So I just finished a year and a half of muay thai at Charn Chai Muay Thai where I trained and eventually found the courage to try my hand at getting into the ring. I eventually got into the ring 4 times with my last fight being January 29th, 2016. I have fought every month since October and my heart of hearts wishes I could have stayed longer to push myself for that next win and to show that I could do it not for anyone but myself.
The fact is that I never thought of myself as a fighter and even now I can’t say that I am but I hope that to the trainers and the people at the gym I hope I could show that even if I wasn’t intellectually a fighter I could in that moment when the ram muay music starts have the heart of one.
If I was at any other gym I don’t know if I would have stayed that long, Pai was a combination of being affordable on a backpacker budget, the gym which felt by the time I left like family and the fact that when I had arrived there I was ready to stop for a while.
Now I am back on the move just arriving in Bali and now in Kuta which is a little too touristic for my liking. I just got here and am just hoping my leg heals up but Bali is a huge island and there are so many places to visit or see. I can’t do everything I would want to I will really just pick one or two things to do before moving on.
I have to also get my New Zealand working holiday sorted but that will take a bit of time. I am not much of a swimmer so surfing may be a hard sell. Probably just going to think and write as I go. I am hopeful and melancholy now that I am back in travel mode for Pai was a special place for me but one where I am not saying goodbye just see you soon.
So Hi Bali you look like a blast, for the flash but also the intimate wonders hidden by the noise. So hopefully I can meet some new friends, maybe find a gym around here and enjoy the surf.
As this is the beginning of a new year I am reminded of how much I don’t know about who I am. I remember the risks not taken, the relationships not pursued out of fear and self-loathing. I know that I have been able to open up a lot more than I thought I ever could but I still live in emptiness that is hard for most to understand.
You become a good liar to yourself as much as everyone else and that was a skill I honed in Toronto when I was scrambling for work but never found it. I am invisible because I keep to myself I use words as a way to feel.
This isn’t an article this is a self-exposition about who I can be and how hard it is to move forward to get to that person to make those mistakes when you feel you are doing it on your own.
I don’t think I am a bad guy, I am not the best, as flawed as anyone else yet I do not feel like a complete person, I don’t know what it means to be whole. I don’t know intimacy of a romantic nature because I shelter myself from the possibility. I believe that it doesn’t exist for a person like me.
I know that isn’t true but in the rawest form of who I am I just can’t escape its shadow on my soul. I’ve talked about it a lot, mostly in blog posts that no one will ever ready. They are a whisper among the noise that immediately disappears when given to the wind.
I will not start this year with a resolution but a hope that I can find a way to be open, to explore who I can be, to a chance on a girl even if there is nothing more scary than that for me. In comparison to a muay thai fight, the fight is easy but finding a way to break down the walls that surround me feels an impossibility after so long of being defined by my feeling of invisibility.
I was reminded of my invisibility when last night someone thought that the people I brought over where alone but they were with me and I don’t think they realized I was there or that I even lived there.
That is the summation of how I keep to myself, how I feel like the forgotten, a person that doesn’t matter who has made no waves, no ripples. That when all is said and done I will not be remembered, just a phantom in a memory which is as malleable as a piece of paper and just as easy to forget.
That is how I feel but what I hope against hope is that just by being here we can have an impact that goes beyond the obvious. I don’t have friends, I don’t let people know me because why would anyone care when all I feel is contempt for my cowardice about who I am.
I can live like this for another year of I can continue the change I’ve started just by doing the unexpected, by fighting and writing and that is the plan. I will write because I must and I will fight because I am passionate for the sport and how is has made me better.
My superpowers are consistency and words once I get into a rhythm I stick to it and words don’t come easy but they are the fire that fuels my imagination when there is nothing else.
So I will start the steps of seeding the universe I built on paper into the world, start with writing, putting it out there and getting feedback and seeing what happens from there. I commit to physical health via muay thai to test my limits and improve.
It’s that simple this year, I will do this while wandering the world, on the cheapest budget possible. I will take more risks and commit fully to their pursuit.
So 2016 is almost year and it is time in the media where we look back before we look forward. For me at this time last year I wanted to fight in the ring and thought I would do it in March. That didn’t happen, it would 8 more months before I had the courage to get into the ring. I could have done it sooner but I was too afraid of the pain and the danger.
Now here I am about to have my third muay thai fight in as many months when I thought I would be long gone by now. Instead it is one last battle to go through. This was a year of muay thai, of the single pursuit of the fight to see if I could get into the ring when I had thought it was just out of reach.
I was working within some well-defined limitations with a shrinking budget that made it impossible to do privates or much more than the normal twice daily muay thai sessions at all. At the beginning of this year I had never run and starting in September I ran, starting slow from a few kms up to 10 or more now.
I hated running with a passion but now I look back and see it as a way to find a bit of peace before the day really began. Also the views around the valley with the hills acting as the walls to amazing to pass up. No matter where I go from here I will miss the views in Pai but I know that sooner rather than later I’ll be back.
I’ve struggled with my muay thai I was never as intense as many others but through it I learned that my super power would have to be consistency. The ability to go without fail out of both a need and want. I learned that muay thai for me is not about fighting an opponent or about winning it is about giving everything I have to the ring and leaving nothing left. It is about leaving the negative behind and not worrying about the outcome.
As this year ends I want to do at least one more fight but that will be the last, 2016 for me is devoted to the story. An idea that I developed while wandering India has yet to find its voice but that is what next year will bring. A commitment to the word with even more focus and commitment that I found for muay thai.
After hearing the stories of those who make their lives fighting and training muay thai I am honoured to make use of their depth of skill and experience. They did it because they had to and I am doing it because I want to a big difference that is humbling and makes me want to make sure I give it everything I have when I go into the ring. Not to win but in honour of my opponent’s training and my own.
Thanks to everyone at Charn Chai Muay Thai for asking me to fight again even if I was probably your last choice, for your time and kindness. I will make sure to carry that with me no matter where I go because it can mean so much as I know acutely.
In my first two muay thai fights it was about being aggressive but there was no tactical thought, it was all about surviving the onslaught by my opponent. In my second fight I used my left jab as my primary weapon and rarely led or used my right which was a mistake. I need to switch it up and start from one then the other so it doesn’t become predictable.
I didn’t use push kicks, elbows or knees which can’t be allowed to happen again. It is hard to recognize when to use each weapon since you only do them on the bag or in pads but never in sparring so they feel somewhat disconnected to everything else.
The closest thing you get to a fight is sparring and I know that’s why I don’t use them, I need to think about it first and by the time I do it’s usually too late. I don’t kick with power and much as I should probably because you are always moving neither you nor your opponent is stationary so you rarely get the time to pull of the most powerful kick you can.
My footwork is basic which isn’t going to be enough in the future, I need to mix it up and get faster and more natural in my use of space. Each movement has to have the potential to lead into an attack. My use of combos was beyond basic and never went past jab, punch or kick.
I have to naturally get to the point where a jab can go into a kick and then an elbow. The technique we do at the gym is great it went all out the window when I got into the ring itself. Knees are deadly weapons that I could have used to end the fight but couldn’t recognize so couldn’t make use of.
Fundamentally it is about finding my flow, being able to go from one attack to another at any moment and being able to respond to any attack with a counter and making it come naturally but that is a lifetime pursuit but one that can start now not later.
I want to improve my hand speed and just diversify my attacks, counters while shoring up my defense. My conditioning is good but I will assume my opponent will be better in all aspects of their game than me. This will require more than the same old thing that I did for these first two fights, it means I will have to get more advice and practice more technical sparring so I can learn to chain these elements together.
Heart will never be a problem for but if I want to stand a chance in the future I have to elevate my game by understanding what I did well to win these two fights and where the gaps are so I can narrow them and turn them into strengths not weaknesses.
So as long as I am here I’ll continue to get into the ring so that is at least one more time in December and possibly another in January. I know that 4 fights over the year and a half I’ve been here wouldn’t be a lot but I think that’s pretty good since I just started in October.
So this morning I had a person who I met a few days ago question my integrity. They had come to where I was so I could return the money from a bike which I gladly did. This person said I and someone else had lied about what bikes would cost, it had come up when I met this person and all I remember saying is that I’ve seen bikes being sold for around a certain price in Pai.
This person found they could find it for cheaper I had looked before when I bought my bike a year ago and I found a range of prices. When they came by to get their money she said something pretty simple but that they were open and I was reminded of something I’ve seen time and again while people describe their positive traits it can sometimes mean they are trying to validate it for themselves.
This person said we had lied and when I said whatever that it doesn’t matter she said I had no integrity. According to Google search’s definition of integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.”
I don’t think saying what I did means I had no integrity. Fundamentally it just didn’t matter and that maybe was callous of me to say but I felt whatever their view of me didn’t matter and I am pretty sure that riled them up because no one wants to feel irrelevant and I should have held my tongue but I had to say it just because of their tone which was dripping with judgement.
I’ve found that there are times when people say “I am [blank]” and in this case it was “I am so open” or something close to it they can also be the most judgmental. This person never said it but I could feel that they felt like they were better than not just me but a lot of people which didn’t sit well with me.
She said that I was showing how ugly I was and my thought was I am human we can be both good and bad, wondrous and ugly. I don’t know this person so I am not in a position to judge and having been on the receiving end of this judgement I will not take it lightly.
Look I have no doubt that this person is good but I don’t know them but I don’t like how they tried to paint me in a single hue, as if that one action was who I was. It wasn’t pretty and I could have, should have been more careful but I am just as flawed as every other person and for them to someone cast judgement on me for being honest even if it wasn’t all puppies and kittens was something I had to respond to.
Maybe it’s having been traveling for a while, maybe it’s been the muay thai, maybe it was my time in Toronto but I am not going to take people’s accusations about my character lightly. I talk a lot but when I talk about myself it isn’t usually about my strengths it is about my weakness, my failures, my lack of self-worth so I don’t need anyone else throwing their perceptions of who I am in my face I deal with them enough on my own as is.
So I wrote a quick email back to them telling them what I thought, it wasn’t inflammatory, hell it wasn’t even grammatically correct but it was what I felt and in this case I was going to have the last word on the matter, I can’t help that it’s the writer in me that needed to do it. I am free of what this person thinks, I hope they have a good time in Pai, I know I’ll end up seeing them around but I don’t need everyone to like me. It’s one of the issues I had before but you can’t be all things to all people and you shouldn’t have to be.
It doesn’t matter what a person says as long as you can see the truth in it and use it to become better. I will try to take what they said to me and try to approach things better but I will also never apologize for who I am, We judge people’s actions, all of us do but I have to remember and so do most of us is that we are full of nuance and that judgement can be sweeping without considering the whole of who we are.
It might have been my own fault for being honest and not thinking clearly about what I was about to say. I should have phrased it better, maybe never had sent it at all but I did so you just have to go from there but sometimes you need to be honest and by writing the final word on it, by calling them out on their own double standard of judgement I am free of it. Words can hurt, heal and make us feel, they are powerful both in good and bad ways depending on who is saying them and I had to call them on their baseless judgement of what type of person they think me to be and I will not apologize for it.
I will try to be more understanding, try not to rush to respond in the moment unless it is warranted and in this case it probably wasn’t but I hope they too learn how not to judge, how we are all flawed and that just being open doesn’t mean you can’t be as judgmental as the rest of us because we are all human after all, nothing more nothing less.
This tirade could be considered a judgement in itself but it’s more a commentary that I needed to express not for anyone else but for my own sake, so that I can find a way to go beyond the criticisms of others but more often it’s what I am telling myself so I can be a better in the future yet to focus than I am in this single moment. Sometimes we get worse before we can get better but sometimes it’s the small things, the snide comments, the judgement laden looks that we absorb consciously that can be the most damning and I am trying to purge that from who I wish to be.
When you travel it is about seeing the sights and experiencing as much of a place, culture and people as you can but when you live somewhere I find you form habits, places to eat, where you shop, get your laundry done. I put travel on pause while I’ve been in Northern Thailand have come to call Pai just north of Chiang Mai home for the last year or so.
It becomes about finding a rhythm and for me one of them is what I like to call the laundromat where I eat if I am not going to Charn Chai Muay Thai. I came to Pai to do muay thai for a month or two and ended up staying for more than a year. In some ways it’s become home and I’ve come to know it well from the Pai Canyon, the swimming pool Fluid to any number of the walking street vendors. It’s good to get a chance to know a place and the people there even if it is through a simple greeting to the people at the local Thai shops where I get snacks, water or fruit.
One of my favourite places to eat in Pai, is a small restaurant that has no name. I call it the laundromat. If you go to the end of walking street in Pai and turn right to the street with most of the bars. Here during the day you will find in-between the aptly named Burger Queen and Almost Famous a small restaurant/laundromat that has a sign out for the cheapest place in town to get your laundry done, 20 baht per kilogram for the next day and 50 baht forthe same day.
You’ll notice that they also serve food there, this place is one of the cheapest places you can go for a meal in Pai where a dish can range from 30 to 50 baht at most. As a creature of habit I usually have the same thing chicken noodle soup or rice soup but they have curry, pad thai and a wealth of other Thai options to feed an empty stomach. You can grab a beer, have a fruit shake or have a coffee. It is open in the mornings around 8 or 9 am until 9 pm every day.
Pai as a tourist town is built for travelers from backpackers to couples and whoever and it caters to those with hippie tendencies and during high season it is always busy. But I usually go to the small local businesses or wandered down walking street in the evenings for a fruit shake, some chicken on a stick or a crepe.
Nothing beat the laundromat for me though for a meal, the people have always been nice, the food is good and you just can’t beat the prices in Pai itself. During the day it is tropical in Pai but as dry season has started to make its presence known you can feel the change in weather. As the sun sets within a few hours the temperature quickly cools and you go from being in shorts and a t-shirt to sometimes needing something more.
I got a simple long-sleeved green shirt from Zalora Thailand which you can above because of the cooler nights which can mean you don’t always want to be in short sleeves especially in Northern Thailand. While it is always hot during the day in the dry season night brings the cool and sometimes even the cold.
When I started going to this place I would do my own dishes after I finished and I just kept on doing it and then I started doing it for any dishes that were at the sink. It kind of became a habit of mine that I still do when I eat here. Probably one reason she remembers me.
In Pai you can find a lot of nice clothes but for me they tend to be too touristy and while I love the wrinkled elephant shirts as much as the next guy since I have more or less lived here I like where plain coloured clothes so I don’t seem like just another tourist. It’s cool to do but I just like being as nondescript as possible when traveling.
Living in Pai means that you are never more than a few hours away from Chiang Mai but sometimes going down those 762 curves can make it feel a lot farther. It’s not that it’s hard to go to Chaing Mai but I have seen many people feeling ill half way through the many curves especially now with the road construction taking place on the highway which makes the trip up to Pai or down to Chiang Mai even more off-putting.
Pai is a small place nestled in the valley in the hills of Northern Thailand. Since I’ve been here it’s changed a lot from the owners of certain places to the new building that start getting built during rainy season in anticipation of the high season tourist throngs that they know will be coming. Already just of walking street is a new hotel being built and just a bit further down another small boutique hotel catering to the high-end traveler from China who have seen the movie and others that come for a few days.
Pai has been a great place to stop, to live, to know and meet people. Many people just come for a few days but there are those of us where those days become weeks, months or even years and that isn’t a bad thing that is a gift I have come to cherish every moment. This will not be the last time I come here and I am sure that is true for many that visit Pai and I am sure we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Should I take a look at what I’ve accomplished as another year has come and gone and a new one has already begun? I could look at what my life lacks or what I have gained. It is easy to be cynical and negative I know that more than most because it has been part of who I am. It is one thing to be positive, it is one to be realistic and another to be inherently negative and I choose the first wish dashes of the second.
As I’ve gotten older it’s funny I’ve come to realize how young I still am and how young I feel. Part of this is because I’ve retreated into a form of isolation which has been driven by a feeling of shame and a dim view of personal worth. I am not saying that to draw attention to the ripples this has caused in my own life but just as a personal fact that I can’t and will not deny but that I will not be beholden to today or in the future.
A year ago I was in Pai, Thailand wondering where my life was heading and I am still here except now I have a clearer direction for what my future will hold not in terms of where I will be exactly but of what my mission is in this life. I have tens of thousands of world of a universe that is of my creation. That I would never have conceived of if I had not been wandering the world or had gone through so much personal anguish at at a specific point on this trip.
Although I’ve thought about fighting since getting to Thailand and I’ve said I am going to get into the muay thai ring, a year ago I would have never thought it would become a reality and that goal will soon be achieved just 2 weeks hence. Frankly this time last year I would never have been comfortable without a shirt on because I always felt so inferior but yet here I am a year later feeling fit as f&*#.
I am only able to be here because of the love and support I have and I have to return that support in kind not by being just being successful but by going to the summit with a platinum resolve that does not waver and will not back down. I am going to get the ball rolling with the universe I created by having a story out there, I make a commitment to not just to a single muay thai fight (I will be back for more) but to embody within what it means to be a fighter in every facet of my life from the physical to the mental.
I am going to put myself out there, get involved and unlock that last part of life wherever it leads. I would rather love and lost than to never of had it to begin. This year and all that comes after is going to be an awesome ride. I will make it could, make it matter and make it a joy.
What the last year has taught me is to find believe within, to work at it, to never give into the despair and to do the things you fear. I am a fighter here now and always not just for the 15 minutes in the ring but in life and I will prove that with each step starting now.
The White Buddha outside of Pai that watches over the valley at sunrise
What is the value of your life? Is it in your family, the people you touch and or the difference you have. Should you dream to reach those ambitions that drove you as a child or have you grown up and made your dreams small, or have they been shattered so often that you just try to hold on as you hide the truth.
When you think if what you ultimately think of death in order to reflect upon your life but the perception you have or that others have is not the reality there is more to it, more than any individual can see or ever know. You hope that you will be remembered and that the impact you had will ripple into the future of those you care for or those that were touched by your presence.
When you think of life I think of the potential inherent in each life and the live we have lived to this point. For most of us, those in the masses of humanity our impact is measured in our family and friends, what we do and the life we have lived. As I inch towards a new day, a fight and the end of my time here in Pai I remark on my isolation from people.
Everyone wants to matter, there is a reason that a lot of us look at life through destiny, it is to give our life structure and meaning to do what is human and find patterns within the chaos whether those patterns exist or not is besides the point, all that matters is we believe they exist, that is enough to make us feel as if we had a purpose.
Those of us that are closed which includes myself have a harder time of seeing our impact of believing in our own inherent value which has nothing to do with what we do and everything to do with that we exist and that is important in it of itself if we choose to recognize it. Sometimes our value will never be known to us, sometimes it could have been a simple gesture, a smile, a helping hand, a chat with a stranger. Our lives ripple in ways beyond comprehension for both better and worse.
Maybe we need to stop looking at the obvious points of impact and think of all the small ways others be it a teacher, friend or a random encounter can change our lives and live in the believe that we had the same impact on another even if we never knew who they were or remember what transpired.
I live with the belief that perception is part of our reality but not the whole of it, that while we can’t control what life launches at us we can control how we react, when others are mean, we can choose to be kind, when they are negative we can choose to see the possibilities while we prepare for the challenges.
I have no control of who I am going to face in my muay thai fight or in life but what I can do is start by being positive instead giving the my cynicism and negativity. I can empower myself to believe that “I can” instead of “I can’t” by looking at how far I’ve already come. I will not be trapped by the past but will learn its lessons and be freed from it’s hold so I can live for the now and prepare for a tomorrow.
I will treat others with kindness, generosity and openness and will see roadblocks not as setbacks but as something to overcome. I will continue to focus on self-improvement, by being positive if realistic, of being hopeful in the face of doubt, of understanding the fear not as an enemy but a companion that helps keep me aware and ready for the unexpected.
I leave behind my regrets of yesterday and will live without regrets for today and tomorrow. Passion is the fuel, belief is the spark, and focus is my fuel for this opportunity and all others that will reveal themselves as long as I am open to what they are and what they can mean. There is no fate, there is no destiny but for everything outside our power to influence there is just as much we can and that is where I will focus my energy on to take everything I know and make it matter as I hope you can do as well.
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