Last Updated: March 24th, 2019

“As we are… as we are… as we are” I muttered non-stop as I travelled back to Bangkok. I’m a seasoned, easy traveller. Have always been tolerant, unflappable, laissez faire to an almost uncaring extent. Things happen, deal with them, everything works out fine in the end, people are all just people, you are here… until you are not. But not this time.

The difference? I wasn’t feeling well. I’d collected some bug along the way and it was playing havoc with my system. Nose running, headache, fever, aches and pains, sore throat. I was feeling miserable—plain and simple. And things were being thrown at me that I had to deal with. Too many things all at once. My eye wasn’t jaundiced, it was downright black!

Stop standing so close to me, stop speaking so loud, man you have an attitude, come on people, move, you’ve obviously not travelled much, must you be so…, can’t you pack properly, jeez woman get a life, get your children in order. My mental processing was definitely not of the “light” kind. But, I knew it wasn’t them, it was me, thus the mantra from Anais Nin: “We do not see things as they are, but as we are.” And I was miserable, couldn’t these people see that? No, all they saw was a person being… and this was important… what was I being? I needed to get on that plane and I was being thwarted and I had to deal with it.

“Do you have an onward flight from Bangkok?” No, I don’t need one. “Then we can’t let you on the plane.” Excuse me, I have done this for years, look at my passport, don’t be ridiculous. I travel by road from there, just look, have you gone blind, don’t you have a brain cell left, must I tell you everything, can’t you use your intelligence. No, I didn’t say them, but the thoughts were there.

Of course the woman was dumb, of course the man dressed in long flowing white robes standing too close was a crazed Muslim on a jihad, the swarthy guy giving me a silly smile just had to be some Mid-Eastern low-life and the nun reading the Bible was going to attempt converting me,  the African teenager in his jail-house style needed a lecture and only a yell would silence the raucous children. My feelings were screaming!

And this isn’t me. But it was there and I recognized it… it could be me if I let it. I’ve never been racist, or discriminatory or used derogatory speech for any nation, religion, culture or creed. Yet here the thoughts were… where on Earth did they come from? I was feeling physically dreadful and it was negatively affecting my thoughts.

But feelings have nothing to do with it, it’s an act of will. And it’s an act of will that moves us through life, which keeps us out of darkness and in light. It’s the ability to see that things aren’t the way we are, and to force light into everything around us that changes situations and moves the impossible into the doable.

So I smiled at the delightful woman and asked her what she wanted me to do. I smiled at the tall Muslim man and chatted to his five wives and myriad kids, I grinned back at the gentleman from Turkey, I asked the nun what scripture she was reading, tickled the kids as they passed me and asked the teenager from Africa where he got his style. I still felt absolutely horrendous, but that’s not what I projected. And as my voice began to leave me and I started croaking, I laughed, which had everyone laughing too and they went out of their way to help me.

I got on the plane without having to do anything extra, but it took an enormous act of will. The journey wasn’t one of my more delightful ones, but it was managed with equilibrium and I remained in light. Each time my thoughts started roaming to the dark side—and somehow this trip tested them to the ‘nth—the man behind me kept knocking my seat, the one next to me kept knocking my headset out, the woman in front with the strident voice, the plane was packed, the plane was late, the luggage, the taxi, the …—I did my mantra … as we are … as we are…

It’s not how we feel that matters, it’s what we do, what we project, and what we project surrounds us and affects everything we do and everyone in our vicinity. The smallest flicker of light removes darkness, but it takes an act of will to light the candle.

Read more : MINDFUL TOURISM: Travel below the high tide mark leaving no footprints

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