|Musings of a Wondering Wanderer|
|Written by Jason Brink|
|Monday, 19 September 2011 03:56|
Note: I am starting to get e-mails from friends, family, and even a few strangers, all telling me they miss my writing and posting. I figured I should probably put something up before people start showing up and looking for my body or something. To those who have written, I am sorry I have not responded, I have been INCREDIBLY busy here lately. This entry is cobbled together out of a bunch of half-starts, so sorry if it seems disjointed.
Words flash before my eyes, burned into my memory. Pictures built upon the pages from the minds of men who have long since turned to dust. I have always read books, but in the past year I have upped the consumption of literature to an almost frightful level. My entire library and more I had in the States has been rebuilt in PDF format upon the spinning magnetic disc of my hard drive. Instead of turning pages, I let the PDF reader scroll the words of the book past my dancing eyes. I have learned to consume the pages and soak up information like a sponge. I love feeling the strain in the back of my mind as I see how much information I can truly get to fit. I have, by observing people, determined that unless you are actively trying to learn, your mind is in an active state of decay. Use it or lose it – I am using my mind now more than I ever have my entire life.
I have been reading a lot of letters lately; I find them to be an invaluable glimpse into the world of the past. These letters have been written home by travelers: soldiers, adventurers, students, writers, wanderers and seekers of every stripe. Some are filled with longing for their lost home, for their loved ones, for their friends and family. Sometimes they are sad, sometimes funny, but there is always a constant theme of separation - of difference. A constant sense of metamorphoses imbues the words of these forlorn wanderers.
They write from the desire to be remembered and understood. It is the pervasive desire for others to see the world through the writer’s eyes, to share the feel of the foreign wind in their hair and the strange soil beneath their feet. They seek to explain why and how they have come to find themselves in their strange and different surroundings. This is my wish: I want others to understand the perspective from which I write, and feelings that abide with me on my current vantage point on the far side of the planet from my homeland.
I think back through time, to the centuries in the past when my forefathers stepped with booted feet upon the gangplank of their rough Dutch trader to head to the new world. Fleeing the religious persecutions of their homeland, they established a new home in what would become New York. From that day forward, they worked their way inch by inch across the country, weaving themselves into American history as they went. They fought at Bunker Hill, on both sides of the Civil War, and made their marks upon the history of a nation.
As I consider this, I feel the weight of legacy bearing down heavily on my shoulders. I am so far from the wheat fields where my forebears turned the soil and weathered the harsh Northern winters, so far from Mirror Lake and the men in serious hats, so far from the comforting smell of steel shavings and grease of the airplanes I played around in my youth, so far from the small pond and the fiberglass boat I was not to touch the edges of, so far from the oddly homey warehouse filled with nuts and bolts, so far from the dark soil of my mother’s garden, or the smooth concrete of my father’s garage; and I miss these things. I am so far from my own history, I sometimes wonder what my own descendents will think when they look at the meticulous genealogical records I have been building and wonder what exactly motivated that distant ancestor, Jason, to climb aboard a primitive petroleum-burning airplane and fly halfway around the world. If I end up staying here permanently, what will be said of me by my own descendents after one of them has moved to some fantastic new location? Will they look at their genealogical records with no true understanding of who I am and ask themselves why I would leave the old American Empire to move to SE Asia? 400 years is about what separates me from my forebears – what will my bloodline look like in another 400?
In the States, I felt surrounded. I felt caged in on all sides by the growing feeling of malaise that seemed to be infecting the body politic. As I walked the streets, I passed the people with their heads hung low, their faces tense knots of frustration and stress. Things seemed to be reaching a fever-pitch of malfunction before I left, and if anything I am hearing from within the borders of the States is to be believed, it is just getting worse and worse. I love my family and friends, but I think I will probably not be returning anytime soon. Politics seem to be getting more and more divisive, with both sides of the aisle determined to sell the nation down the road to their corporate backers. Here I stand, in Asia, looking at the distant nation, and wonder if this is what Thucydides felt while in exile on distant shores watching the might of Athens crumble. A friend of mine just returned from a full tour of the United States and said only, “Dude…stay here, there is nothing there anymore.”
As much as I recognize this, there is so much that I miss. Last night, I dreamed of the desert. I could smell the crushed desert sage and the dust on the wind. The ponderous weight of years of memories and the oddly familiar scent of the kitchen of the Crystal Palace: something of a mixture of dust, propane, bacon grease, and Coors. After I woke up, I stood on the balcony and felt the hot Bangkok breeze as it etched my face. I imagined the mountains around me, the hot breeze redolent with the smell of desert blowing in my face, and the silence that allowed your “ears to uncurl.” Later, I pulled up Google Earth and looked at a contoured projection of the scenery. To see it again, from “ground level” I was taken back. I traced out hikes I have taken, vantage points I love, and just looked at everything – god, I miss the desert.
The things I miss the most are my friends and family. I miss my mother and her fresh bread and pesto, my father and his analytical way of thinking, my sister and her spirited enthusiasm, my brother and his snark (and beard), my grandparents with their insight and wisdom (even if some of them inexplicably believe Glenn Beck is something more than a waste of carbon and water), even my dog Mr Bill. I also miss my friends, especially Delilah and Pandora. I miss the early morning fog creeping through the grape vines. I miss the smell of fresh cut grass. I even miss In-N-Out (if I come back to visit, that will be the 1st stop out of the airport).
Here, in the recovered swampland that is most of Bangkok, I have been welcomed. I have formed fast friendships with the most improbable and distant parts of society. I have gone from being just another farang passing through Thailand to being the white guy who speaks a bit of Thai and defies stereotypes. A friend of me said the other day, “you are not farang man, you are Thai man.” I know I am not, but I am doing my best to fit in as well as a giant blond guy can.
“Life is time, they teach you growing up. The seconds ticking killed us all, a million years before the fall. We ride the waves and don’t ask where they go. We swim like lions through the crest and bathe ourselves in zebra flesh.” – Primitive Radio Gods