Something that all Thai Buddhists grow up inherently knowing is that change is the only constant. Ends are just brief periods of instability signaling a time of rebirth to come. There is nothing you can control; no attachments you can make.

I only wish we were taught such things from birth in the western world. Maybe then it wouldn’t always be such a shock to the system. Maybe then I could begin blog entries with something other than, “wow, so much has changed in the last X weeks/months…”

So I’ll be unique this time in saying, as expected by universal laws, I’m moving again.

The last year has been fantastic. I’ve been so busy enjoying my life that I’ve spent little time documenting it (and/or possibly bombarding readers with massive tomes that recount the numerous adventures of the past 4-5 months!).

So why am I hitting the airport tarmac once more? Well, the organization lost its core funding meaning a 70 per cent reduction in everything – including staff. Due to the global economic crisis all donor countries seem to be making a list and checking it twice to find out who’s naughty or nice. Basically, the long and short is that we have to close. I need to plan my next move.

I went through a trio of emotional waves around the event. The first was simply the shock of the loss of the job, my expectations and attachments, the programs and all the work I contributed to them in the last year and a bit. The second was realizing that I would potentially never again see many of the wonderful people I worked and played with, and maybe never returning to Chiang Mai or Thailand again. The third was when I actually had to sit down to a meeting where the topic was how best to deconstruct my programmatic constructions. It’s hard for an artist to see their mural taken apart or painted over. I’m trying to keep my pet Ego firmly locked away in her cage for the sake of “effective transference of programmatic priorities.”

I was asked about two months ago (long before I got the news) what my next career step was, what was the ‘5 year plan’? I answered honestly at the time that I really had no idea, that I had worked for the last six years to get to this current position and that I was so happy in it I really wasn’t thinking beyond that at this point. I’m now forced to reconsider the question in a new light.

Two motorcycle accidents in the same week that I learned of the job loss also contributed to a giant attitude adjustment.


me in the mirror

me in the mirror

I like to say now (after responding to the same question from 40,000+ well-meaning inquirers) that the accidents were the other guys’ faults, but the injuries were mine.

What I mean by that is that in both instances the guy came up around me and then made a turn that cut me off and forced me to hit my brakes quickly or hit him. The first time this happened it was easy to see who was at fault. Motorcycles are not always the most noticeable to SUV drivers. But after two incidents in one week, a whack of Thai friends telling me to “slow down! Jai yen yen! (trans: cool your heart)” even though I was only going max 20kms both times, and a job loss forcing me to contemplate life’s deeper plans… well, let’s just say that I had to seriously consider the reasons for this sudden string of events.

A more experienced motorcycle driver friend of mine offered the key to the puzzle – apparently (unknown to a novice like me) you’re always supposed to hit the back brakes first before the front, otherwise you flip over the handlebars at fast speed or, like in my case, you fishtail. Right, noted.

Revving too high

But the Thai friends were also right – maybe it is time to slow down. I’ve been revving my internal brain and work engine so high lately I definitely need a bit of a break. I’m thinking to head to the beach and take advantage of my 15 banked remaining leave days (large numbers of banked leave days = a definite indicator of overwork and accompanying need for regular doses of beach).

But it’s not all play and no work for Naphiri. There are a few whispers in the wind so I’m feeling positive about the next steps. There are a few nibbles coming in via the Inbox for possibilities in Asia. My plans at this point are:

a) finish all remaining work
b) sell off what I can, and what I won’t need, and give away the rest
c) hit the beach for a couple weeks (months?) vacation and R&R – as long as the money lasts
d) head back to Canadaland for some TLC from friends and family
e) continue on to the next destination, once determined.

a Thai beach boy looks out to sea on Koh Phangan

a Thai beach boy looks out to sea on Koh Phangan

So the game plan, in a switch from the usual play, is to unwind from a year of very intense work (yes, as usual the work-play ratio was heavily lopsided) and then see where the wind takes me. Bet, my motorcycle, is aching to hit the road again.

This time I’ve learned the lesson. Slow down (we’re not just talking road speed here), take many deep breaths, hit the back brake first, and leave the attachments and insecurities at home. Everything happens for a reason.

Buddha bless us all.