Eat, Pray, Have an Epiphany

Because I’m a dude, I have avoided all contact with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, the then-32 year old’s account of self-discovery through travels in Italy, India, and Bali.

As my time here in Bangkok comes to a close, I’ve realized that—despite my protestations—overseas travel is indeed made for life-changing epiphanies.

I eat-pray-loved the crap out of this vacation.

It’s coincidental that I’m 32. And it’s somewhat coincidental that I, too, find myself at crossroads.

As I learned from the all-knowing online deity, Wikipedia, Gilbert was dealing with a particularly nasty divorce during her global jaunts.

Thankfully, I’m not going through a divorce. Far from it. Life since TJ moved in has been nothing but a blessing. The life we’ve built together is more than what I’ve hoped for or imagined. I’m looking forward to a lifetime of love and MST3K-ing with him.

What I am going through is the same thing I went through when I finished my doctorate, got a dog, and bought a house two years ago. My restless subconscious has a knack for always wanting to ask, just as I’m getting comfortable: So what’s next?

If I recall correctly, at that time, I decided to hold my horses and stop making any more major life decisions, even though deep down inside I really wanted to quit my job and become a cryptozoologist.

Well, you can only delay the inevitable for so long. That tomorrow I punted to is now today. And once again, I’m feeling the itch to do something that will—as I’ve prayed so many times before—disturb me.

Next month, I will have officially lived in the DC Metro area for six years. With the exception of growing up in the Philippines (where I lived until I was 12, before the family began its international jaunts), this is the longest I’ve stayed in any one location. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because after moving every couple of years for the past two decades, I’ve actually settled down. It’s bad because… well, I’ve actually settled down.

I’m not saying I’m moving to Bangkok tomorrow. But this time away has given me a helpful perspective that a staycation wouldn’t have accomplished. As a wise man once told me: Change of place + Change of pace = Change of perspective.

And so, after all that delicious Thai food, the precious opportunity to disconnect from my work/improv/life routine in DC, and the amazing time spent with my significant other Amazing Race-style, I’ve had a few personal epiphanies:

  • The “important” things don’t seem as important from halfway around the world.
  • That said, I need to unplug more. Although I’ve checked the Faceplace and the Twitter like a madman, I have not checked my work email nor have I spent time thinking about improv since I got here. I don’t know if I’ll get more opportunities to do this, but I need to treat any time that I’m disconnected from my daily routine as precious and sacred. Instead of saying, “Hey, you moved my cheese!” I should be saying, “My, what a lovely new place to which you’ve moved my cheese.”
  • Journeys of self-discovery are better with a companion. It’s counter-intuitive that any opportunity for self-reflection would be enhanced by having someone else there with you, but having TJ here with me has been amazeballs. I’m so sick and tired of my internal monologue that it helps when someone else can provide commentary. I’m tremendously grateful that he decided to join me on this trek. This is how I know we’re meant to be together: we’ve spent two weeks with my parents in a foreign land and haven’t killed each other.
  • I still enjoy discovering new places. One of the things that made me go “Awwww, yeah” during this vacation was figuring out how to get to places here in Bangkok with a map and only a smattering of survival Thai. There’s something personally fulfilling about getting to a temple across a river and not getting sold to slavery in the process. So I guess despite my attempts to pretend like I like routine and predictability, in truth I feel alive when something new comes my way.
  • And finally, and probably most importantly: I’m ready. For real this time. I know I’ve intimated over the past two years that I’ve been ready for that next big thing in my life, but I don’t think I was really, truly ready for anything to happen—mentally or emotionally. Being here and seeing how life could be in a new place made both my brain and my heart excited for the potential to encounter new opportunities in new places, God-willing. So there’s thankfully no need to be swallowed by a whale; I’m ready when God is.

My hope in writing these epiphanies down is that I continue to keep them in mind, especially as I jump back in head-first to my work/improv/life routine on Monday. (Anyone want to wager a guess on how many emails are in my work inbox on Monday?) Opportunities like the one I’ve been blessed with these past two weeks don’t come around often; I need to appreciate them and take advantage of them as much as I can.

And although Julia Roberts will not likely play me in any future adaptation of this blog, I’m pretty damn sure that this journey of self-discovery was very much worth the trip.


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