Three years ago I had a decision to make. Life often thrusts those upon us. Under cover of Songkran 2013 I had the perfect opportunity to get my Federal income taxes filed in time for the mandated deadline or I could put together a blog that had been rumbling around in my head. Colin Cotterill, the cool as ice author and cartoonist living in the south of Thailand had already honored my request of him, “Could you draw me a picture of a frog reading a book from a coconut shell on the beach? It could be a hot tub, I’ll leave it up to you.” 24 hours later Gop was born. Screw the taxes. How bad could the interest and penalties be?
I knew what I wanted the blog not to be about. No food. No travel. No Go Go. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. Enough of those around, I figured.
What would it be about? Creative people, books, music. Interesting stuff. To me anyway. The goal was to not compete with anyone but me. Give it a go.
A very wise man once told me to ask an important question, “What’s the pay-off?” It’s a great question. One I try and ask more often these days as I ease into Act III of life. First what kind of pay-off are we talking about? Not monetary. Forget that. We are, however, talking benefit. What’s the pay-off – what’s the pay-off of doing something? You can ask that question for pretty much anything. Examples:
What’s the pay-off for writing a book?
What’s the pay-off for regular exercise?
What’s the pay-off for being a dick? A first dick or second dick? It doesn’t matter.
What’s the payoff for getting into a Facebook discussion on gun control with cousin Billie Bob in Arkansas? Politics with a known polar opposite?
What’s the pay-off for being an expat in Bangkok? Chiang Mai? Phnom Penh? Seoul?
What’s the pay-off for reading crime fiction? Historical fiction? Non-fiction?
What’s the pay-off for learning to play a musical instrument?
What’s the pay-off for writing a blog?
I’ll stick with the last one in the interest of brevity and the hope of holding onto whatever eyeballs have landed on this post.
The pay-off has been far greater than I could have ever imagined. Miscues, misfires, misunderstandings and all.
When I look back as we all do from time to time. As we should do from time to time, I do my best to focus on the positive. There has been so much you would think it would be easy but it actually takes effort. For me it takes practice.
What I attempted to do in writing this blog is to be curious about the world around me, however limited that world might be. To engage with my world. Many times I succeeded. A few times I was too engaged. It’s never too late to re-calibrate. The rewards have been too numerous to mention and would be too self-serving to list. Suffice it to say I met a lot of interesting and talented people along the way.
The single most satisfying aspect of writing Thailand Footprint is not my book, Bangkok Beat, which in many ways is a compilation of blog highlights, the standout is the frequency of people helping me and others for no other reason than to help. The interesting thing is, when people weren’t looking for a pay-off a pay-off would often occur. I fall short in defining it but at its core it is unselfishness.
On April 14th, 2013 my very first blog post was an Alfred Hitchcock video on Happiness. I liked it then, I like it still. I encourage you to watch it on YouTube for the full effect. Here are Hitchcock’s spoken words in writing from that first blog post:
Mr. Hitchcock, what is your definition of happiness?
“A clear horizon, nothing to worry about on your plate. Only things that are creative and not destructive. That’s within yourself, within me I can’t bear quarreling I can’t bare feelings between people. I think hatred is wasted energy. It’s all nonproductive. I’m very sensitive. A sharp word said by say a person who has a temper if they’re close to me hurts me for days. I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions, but when all these are removed and you can look forward and the road is clear ahead and now you’re going to create something. I think that’s as happy as I would ever want to be.” – Alfred Hitchcock
I followed that blog post up with a book review of Zero Hour in Phnom Penh by Christopher G. Moore using the Spanish edition cover, which you can see part of along with a picture of Hitchcock at the top of this blog post. (Apologies for any copyright violations). This is the 250th published blog post at Thailand Footprint, not all authored by me.
So after three years it’s Songkran once again. I’m in California now and I ask myself, what’s the pay-off to keep blogging? The truth is I didn’t know the answer three years ago and I don’t really know now. Sometimes, not knowing the answer is part of the fun.
By the way, this year I filed my Federal income taxes in January. It turns out the penalties and interest for late filing are a bit painful. The pay-off for filing on time is a good one. Live and learn.
Wishing everyone a clear road ahead. Suwatt dii pii mai Thai.