Sunday, February 13, 2011

living off the map

I am living on Sesame Street.

For the next two weeks, I'm house-sitting at a little house in an ex-pat community of Bangkok.

Everyone who knows me would've been laughing at my half-Thai, half-English directions to the taxi driver.

Sesame Street is not on the map. It's tucked away from the main streets, behind a hard-to-find Soi. And, I get the Thai words for left and right mixed up. So, we went around the houses a few times.

The owner of this house runs a small publishing company, which produces maps. I was looking through her 2011 Writer's Market, picking out publisher's names, thinking of doing some writing and I realized: every desire of my heart is rolling around like a bunch of boggle tiles, falling randomly into place.

I am meeting interesting people who challenge my dreams and assumptions about what can be done in life. It's stretching my tent pegs, so to speak. I am starting to realize that my life could be completely different. There is so much that I want to do.

The truth is: I could probably use a map. I need a visual picture of where I need to go with my life. I know that I can't do it all. I want to know what it looks like, where I am going.

But in the meantime, I have to admit: it is very, very fun to be living right off the map. I am going to Burma, twice in the next two months. I'll go in early March and mid-April. The guy who lives next door to me on Sesame Street is teaching me Burmese. This is the life I asked God for, when I was five years old: to live on Sesame Street and go to poor countries. The free language tutorial and stories from neighbors who have lived and worked there is just bonus.

My decision to go to Burma twice is partly influenced by the war that's started between Thailand and Cambodia. They are fighting about an old french colonial map from the early 1900's. The map has caused confusion over where the border line is between Thai and Khmer territories. The United Nations are becoming involved. Negotiations for peaceful reconciliation are started.

All will be well, once they figure out what the map says. I hope that's soon.

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