Daily Bits of Joy ประจำวันปิติ

Daily Bits of Joy ประจำวันปิติ

Living in Chiang Mai gives me a dose of elation on a daily basis. In the morning, this is the beauty I see:

This tree greets me everyday as I walk into school.

This tree greets me everyday as I walk into work at Panyaden School.

Walking to the office includes bananas and Bodhi trees.

On my way to the office includes bananas and Bodhi trees.

My new classroom

My new classroom

The beginning of the rainy season viewed from my classroom. Ahh, a relief from the heat.

The beginning of the rainy season viewed from my classroom. Ahh, a relief from the heat.

Jubilant children running through puddles.

Jubilant children running through puddles.

Blooming lotus in my backyard. บัวบาน

Blooming lotus in my backyard. บัวบาน

Buddha image delighting in the lotus

Buddha image delighting in the lotus

All of nature reminding us to be mindful of each moment. Everything is temporary. Notice beauty.

ดอกบัว

ดอกบัว

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Buddhist Kindness and Thai Superstition

Buddhist Kindness and Thai Superstition

A Thai colleague of mine noticed that I was wearing a Buddha necklace one day and asked if I was Buddhist. Our school follows a Buddhist approach, and I try to follow life with a Buddhist approach.

A few days later he stopped me on my way into school and showed me a Buddha amulet. “Suay” (beautiful) I said.

Then he said, “For you,” and gave it to me. I was touched.

With his limited English and my nit noy Thai he explained to me (and my bilingual Thai colleagues who translated when I didn’t understand) that it was a Buddha from the King. Inside the pendant there are 9 hairs from the King as a relic.

“Why 9?” I asked.

“Nine is the lucky number for Thailand,” my colleague Goy explained.

“Why is it lucky?” I wondered aloud.

“Nine is pronounced gao, which sounds similar to what means a step forward.”

I am now stepping forward auspiciously with my new 9 King haired Buddha amulet. Khap khun kha Kru Tee. I feel blessed, quite literally.

Letting Go

Letting Go  17.11.11

As I left my guesthouse today and rode my bike to work I was feeling back to my energetic self. I arrived at school to be greeted with a hug by my lovely Thai teaching partner Kru Goy who I had not seen since the last week due to my visa trip to Kuala Lumpur and her being absent yesterday.

It’s Thursday, so that means it’s our day to present at the morning assembly. The theme Kru Goy presented this week in Thai was how to bow to the Buddha with the appropriate hand gestures and words. I was delighted to learn something about Thai culture and Buddhism first thing in the morning.

I went back to my classroom and opened my computer to begin planning lessons when I noticed the subject line ‘Sombra’ in my open e-mail window. I knew whatever I read would not be good. I was correct.

Sombra is my dog. I have my house rented out to 2 wonderful women (sisters) who love and take good care of my house, garden, and dog. Sombra is a rescue dog, and I’m quite certain he was abused in the first year of his life before I adopted him. The Humane Society let me know that he did not do well with other dogs. I found out that he is a dog that doesn’t really like to be petted by people he doesn’t know well, although he is quite loving when you get to know him. Needless to say, he came with some baggage and issues.

On the other hand, he is very smart and really an adorable dog. He is a black labrador/Australian shepherd combination. One feature that makes him particularly endearing is his little half tail that he wags any time he sees me. I sing a song that basically just repeats the name Sombra that makes him wag his tail even harder. His name means ‘shadow’ in Spanish. The reason I gave him that name is because he follows me everywhere I go.

Leaving him when I came to Thailand was very difficult for me, but I knew that it would be nearly impossible to bring him. When I left, I didn’t know where in Thailand I’d land, what I’d being doing for work, or where I’d be living, etc. What I did know is that most places in Thailand there are street dogs with varying degrees of mange.

My tenants were growing more and more attached to Sombra. He certainly has some odd behaviors, but is also easy to take care of because he is independent. They tell me often that, “He is a just the cutest dog.”

Then yesterday he had an incident.

One of the tenants was petting Sombra when he suddenly turned around and started biting her. He caused her some puncture wounds on her hand, a trip to the hospital, a course of antibiotics, but perhaps worst of all the loss of trust. Although they love Sombra, understandably they think his behavior is too unpredictable and do not feel comfortable living with a dog who might attack them. I don’t blame them one little bit. I know they have treated him with nothing but kindness. They do not deserve the worry of another potential dog biting incident in their home. I quite distraught about Sombra and feel horrible for my tenants.

So, that leaves me with this problem: what am I going to do with Sombra? He can’t stay living with my tenants.  I’d bring him here, but…A – I still am living in what is basically a guesthouse, which is not a permanent situation for me (and even if it was more permanent here, they do not allow pets). B – He would have to take several long and extremely expensive flights (around $5,000 USD for most pet carriers Oregon to Thailand) to get here and then be quarantined for who knows how long. C – If he made it through that, he would most likely pick a fight with a street dog, and he would lose. D – Even if I did have a house with a yard here he would probably need to remain inside while I am at work. E – Most of the year it’s quite hot here, which would not be an ideal environment for him. So, for these and several other reasons, it just wouldn’t be practical for him to come here.

This is heartbreaking for me, but I think I might need to give him away 😦

I will put positive thoughts out there and focus on him ending up with an owner that would be just right for him. I hope to find somewhere that when I come back, will allow visiting privileges. Maybe I will even get to take him back.

As I was riding my bike home today, the sun was setting in a spectacular array of colors and each cloud had its own glowing outline. The rice fields that had been bright green just last week have turned golden, and the harvest has begun. The air was filled with the scent of freshly cut rice. Taking this all in I was thinking about how life is in continual flux, as was so clearly evident to my changing scenery. No matter how pretty the moment is, the next moment will be different. We need to let it go. Somethings are easy to let go of, like a sunset, but other things are much harder.

I have been thinking about Sombra all day. I might need to let him go and trust that he will end up exactly where he is supposed to be. This makes me extremely sad. I just need to trust that with the outflow, there will also be an influx.

Deep sigh. Letting go breath. Breathing in. The practice of non-attachment.

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Oh, Sombra.