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Day 83: Meant to be?

January 5, 2024

Fifteen years ago my husband and I visited Thailand and spent one of our days with a tour guide who took us to the Bridge on the River Kwai. 

Our guide’s English was impeccable, her knowledge astounding, and we had a great day listening to her and asking questions.

At the end of the tour, she asked us if we’d like to tip her. She explained that she lived in abject poverty but that we should feel no obligation to tip her. She explained that her situation was exactly as the gods intended it to be and she was exactly where she was meant to be. 

Naturally we tipped her, but we spoke about that conversation several times in the weeks that followed. Although most westerners would use this sort of line to make possible tippers feel guilty and tip more, she seemed to mean what she said.  

We wondered…assuming she believed what she had said, might it actually be better to feel as though some other entity had responsibility for your circumstances than to subscribe to the Western rhetoric of “if your life sucks, it’s your fault!”

What does this have to do with joy?

The more I explore this idea of living, the more I see the need to let go of expectations, abandon the illusion of control and accept what is, and I’m reminded of that conversation all those years ago.

I don’t know that letting go and accepting are easy to do in the absence of religion or spirituality. I think perhaps it’s the difference has something to do with humility and the recognition of our insignificance. I toyed with the idea of my own insignificance a while back but in the abscense of religion or spritualtiy, I just ended up feeling like everything was pointless and I might as well lie in bed all day. 

As creatures who naturally seek (and make) meaning out of everything, the idea that we are merely specks of dust floating on a rock in infinite space where ultimately nothing matters seems, to me, to be a joyless one.

I can’t prove there’s anything out there, and if you asked me what I believe IS out there, I don’t think I’d have an articulate answer for you but what I can tell you is that my desire to be a joyful person – one who adds something to the world and brings joy to others – stands a far better chance of becoming a reality when I allow myself to connect with the idea of something or someone bigger than me; something I’m a part of. 

When I make meaning of my life this way, I feel better. Sure, I’m still a speck but let’s put that into perspective. Did you know that if you placed 20 billion strands of DNA side by side they’d only make the width of a human hair? (Source: “The Body” by Bill Bryson)

So yeah, I’d say a speck, with the right attitude, could make quite the impact! 

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