I recently chanced upon a video clip from Youtube and that kept me thinking for a while. The video is about a university lecturer addressing his students. It was a science lecture and he was telling them that the basis of everything, or to be more specific the basis of life is relationship. Everything on this planet earth is all about relationship; one thing links to another. The mysterious thing about life is how all these things are interconnected and how, to a large extend, can’t do without each other. He explained that when God created the universe, He first created the physical elements that support life, such as light and heat, water and the air. These elements are then interconnected and eventually giving breath to other life-forms, such as plants, vegetations, living creatures and finally humans. After He created man, He found that it is not good for him to be alone, therefore He created a companion for him, the woman. There, humans are again interconnected through various kinds of relationships. When the man and woman fell from grace, this first relationship and the whole interconnectedness of things in the world changed.
Although shared from a biblical perspective, I find this whole idea of interconnectedness very mesmerising. The fact is we are more connected than we are divided. We need each other more than the fact that we are separated. And perhaps, we are more similar than the differences we thought we have.
Some years ago, I went through a very dark period of my life and I decided to cut myself off from the people around me. I did not physically isolate myself from them, but what I was going through greatly affected my relationships with them. I felt disconnected and life was very miserable. I went away for a period of time and started traveling from Thailand to Vietnam, Malaysia and eventually to Bhutan. In Bhutan, I found a very different kind of connection. I was connected back to nature, back to the mountains and back to the valleys. I was connected back to the living streams that gave life to the trees in the forests and the creatures that inhabit the ground.
In Bhutan, I was surrounded everyday by the Himalayan mountains and everyday I walked through the woods and passed through the rivers and streams. Each step I took and each breath I breathed in, I was making renewed connection with creations and rediscovering the lost connection. It was when I reconnected myself with nature’s energy, I realised how small and tiny I was in all of these networks of life; this vast interconnectedness that we are all living in. My Bhutanese guide often told me that Bhutanese do not see themselves as superior to nature, neither do they see themselves as inferior. They see themselves as all part of nature: the trees in the forests, the rocks in the field, the fish in the streams, the creatures roaming in the woods and the humans that inhabit the ground, all are part of this whole networks of life and breath. We all breathe in the same breath and received heat from the same Sun and enjoy the coolness of the same moon.
When I came back from my retreat in Bhutan, the first thing I wanted to do was to restore my relationships with my family and friends. With the renewed relationships, I set to make things in order, set the wrong right all over again and slowly build up my strength to face the challenges of life all over again. We never have to live in defeat and despondence if we understand how interconnected we are and how we can draw strength from one another.
Chang, from Bangkok
I know this picture is rather unglam, showing me in my home casual packing my luggage to bring over to Bangkok. In a week or so time, I will be starting a new chapter of my life, teaching in an international school in Bangkok. This has been one of my dreams and I am very excited to see it coming true at the age of 39. Sometimes it’s even unimaginable that this is coming true! Who would think that at the age of almost 40, I will still be able to start a new adventure and more so in a foreign land. I am grateful and still very grateful for this.
As the days draw nearer, I find myself becoming more and more quiet at home. I like to close myself in my room, reading a novel and listening to my favourite songs. I guess this is my way of managing the feeling of withdrawal. I don’t want to be sad when I leave this country. I don’t want to see myself crying at the airport and missing my family members. I just want to leave quietly. Even for my current school, I just want to leave amidst everyone’s busyness and rush. And I will exit without a trace. I will just leave! That is one of the reasons why I declined many attempts by my friends to farewell with me.
Of course, Bangkok is not unfamiliar to me. I have stories, my friends and many more things here! So in a way, I am not exactly a stranger in this land. Like it or not, I have left my footsteps on the streets and corners of Bangkok. I had my sorrow and I had joy. I had my disappointments and I too had my celebration. I had my love and separation too. I have so much of context in this place. And now, I am going to live in this land. I am not sure what to expect, but I know that this is journey I have chosen to take. It is mine to finish it! It is my prayer that I will build many good memories in Bangkok!