- Go west? -

27th October '17

Nothing lasts forever.

In the last blog I finished by talking about how perfect life was. Well sometimes fate seems determined to remind you of your mortality.

It started with one of the teachers at work dying.

Not a surprise or a shock in any way; you might remember that I mentioned in a past blog about a teacher who'd fallen ill with some kind of cancer.

He was pretty old, and he hadn't been or even looked healthy for a while, so there was no real shock factor to his ultimate demise. As much as you know that someone's end is coming though, there's still a chilling reality when it does eventually happen.

Kind of like, you remember how you were having a conversation with him as he sat in that chair in the teacher's room just three months ago and... well that's never going to happen again.

So that was on one day. On the very next, I was walking to the MRT station on the way to work, just as I do everyday. And as I'm walking, about twenty yards ahead of me, I see this cat; less that one year-old, lying at the side of the road, flailing about.

To begin with I thought it was just rolling around on the ground, but as I got closer I could see that it was lying in a pool of it's own blood, and the cream coloured wall that it was next to had blood splattered on it.

It had clearly been run-over, presumably by one of the infinite motorcycles that contaminate Bangkok's streets, because I think a car would have killed it quicker.

And as I got so close that I was standing over this cat, flailing around for its life, there was just this feeling of helplessness of... what do I do?

I was kind of looking around for someone else to do something, but everyone else seemed content to let it be.

Eventually though, after maybe another ten seconds, the life mercifully left this little feline, and its inanimate body lay there motionless in the road.

I don't know why, because it's not like I've never been around death before, but this just... for about the next two days, I couldn't get this out of my mind.

I was looking at this cat in the eyes as its life left its body, and for some reason, it just impacted me. It was running through my head over and over again, for about the next forty-eight hours. As I walked past the place that it had happened, I winced at the memory of it. Particulary until it rained the next day, and the splatter of blood washed away.

I don't know why it got to me so; perhaps it was just being so close to it, and seeing the look in its eyes as it met its end. Perhaps it was the feeling of helplessness that I could do nothing to help it. Or perhaps on some level of consciousness it was the realisation that one day... that's going to be me.

Nothing in life is more sure than your own death, and I think that all we can really hope for is a quick end. And sure, this didn't feel quick for the twenty or thirty seconds that I saw this cat flailing around in a puddle of its own blood. But I'd certainly take that over a years-long battle with cancer or Alzheimer's.

I don't know what it was, but by this point the feeling of living a perfect life that I never want to change had long gone.

It probably wasn't helped that the game I was playing on my PS4 through this time was 'The Talos Principle'; the game that I desperately sought before leaving England.

And not only is it a very deep game, themed on what life actually is, but this is the load screen:

Everytime I turned-on my PS4 I saw the life of this kitty resting in the hands of a machine and... well that was a nice reminder.

People had obviously spoken at work about the teacher who died, and I'd told a couple of people the story of this cat that I'd seen die.

I'm always sceptical about how much my phone actually listens to me because... well it responds to simply saying 'Hey Siri', so it's clearly listening to me continually in some capacity.

And the next time I logged-onto Spotify, do you know the name of one of the playlists they were recommending to me?

'Coping with loss.'

Way too many things like that happen for it just to be a coincidence.

There was a memorial service for the teacher that died. I skipped it to go to the gym, but I don't say that with malice intent towards him. I just don't believe in any kind of afterlife, so I see memorial services as simply a coping mechanism for the living; something for which I didn't need any help with.

So I'm going to the gym on this day. I leave my building as I do everyday, and I'm walking past the eight-storey car park, as I do everyday. When suddenly, less than a yard from where I am, a small mass of plaster crashes down to the ground next to me.

Jumping out of the way, I look up to see it crumbling from the wall on the fifth storey of this car park. This was a photo I took later that day:

My God, how many reminders do I need that I'm merely mortal. Colleagues passing, cats dying in front of me, things dropping from great heights and missing my head by inches.

It's been almost a month since I wrote the last blog, and all of this happened quite shortly after, so I'm long past it all now. In fact I completed The Talos Principle, quite proudly without using any hints or guides, because it's a game of logic-based puzzles, and I was able to solve all of them in just under three weeks, using only my own brain power.

I normally think of my PS4 as the tool for the relaxing part of my day, as others might view a TV, or book, or phone. For these three weeks it was probably the most mentally-draining part of my day, but I enjoyed it.

But I completed that game. Then I completed my next game (Ratchet & Clank). And now I'm mid-way through the one after that (Final Fantasy XII).

If I'm measuring time in PS4 games then it's probably an indicator that I'm playing too much but... well all that I said above does seem fairly distant now, is what I'm trying to say.

Whether related or not, the second half of this now almost-finished term became the polar opposite of the first, where I was relaxed and, as I put it in the last blog, 'bulletproof to stress.'

Yeah, not so much.

I suddenly started feeling just... drained. I still do today to an extent. Perhaps a combination of exercising too much, thinking too much, and not sleeping enough. But when you feel like that, you're not as stress-proof as you might like to be.

From when I joined in August, up until mid-October, I'd been to the gym on at least six days per week. It's one of the reasons that I hate subscription memberships; you feel obligated to do something as much as possible to get the best value for money. It's kind of the opposite of pay-per-visit, where you feel motivated to do something as little as possible in order to save money.

But I very intentionally started taking more time-off from going to the gym. My body needed it. But right now I'm just waiting for the impending week-off, to break myself out of this term's routine, and get some variety back into my life again. An endeavour somewhat hampered by this being the holiday where the first two days are taken-up by the annual seminar.

I skipped it last year, but I need to attend this year to procure enough points for my annual bonus in December. So it's really only a five-day holiday.

And with three weeks off and the best weather of the year over Christmas, I'm finding little motivation to actually go anywhere. But at the very least, I'm looking forward to just breaking-out of this routine, having a few days rest, and starting again next term with a new schedule, and hence a new routine to slowly grow stale through the course of the term.

The time off will probably also reignite my desire to find a solution to the dilemma that is my future. Something that I thought about rampantly over the summer, but that seemed to fade-out once work took over my life again.

And where I am now is... well I'm completely at a loss if I'm honest.

I don't really see myself staying in Thailand. I just don't really see any way that I can stay here and feel secure about my future.

Sure, I could probably stay in the job I'm in now for the next twenty years and be perfectly happy. But it's beyond that which concerns me.

So I don't see myself staying here, but I don't see myself going anywhere else either. There's not one place or one job or one endeavour that I can see myself doing or even working towards.

So when I say I'm at a loss, I mean that I don't see myself staying here, and I don't see myself leving. At this stage I'd say it's maybe 60/40 against leaving next September

I've also got to decide if I see this being my job forever. Is an English teacher my career?

I guess it could be, but I find it hard to imagine a fifty year-old Jethro teaching English to foreigners. So I guess at the very least I can't picture it being my career forever, but I have no clue what I'd do if it wasn't this.

People always say that you should follow your passions, but I think the opposite. If I enjoy something, I like to protect it from becoming a job or competitive in any way.

I like running, which is why I never do races. Competition and being required to do something, stops it from being fun. And what do I enjoy now?

Exercise. Cooking. Video games.

I sometimes post the meals that I cook on Instagram. It's really the only social media that I use. I don't actually think that my meals look that good, but I've had people say to me 'You should open your own vegetarian restaurant'.

But my mind doesn't work like that. If I enjoy cooking, why would I want to turn it into a stressful endeavour like that, where is becomes money-dependent, with customers complaining etc. I think that'd just be a way for me to learn to hate cooking.

But when you don't want to pursue any of your passions as a career, trying to think of a new career's not so easy.

So I can't really picture myself being an English teacher twenty years from now, but I can't see myself doing anything else either. And I don't see myself staying in Thailand, but I don't see myself anywhere else. It's what I mean I'm at a loss.

Even through the term I've been thinking about this a bit, but my mind is yet to come up with any viable answers.

And sure, I did give myself a year to figure this all out. I've still got ten months left, but I'm starting to fear that it may not be enough. We'll see.

For now I'm just focussed on getting through the final two days of this term... then the annual seminar... then I can take five days to relax... and then start it all over again.