I’ve lived in Northern California for 45 years. I’m moving to Chiang Mai at the end of this year.
I have been looking for some time to relocate. Ever since Tania died and I gave up our house, it seemed like there was nothing left for me in California. My three-year residency with the Temple of Transformative Music in Petaluma has been a last attempt to make a meaningful life here, but it has never gained enough traction to sustain my sense of satisfaction.
Searching the world for a reasonable cost of living, collegiality with other musicians, a sense of community, and a lover. After losing Tania, I would prefer a lover who will have fewer health problems than me. I am not alone in thinking that California (and maybe America) is not a place where this can be found.
I kept returning to Thailand. A sense of general well-being and social calm pervades the country, even with the challenges of a dying (now cremated) monarch. America is having a serious crisis of national identity. Thais know who they are. 95% are Buddhist; in the words of Sir John Gielgud, “there’s a moral and philosophical unity here that very few countries in the world now possess.” Coming from the dysfunction of present-day America, I find this very calming. I always liked Buddhism, anyway.
I keep experience deeper physical healing here, too. Ubiquitous massage shops, offering all kinds of treatments at 1/10 of the first-world price, is a great resource.
Finances? I can rent a 2- or 3-bedroom house in a good neighborhood, or on a beautiful beach, for 1/2 or even 1/3 of my current rent for one bedroom. Food and healthcare are similarly cheap, and high quality.
But the real deal-sealer is finding someone to love. I’ve introduced my sweetheart in a previous post, but there’s more…
Usually, when we look for a relationship (here in America, at least), we look for someone of like mind. That is, someone with a similar set of social manners, political beliefs, religion, preferences in food and entertainment. Personally, I have always put a lot of priority on intellectual equality: that is, I love to think about difficult subjects, to talk, to share insights into great literature and great music, and value a partner’s ability to engage this way.
With Esso, I have none of those things. Her English is serviceable enough for simple conversations, but she still thinks in Thai—a language which favors the here-and-now over abstractions. If I get too cerebral with her, she has to stop me: it’s incomprehensible. Challenging, but I am experiencing this as a feature, not a bug. It forces me to withdraw energy from thinking, and relate with my heart, instead. This is a HUGE change for me, but I can tell it’s going to be very healthy. Changing my focus from being “smart” and creative, to being simply present, patient, and compassionate. If this works, I won’t even recognize myself after a year or two.
Wish me luck!