Thailand Footprint: The People, Things, Literature, and Music of Thailand and the Region

Kevin Cummings inner turmoil portrait

Kevin Cummings Inner Turmoil portrait by Ronald Merkesteijn

How is your 2020 year going? My 2019 ended at a health resort in Eastern Thailand where my wife and I brought in the new year calmly and appreciatively at a riverside restaurant and cabin on the Bang Pakong River. The celebration included a Himalayan man-made salt-cave with Kitaro like music to reflect upon. It was groovy.

Bang Kapong River on December 30, 2019

Then we returned to our Bangkok condominium and this was the first sunset of 2020 without a filter, mind you:

January 1, 2020 Sunset – The First Day Ends, the First Night Begins

The year 2020 looked so damned promising, I tell you, but you know that already. Now it is July 1, 2020 in the USA and Thailand has reopened to a new normal which is feeling more and more like the old normal with every passing day. I like to hang onto my illusions as long as they are useful.

It’s the year of Covid-19 around the world and we are as fractured as ever. You have your hard-core science guys. You can spot them wearing their elitist N-95 masks which they got from their friend with a Ph.D in molecular biology. Then you have your traditional liberals wearing their favorite blue bandanna or perhaps a homemade mask by their wife or girlfriend that is color coordinated to their Hawaiian shirt. The moderates are wearing the cheapie disposable masks and then you have a mixture of rebels and rednecks wearing no masks at all and humming along to the Chip Taylor & The New Ukrainians ditty, “FUCK ALL THE PERFECT PEOPLE”. It’s a wonderful world as both Louie Armstrong and Sam Cooke remind us from time to time.

(Best to read while listening to this tune)

Let me cut to the chase. What has Covid-19 and the year 2020 in the name of your Buddha or higher power taught you so far?

For me, it’s an appreciation of movement while simultaneously recognizing that I don’t move as much as I could, and when that old judge who sits on my shoulder chimes in, as much as I should. So I am dedicating the remainder of 2020 and as many years left as the good Lord or science and lifestyle allows me, to movement. Why? Wisdom, hopefully. As the old Joni Mitchell song goes, “You don’t know what you got til it’s gone”. It’s one thing to pave paradise;  it’s quite another to lockdown the parking lot. My movement, such as it is, was taken away from me or so I thought. The thinking part matters too. A lot.

Here are a few of favorite quotes by some cool folks on movement:

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.” — Anthony Bourdain 

“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” — Jerry Seinfeld

“Sometimes ya gotta move.” —Sista Monica

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain

“That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff. That’s all your house is- a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff. And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get…more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.” — George Carlin (It’s the airplane line I like).

“Can I move? I’m better when I move.”  — Sundance Kid from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

So movement it is in 2020 and forever much longer I have. I recently turned 66 years old. My older sister, Roxanne, never saw her 66th year. I never assumed I would. But now that I have made it I plan to enjoy it, and move with it, as much as i can. It takes a village as the saying goes and I have some friendly villagers who are helping me along.

For my June birthday I thought what do I need or want? I feel I pretty much have all the stuff I need. And as George Carlin notes, if I got any more stuff I might need a bigger room to keep my stuff. Who wants that kind of move? Not me.

So I contacted one of my favorite Dutch artists, Ronald Merkesteijn . Ron has long done an inner-turmoil series, which I appreciate. They are often self-portraits but not always. I sent Ron a few photos of me taken first thing in the morning. No shower, no shave, no smile. I did my best to give him some torment to work with. Ron and I have had some laughs about torment. I like that. You can’t get rid of torment but you sure as shootin’ can laugh about it.

The finished work is shown above and in this blog piece. I think he did a great job. I’ve always wanted hair like Jack Nicholson’s. Well, that’s not entirely true, I always wanted hair like Jackson Browne. But I’m older and wiser and male patterned cursed at this stage in my life. So when life hands you onions, make onionaid.

May all my vast readership here at Thailand Footprint have a healthy and movement oriented 2020 and beyond. I hope to see many of you face to face soon. Face to face beats Zuck’s Facebook every time.

Appreciate what you have before (and after) people try their best to take it away.

And if you’d like an inner turmoil portrait of your own, please contact Ron via Facebook. He’s a cool cat. He stares down his inner turmoil often and keeps moving.

Happy July 2020! It beats the alternative, as far I know.



13 Responses to “When Life Hands You Onions, Make Onionaid – Keep Moving”

  1. Charles

    Been awhile since we last heard.
    I did Chicken 65 (as you led us then).
    Zanny read

      • Charles

        Kevin, I read Chicken 65 (after your review lead).
        Out of this world, with zanny personalities and interesting locales.

        I’m from tiny red dot (S’pore), frequent traveller to LOS. With plans to move there hopefully, after all the cv19 fuss is over.

        Last year, I was brave enough to pop in Check-In at soi 33 one evening. Was half hoping to meet the vets there, but was quiet then.

        Else, could have been my odd asian (ethnically chinese) face amongst the farangs there.


      • Kevin Cummings

        Got it. Great! I’ll pass it on to Hugh. Check out Queen Bee on Sukhumvit Soi 26 when you are in Bangkok. Tell John, Kevin said he’d buy me a drink. He’ll put it on my tab. Have a great 2020!

  2. mrmister1964

    Very nice read and reflection Kevin.
    You are really good with words, as well as a brilliant conversationalist.
    Looking very much forward to our next meeting.

    PS. Are you sure Ronald Merkesteijn is a Scandie?


    • Kevin Cummings

      P. S. Not sure about Ron. Was trying to get the base as large as possible. Norway, I think. Have I come across looking like an American? Damn. I hate when that happens…

      • mrmister1964

        historically Scandia, part of northern Europe, generally held to consist of the two countries of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway and Sweden, with the addition of Denmark.

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