Feeling social with no takers for the talking, I wait out front for a bus to come whisk me away from V-town. Boots and a backpack go by and I catch gorgeous eyes above them. A minute later she walks back along and the conversation strikes. From a place familiar, banter flows easy. Flash forward fifteen and I’m on that bus with a secret smile.
I spend a couple of hours setting up a dating profile and browsing around the site, adding favorites to message later, aware of a conflict I’ll have to resolve. History tells that getting involved with anyone beyond the shallow usually results in pain and anger for them, confusion and sadness for me. And the shallow doesn’t much appeal. Plenty of that earlier this year and it was far from fulfilling.
My key habit for today was to write out my why. That is, my reason for doing what I’m about to do. Why devote the time and energy to it? Why make such sacrifices? In short, it all comes down to freedom. More freedom to be my best self and deliver tremendous amounts of value to the world. Now that it’s written out, I have my why posted atop my to-do list so I’ll see it first thing every morning.
Sex drive still lower than I’d like, last week I went to a hospital here in Chiang Mai and got my testosterone levels checked. Results back today, and I clock in at 572 ng/dl, right about average for a man my age. I’d convinced myself that the issue was more physical than psychological, but perhaps not. Regardless, it’s frustrating. I miss that animal instinct, eager to get it back. Maybe the mechanics are akin to overcoming fear: doing comes first, confidence follows.
Another social itch to scratch, I head out for a walk. First is a bubbly waitress at the Peppermint giving me the lowdown on their pad thai. Next I ambush a photo pose and get back laughs and a high five. Third is a hippy chick selling crafts at Thaphae Gate, but that one’s awkward. Last, crossing back to the Racha I see someone spectacular leaving a coffee shop. One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand…
“the more difficult a thing is to achieve, the more the joy when it is achieved.” I almost emailed back warning him to be careful with that attitude. I once thought the same and ended up making obstacles bigger than they had to be, feeling like I didn’t deserve a thing unless it hurt to acquire it. I’ll hold off on the warning though. Such an attitude is probably helpful for him right now. No true or false when it comes to beliefs, only empowering and disempowering.
I follow inside to find a dude hula hooping and a girl doing a headstand. I met their friends minutes earlier in the market as I was sparking conversations with strangers and joking around about Siamese bananas, bouncing back nicely from a bombed attempt at flirting a couple blocks before. Cool as this cafe is, I can’t stay, gotta meet people for dinner. On the way out I exchange traditional dances and Facebook details with a Chilean girl.
With soft, genuine eyes, he greets you with one hand extended, the other over his heart, and shakes goodbye with both. I first saw him at the park a couple of weeks ago, practicing taichi with the locals. Yesterday, upon ceasing to be strangers per a chance street meet, I found him older than at a glance, but a youthfulness still about him. Today we met again by chance. He leaves Chiang Mai tomorrow. Gently, no doubt.
I’m beginning to fully embrace the idea of it’s-not-what-you-know. The past couple of years I would often shun Skype chats and random meetups in favor of keeping my head down and getting some solid work done. That hasn’t really gotten me where I want to go, so I’ve resolved to make personal connections more of a priority. Today I had breakfast with a tropical nomad, then dinner with two new friends.
Already about twenty replies to my request for help. I’m slapping myself looking at some of them. How didn’t I think to reach out to that person already? It’s times like this I feel I’ve got some serious subconscious self-sabotage going on. Even the idea of reaching out to my mailing list took a while to come. I had to battle the feeling that that would be cheating somehow. So much of this shit is getting out of your own way.
I’m probably insane. Close to $300 lost in currency exchange and PayPal fees. Having to ask a mate if I can borrow money. Asking another to log into my account from a foreign country. Multiple phone calls to banks trying to figure out the hiccups. All so I can drop almost half my savings for the privilege of spending 26 days crossing the Pacific Ocean on a ship with no internet.
I just sit there trying to listen, taking as much interest in this guy as possible. When he stops speaking I try wait a few beats, letting the gaps breathe, resisting the impulse to add my two cents. Every now and then the mind wanders and I do my best not to pretend, asking him to repeat himself when I snap back to be sure I hear the whole story. And his story’s a good one. I like this guy.
A limiting belief uncovered today: If I follow a process or a script that’s not my own, people will consider me inauthentic and unoriginal; I have to come up with everything off the top of my head to be the real deal. Intellectually I know that’s bullshit, but beliefs aren’t logical. I free wrote on it a bit today and identified two incidents from my past that are likely responsible. “The oldest one in the book,” said Mark. “You’re not fuckin’ American,” said Dean.
She calls as I’m drifting off to sleep and asks if I’d like to go out dancing. No, I wouldn’t. What I’d like is for her to come over and spend the night. She’s cool and my drive has bounced back. But can I be that direct? We’ve only met once before. Won’t she think I’m some kind of sex pest? Fuck it, I have to ask for what I want. Anything less is the lie of a nice guy, the disease to please, inauthentic. I speak my mind and watch the chips fall.
Early morning and I resolve to make five cold calls with the goal of getting rejected. That’s what I need right now. To get rejected and see that it’s no big deal, that the worst case scenario isn’t all that bad. I pick the first five furniture listings in the Aussie yellow pages and start dialing. Twenty minutes later I’m done, got blown out pretty bad on all of them. And yet I somehow feel empowered. Today is going to be a good day.
In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?