Sunday, June 1, 2008

Road Trip

The group of students and teachers that I am traveling with took a road trip last Wednesday. First of all, the drive up was absolutely gorgeous! I can’t explain to you how beautiful Thailand is. Everywhere you look is a breathtaking vista. North Thailand has huge mountains covered in thick jungles overlooking vast rice fields dotted with grass huts, old villages, wats, and animals. I tried to take pictures of what I saw, but pictures don’t capture the smell of the grasses, pictures don’t capture the movement of mountain mist, and pictures don’t capture the reality of the moment.

My professor arrived in Thailand last Sunday so he came up to Burma with us. He is definitely one of my favorite teachers of all time. It was so awesome because on our drive we asked questions on history, philosophy, religion, and current events and Ralph (our professor) would go into these awesome impromptu philosophical lectures that deepened our thoughts and rattled our beliefs. He’s the kind of teacher who carefully prods you to reach inside yourself and examine the beliefs and cultural ideas you never thought to consider, but that were always there. Lectures like that shake up my intellectual and spiritual insides and force me to evaluate myself. It’s sometimes painful…like cleaning your room.

A room that is messy can look relatively clean on the outside, but under your bed and in your closet things are stuffed in a big unorganized mess—gathering dust. When you clean your room you have to pull everything out before you can start putting it back in. Doing so is scary and frustrating because your room starts to look even more messy than before you started to clean. Each item has to be pulled out, dusted off, and thoroughly examined. You have to decide what the item is and where it should go. A lot of stuff ends up in the garbage and, in the end, there is always a box of miscellaneous stuff left over that you never could decide what to do with. It’s painful, but you end up understanding yourself and your surroundings on a more profound level.