Did I say I was going to start a blog? You know that saying about good intentions and the road to hell? Well, it totally applies in this case. I had intended to write somewhat regularly about my adventures, observations and musings while in Thailand, but as it turned out I was having so much fun having the adventures that I didn’t care to spend the requisite time on a computer in an internet cafe crafting witty, insightful posts.

In fact, I didn’t have an opportunity to check my email or manage my virtual life for about a week after first landing in Bangkok. That doesn’t sound like a very long time to go without a few common technologies, but in my normal, every day, “real world” life, I have an overwhelming combination of media and technology keeping me connected to a world that is go, go, GO! I know this is not a condition unique to myself , it seems everyone is “plugged in” much of the time. But perhaps what is unique is that I had an opportunity to unplug myself for a while, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Does that sound cliché? Well, just look at this picture for a minute.

This was the view of the sunrise from our bungalow at Jungle Yoga. I took this photo around 6:30am the first morning I was there. Every time I look at this photo, I feel at peace. Khao Sok National Park in southern Thailand is probably one of the most beautiful, remote places I’ve ever been. In the absence of newspapers, phones, radios, computers and televisions, the passing of time was irrelevant. There was no place to be, there was nothing to be done, and I felt completely free to be in the moment.

I spent a lot of those moments being present, swinging in a hammock, staring out over the lake, and  listening to the calls of the locals: mostly birds, frogs and monkeys.

I’ve been hanging on to those feelings of peace and presence since I got back…more than a month ago now. There are so many thing I love about traveling to far away lands, I couldn’t begin to list them all. At the top of my list, however, when I reflect on this most recent trip, is the insight I’ve gained by being so far away from home: insight into myself, into the life I’ve created and into the world around me. You know, all that business about seeing the forest for the trees.

What about seeing the forest for the monkeys in the trees?

I believe we are the masters of our own destinies. As individuals, we may have karma to burn, but we’re also largely in charge of choosing our own paths. In the developed world, most of us are fortunate enough to have many options and opportunities to choose from while beating our paths, and we’re only limited by ambition. Some of us will trod narrow, winding trails through thick forests, some of us will blanket the commute in multilane highways of sparkling asphalt, and then there are those of us in between.

I spent a lot of my time being present, swinging in a hammock, staring out over the lake,  listening to the birds, frogs and monkeys, and thinking about my path.

I thought about what my path would look like if I were able to trace it through the course of my life like a map. I’m pretty sure that would be one curvy line with multiple round-abouts and several dead-ends. Despite its meandering nature, it would illustrate some measurable progress, developments and accomplishments. I thought about how content I am on my path despite my lack of foresight and thoughtful planning. And naturally I thought about the future and where my path is leading.

There’s a saying that I really like, but I can’t remember where I heard it. The saying goes something like, “approaching the truth and accepting the truth are two different things.” A number of truths that I had been approaching for quite some time dwelled in my mind during those expansive moments in the hammock. As one day faded into the next, as I fell asleep to the hum of nature, listened to the rhythm of my breath or watched the world pass in time, I began accepting those truths.

In this context, truth is subjective. I finally accepted some ideas about my life and my purpose that I had been approaching for a good long while. The time I spent in Thailand was more than amazing, it was life changing. Yet, I don’t think it’s necessary to travel to the other side of the world to gain insight and perspective. I don’t even think you need a hammock, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. What’s more essential to discovering our authentic selves and true desires is giving ourselves the time to do so.

Now that I’m back, I’m working on creating a life that’s more in tune with my truths, and I’m definitely going to get a hammock.

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