James Batcho, PhD | In a Silent Way
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In a Silent Way

CHAING MAI. Imagine if pain projected itself to the mind as sound. Only I can hear the dull ache of my kneecap. Or if pain resonated audibly outward from itself, from the source, a continuous grinding hum of my kneecap that everyone hears. Imagine if the sound of a glass shattering to the floor was the expression of its pain in that experience. Imagine if gliding one’s fingers along another’s skin produced a melody, the notes and the rhythm invoked through intention; the singular voice, the particular quality, as the singularity of that contact, never voiced before, never heard before…

Two weeks into Chiang Mai and I already have my pattern: wake without an alarm, sometime around 8 or 9, coffee and a quick electronic correspondence check, a view of the news feed to make sure the world outside hasn’t ended. After that, I’m out, moving from restaurant to coffee shop to restaurant. At each place I spend one or two hours reading. Reading usually inspires some kind of thought (such as the one above from yesterday) and thought thereby turns into a bit of writing. Some time around 4 I’m back in my guest room in Santitham. I putter, sometimes needlessly other times needfully. Then it’s out to the patio with my laptop. I stare out at the neighborhood wires, shingles, green trees, dragonflies and stone balconies and write some more. At this point it usually rains. Hopefully it ends around 7 or 8 and I’m out again looking for dinner. More reading. Back home again I’ll listen to an NFL podcast, watch an episode of Breaking Bad, or chat with a friend on Facebook. Then it’s bedtime: read to drowsiness.

This move, so far, is working for me. I am doing my best to take advantage of this time I have. No day runs exactly like the above. Each has its own interruption, such as a long bike ride, Monday NFL games, an odd night at the bar. But I am working and it’s good. The thing clearly absent from the pattern is other people, or at least friendships. My thoughts all come from the inside. I have had conversations, I’ve met people randomly. But I’m not working very hard at it. This has been the surprise so far. I thought I would want to spend more time out playing music, meeting musicians, meeting some longtime resident expats. But that has not happened. I joked before I left about becoming an ascetic. It seems, at least so far, that I wasn’t joking. This will change in time, but as it is now, I’m happy to be in my own head. Thankfully, it’s peaceful in here.