I groan, turn off my alarm, and open my eyes while I lay snuggled in my sheets. I hear only the morning critters and the whir of my fan for another ten minutes before I finally drag my body out of bed. I do a cursory glance around my house for stray geckos and spiders, once I know the coast is clear, I make my breakfast and my coffee. I begin my day. It’s become my coveted morning ritual.
The first time I made the 30km trip to the nearest 7-11 it was so hot I was sure I would melt. Before reaching my destination, my head throbbed with a headache from dehydration. Now, that is a trip I take at least weekly. It is a ride I look forward to. The feeling of getting on my bike and letting my mind wander with only the steady pulse of pedaling and the whoosh of passing cars as the rhythms that guide me.
Lately, I’m learning about the immense value of rhythm and ritual.
In the chaos of not understanding, it can be so easy to cling to negativity. To vent endlessly to friends about this annoyance and that frustration. Complaining had essentially become a ritual in itself: spend several consecutive and isolating weeks at site, get together with fellow volunteers, complain, rinse, repeat. It needed to stop.
Most days don’t turn out how I imagined they would. Most classes don’t go how I planned them. Most conversations eventually reach depths I’m unprepared or unequipped for. Most experiences here in Thailand are new, and therefore, unpredictable. Sometimes this gets to me, but I’m learning that to counteract these frustrating events, I need to create positive rhythms and rituals for myself. Activities that remind me to be grateful for the moment and not to dwell on the difficulties.
It’s helpful to share hard things. It’s healthy to vent and process with trusted friends, but don’t lose your joy in the process. Don’t become so attached to the negative that you forget to see all the positive.
The daily bike ride to school. The weekly ride to town. Morning coffee. Evening yoga. Reading before bed. Saturday morning runs. Sunday morning french toast. Carving out time for journaling. Weekly Skype dates.
I’ve peppered my week with little activities that bring me joy. And that has made all the difference.