Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

March 16, 2009

Soul-Lag

Filed under: Blog — Roman @ 9:22 am

Laura and I are back in the United States now, experiencing the culture shock of wider roads, drinkable tap water, and fully understanding the local language again. The rounded curbs and manicured lawns of the Sugar Land, Texas suburbs where my parents live, and where we’re staying for a bit, is a far cry from our tiny 8th story apartment overlooking the dirty river Ping. This morning, I awoke in the pre-dawn without the accompaniment of monks sweeping the wat courtyard with thin rush bristle brooms, or dogs barking in unison with the morning bell. Before we left Chiang Mai, I recorded this from our balcony for posterity; it was a unique alarm clock. Speaking of time, now that Laura has finished her first year of teaching, she’s looking forward to graduate school. And now that I’ve finished the first draft of my novel, I’m looking forward to forgetting about how bad it is for awhile, and taking care of some business before I start the HVAC program at Tech.

Chiang Mai was a special seven months for me, (ten months for Laura) and offered some valuable perspective. I’m still working this out. Here’s an example of difference that strikes me as significant: Yesterday, Laura and I thought we’d join my siblings for some bowling. For our group of five, for two hours, the rate was $87. Instead we went out for coffee and tea, and through the fog of jetlag, I was still stunned that my modest $1.55 cup of mediocre Joe could also have been a full, hot meal in the Night Market. Another example: right before we left, Laura and I got our teeth cleaned at Chiang Mai RAM Hospital. It cost less than $60 for both of us. Here, that might cover our co-pays, assuming we had insurance, which we don’t. I look in my parent’s pantry, and in their fridge, and there is so much food. I walk into the garage, and it’s full of STUFF. Cars are everywhere–where’s all the scooters? Where’s the loud putter of two stroke engine tuk-tuks? And how come the air is so clean?

The past few days have been a battle against jetlag, but also a fight to get balanced again. Modern technology can move faster than our souls, and when we roared across the Pacific at 500mph, five miles above the ocean, we left a trail stretched out behind us and arrived pale ghosts. Only yesterday did we feel we were becoming ourselves again, filled back up. The jetlag is over in a few days. The soul-lag can last much longer.

Note: “Soul Lag” is not an original term. See William Gibson, Pattern Recognition.

4 Comments »

  1. i would love to talk and hear more about your perspective!
    welcome home!!!
    i’m just back from the dominican republic!

    Comment by Mike Garrity — March 16, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  2. Roman- I’ve enjoyed reading your website, are you back stateside for a while now?

    Comment by Tom Knight — March 16, 2009 @ 10:57 pm

  3. Roman, good to read that your return went well.
    Before and after my few trips over the Pacific,
    I’ve undergone culture shock and reverse-culture shock,
    but find that time stills those waters, placating return to stasis.
    I wish you luck in these months that will follow,
    hope that you drink every drop out of the experience.

    Also, is that the same Gibson of “Neuromancer” fame?

    Comment by Dave Hur — March 23, 2009 @ 11:30 am

  4. Yes, it is. I think the book was Pattern Recognition.

    Comment by Roman — March 23, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

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