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balance (2): compassion and sentimentality

Monday, July 7, 2008

compassion and sentimentality

been thinking about volunteering in an orphanage in bangkok for a bit, not because i like kids much at all, but for an inherently selfish reason- being that helping other people helps me forget about my own problems. even thought of going so far as to volunteer at a hospice for AIDS patients, but after reading some very thought-provoking reflections on the work by a western medical volunteer in lopburi (see this e-book and this website, with some horrifying pictures of the patients), i realized that i might not be such a compassionate person as i like to think. it is interesting, actually (and a point brought up in the writings above), that thais seem to have little or no compassion for their fellow beings. from a western viewpoint they have no moral code. but in general, thais are very happy, socially well adjusted people who are not plagued with the neuroses of westerners. westerners are over-sentimental. i realized this yesterday when i was watching 'hancock' (which i loved, as right now i can relate to the feeling of having tried to do good things for people only to have them turn around and call me an "asshole"). but like i have said before, americans especially are big softies. and actually, that is the source of a lot of our problems. in our efforts to "care" for people, we overanalyze and complicate. we suffocate others with our lists of "rules" for being "good". we overdramatize situations to extract more "meaning" out of them. we get involved in other people's business in the name of "helping" them. since i have moved here i have been constantly disgusted by the Thais' inclination to detach themselves- it used to make me crazy when my ex scowled at me and called me "too soft". but i am starting to see that in actuality, this detachment, this not thinking too much, lends harmony and strength to their society. they live and let live, they have a realistic rather than idealistic view of things, and in the end, this might be more "compassionate" than what we as westerners view compassion. it is really hard to wrap your mind around it when it is not what you have been taught since birth.

anyway, in my own life, my neuroticism will be the death of me if i don't find some way to curb it, which doesn't entail my going on some sort of drug binge or shooting myself in the head. my sensitivity and sentimentality are not admirable traits, i am realizing. for instance, i take other people way too seriously. and since they do not reciprocate, i am always let down and feel my efforts are wasted. my best friend of 12 years has recently dropped me with no explanation. he went so far as to block my phone calls and emails, and i really have no idea why. rather than letting him go to find himself and worrying about my own life, i have gone through a couple of embarassing phases of stalker-like behavior, trying to analyze it from every angle and force him to talk to me and remain my friend. it doesn't make me feel better (in fact i feel like shit because i am constantly dwelling on it), it doesn't make him feel better (if he even cares at all). but it is something i up until this point i have not been able to control- obsessive thinking, trying to manipulate a situation into my version of what is "good" rather than let it and the people involved in it be. maybe i need to really look at the Thai way of doing things.

i have decided though that people in general are really detrimental to my happiness, and i need to stop focusing on them and trying to make sense of their behavior and instead worry about my own (remember that people are bastards and i am the only perfect one who knows everything ;)). and because i don't have much choice in the matter anyway (working from home in bangkok) i have decided that becoming a hermit for awhile might be the best course of action for me. i am not ready for any kind of relationship with any person right now. and to be honest, i am pretty happy doing my own thing alone here as long as i don't start thinking too much!!!! so out with the old, in with the new, i don't expect much of interest to happen in the next 6 months as i am bored to death of thailand... so i need to build up my strength and my bank account again for a bit, and when my lease is up in 6 months i will probably move on to a newer, better life.

been thinking of where to go next. my little sister (an arabic major) would like to go to egypt and morocco in december. a possibility (and a guaranteed travel partner)! the guy i work with and i are talking about starting an interactive agency with an office in hong kong. i still have a niggling desire to go live in japan and force a japanese boy to marry me. and also a desire to go back to the states (NY or SF) for a bit and luxuriate in my own imperfect but mostly logical culture. in the end, i might just spin a globe and see where my finger lands.

my friends' wedding party


Blogger elocin said...

note to self, looking back to 2005 entries, 'x' did the same thing then. and remembering a couple years before, this is definitely a pattern. sigh.

8:25 AM  

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