Today was a very good day. Last night? Apprehensive. But today, ah, today was the introduction to a world I’ve never known.
We’ve all been to Nowhere. It might have been in the middle of Seattle or Saskatchewan. It might have been at a Zen monastery, a no-man’s-land border outpost, or a bungalow in a nameless beach town. You may have found Nowhere on a sultry summer night in Paris when you’d spent your last euro and had no place to sleep; or on a midnight jeep safari in the Botswana bush after you’d blown your last spare tire, with your campsite a distant pinprick of light; or in the comforting cocoon of an all-night train compartment, sharing soul-secrets with a total stranger. Nowhere is a setting, a situation and a state of mind. It’s not on any map, but you know it when you’re there.
This time it has taken, as it usually does, a tremendous amount of energy and an open mind to get to Nowhere. This time, Nowhere is Mae Sot, Thailand.
I tend to prefer the places that Lonely Planet only generates a paragraph about, for these are the places where culture dwells and tourists do not. Today I learned that the size of the world is not fixed; original experience is more abundant than arm-chair adventurists have led me to believe. Three months ago when I committed to working for BMWEC and the Hussmann Foundation I pictured myself working in refugee camps with Karen, Burmese refugees, slipping on identities like over-coats. Instead, Nowhere is turning out to be a land of heroes and compassion making it very hard to act in any other way than how I feel.
So, as for the apprehensiveness? It has been extinguished by the two-hundred and fifty teachers I saw today, all contributing to something bigger (6,200 Burmese refugee children, to be exact). Subsequent posts will surely see times of un-governed happiness just as they will unparalleled empathy. My thoughts will be unedited and I welcome your replies.