Kevin Lentz, 131 YinD
The town center bustles with men hustling their produce to market and women bargaining. Amid the sounds of chickens and loud K-pop from students’ phones, shop boys and girls announce prices, their voices sliding up and down the Thai language’s five tones. The nasal chanting of street singing overpowers the K-pop as an old man sings about his native land. Enveloping all of this; the wafting scents of hot peppers, garlic, and durian move through the market. These noises and smells converge into a single sensation of life for me here.
This half year anniversary of my life in Thailand coincides with July 4th. The coincidence led me to reflect on my life here and how it is intimately shaped by my life in the U.S. This seemingly obvious fact came as a surprise to me. I arrived in this country thinking I had unsaddled myself from all the unproven notions and beliefs I carried due to circumstances of upbringing. I prided myself on being largely stripped of that national perspective which leaves the eyes cloudy and opaque before a multifaceted world. In a way, I strove to represent the idea of humanity purged of unqualified sentimentality. Somehow, I forgot that to be sentimental is to be human.
Now, I am left staring at the rubble of my blaring, naive idea as I notice my preconceived ideas filling in the blanks when I am at a loss of what is going on around me. In a way, this is normal: ideas tame life. They can order all its chaos according to typologies and theories and leave a sense of comfort in “knowing” or “understanding”. However, this comfort depletes the world I am living in. It paints a vibrant world with one color. Many times, this view takes me away from the heat of life. My inner monologue roars as I am trying to make sense of a situation, and I am drawn towards my collection of theories, away from the present world.
So, as I come to fully appreciate the power of my upbringing this 4th of July, I also realize that ignorance is only vulnerable when recognized and exposed to a new atmosphere. In other words, I still have a lot of work to do in recognizing and correcting my notions of the world, but seeing this culture in all its vibrant colors is well worth the work.