Reality As It Is

I’ve lost count of how many days I have spent in the village, so far.  I think it’s about 4 nights or so. Slowly, I’m learning what life is all about when living in the countryside.  Things can get awfully quiet and extremely slow. I have caught myself walking around the commune, aimlessly. I told myself that I would create a regimented plan for how I would like my days to be set out, but procrastination is standing between me and that routine I promised to create.  It is a detriment, because I am found wandering around, frustrated with myself. I don’t know whether to pick up a book and read, exercise, meditate, write, or just relax. I get fidgety and restless and then I start to feel guilty after looking at my clock, only to realise that hours have passed and I have done nothing.  

I can be a lazy bastard, sometimes.  I am just so confused as to what to do with my time, right now.  It’s as if I have come to the realisation that I have so much time on my hands, and my reaction has been to just freeze with overwhelm.  It’s good to have students and teachers around the commune. We have all of our meals together and we socialise, but a lot of the time, everyone is off doing their own thing.  

My showering arrangements have been nothing but interesting.  It’s an outdoor shower that pours out cold water. Most of the time, the cold water is not an issue because the heat of the day warms the pipes.  At night time, however, the water is quite chilled. Last night, I decided to take a shower at the last minute, only to find out that the water supply had run dry.  So, I had to grab the nearest bucket and pour water over my head with the supply that came from a tub of water in the outdoor bathroom that is usually used for flushing the toilet.  There is no flusher here and no toilet paper. You wash yourself with water, and water only. When you need to flush, you get a bucket and pour water into the bowel.

Surprisingly, my sleeping patterns are on point and I am so happy with that.  You find the occasional spider, frog or gecko hanging around your mattress, but I always remind myself that I’m Australian and nothing should scare me because the creatures I grew up around are far more dangerous than most things you will find here.  The mattress itself is another story. It’s so thin, I can feel the floor beneath me. My back is starting to pay for it. The mosquito problem is an issue, especially at night. There is a medium level of risk for malaria in Battambang, so putting guard on my skin each night is something I never forget to do.  

The days are scorching hot and they sap the life out of you. I tried forcing myself to go for a run, or at least a brisk walk today, but there was just no way I was going to get that done.  The heat is so dry and irritable. There is no getting comfortable here. You shower and 5 minutes later you are back to swimming in your own pool of sweat. Oh, the joys of the Cambodian countryside.

Is this experience for everyone, or is it only limited to those who are sick in the head enough to pursue something as outrageous and as far fetched as this?  To be honest, I would recommend this to absolutely everyone. You realise after a while that you really dont need ¾ of the shit you own. We live lives of excess and gluttony.  Naturally and understandably, we are so quick to forget just how much we have. We tend to take most things for granted – our cloud like beds and our fresh, warm water supply, just to name a few.  

We take things for granted, and that is understandable.  How are any of us meant to know any different? A life of abundance is all we have ever known.  I guess, it takes experiences like these to fully comprehend the scale of our circumstances compared to someone who lives in poverty.  I am impressed with the mindset of the young Cambodians, however. It’s as if they acknowledge the fact that there are many people within their own country and outside of their country who have more than them.  Their level of understanding in regards to the relationship between materialism and happiness is on point. For a lot of the young Cambodians who I live with in this commune, they know that happiness cannot come from an excess amount of stuff, but rather a life rich with human connection, family, health and contribution.  It’s just great to be surrounded by such brilliant minds. Although our minds are wired differently, I still feel as though I can relate to them in one way or another and I am so grateful to be able to learn from these impressive individuals.

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