On My Two Months in Thailand

James Titchener / @mistertitchener

This is the second in the series of unedited emails that I sent to close family and friends at the end of 2018 to update them on my adventures. Again, I may add some context in future posts.

Hi there,

It’s surreal how the time has flown, but my two-month trip to Thailand has come to a close. I thought I’d take a moment to reflect upon my trip and share my plans moving forward.

I departed San Francisco with the goal of investing in my personal well-being. I’d developed a lifetime of thought patterns rooted in self-hatred that have left me in a rather consistent state of anxiety and depression. The traumatic deaths of my parents obviously didn’t help matters.

So I left to Chiang Mai with the plan to use the inherent seclusion that comes with arriving in a foreign place to reflect upon my past, learn new tools for dealing with the self-inflicted trials that come in my present, and develop a plan for creating a happier future for myself and those around me.

And I’m excited to say that my trip to Thailand could not have gone better.

After spending a few days wandering around the lively streets of Chiang Mai, I quickly settled into a rather unexciting but productive routine. To sum it up, I’d meditate, eat some stupid cheap and delicious Thai food, then find a coffee shop to spend the day reading and writing.

It wasn’t sexy, and it didn’t make for very good content for Instagram, but for me, it was just what I needed.

For reading material, I initially spent most my time on the subjects of depression and anxiety while mixing in a book or two on the vipassana meditation practice. The books Feeling Good, Lost Connections, and Mindfulness have been especially influential for me. I cannot understate how much these books have fundamentally changed the way I understand my mind and the path towards long-term happiness.

As for my time spent writing, I’d separate it into three categories: notes and thoughts on how to apply what I’ve learned in my reading into my own life, reflective journaling in a style similar to how I’m writing here, and lastly, transcribing the handwritten journals that I’ve scribbled over the last three years into a computer word processor.

I think the first two categories are self-explanatory, but I’d like to touch on the project of transcribing the over 200,000 words I’ve written in my journals over the last three years.

I started the project about three months before leaving for Thailand. My goals were threefold: to reflect upon my personal progress of the last three years, to better understand and work through the trauma of my past, and to secure my writing safely on the cloud.

When I arrived in Thailand, I had gotten to the timeline in my journals where my parents had just passed away. Reopening these wounds was painful. But it needed to be done.

I was harboring resentment for both of my parents for leaving my brother and I to deal with the mess they’d left us. I blamed my parents for raising us in a household riddled with dysfunction and abuse.

I needed to come to understand that they were both just two troubled souls who had fallen off the path in the pursuit of finding some semblance of happiness.

I needed to accept the horrible reality of my father’s violent betrayal.

I needed to let go of the confusion and pain that my mother inflicted upon me as a child.

I needed to forgive them.

I’m now as close to accepting the reality of my past as I’ve been. In doing so, I’ve also come closer to understanding the nature in which my experiences have shaped me—both positively and negatively.

And now, I have a clearer idea for the path forward.

My first priority is to grow and sell the small software business that I inherited from my father, FxSound. My previous attempts at giving myself fully to working on the business have failed in my opinion. After securing the low hanging fruit of opportunities, my interest in the project dropped off. I see now, however, that there are still opportunities for growth in the business and in my personal development, and I think I now have the mental and emotional fortitude to persist through the growing pains that led to me quitting the first time around.

Alongside my work on FxSound, I plan to invest at least one day a week to learning to write. The goal here is to develop my writing skills while working to publish a piece on my parent’s lives and deaths and the effect it has had on me.

With time, pain and a hell of a lot of hard work, I’ve come away from my parent’s deaths with an intense appreciation of life and a hopeful vision of the future. In contemplating my past, I’ve reached a few insights on the tragic nature of humanity, the upside of trauma, and the fragility of life. My hope is that in sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned from them, I can impart a glimpse of optimism into the hearts of those that are struggling in their own unique ways.

I think that building FxSound into a sell-able business will require somewhere between one to two years. I imagine I’ll have published the story of my parent’s deaths sometime in that period.

The allure of Chiang Mai and the girl I met there are tantalizing. I would be more than happy to further explore what that city has in store for me, but I think my best option lies stateside.

Not in San Francisco, however. No, my next destination is Austin, Texas.

Why Austin? I think the better question is, why not Austin? It’s cheaper than SF. It’s got a growing tech and entrepreneurial scene. I’m a big fan of sunshine and the heat. And, I don’t know a soul there.

Much of the upside I found in being abroad in Thailand was the opportunity for personal growth that seclusion provided me. I’d like to replicate that environment while also working to integrate myself into a community of new ambitious, like-minded, and intelligent friends. While my Thai started to get better towards the end, I think I’ll have an easier time accomplishing this in a place where I speak the language.

So are my travel adventures coming to a close? Yes, and no. I’d like to use Austin as a home base of sorts, but I plan to set it up for AirBnB so that I can take off and explore if I get the itch.

And after I sell my business? While I plan to dedicate a solid amount of time meditating on a daily basis, I think there are gains to be made that may be unique to medium to long-term meditation retreats. The opportunity to take a month-long plus meditation retreat shrinks in older age as the responsibilities of things like girlfriends, kids and doggies pile on. I don’t think a better chance to explore long-term meditation practice will come.

But who knows! Maybe there’s a Thai baby I don’t know about that’s already on the way. Kidding! I only slept with ladyboys. Still kidding! Sorry, Grandma.

But in all seriousness, I’m young and the opportunities and direction my life has gone has been unexpected thus far so I’m cognizant of the reality that there are likely more surprises, diversions and adventures to come.

And for maybe the first time, I’m really fucking excited to find out what’s next.

Wow, thank you for reading this far along (assuming you didn’t skip to the end). Let me know if this is something I should continue. Please don’t hold back if you find these updates to be unbearably wordy. They take a fair amount of time and effort and being transparent like this is a new and trying look for me. I’d love to hear any thoughts, opinions, criticisms or whatever is on your mind.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Best,

James

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