yesterday i ended with,

“i feel like there’s a life lesson in there somewhere.  about the small things adding up, about taking care of the things you own, but maybe especially about having a way to help you notice when little things could be improved to make a  big difference.  conversely, i also couldn’t help but think about how doing things the difficult way for a little bit made the “right” way so much more fun, and that i appreciated it more.”

that last sentence, about how doing things the difficult way for a little while makes doing things the “right” way (or what we think of as the “normal” way) easier and more fun…

i guess i’ve been thinking and talking with some friends about how living in Thailand is really good for taking you out of your comfort zone. the things you take for granted suddenly disappear, and you know what? you deal with it, you get used to it, it becomes familiar, too.

back in america, we like to exaggerate and complain, but we don’t realize how easy it is and how well things are done in america.

things i’ve learned to do here:
– take cold showers
– take bucket showers
– take cold, bucket showers outside (wearing a sarong)
– handwash my laundry
– flush with a bucket
– wipe without toilet paper
– not throw anything into the toilet or down the sink drain
– be a passenger on a motorbike
– ride on the opposite side of the road down the street
– sleep on hard mattresses
– sleep surrounded by people on the floor
– eating rice three times a day

much of america delights in the convenient.  i never realized how americans are really, really, good at doing things well.  and perfectly.  we strive to be the best.

the national attitude here, on the other hand, can be summed up with the phrase “mai bpen rai.” meaning it’s fine – no worries – never mind.  one of my coworkers said he thought it’s great on an individual level, but when he looks at a societal level it’s detrimental.  safety?  no worries. school standards? superficial appearances are enough.

where can we find the balance?

i’ve always found zodiac signs sort of hokey, but of course i delight in them and only pay attention at the ways they are true for me: the way they fit into my schema of myself.  born in october, i’m a libra: the scales, weigher of options (indecisive! indecisive!), seeker of balance.

i see the value in both attitudes, and i fight between the two, perfectionism and letting go.  lately my favorite quotable quote from the get rich slowly blog has been: “perfect is the enemy of the good.”  the book i’ve been reading about buddhism teaches that there is nothing worth striving for: clinging dearly to ideas about what we should be and do is an endless cycle of desire and suffering. 

i guess i’m trying to reconcile these ideas with a few other ideas that i’ve been reading about. i won’t go into them now, but i’ll leave them here for when i look back – ideas about building an extraordinary life through hard work and becoming an expert / leveraging those skills to your advantage (cal newport / study hacks), demolishing inaction and assumptions in order to have your own business (ramit sethi)…..

oh there’s others but i’m about to get kicked out of blogging.  thanks, leechblock.


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