I’m meeting an Italian chap for dinner this evening.  7 pm outside this resort.  We’ll find a bbq somewhere, pick up from where our conversation ended last night.  Its one of those things that I love about travelling – especially independently.  The people you meet, the places you end up, the comforting little routines you paint into your otherwise unconventional days.  It only really happens when you surrender to the mindset of what will be, will be.  A true testament to the benefits of the course I just finished…my first day alone, in a quaint local Thai cafe, and people – kind, friendly people – are approaching me…all smiles, asking if they can join me (in a non-creepy way….)

Do you remember that first blog I ever wrote for The Escape?  Swamped in spreadsheets and insurance polices, lamenting the abandonment of my free spirit?  Well I don’t need that structure anymore to feel safe.  Somewhere between Heathrow terminal 4 and the pier on Koh Tao, I’ve picked up a little bit of faith.  Confidence.  Self-belief.  I believe that things will work out.  If Italian chap doesn’t show up…so what?  I’ve got my thoughts, my space, time to just be.  Wasn’t that one of my objectives?

We talked a lot about polarities on the course.  In fact, it was the Gestalt polarity intro in the first week that triggered my first personal breakdown.  It was one of those – must get back to the bungalow before anyone sees me moments.  The concept of our own selves perpetuating, drawing in negative actions, intrusions…whatever…it had me reeling.  Absolutely reeling.   Eventually it culminated into a much more public breakthrough in one of our final group sessions.  I’m not ready to talk about that just yet, but the polarities of us and our own little universes is something that is following me around, like the terrifying black devil dog in the cafe next door.  He’s like a cross between a Doberman, a rottweiler and…well…Satan.  Great, strong, menacing build, with grey eyes and a weighty chain around his neck.  I hid behind a door when I was first confronted by him, and feared for my jugular.  But with a little time, and a little more contact, I’ve come to realise that he means no harm.  He’s just like all the other dogs, wanting a bit of affection, a companion to hang out with for a bit.  Cautiously, I pet him.  Speak to him.  Am only a little bit frightened when he bares his teeth…When you think about the polarities we have, experience on a daily basis it can get quite overwhelming, frightening even.  Perhaps it’s because in one moment we only experience one polarity, can only feel that way in that particular moment.  As soon as we start to consider, involve some sort of rationalisation, our worlds collapse, because suddenly, in that moment, our polarities are colliding and we no longer know what we feel.

One of my favourite ways to visualise polarity was one evening, sitting on the platform of Bamboo, our favourite restaurant up on the rocks, overlooking Haad Yuan beach.  I was with Pedro – a live life to the full Spaniard – eating our usual tofu burgers and coconut-mocca shakes, when Serge – robotic, here’s 8 million reasons why we can’t do anything, Russian –  joined us.  I sat back for a moment and watched the spectacular display of two polarities colliding right there in front of me.  There was a tense moment at first, when a bewildered and impassioned Pedro confronted one of Serge’s rigid
beliefs.  I’m not sure what it was about now…something like massages being very dayn-gerous or something…and there was an ominous silence hanging in the air, Russian jaw clenched and Spanish arms flailing about expressively…it played out for a minute or two, and suddenly there was a smile, and then another, and relaxed laughter.  Neither of them managed to change the other’s mind.  I don’t even think they really managed to meet in the middle…but in confrontation they discovered an acceptance of each other.

I’m not suggesting there was any conflict between these two, none at all.  I just found it symbolic, and helpful in understanding my own polarities within myself.  How funny it is that within one person, you can have so many personalities who are worlds apart.

The one I’m exploring at the moment is that of connecting with people, and retreating into a solitary place of self.  If Italian chap doesn’t show up, reclusive me will be greatly relieved.  It means I can scurry back up to my room and finish this blog entry.  Eat a chocolate biscuit and settle in for a light-hearted episode of New Girl before going to sleep.  If Italian chap does show up, extrovert me will be very happy indeed.  Someone to laugh with, draw energy from…maybe go for a walk along the beach and grab a beer somewhere.  Live a little for god’s sake.

I struggled with this polarity all through the course.  I’ve spent a LOT of time on my own these past couple of years.  With the Masters, the marathon, and perhaps most significantly of all – bereavement, I’ve created this kind of shell.  A little home for myself.  Just me.  No-one else.  I came to the conclusion some time ago that one can only find happiness from within.  I realise now, that this is only partially true, so in effect – not true at all.  Yes, we must look within ourselves, and be brave and honest about it…but if in doing so, we disconnect from the people that surround us, then we are no closer to knowing our true selves, our true happiness, than if we hadn’t tried any of this soul-searching malarkey at all.

One of the things Matthew repeatedly said….I know, I know.  Matthew this, Matthew that…I haven’t nick-named him Yoda for nothing…is that “you cannot have a relationship with anybody else, beyond the relationship you have with yourself”, and vice versa.  I’ve not fully got my head around all of this yet…good to wrestle with these kind of things…but what I’m taking from it right now, is that we are one and all the same.  If I think back to Brian Cox (believe it or not Quantum Physics, entropy and the Wonders of the Universe was a surprisingly recurrent theme through this journey…and not just because I fancy him…) and all those thoughts of the universe and what presence actually means…then to separate oneself with the intention of acquiring a greater understanding of the “self” seems counter-intuitive.  Crikey.  What a muddle.  Polarities flying about all over the place….thinking about it this much can’t be good for my feeling self ; )

If I take a step back quickly, take a breath, close my eyes, and feel the experience of when this all kind of started to make sense…then this is what it was:

It is the laughter and tears I shared with Sofia; the music sharing, chess-playing and happy star-gazing with Pedro; the heart-to-hearts over healthy porridge with Jo, Janni and Thea; the cups of tea with Naw and Tina; the partner work with Handan doing handstands “today’s the day girl”; the tender displays of affection from Denise the Divine; it’s the moment Matthew sat across from me, looked me in the eye and said, “I’m with you” and I felt the profound strength of inter-human connection, that I was able to experience the collision of two great polarities.  The connection with others, the connection with self.