Right now in Thailand, it’s bpit-term (summer break), so most teachers and students are taking advantage of finally having time to pák-pɔ̀n (relax). I call this ability to pák-pɔ̀n an art because with each passing day at site, I’m realizing how bad I am at it. Knowing how to relax truly is an art. It’s a skill and lifestyle that takes practice – especially for this particular American. I’m not great at relaxing. When I have too much free time I do things like draw personalized tiny house floor plans followed by cleaning out my closet, teach myself to knit, lay hardwood floors, or take up the butchering trade (these are just a smattering of my bizarre side projects- just ask my parents). I can binge watch a show or podcast with the best of them, but I usually have to break up the monotony with a variety of other activities. I like to do and see and learn and explore. Unless I’m reading a book – I just don’t like to be still.
My life in Thailand went from 100 to 0 overnight. PST was planned and busy and stressful. Life at site is the exact opposite of that. It’s teaching me to slow down. Take a deep breath. Sit. Relax. Excuse myself from always having to do. My new home is forgiving, kind, friendly, accepting, and a whole bunch of other complimentary adjectives. My new host family has welcomed me with warmth and smiles. Their friends have laughed with me (and probably sometimes at me) as I stumble through my Thai. They’ve encouraged me as I’ve attempted to string together longer sentences, and have brought me along to various community events.
My counterpart has been awesome; introducing me to the other teachers at my school, answering all of my questions, and putting up with my rainy day bike excursions and crazy need to go, see, and do-all-of-the-things-right-this-moment. Everyone is warm and energetic and I’m excited to get to know them better, but there’s time for that. Two years of time, to be exact.
So each morning, I’m up just after the sun and a full day with lots of hours presents itself to me. I’m learning it’s ok not to fill every moment. I have to consciously tell myself to take a deep breath. To be kind to myself and to be ok with just being. The Thai way of life is slower than I’m used to. It’s relaxed and unhurried…and I’m learning that’s not such a bad thing after all.