I feel a strong responsibility writing this post. I’m concern to a certain extent that I will not make justice to Choi’s words or, even worse, that my words may lack important affirmations and thoughts expressed by him through our conversation.
I am confident, though, that I do also have the responsibility to share this very important awakening moment with you, my aim is to transmit you a tiny portion of thousand feelings that passed through my body and soul while talking to this very wise young man.
It was one of those happy carefree days in Chiang Mai for me; a lazy morning spent too engaged in my smart phone. Luckily for me, a third time in Chiang Mai didn’t stop me of marveling at the sights of many of its eighty temples within the Old Town and with the excitement of what it had yet to come, I braved the heat and left for another round of temples and spirituality. As always, I walked with no direction, the way I believe Chiang Mai is best seen.
Without fail, the city has always provided me with several daily surprises in every corner, what’s not to love about a place that makes you be in awe more times per day that you can count?
As I walked, I came across this temple and nothing other than curiosity made me go inside with the hope to find a specific design to marvel or at very least, some generous shadow to hide from the burning sun.
I liked what a saw right away and I decided to look closer into it. To my delight, as I stepped inside without trying to be intrusive given that the monks usually live in the compounds of the temples, I saw a bridge with beautiful colorful decorations and a river. It was the first time I saw a temple with such unique features and I decided to walk through it and enjoy the peace and quiet that the place offered.
I noticed that on the other side of the bridge were located the monks houses; I could see them doing the daily tasks of maintenance and their orange clothes drying in the sun. I thought to myself that it was a beautiful place for a monk to live.
I was deep in thought about nothing important when this guy approached me and said hello. I looked at him and I saw he possessed a genuine smile; his hair was very short and was dressed in normal attire, all blue. I noticed he came from inside the temple.
I said hello and asked him how he was, I was unsure why he approached me but I have learnt in my travels that sometimes the nicest conversations start with a complete lack of an idea of why you end up talking to a complete stranger.
Many times, that complete stranger ends up enriching your life forever and you realize that is good to let go of prejudices and let life surprise you by letting be approached and to approach.
Meaningful people sometimes come like that.
I started firing at him questions, I don’t why I didn’t wait but I felt that he was looking for a conversation with a Westerner person, something that is not entirely surprising as some locals may look for opportunities to improve their English.
He said that yes, he was. He was a monk for ten years until the day before. Now this is not something that you are prepared to hear in any casual conversation. He could see the surprise in my face and I suppose he was quite delighted by my reaction, one that he would have to endure for quite a long time from people until the novelty runs off.
What makes a man who has spent the last ten years happily as a novice monk to suddenly want to be normal again? Choi was very simple and wise man and so were his words; he just wanted to live a normal life, work and start a family. A beautiful desire and who can blame him? I couldn’t even think clear; there were so many questions I wanted to ask him! I could not even to start understanding the simplicity of his desire to join our world.
I don’t know the history behind each monk, why their desire to live a life of sacrifice is big enough to retire themselves from the world as we know it. Choi helped me to understand that there is no right or wrong decisions and that anything done from the heart is done well.
Choi comes from a village in North Thailand. He remembers from a younger age seeing in his village a monk. He tells me that he also remembers that this man seemed to possess great inner pace and seemed always to have an aura of satisfaction about him. He said he liked that; he wanted to feel like that, too.
He is not afraid to go out there and tells me that he will be fine, it will take some adaption but he will be fine. I listen to this young man and his cheerful confidence and I decided there and then that if anything comes good from the last ten years, it has to be his wisdom.
We talked about the people, I want to be the voice of reason because even though I don’t know him, I badly don’t want anyone to hurt him and I tell him that not everyone is good out there, I feel I have to protect him before he gets hurt.
I thank him for a profound insight in his life as a monk and for sharing his life expectations with me. I look back at him one more time and he is standing in the bridge smiling brightly and waving me goodbye.
He has decided to stay in the temple one more week to give himself time to adapt before leaving this life as he has known it for the last ten years.
I know Choi will do well in life.