For as long as I remember, my birthday has caused me severe anxiety. At the core of this anxiety is a disdain for sudden attention from several people who I barely know (or who barely know me) and the lack of attention from people I’ve loved and lost with whom I treasured spending my birthday. With this in mind, I was stoked to be in a new country (Thailand) all by myself and although during the initial two days I had made several new friends at my hostel and spent a lot of time exploring the city with them, I had decided that on my last day (which happened to be my 29th birthday) I was going to explore what was left on my list on my own.
After visiting the Wat Pho temple and the Grand Palace on the morning of my birthday, I was left with just enough time to visit one more place before I left for the airport and it obviously had to be The Jim Thompson House. I say obviously, because back home, well before I arrived in Thailand, while reading about things to do in Bangkok, I was most intrigued by The Jim Thompson House. Luckily, I made it there by 1pm and was assigned a spot in the 1:10pm guided tour (I've read of others having to wait longer.) While I waited for the guided tour to begin, I was strolling around the property and had already started feeling a wave of emotion stirring up inside me caused by the beauty of this place and an inexplicable sense of familiarity.
Moments into the guided tour, the sense of familiarity started to get overwhelming and I was almost drowning in it. As our guide began to narrate his story, it felt like I knew it already (although it was the first time I was hearing it.) I felt this strong sense of having been in this property before. All of this only intensified as we left the courtyard of the house and entered the actual property (where photography is prohibited.) As our guide showed the first of many artifacts collected by Jim Thompson, my sense of familiarity crossed its tipping point. I noticed a palpable sign of this - tears running silently across my face. In that moment, I didn’t try and stop it, I didn’t think about or analyze it. I didn’t worry about what the guide or the other members of the tour might be thinking. I simply accepted it. I accepted it so seamlessly, because in that moment, I felt an absolute sense of harmony with myself and everything around me. I felt no need to try and understand what I was feeling but an urgent sense of wanting to completely immerse myself into it. To embrace it, to let it take over me, and that is exactly what happened.
After I returned home, I’ve had time to reflect on what happened and look at it from a cognitive perspective. This has led to clarity that what I experienced was no coincidence and had been a long time in the making. You see, like most people in their late 20s, the past few months (or years) of my life have been about self-discovery and growth. I have made tremendous progress when it comes to uncovering the sort of life I want to live. Progress toward knowing what makes me happy and what gives me a sense of purpose. I can only describe this phase as peeling away layers and layers of false identity so as to eventually reach my most authentic self. Each time I peeled a layer, I discovered something new about myself. Whether it was the fact that I want to spend my life in deep communion with nature. Or that I want to live it slowly - so as to notice the beauty in every tiny moment. A life that isn't spent chasing an infinite list of things but collecting and nurturing only what I truly need, value, and love.
In retrospect, I know that all that peeling away was leading to a specific moment. Years of peeling away seamlessly coincided with me visiting The Jim Thompson House in a cosmically special way. Had I visited a year ago, I wouldn't have felt what I did. Heck, had I visited a couple of months ago, I wouldn't have felt it. It necessitated every last layer to have been peeled. Such that, the house and his story would serve as nothing but a mirror. A visual manifestation of the life I knew I had been peeling away at but one I hadn't ever seen put together so vividly. I couldn't (and wisely chose not to) understand what I was feeling then. But now, it is clear as day. As I stood there, peeled away to my core, I was ready. Ready to receive revelations of the life I had been dreaming of - put together for me to see.