Some people claim that as one approaches the end of life, each moment becomes dearer. As I age, I’m finding that I don’t care about most stuff. In fact, if I wanted to I could compile a list of all the things I used to care about but no longer do. Here’s a brief sample of what that list would look like.
Travel to exotic climes.
To tell the truth, I never cared much for sports. The only ones I was ever any good at were handball and swimming, neither of which is a spectator sport.
Add to this list all the things I never cared about to begin with and the litany would be long.
I could go on for weeks. So does this mean I’m approaching the end, or just cleaning house as I go?
Have I told you my plans for the future? No? Well, I will someday, as soon as I come up with some. You see, I’m a present-moment kind of guy. I believe that if I can’t enjoy this moment, I probably won’t be able to enjoy the next one, either. Circumstances don’t dictate my level of happiness. Acceptance does.
Sometimes it’s hard to accept and embrace my current situation, but that’s my problem, not the situation’s. The world is doing just fine the way it is. I am surrounded by content and occasionally happy people.
There’s a man who looks to be a few years younger than me who seems very poor. He sits in front of his house and watches traffic go by. He usually is wearing shorts and no shirt. The amazing thing is that he has a very large tumor about the size of a baked potato sticking out of one cheek. In the six months I’ve been living here, his tumor has doubled in size.
I’m sure he could go to the local public hospital and have it removed for a reasonable sum. Maybe thirty dollars. Thais can stay at the public hospital for a dollar and a half a day. It’s not air-conditioned and you often have to wait for hours to be seen, but if the choice came down to having it removed or living with it, I’d go to the hospital. Apparently, he doesn’t see it that way.
Maybe he’s looking forward to death. Maybe he’s not in discomfort. Could be that he enjoys the attention having a six-inch tumor growing out of the side of his head affords him. I’ve never spoken to him because I don’t feel confident enough with the language to broach such a delicate subject.
The only real moment is the present one. Everything else is memory or projection. I know that, but yet I diss the present moment as not being exciting enough to warrant my full attention. I’m thinking about five things at once, keeping my options open in case a better moment comes along.
In fact, writing this blog entry isn’t very important, because hardly anybody reads my blog. Now if somebody were paying me to write something, then I’d really put some effort into it. But along with that added pressure would be a certain amount of anxiety about my sponsor not liking what I’ve written, and resentment that I have to be at this guy’s beck and call. Fuck him. Who does he think he is, anyway?
In this way, I have managed to ignore most of my life, having ascertained that it’s beneath my dignity to give it my full attention.
Even as I’ve been doing this, I’ve rationalized that I still have time left to change my ways, to dig the bliss of the present moment and become an enlightened old coot. It will happen any day now when…when…I have more peace of mind. When I have fewer pressing problems and thwarted ambitions.
Then, I’ll be blissed-out.
I was born in 1950, and that allowed me to observe the tail end of Saturday morning movie theaters dominating the market that would quickly be taken up by television. For twenty cents or so you could see five hours of back to back short subjects and feature films made for kids or stupid people. Francis the Talking Mule, the Phantom, Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers, Ma and Pa Kettle, the Three Stooges. Republic Studios was a major supplier of these dumbed-down, low budget products.
At first, the motion picture studios would not allow films to be shown on television. The first live TV shows were extremely low-budget productions, allowing aging vaudevillians one last gasp in the limelight. Then, they began to film TV versions of popular radio shows. Topper, The Life of Reilly, I Married Joan, Dragnet. I Love Lucy became the first made-for TV hit, filmed on 16mm film in a studio, because Lucy and Desi refused to leave Los Angeles. Hence Desilu productions. Hence the total transfer of talent from New York to LA. Good-bye Phil Silvers, Ed Wynn and Your Show of Shows, hello the Brady Bunch.
The first afternoon kiddie shows on TV were hosted by the local TV station engineer, who was also the weatherman. FCC regulations demanded a certified television engineer be on site at all times, so when the equipment wasn’t malfunctioning, that guy would don a cowboy costume and show Felix the Cat Cartoons and old Buster Keaton films that had gone out of copyright.
By the 1960’s, the Saturday morning movie theater kid fest was finished, and better quality movies started being shown on the after-school kid shows. Tarzan, Dick Tracy, high-quality Warner Brothers cartoons from the 1940’s, and yes, even more Three Stooges.
I’m having the same problem with Lampang that I have with lots of towns I don’t live in. I find myself idealizing it for the simple fact that it has nothing to do with me. If I were to live here, I’d become somebody else entirely, and that is Lampang’s allure for this retired old fool.
There aren’t many foreigners living here compared to Chiang Mai, so if I moved here I’d be more likely to lose myself in a Thai culture that has no intention of accommodating me except in the most superficial of ways. Today, when I got a massage, I found myself fantasizing about becoming the partner of “my” masseuse. She was attractive enough to make my job easy. My reverie didn’t have much to do with her to begin with.
In order to put this latest fantasy to rest I had to imagine that my current partner either died or left me. Then I could come back here and look this massage lady up. Never mind that I don’t have a clue if she’s married, has a boyfriend, or single. Statistics tell me that massage ladies in their early forties are almost always single and highly receptive to having a foreign boyfriend.
She was thin and strong and had a pleasant face. When we talked, she seemed intelligent. She spoke more English than most Thais and was learning it from the Internet. I applaud her ambition and drive.
Experience has shown me once a foreigner gets involved with a massage lady, the free massages stop soon after cohabitation begins. Will she keep working after we move in together? Good question. What will she do if she’s not working? She doesn’t seem like the type to keep house and watch television.
Actually, I thought that would be true of my current partner, but she turned out to be exactly that type. This new lady said she has an eighteen-year-old daughter. That could spell trouble. It would certainly mean some sort of expense. If she stops working, I imagine whatever support she is now giving the daughter would fall to me. Hmm. Hard to get excited about supporting a girl I’ve never met and one who hopefully will not offer me sex in return.
Oh what a tangled web we weave…This is the geezer’s dilemma in Thailand. How do you press your advantage without doing so? What are my real intentions in living here? Do I want to be an equal partner, a worker among workers? Of course not. I want an almost free ride. We all do. Even the girls who are attracted to us we retired foreign men want this.