Before it was only my left ear that was clogged, so if I angled my head to the left then I could hear everything fine. Granted I probably looked strange or like I was spacing out in the middle of a conversation.
As I probably could have guessed, my right ear gets clogged this morning, so now my hearing is much worse then it was before. No more tilting my head. Now I can just stare right at someone and still space out. Hey, I have an excuse now!
It’s actually been a really interesting experience having my ears like this. It’s been teaching me how little I really listen, so I think at least for now it’s a good lesson. Certainly one I was really in need of. Too often do I listen to people half heartedly, especially if they’re talking about something I’m not particularly interested in. I’ve complained of that same thing from other people, but didn’t quite realize until now how much I do it as well.
I’ll get the ears taken care of back in Luang Prabang. After lunch when I’m cleaning my dishes, I meet a Lao guy with an Australian accent. Apparently he studied there for four years and is now back living at this retreat. I also find out soon that he’s the cook. Ooh, It all makes a lot more sense now.
He sits with my at dinner and we talk a long time about the practice and mostly about his opinions. He seems like a great guy, but maybe a little bit too sure about what he’s saying. He speaking more like he’s a teacher, rather than fellow student. Also too much talking and not enough questions, which is the way I really think is the best to help people. I’m still trying to take my newest lesson to heart though, so I sit there and listen to him as fully as I can. I also give his suggestions a try.
Toward the end of the meal he also introduces me to a really beautiful young woman, named Sin Jai, and tells me she wants to marry a Falang (foreigner) man. Yeah yeah, I’ve heard this school so many times before, so I laugh and then try to move on, before soon realizing none of this is a joke. He also starts talking about me staying and teaching English and practicing more to really feel good. I seriously feel like I’m being coaxed into joining a cult here. “Here’s food, shelter, a wife, and all the comfort you need” ahh! In the back of my head I’m arguing that this woman is really beautiful and how I might be able to continue all of this. If there were ever a time to just call it quits and settle down in comfort, this would be a pretty damn good one.
Well, they clearly don’t understand how stubborn I am. First of all, I don’t take it so well when people come on so strong, it just seems suspiscious to me. Also, My heart is still telling me I have a journey to go on and I can’t limit myself (meaning stay in Laos rather than go to China) because of a beautiful woman, even if she is heavily focused on her spiritual life and doing good to others. If she lived in Luang Prabang, that’d be a whole different story, at least until September. I also find out she’s the niece of the main woman who started this place, so she’s definitely picked from the top of the tree. All three of us walk around at the lunch break and talk to some Lao woman who lived in Minnasota her whole life. It’s funny that even though she’s Lao, we fall back into the typical American culture and my skin starts to crawl. I quickly start to speak with Lao with them to get our mind state back here in Laos. I don’t know how I’m ever going to go back to the U.S. I will always try my best to appreciate the priveledges that come with being an American, but I really can’t stand the culture. If it weren’t for my family and friends I would be scoping out a new place to settle.
I walk back with Sin Jai and being alone with her for the first time, I realize that she talks way too quietly for my waxy ears, not that my Lao would be good enough anyway. I get some things out of it though. She’s apparently been living here for a year and teaching the students about Buddhism.
She walks with me to the meditation hall and I get a bad feeling. Everyone can see the people walk up the sides and I just get that feeling that everyone thinks we’re courting. If I met her in a different situation, I’d pursue her in a flash, but I’m really serious about learning from this meditation place and also don’t want to piss any of the leaders off, especially her psychic Aunt. I make sure to get her number and then go back to focusing on what I came here to explore.
In the meditation, my legs are starting to hurt really bad during the long nighttime meditation. It makes sense since we’re probably meditating close to 10 hours a day. I have to stretch a few times and all the spinning our torsos is making my lower back hurt. It’s also building lower ab muscles like I’ve never had. Hopefully not equally destroying my back muscles. I get back to my room and almost fall asleep before I actually make it into bed I’m so tired. This mental workout is exhausting!