This post, in many ways, is a sequel to one I wrote a while ago , so those who want to figure out where I am coming from are advised to read that post first. As the sort of person who is prone to a great deal of reflection, I find that life serves as the raw material for pondering, usually of a serious (though not always unpleasant) variety. Given that this is a part of my personality that has been the case for a long time, I simply seek to direct it along profitable ways of pondering rather than letting it spin fruitlessly in negativity.
At any rate, as I ponder the sort of responsibilities and lessons (many of them entirely unplanned by me) I have had over the course of my time here in Thailand, it would appear that the lessons are either mocking or preparation. Seeing as I am taking the optimistic side of things, I am viewing them as preparation. I’m not sure exactly what I’m being prepared for, but having endless lessons about patience, parenting (!), communication, and the like would seem to indicate that this preparation is not for a life of lonely solitude, and I welcome that vote of confidence if that is indeed what it is.
The difference between mocking and preparation is that mocking is a deliberate frustration of one’s hopes and dreams, usually with a derisive sort of hostility, while preparation is work, often of a difficult nature, with the end of an eventual fulfillment of those goals. It is a difference in attitude that determines how it is seen–learning experiences are generally not very much fun (mocking is certainly not fun either), but the end results of learning experiences are growth and improvement, and these help us become better people better able to achieve our goals and aspirations. And it is with the perspective of hindsight that we are able to appreciate the role of our preparation in preparing us for what is worthwhile. It provides meaning to the hard work and effort that would not be present otherwise.
It seems as if some of us (myself included) never really leave school. Even where there is no formal education, I always consider myself as struggling with some kind of test or lesson in my life. Some of these lessons are a bit trivial, but some of them are very deep and profound. In the process of learning these lessons, I often ponder on the ends to which these lessons could be used, as it gives me the motivation to learn them well. Seeing as there are a lot of bad cycles in my life that I am very intent on breaking, bad habits that need to be corrected, and thought processes that need to be improved and mended and repaired, much work has to be done to bring some aspects of my life into what is considered normal and acceptable by others. While this work can often be a bit tedious, having worthwhile goals makes it possible to endure in the meantime and continue working on the lessons.
Having the optimism and hope and faith that experiences are leading to a better future requires a sense of vision that seems very uncommon. This sense of vision appears rare because of the short-term mindset of most people, a mindset that demands fairly quick results and has little patience for long-term planning and preparation. Feeling that one is in a crisis seems to dampen the patience for working for the long-term, with the belief that problems need to be solved now. That sense of urgency, whether it is genuine or not, hinders us from recognizing our own need for improvement and in taking the time and effort to fix ourselves in ways that may not be immediately rewarded. While patience is a lecture that is easy to give and a hard way to practice, it seems a bit hypocritical that in our day and age we demand others to think for the long term and be willing to suffer now when we are often so unwilling to do so ourselves.
It would also appear as if the possession of a vivid and fervently believed long-term vision, so long as that vision is eventually rewarded, is a way to ward off feelings of despair. Often it is not our experiences that are so difficult (there are some exceptions–particularly traumatic ones), but rather the fact that they appear to be without any purpose or meaning, or any hope of remedy, that cause such grief and anguish of heart. Being someone who struggles in this area, I recognize the nature and reason of this struggle, and do my best to work on it. Let us hope that it is preparation for a better future, and that the fruits of the efforts will be visible in my own life.