Ordinarily, I’m a pretty even-tempered guy. I can get riled up about small things, but only temporarily. I don’t indulge in drama; I save most of my emotional life for music. (Music actually is an ideal medium for expressing—or for that matter, managing—strong emotions. But that’s another story. This is about mundane life. Specifically, about getting ready for my permanent move out of California.)

When it’s time to get emotional, go all-in.

What an amazing week. I would start organizing stuff in my house to pack up and leave, and get stuck by having too many details.

Two contrasting examples keep me motivated and determined to get this done. One is a friend, much younger than me, who learned a few months ago that he had an untreatable form of cancer, and has only months to live. The first announcement of this news to his friends came with a focus on planning how to give away all his possessions (and money) before it’s too late. What great heart!

The counter-example is all the people in California who suddenly lost everything they owned in the recent wildfires.

So the message is plain. You’re going to lose everything. Either random disaster or death will take it all sooner or later. Best to take control of the process, sooner rather than later. That is the realization that makes my move to Asia possible. But the details are challenging.

The last two days (just after xmas) are crunch time. If Malila hadn’t been there to take charge of the process, i would have failed spectacularly. So there’s anxiety, for sure.

I thought I was ready for this. I processed like crazy to get through the grief of parting with my Mason & Hamlin grand, only to achieve ecstatic joy when I was able to place it with a dear old friend, for a good price. And so it went, piece by piece, each beloved object I had to part from, providing more healing when I saw it reach a better home. Wrenching all the needy feelings out of my heart, leaving it open to love and joy.

Part of my intention is to use my excess to help the survivors of the fire. Fortunately, my place is going to be rented to such a survivor, who now owns nothing. So it is much easier to give up my household goods: kitchen gear, the matched set of dishes that have been in the family for 40 years (and survived 10 or 15 moves with me!)—all stuff that I would gladly pass on to my daughter, but she, too, will be moving, and has no room for it.

So I am able to process the attachment to each piece, one by one by twenty…But, too many pieces. At the end, I was getting weepy over a little tchotchke I rarely thought of, and even leftover food in the cupboard that I wish I could enjoy one more time.

In between these stressful moments, there is the excitement and anticipated joy of being able to spend endless time with my lover, and start weaving new community ties in a new place.

Great crescendo, in classic operatic style: At the peak of frantic packing with my daughter, who is barely containing her tears at the prospect of not seeing me again, perhaps for years…  the landlady comes in to make sure her house is being well cared for… Esso calls on video to tell me how excited she is that I am about to come… All at the same time. 

Sailing through these emotional forces, I feel like a small boat trying to navigate with current, waves, and wind all going in different directions. Dancing to stay on top of it all and not get attached to any feeling, although each one is real, and precious.

Finally we are done with the house, just in time to head for the airport. I hope that the anxiety and sadness can be finished, rather than overlapping with the new excitement I am embarking upon. Maybe some emotionally-quiet time on the plane? Too much to ask?

It wasn’t bad on the first leg of the flight, to Taipei. When the Bangkok-bound plane started out on the tarmac, the excitement looked like it would be getting a clean start. But then, something was wrong with the plane. Back to the terminal. More waiting; I’m going to miss the connection to ChiangMai, and I’m also going to miss meeting Esso at the Bangkok airport. Our romantic reunion has to be re-scripted. The smooth segue of emotions is interrupted. Of course this all happens at the end of 20 hours of traveling, which started at the end of an already-stressful day. My resilience is failing.

Finally in BKK—Esso has gone ahead to wait for me in ChiangMai, while the airline has rescheduled me for another 5-hour wait. Full-press grouchiness, assuaged only by the hope of a comfortable shower, maybe a nap—but even with my Business Class ticket, these amenities are not available (to me) at the airport. I make do with cognac-laced espresso.

My emotions die from plain exhaustion, and then the ultimate prosaic, emotion killing interlude of waiting in line at passport control.
45 monks

 Finally on the plane to Chiang Mai, I wonder if all this hassle is an inauspicious beginning to our new relationship. Then I find myself seated next to two Buddhist monks: one old, one young–like me and Esso. Not, not inauspicious at all!

Then at last … 

ChiangMai, Esso, and the arms of sleep.

2 thoughts on “Emotions

  1. I am so grateful and touched to be counted among those who have lended something of benefit to you, my friend. Thank you for these honest, emotional words. I can see you are ready for this next leg of the journey – because your heart is leading you. It’s a potent and beautiful part of you that you can trust.

    Keep sharing. I’m watching, caring and sending love.


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