Day three here in Phuket has arrived. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Phuket, is that Mae and I were here last year right before the tsunami hit Thailand with such devastation (we departed Thailand on the 25th of December and the big wave arrived on the morning of the 26th!) and I wanted to return this year to re-visit the disaster area to see how the rebuilding was going. I also wanted to check and see if some of the lovely Thai people that we met last year on the beach had survived. I thought about them a lot during the past year.
It is very eerie to see how life has continued to go on despite the multitudes of deaths that occurred during the tragedy and all that was destroyed. There is, of course, a lot of new construction going on, as a majority of the buildings along the beachfront were completely destroyed. Within a year or two though, there will be no trace of the massive destruction that took place, except in the memories of those who were present during the disaster.
Looking out over the calm sea and gently rolling waves, I cannot help but think of the transitory nature of life. No matter how traumatic the changes that we experience, in a relatively short period of time, all that is left of those changes are memories and thoughts and sense impressions. These internal impressions are like dreams. There are times when it is difficult to tell the difference between what actually happened, what we imagined and what we dreamed. The more we are consciously aware of the transitory nature of life, the more freely and lightly these impressions flow through our experience. Suffering begins to happen when we attempt to hold onto these impressions as if they were permanent or real.
Being here in Phuket also is great reminder about how uncertain life can be. I remember last year how beautiful and peaceful it was at the beach. We were having such a wonderful time that Mae kept suggesting that we should think about staying on a bit longer. No one could have imagined what was going to happen. Thousands of lives were either ended or were altered dramatically in a matter of hours. It is so easy to take this life for granted, to take ourselves and those close to us for granted. It is in the very nature of the mind to do so. That is why it is crucial to find ways to remind us just how precious and fragile this life is. We cannot lead any kind of awakened life unless this awareness is clearly in front of us. If we live under the delusion that life is certain and predictable, even in the smallest of ways, we will cease seeing life, reality as it truly is. This point cannot be emphasized enough.