What is your best memory of the year?
Spending 12 hours in the Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea. It is officially one of the coolest places on earth. I am not saying its one of the greatest airports. It’s more than that… it is its own destination. On our itinerary home from Thailand, I saw we had a 12 hour lay over. We were DREADING it. I just wanna go home, you know?
This airport changed the game. It’s like a super mall, but with culture. There were two plays happening while we were there, three separate concerts, and two fully costumed historic parades… in the airport. Plus, they had lounging chairs, beds, and massage chairs… all free to use. It had 5g wifi, free of course. The security staff were nice. They weren’t dicks and bullies like the TSA. They don’t give a shit about your shoes or belts or liquids, either.
On top of all this, we heard about a free tour around Seoul. Well, we have 12 hours to kill… so why not? Well, they picked us up at the airport in these brand new beautiful Greyhound type buses and took us around to a bunch of monuments and shrines and stuff. All free, and all taken care of for us. Our brains were moosh after 14 hours in one chair. Our guide took care of us. He entertained us, told us what we were seeing. Made sure we all got on and off the bus, and that no one got left behind. On top of that, he gave us all his cell number in case we did get left behind.
I can only imagine it was subsidized by the govt as a commercial for tourists to show them how wonderful South Korea was. Well, it worked. We totally want to go to a full vacation to Seoul now.
What is your worst memory of the year?
Hour 12 of the 14 hour flight. I did plenty of stretching and walking around and all that… but I started getting stir crazy. Or, cabin fever. I dunno, but I started getting ouchie and angry. I really, really, really wanted off that plane. I remember thinking “well, I am sure Thailand and Cambodia will be swell. However, I don’t EVER want to do this again.” Of course, once I got to Bangkok we were instantly smitten and forgot all about the plane ride.
I understand this is a first world problem to have.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Landing a great job with a great company and also managing to still travel across the earth to Asia for two weeks while gainfully unemployed. Oh, and I got laid off from my job and company of 17 years. It’s all good, though. It turned out to be a blessing. Nay… a blissing. ®
What happened this year that you didn’t see coming?
Getting laid off after 17 years. Absolutely blindsided me. It ended up working out wonderfully, though. The company was very generous to me in our break up, so there is zero hard feelings. Plus, I got summer off to work around the ranch. I got a ton of crap done around the ranch, and lost 25 pounds in the process. Also, I scored a new job, which is super cool. That was weird. I haven’t interviewed properly since I was in my 20s.
Well… this is. Maybe get paid to do this. That would be cool. Not even quit my job type of money, but an unnecessary addition to my guitar collection type money.
in closing, do you see that mandala up there? Those are Buddhist monks creating a prayer mandala thingy. It is a beautiful and sacred thing, as you can see. If you remember the rules of Buddhism, though, it is not to get attached to ANYTHING. Know what that means? The second these guys are done… they destroy it. To me, on every level, this is what Buddhism is about. These mandala creations are the perfect microcosm of the whole deal. Thoughtfulness, mindfulness… all that yummy eight fold path stuff. Much better than the Thai royalty and their very un-Buddha like Buddha collections. This stuff means a lot to me, and it’s why every single week for ten years I have topped these stories and entries with a mandala. For further study, head for Jung. He did some FUCKING AMAZING work with mandalas and the ‘collective unconscious’
Here, let’s let them describe it themselves. Pretty sure they don’t use the term ‘thingy’.
The Sand Mandala
Mandalas constructed from sand are unique to Tibetan Buddhism and are believed to effect purification and healing. Typically, a great teacher chooses the specific mandala to be created. Monks then begin construction of the sand mandala by consecrating the site with sacred chants and music. Next, they make a detailed drawing from memory. Over a number of days, they fill in the design with millions of grains of colored sand. At its completion, the mandala is consecrated. The monks then enact the impermanent nature of existence by sweeping up the colored grains and dispersing them in flowing water.