The Art of Blues

The clanging of doors awoke me once again. I tried to roll over and block the noise, but not even my ear plugs could drown out the combination of the noise in and out of the room. In frustration I rolled back over and tried to sleep longer. Being woken up multiple days by the same noises starts to get wearing and frustrating after awhile. My body could sleep no longer with the noise, so I got up with the intention of running off my morning angst. I jogged over to the park and sprinted out my pent up emotions. As I lengthened my stride to cover more ground I found better clarity of my emotions. The weariness of what it may look like when I return. Some friendships may change. Some people may change. And I have changed. Studying abroad even before I turn twenty-one I feel has exempted me from some normal college experiences. I can no longer sit idly by because the things I have learned push me to have a higher mentality for myself. An understanding that I do not have to wait for the future to come to do great things. The future I once dreamed of is what I am living right now. So what will the future bring beyond the current dream? Here I am barred by language to create deeper relationships. But when I return to the States, will I be brave enough to engage deeper because of the commonality of language? Will I walk by someone in need and turn a blind eye, or will I engage them as a common human being? Doing something beyond oneself takes courage. The things I have learned and seen here gives me courage to live better when I return. To recognize the blessings that are so freely given and to give more generously. To see things just as things and people as people to create stronger connections and to lift up those who walk on the same street, city, state, and country as I do. Everyone has a story, and I wish to pause and listen to it.

I have always seen the good in people, and sometimes even to a fault. But I will never stop believing in people and believing that they are capable of having a better life than what has been given or told to them. The hilltribes by the States standards live in poverty, but many actually prosper and thrive living off the land and caring for one another. Something I am coming to understand the more I interact with the culture here. We have now moved into a new part of the semester of taking classes. Classes that are meant to challenge our thinking and to give a new framework in which to perceive the world. Today was day two of classes and although the information is not all new to me, the framework and angle of the information is different. Some of the concepts discussed I was first introduced to by the age of fifteen in my International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge class. However, now I have a better grasp on how people’s cultures effect their view of the world. And what is ingrained in people where it would seem strange to take on a different angle of life. For example, one of the professors spoke of her experiences in the Congo. She spoke of living truth in a place that is otherwise deceitful. It is common knowledge in the Congo that if you are wealthy, then you probably lied and cheated your way to wealth. How murder is not punished, and people live in a rather chaotic lifestyle. And sadly, that is all they know. It is juxtaposed with Rwanda, who seeks to rid the country of corruption, and kills those who try to take advantage of others. With every society or understanding of a culture, there is a structure that categorizes the culture into the human mind’s understanding. The community development class seeks to reveal the structures to better understand how cultures operate, and how development can come about in a society that sees and feels a different way of life.

Wednesday I woke up feeling a little more rested and was ready for new things to learn in class. But I did not expect the internal sadness that seemed to arise in me after the first class. I thought that being away from Newberg that I would not get school depression. I figured that being in my dream place was enough to keep me away from the deep rooted issue of being depressed while in school. The low feeling that comes with pounds of information and questions asked of you that you have no answers or even words for, so you say something to move the attention away from your opinion so you can think on it later. I sat outside trying to figure out why. Why my internal problems I can so easily ignore by “adventure escapism” still are with me. The hard things that come with school have nothing to do with my dream of being in Thailand. It is a separate internal issue that can only be distracted by external factors. I have learned to cope with it accordingly in the past, but I cannot run to a friends house and express my frustration of academics and what it does to my emotions here. And the sad fact that is has nothing to do with what I am experiencing in the moment. It comes from hundreds of nights staying up late doing homework, teachers harsh words, and the feeling of my best is not good enough.

I choose to include this aspect of my life in my blog because I know I am not alone in this feeling. In fact, many of my friends who have experienced the same burns as I have, know the feeling all too well when classes come around the corner. It is the feeling of being in school and the hopelessness that is attached to schools tail. A teacher once told me that I should be shot down in class, because that is how people learn. I have come to the understanding that not all personalities learn through putdowns in classrooms. It just shuts off the passion for the subject if one’s thoughts are countered in a negative way. I have become more resilient since I was fifteen, but it doesn’t completely erase the negative experiences that have pinned my emotions so deep within me. Our classes are now in the same place as we eat and hangout, which makes it harder for me to separate the school blues from the rest of my internal thoughts. A struggle I have long since tried to shake, and sadly could not avoid even being abroad. The bright side that gives me hope past the feelings of school depression, is the stories that help me better understand culture and life. And ultimately, if I so choose to let it hit me deep, it may change my life.

Despite the morning school blues, I enjoyed an afternoon of art therapy. A well known artist in the Chiang Mai area came to teach us some art. We started out doing tie-dye squares and moved on to trace and paint commonly used designs. The smell of paint was familiar back to a time before my wrists got too bad. My wrists were incredibly inflamed while trying to trace a design. I worked past it to finish painting one of the designs that was on a big canvas that we were all working on. I thought it was interesting that we had a collaborative project, because in America it seems more common to have your own project. One is not often assigned a group project for painting! It was fun to have a collaborative experience and enjoy some art therapy. I had to hand over my brush to an adventuremate who graciously covered my lack of ability. After class we tie-dyed a couple more things just for the fun of it! It was nice to have time to just be creative and to appreciate a different form of art.

There is an art to blues. And perhaps it is the feeling of blues where creative minds cultivate their greatest works. Even living with a tinge of blues on my heart, I know there are good things to come. And with that I have hope in the art of blues. It is in sadness that people await a better understanding. It is in the blue feelings that we find a greater purpose that lifts us to the call upon our lives. And just beyond the point of blues, the soul is once again awakened to the thoughts of new. The new that will give life and reason to the art of blues.


Bethany Jane



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