the sun was blazing hot and i was a tourist drenched in a sticky mix of sweat and sunblock in chiang mai, thailand.

I’d taken a pause at wat suan dok, famous for its sea of white-washed reliquairies which house the remains of chiang mai’s rulers. The back of my neck was burning, my feet ached from saving pennies and earning foot miles, and i wasnt quite sure what the chedis or wihearns meant; i wasnt sure what else i was supposed to gather from my umpteenth temple.

A monk sat down beside me, arranging his glorious orange robes and began asking me questions. Yes, it did feel as dramatic as this sounds. Half-swooning in the heat beside a blazing white ceremony, and a flash of orange appeared asking to share my stone bench.

Where was i from? What do i do? Why am i at the temple? How did i get there? Is singapore really that clean? I couldnt answer all of them, so i had to give rather flat replies. He went on to answer his half-answered questions with more questions. Except they weren’t short defined sentences punctuated by an eroteme; thoughts would perhaps be more the word.

He watched me carefully as if to check i understood, and i looked back at him going along the slipstream of his thoughts, and having to pull my own weight. Without a strong commonality of language, we couldn’t gush in the usual chit chat.

Plus, he wanted to know, and i was deeply curious to know. His thoughts didn’t lead him bouncing off walls, and he didn’t force the conversation or seemed to pre-empt his next question. His brown eyes had gold flints in them, a little goggly behind thin wire frames, i remember, and he was a thin, strong, brown man, broad palms arranging his robe.


He was an avid talker. He told me about the government in his home country, cambodia. he explained the precepts of buddhism (i only remember one term- the ‘monkey mind’, which he enjoyed enunciating). he said he wants to return home someday, and do something good for it. Id asked about his family, and if monks earn any money (yes they can).

Sitting there taking a pause with Chenda, i felt both rested and strong. We thought together.

As much as i like them all, a thought is different from a muse, or a ponder, and definitely is not a flight of fancy. That was a time when i paid attention to my own ideas as they were forming. There was a continuous synergy between simply being and thinking, between my thoughts and his. We sat like that until it got late, and i got hungry.

That was about 6pm, and the walk back to the inner city  would take an hour. Assuming the dark clouds held up.


Which brings me to the notion of a pause. I like that ‘to have a break’ is translated to ‘ein Pause’ in german. To my english mind, it sounds like a perfect blend of a solid break and an expectant gap for otherworldliness to seep through.

In my english mind, ‘ein Pause’ sounds like when you put the saw down, wipe the sweat of your brow, and chance upon a wildflower in the distance.

Daydreams are like that. Im free to think, and able to think. I always come back with something from the temple.


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