I'm fed up with the English language- it's retarding-ly constrictive and limited. It’s totally useless for describing the complex and finikity differences between feelings and impressions. Sanskrit, Japanese, Arabic, Burmese and countless more mature culture’s linguistic expressions have variations and multiples of similar-but-just-a-smidgend-different for the 'same' thing/ adjectives/ nouns, e.g. beautiful or rain. It’s this that initially drew my fascination with learning Japanese- there is just so much more colour to play with… and yep, I’ve now totally fallen for Burmese which I have started accumulating... I've been rather keen to get Mahjong under my belt too if anyone wants to learn how to play with me!
I feel ridiculous saying 'I love Myanmar'. I feel so much more than this over-utilised and rather boring and beige word.. to take advantage of a descriptive terminology from a loved one of mine- it makes me ’t w i t t e r p a t e d’. Yep- that mental image of Thumper thrumming his foot in adulation and enjoyment kind of comes close to what being here does inside of me! This inability to articulate the kaleidoscopic ambit of what ‘love’ can be and feel like, directly shines light upon our uneducated comprehension towards even the different types of ‘love’ one can feel yar?
By now you have probably ascertained it's rather hard for me NOT to adore somewhere or at least particular facets within- I have an ability to find the good in almost anything. But Myanmar, well, I'm speechless & surprised. She is utterly illuminating.
The unquestionably number one thing about Myanmar that is totally friggin rainbows and unicorns- the peooooople =^+^=
For me, here is the best of everything I truly adore and value. Keep in mind however, experience is entirely exclusive- this is my kettle of fish for my terms, the older we get, the bigger our back catalogue of what works for us becomes. I am exploring and creating upon concepts based on my unique purposes and decisions- not something I am being told to do or that is being presented to me by another. I live by following and listening to those around me and working from ripples that are created by these encounters. A year and a half ago I met a beautiful woman who enlightened me to three things, and coming here was part of the third one- I am beyond joy to be here and engaged in these experiences.
Myanmar's geography is diverse and exquisite. From air, the golden pagoda’s, monasteries and temples twinkle and glinkle below from fertile red iron rich soil in the North, to the hot planes of around Bagan and up into the mountains, around lakes, alongside rivers, waterfalls and in villages & cities. Mixing the best of hints of America and the West, India and Thailand with elegance and sophistication, quality, open friendliness and a genuine passion for fun and the enjoyable; Burmese culture tickles me in all the places I'm most tender. People, energy, history, positivity, beauty, value, fortune (of people and resources), creative expertise and excellence, reverence towards Nature, and a sense of pride and individuality which is admirable and elite.
North Mandalay Moto, Dee Dote waterfall, National Kandawgyi Gardens, Pyin Oo Lwin, filling' up & trying to cool down the tyres and motorbike in 43++ deg heat ;)
Burma is superb to travel around- flights are efficient, the roads are the best I have seen and ridden anywhere in the world, everyone is extraordinary giving in sharing their company, I love this. Hooowever..there are a few interesting things- there are no motorbikes allowed in Yangon, places often have two, three or four different and valid names, you cannot hire a car to drive by yourself and there are areas and particular places that are closed off to tourist view- and why not?! I asked myself- what’s not dignified about having a little something special hidden for only a select few or kept in private? There is a guide/ driver system to see things so if you like your taxi driver, take his card and make buddies. And for the moto- get thee to Mandalay and get ya leg over something!
There is a darker side to this for citizens of Myanmar however- they're freedoms of movement are purposely restricted within their cities and country. Motorbikes are banned in Yangon because the government believes they are linked to underground activities and criminal associations; there is no rail or ease of transport for locals to navigate this city either. When it takes a long time to get from A - B, it takes a long time to get things done, and when prices and currency are split into 'local' and 'tourist' the primary demographic that can afford to move is from outside the country. Flights have citizen and foreign national allocations and guide systems abound- Burma's cultural identity is unique and authentic.. but how much of this is because those at the top are taking it upon themselves to keep others in the shadows?
Cityscapes, landscapes, and the beauty of variation in Myanmar
USD has an interesting supremacy- it's interchangeable with Kyat and there are a few other thought-provoking influences… makes my mind connect little links in what’s happening with the military and governmental systems- we mimic those we admire. Driving is right roadside -with right drive cars which is kinda cool- yet, it's like India so 'right' is a loosely termed suggestion hehe… I have an intense fondness for being able to make a u-turn on a highway to go down the ‘wrong side’ to get to a fruit-shop selling green mango slices that are dipped in chilli powder. On commerce- prices stated, price required- there is no need to barter (in most instances- but ya may get a whiff of your leg being pulled in tourist spots) so please don’t hit Myanmar thinking it’s India or other nations where this is admissible. Myanmar is safe, Burmese are very fair, and I appreciate being able to show my gratitude to those in the service and creative industries by topping up what I remunerate people for. It breaks my heart that because of the value of currency in particular countries, the people within are at deficits to being able to save enough to travel and experience other nations- it is so very, very unfair that the world is beyond the fingertips of a great proportion of our citizens- you can see but you can’t touch, urrrg ;( As we know, not being able to attain something only builds the compulsion, for better or worse, to want it even more.
The further north I traveled from Mandalay the more I noticed influences from India. Actually, more North stirred a great affection within me- I haven't left yet and still I can’t wait to come back and explore further. Luscious gardens, manicured farmland and back roads of a motobabe’s dreams. The reflective windows and coloured houses reminded me of Kashmir and cuisine started to take in the funky mix of Indian, Burmese and Thai which is completely up my alley- so.seriously.damn.good.
Fear and Self have been concepts in the forefront of my mind in the last week. My culture (and I’m not saying this isn't found here- it’s everywhere in different proportions wearing different guises, I’m doing a comparison between contrasts) is conditioned to think of the worst, plan for the worst, tell each other about the worst, drop a pill and remove the worst, take excuses for the worst… I believe we’re actually bring calamity upon ourselves by doing this and our anxiety, mistrust and cynicism impedes our abilities at openness, compassion, empathy and ultimately success. Perhaps a real (ok totally simplified) example would help- in my country we bundle ourselves up in layers of protective gear when riding motorbikes, playing sports and doing all sorts of other things (even overly protecting our youngsters)- we’re all about ‘insurance’ or ensuring ‘safety’ and looking after numero uno in order to go faster, bigger, further… Yes, there is a different psychology at play which gives merit to this attitude- people aren’t as careful with each other as in Asia- i.e respect levels of road users is different yada yada- but where are we going 1} with all the inflation, pushing, rush, self entitlement and 2} with being overly fixated on the negative what if's and making people do things a certain way aaand 3} with our obsessive need for self preservation?
In order to be a better explorer, I got to grips early on with death, safeguarding and risk- factors that are of no imposition to my desicison making, but thoughts of process and/ or consequence. It's the desire for living that keeps me alive not the fear of death or pain or hurt- that just brings it all the more into focus. That physical harm, that's actually totally minimal in comparison to the phycological barriers of what I'm really pushing through- insecurities, rejection, anxiety,,, the chunky stuff. I do my best to mindfully make choices that reflect what I'm hoping for and where I want to be. However, I can be critical, overly analytical, egocentric, nit-picky about details, and because of my history- I am well acquainted with the four strategies of stealing power (Woe is me, Intimidation, Aloof & Interrogator), and hold high standards and expectations upon those around me and myself; Mindfullness includes eeeeeverything, it's not pick & choose. I'm very proud of how far I have rolled from the tree considering what has happened to me and what I have had to un-condition myself from. How many of our traits that make us successful, if directed into the wrong situation, steal energy from another in order to do this?
Challenges and tribulations have to happen in order for us to learn and test our metal, it’s not about trying to prevent these things all the time and it’s not about blaming the ‘system’ when detrimental things do happen- we must encourage others to dig deep- there is almost always a bigger message for the individual in there. No-ones got the full package of anything, because just by having a particular trait, means the opposite is lacking unless one has decided to develop this also. Some of us may split ways in this type of metaphysical thinking and that’s totally cool, but I’ll share something I see, the patterns the world around of those with happy fulfilled lives, and those in troubled waters have basis in belief.
In Asia, people just get on with it in whatever way ya want to roll that in, and they are not neurotically ‘worried'- I’m totally attracted to that. I had to train myself out of an upbringing that told me to worry about everything. It's meant I'm rather passionate about encouraging 'dem apples to not drop next to the tree, rather to roll all the way down the hill, through the river and into the next forest!! I really, really like watching how everyone can do things slightly differently yet all get to an end goal together- there is harmony within this. I need more time here, I want to dig deeper, I want to learn more than just what three weeks can give me hints towards, because I’m better here, and this in turn means I'm better to those around me also. Extreme luxury to me is the fortune to take these opportunities. Myanmar is so energising, inventive, constructive and fertile (totally in awe of peoples motivation in 42+ heat!). I haven't felt as safe anywhere in the world as I do here- and actually last night as I was wandering around- I realised there are no homeless- an interesting indication of a society being able to get things balanced ethically. There is a fizz within this land of people being up to things- citizens in Myanmar have purpose.
Most humans resort to increasing their own personal energy by a manner that was ingrained or passed down to them; we all at times psychologically steal it from others- often unconsciously, this type of mental warfare underlies all human conflict. We at times feel the need to control and dominate each other. I have lived a life which has had extreme experiences of being on both sides of the fence within this type of abuse and strategy. Through interaction we can either be empowered or discouraged; powerful or weak depending on what is happening. We humans then like to turn to one’s advantage the dynamic in order to facilitate a phycological boost. This need for control is ultimately because we want a feel good pick-me-up, or because we want to keep getting a ‘hit’ from a person or interaction. This give-and-take if out of balance can become dangerous. Restricting, limiting, or trying to predetermine someone's emotional response; ultimately manipulating another's spirit and freedoms, is completely counterproductive if we want to achieve intimacy, fellowship and solidarity. Many relationships transition and fizzle or eventually turn into power struggles; we connect our energies and then fight over who is going to control it, or we use what is available and then require something different, or, one of the parties becomes no longer invested or disinterested. The loser of this battle always pays the price. Older societies; places which have faith and resonance, have a sociological advantage upon others with achieving happiness because of this type of ‘feeling’ and interactive play; an artistry and ability to let interaction flow and develop through spiritual companionship rather than competition.
A little side note to that- I encounter an intriguing variety of tourist on my travels in the world which attend other countries sites of worship. Ones that sometimes come with many judgements- ‘Hurmph! NEON- WHY would you incorporate this into a beautiful historical temple??!’. ‘Humm, taking photos on your iPhone- disrespectful!’. ‘Grr, giggling and laughing with the children- really??!’… and the funny thing is, I sit, and I wonder- and I giggle, because I think, ‘wow- all these self imposed restrictions; all the 'rules'; all the inflexibility.. don’t you see the negativity is the square peg in the round hole; that you’re flowing upstream not the other way around? A wise woman once said to me seven or so years ago 'Take the path of least resistance', I didn't get it at that point- I was surrounded and conditioned to opposition and battle, but I get it now; it stayed with me and I implemented new choices underwritten by this ideal, and as they accumulated, only good flowed from them. Faith is in essence about holding hope for the better- it’s a rather fun and enjoyable process. I love Asia’s sense of playfulness and integration. Why would you think that we are allowed to want to seek beauty and value in cultures outside our conditioning, yet those cultures are not allowed to seek and desire beauty out of theirs? Everyone likes the green grass on the other side no?
Humanity likes to get a little jacked up from time to time. Whether that’s on booze, or tea, sugar, cigarettes, betel or paan chew, marijuana, Tramadol or coke.. or even just getting high off a cool meeting. I find an interesting level of hypocrisy or unawareness within some travellers of things that they despise from their homeland, yet are totally ok with within their new environment- they don’t see it’s just the same thing in a different package. Some are hellbent on criminalising people who smoke hooch or methamphetamine in their homeland, yet your cabbie here is high on betel all the same… oh but you're ok with that now cos it’s all exotic? Why ya not extending the same curtesy to your fellow human when you're back on turf huh? Without independent thought I would never have experienced the plethora of things I have, and followed the paths that I decided I wanted to explore- but the ‘naughty’ stuff? Well tbh, that was where all the best learning came from or initiated me to undertake steps to change. Independent thought can be a bitch- it gets ya into unusual places and can alienate a person from their social systems, yet it’s precisely the same trait that means they’re going to find and do things a totally different way and have the capacity for unbridled brilliance.
Acceptance of sensory expression, or a more mature understanding about the natures of life without being prudish; sex, touch, personal space, what we do that’s healthy or a little not so; just doing things cos they feel nice; this stuff is so different here in Asia to my homeland. Doing something a little subversive doesn’t mean you are a bad person or not part of a functioning society- your working for progression not perfection; + you've gotta have spunk & intelligence to be curious and go against the grain. Perhaps people are less interested in squeezing people into boxes here because they understand far more boxes- they certainly have words for them. Why do we alienate others except for not understanding those parts of ourselves? and a little off tack but on the same stream further along (because it’s tied into how we help a person undo something that has become less productive) Why is the compulsion towards financial gain given priority over enjoyment?
Tourism love and hate: In some ways I am responsible for undermining and changing this beautiful land and that makes me uncomfortable so I do my damned best each day to make sure that my influence is positive- but even this is an oxymoron of a type- we see something we like and we want to mimic and replicate these things. All around the world we are influencing each other by interacting- we can be in remoteness and yet we pull out our iPhones and connect into WIFI to chat and touch base with our buddies on Insta the world round saying ‘oooOo ahh! Look, look, see, see, I love, I like, I don’t, I feel.. listen to me’- never before have we been so persuasive. I hear of communities here selling artefacts and heirlooms in order to capitalise and purchase items of Westernism and this make me really sad- yet why not? We humans are lusty- it matters not what the ‘thing’ is- we have every right to want to progress in any manner we see fit- my issue is that without education and encouragement towards being proud and protective of difference, we’re all going to slowly become homogenised. Rebel against the system? Yes- but as I have said before, the systems are mighty subtle and subliminal these days- the biggest are internal.
I admire Burmese for holding true to their distinctiveness and creating unique hybrids- the fashion, the food, the societal, religious and creative processes are sooo cool. Yes there is influence from all around, but here seems to me to have got the oil and water mix just right- Burmese are self assured and they are carefully selective. I like that- it reflects a mindfulness and respectfulness that I hold in high esteem.
Some of us see and feel the world a little differently, I see colours and a type of energy in tangible form and I have met others over the years who have similar skills of perception- it is only a matter of time until we will be able to measure this. The Monroe Institute is an example of an establishment pioneering discoveries through thinking and feeling outside (and all around and above!) the box. Through this understanding, as some of us have already grasped, we will be better at helping ourselves and those less fortunate. We will become increasingly more attuned to the buoyancy and play between the mind and the Universe and more empathetic to the value of people and places; our collective conscious of the physical universe will transform. We will accept that certain people and locations radiate more or different energies, and we will fight with fervour to protect the value of old natural environments like forests and places of archaeological, social and cultural significance. We are getting there- there is a powerful and constructive movement towards this type of development happening. Without gaining expertise within these traits, humanity will not be prepared to take the next step in evolution; of exploration and ultimately advanced colonisation and interaction with the unfamiliar; new environments, new materials and new organisms.
It's in the details- architecture, art and gorgeous things
Going back in history nearly 900 years we left a place where ‘God’ (insert many, many names in here) and the concept of a higher power was clearing defined or told to us. Buuut we got curious, we decided there was a bigger picture, we were missing something and we started exploring and questioning our world and doctrines. We decided we needed to make our world more comfortable and we wanted ‘proof’ in things before we would believe in them because our curiosity came coupled with a sense of rejection from that which had seen so stable and solid. We progressed, we fashioned contraptions, we made things, we discovered industrialisation and that we could use ores, minerals and materials to create mediums and make instruments. We invented power sources, systems and fabrication. We stockpiled, we collected and we distributed. ‘Progression’- the desire of self for security… but we lacked Truth, we were missing a puzzle piece and our obsessive drive to conquer and create comfort left natural systems purged and polluted. ‘The apex of cultural motive’- those who are awake can see through this fixation and past what others call ‘coincidence’ or ‘luck’. We are here to evolve but we are designed to do this while protecting and nurturing those things; those people; and those energy sources available- living within means not excess. All we need is less, we have within ourselves far more than most realise- if we can decompartmentalise our fears, we can convert them to adour- and this transformation creates a powerful volition- we realise we no longer need control upon others or material goods to fix/ fill/ or restrain these voids- we fill up from within and we are at ease with the flux of replenishment and use that occurs between each other. We additionally find that our thoughts coupled with temper can quite literally manifest to create our desires, directions and opportunities.
When we can define what a person loves, we also have insight and the power of deduction to ascertain what a person hates; with this information, we can not only build a person up and encourage them, but we can also manipulate or undo them. With so many becoming increasingly lax about how much information is available in the former mode, I wonder if people were encouraged to 'dislike' things as much as 'like' them, they would be as keen to give people power over their persuasion. Humanity is becoming more aware of how our emotional orientation can quite literally invest propulsion upon another for better or worse, but we come to a split in viewpoints. Ones which have similarities but also the capacity to incite enormous hostility; those of religious doctrine, and those of spiritual self discovery. Without empathy and acceptance of difference and the validity of contrasting opinion, we will forever be locked at a roadblock.. yet change all starts within snuggled up for a hug with a desire-for-the-better, one adjustment, one little step in a new direction.... I can't affect on mass; I can't stop war in Syria, I don't have sway upon new policitical or social directions, but I sure can turn my life around and help those around me to do the same. When it comes down it, there is no-one to manage anger, indignation, irritation and rage except for the person experiencing these feelings; THIS is what we need education and encouragement towards- this is ground zero of building love and sharing that penut-butter-and-jam with our international family; stripping away fear and persecution, and filling it with open ended comprehension. It takes ripples, accumulation over time of ripples, quite possibly generations of change of those showing those coming up a better way and teaching ourselves to validate beauty and worth within us, and within what is around us.
Connection, interaction, communication, relationships, interrelation, cultural similitude and difference, value, protection and development of natural resources, recognition and celebration of beauty and diversity; that flawed is perfect- all sound too Utopian? It’s already here if we have the capacity to change our mindset and take personal responsibility for our ideas, energy, direction and influence upon ourselves and others.
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