March 15, 2001 Ko Phi Phi, Thailand
The sunny hot weather has returned, but, unfortunately, the underwater visibility has gotten pretty bad. I just finished "Out of the Sun", by Robert Goddard. It is a mystery dealing with theoretical mathematicians of all things. C gave it to me knowing that with my Ph.D. from MIT in abstract mathematics I would get a kick out of it. It is fun getting lost in a book. I also find it a lot easier and more enjoyable to read now that I have the reading glasses that I picked up in Bangkok. They are the first pair I've had in a long time that don't strain my eyes when I use them. Sort of strange that I had to come all the way to Thailand to find them. I find it sort of fitting. This trip has been like that in a lot of ways. In Hawaii the dolphins let me swim and play with them. They helped open the door to my swimming becoming my way to becoming strong and fixing my back problems.
(The second maquette dancing at Raily Beach)
Soon I'll be going to Bali where I am quite sure I will make some beautiful sculptures. Why not? I have the skills I have developed over the years and I no longer have any realistic excuse about not having enough money. Time and desire are important variables in the equation too. I feel the desire to make The Dance. It has been something I have thought about off and on over the years and now I'm ready to accept the challenge. And quite a challenge it is: five figures that all have to work together but yet all retain their own individuality. It is a study in movement and yet I have to build it out of static materials.
Of course Matisse only had two dimensions to play in. Thanks go to Marianne for helping the postcard to come on this trip.
Making the time, finding the time, seizing the moment. That is what going to Bali is all about for me. Thailand has been good to me. I have gotten strong and relaxed and had fun dancing and diving. It has been a wonderful place for me to experiment with who I am and what I want to be. When I walk by a bar and hear a music I can break into a dance right there on the sidewalk and dance my way through the pool of rhythm. To the people who see me I'm just a guy who dances. It is like that with so many things when I travel, especially travel alone. The present is the only reality for the way other people perceive me; there is no past. So when I take my guitar with me for C's last night here on Ko Phi Phi and we are having a little party up on a balcony over looking Ton Sai nobody knows what to expect when I pull the guitar out of its case. It is a case of existential reality, albeit one that was a bit clouded by herbal smoke. I started slowly and quietly so that the music was background to the conversation and was able to ease its way into the rhythms of the party. It is so much easier to get into the groove that way. I was really smooth that night, it was like the guitar playing just took care of itself and was making a duet with my singing. As I got into the songs the people got into it too and the conversations trailed off and they just listened. I put on a good show. It was a wonderful feeling.
To stay healthy I know that I've got to get some exercise in. So in the late afternoon I put my snorkeling gear in my backpack, plus a little money and walked off to the far southwest corner of the Ton Soi beach where I figured I could find some good snorkeling if I swam out along the rocky cliffs that head south. I left my backpack at Hippo Divers so that I wouldn't have to worry about leaving stuff on the beach unattended for over an hour, especially at the time of day when most people have long since left the beach. The last time I swam there I carefully left my sunglasses wrapped up in a bit of my towel with my flips carefully placed in front. When I came back to the beach about an hour later the couples that were on each side of where I left my stuff were gone as was my stuff. I was a bit bummed. Not too bummed because all I lost were my Polaroid sunglasses, my flips, and my landlord's towel. Still, it burned me up a bit. I went back to Hippo Diver where C and I were doing the on shore course lessons required for the Advanced Open Water Diver certification. I bitched it a bit about it to him and decided it was a bit of a wake up call to be more careful. After the lesson I just couldn't let it go. Something wasn't right and maybe the guy who took the stuff would at least through away my flips. It bummed me to loose them now that they had formed themselves to my feet enough that they wouldn't be good for anyone else. Well the joke was on me. When I walked back down along the beach there were my flips lying there right in front of my towel with the sunglasses still wrapped up in the towel. I realized that when I came ashore from my swim I was about two hundred feet from where I started. It made me feel pretty stupid. I had been so sure that I was in the same place. Shows that a little less hubris might help at times. Turns out there are plenty of times when I am just plain wrong about something that I believe.
Beliefs are just that: beliefs. Not to be blindly trusted.
(In Tibet Sticking Out Your Tongue is a Greeting)
So....I swam out about a half mile where there is a break in the cliffs and there is a little beach-like area about 60 feet long. I swam past it but around the bend there wasn't another beach for as far as I could see so I turned back and landed in the little cove. There were a couple of longtails anchored in there. There were four Thai fishermen on one of them. The called me over. They had a couple of bamboo bongs going and offer to share some with me. Pretty soon I was up in the boat relaxing and watching a Fish Eagle ride the thermals overhead. A blue green heron flew in and settled on some rocks less than a hundred feet away. The shadows of the western ridge of Ko Phi Phi slowly rose on the hills of the east side as the sun sank into the sea, Life slowed down. The bong was passed around again and again. I don't even attempt to keep up with these guys. The custom around here is to mix the herb with tobacco. I don't like the nicotine so I have to be different and get it strait. Ah, the hardships of life here in Thailand.
I had a fun snorkel back to the beach. There was a nice little edge to the reef so I did a bunch of shallow free diving and swimming with some schools of fish. On the way home I crossed the isthmus and stopped at the beach bar next to Caio Bella for a beer. The bartender put on a Pink Floyd CD so I started dancing in the dark on the beach. I ended up dancing and stretching for over an hour. It feels great to dance after a good workout. There were only a few other people around and some of them might have thought I must be crazy, some of them might have thought I was cool, and most were benignly indifferent. In the end what difference does it make? It is like in my hitchhiker's philosophy: the only cars that matter are the ones that give you a ride; the rest cease to exist once they pass you by and lose their potential.
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