Like most things, the coffee in Chiang Mai had a distinctly other-than-American taste. This disappointed me when I was in need of a pick me up or a common comfort in the espresso. It was such peculiarities that set my mind in constant turmoil, struggling to find resolution from something of familiarity. I seldom found this solace. Chocolate chips were mere pieces of wax with a tinge of cocoa. Ice cream had a stale, burnt taste. Salt was dense in most dishes, and the streets were flooded with scents of rotting carcasses and oil--all soon to be ingested in the sweaty buyers who strolled the alleyways. Being a foreigner, I came embedded with a distinctly American outlook.
Now at comfort in my home land, away from the silence of the Thai hills that resonated louder than most city streets, and in the fresh air, free of humidity and foul odor, I now see why living abroad was such a struggle. It went against my grain in many ways, and though I know that there was a perpetual spiritual war waging around us, more than all of this, my focus on the negative kept me from truly enjoying my summer in a foreign home.
Much of our lives we spend critiquing every aspect in any given situation. We analyze and condemn people and traditions that are different. We complain that, "this isn't the way I would ever do it...", thinking we've been given a just entitlement to voice such superior views. But in the end, we're merely defeating ourselves, not the opposition.
I've held onto the idea that I was up against many spiritual odds while in Chiang Mai, but I can now see that the evil surrounding me was most manifest in my very own mind. Had I enjoyed the difficulties, embraced the changes, and resolved to wake up with a smile of determination daily, perhaps I wouldn't have become so numb to such a beautiful land. We're often our own worst enemies.