From Making Van Damme Films to Living One in Northern Thailand – Part 4
Hippies, Ribs, and Anxiety.
The following is a part 4 of a multiple part series written by Andrew Dearnley about how he has decided to quit his film making career to pursue a life of training Muay Thai in the hills of Northern Thailand. Enjoy!
I’m still a couple months away from actually leaving, but it has all become very real recently. I have handed in my resignation at work and I am currently working out my notice until August. I’ve moved into a tiny bedroom that I am renting from a friend whilst he is out of town and I’m subletting my bedroom in central London on Air B’n’B in the hope it may raise some extra funds towards my trip.
Right now, I’m living out of boxes in amongst someone else’s belongings in a room not much bigger than a double bed. I wouldn’t say it’s a major sacrifice, but it is definitely drumming home the fact my life in London is coming to a close.
This realisation has had some funny effects, the most noticeable being anxiety. I have found myself feeling constantly nauseous and having trouble sleeping. I kept putting it down to other immediately relevant stimulus whether it be social, work related, or just ‘something going around’. As the feeling stuck around longer than a stomach bug or any specific project stress I found myself examining what these symptoms were related too. It could only be the looming deadline of my ‘normal life’ coming to an end in London.
When I think about what I am doing I have realistic but really positive feelings towards arriving at Charn Chai Muay Thai and getting in the ring for the first time to hit pads with the coaches. The problem I have is, I am still too far out to make any real progress toward organising my flights, my visa, or my stay. So, right now, I feel like I’m scaling down my London life, but I’ve not made any progress with what comes next. This must be what is causing the anxiety. I have dates in a diary and I know what I am aiming for, but without an iron clad itinerary I feel really exposed. Like it could all be taken away from me at some point. I think the moment I buy that flight I am going to feel a huge sense of relief. The option to ’not-go’ will disappear and then it’s all forward motion.
I refer to the ‘not-go’ option… I don’t see this as a choice. I’m going. Not only do I want to, but I can’t let down the people who have supported me. It’s more my brain won’t allow me to not at least consider the worst case scenario. Unfortunately, illness and injury is a real problem and could affect my schedule massively. A little bit of prep and turns out the area I’m going to is rife with Dengue fever. No vaccine available, but hey at least it’s not fatal! I’ve been lucky so far only breaking hands, toes, and spraining ankles and wrists. But, I have to consider what I see as the worst case scenario – broken ribs.
There would be no point flying out with broken ribs, spending the first weeks laid up recovering. I’d chew through my savings sat sweating trying not to laugh or breathe too deeply munching calcium supplements. I’d have to delay proceedings and recover at home with my family before trying to re-build my cardio. Realistically this could set me back 8 weeks and that freaks me out. Not only the delay but the strain on my families’ generosity to put up with me for that long!
Injury to a degree is part of the game, but the lost time caused is definitely my biggest fear as I start down this path. I won’t be earning whilst I’m out there so it feels like the time is so precious. A serious injury would sit me out of training and I know I’d just be watching my bank account like a sand timer. I know how that would affect me psychologically. I would opt out. Seeing the bank balance drop would be the guillotine coming down. Your time is up, what’s the point? Book that flight home before you get stuck here. I can hear it now and that freaks me out. Am I looking for a reason to quit? I’m not sure that’s something I want to face. You can train the body but if the mind is weak what’s the point? Can it be changed, trained… can you do that yourself or do you need a coach to take that responsibility and show you how to achieve your goals. Take the choice out of it for you. Take away the option to quit.
Injury aside I have 2 other main concerns. Boredom and hippies. The more I learn about Charn Chai the more it looks like a very western oriented camp. I suspect this won’t be quite the isolated experience I was expecting. Staying away from social distractions may be harder than I first thought. But that weighed up against boredom might be a fair trade. It may be too extreme to go from central London to a place with very few English speakers and nothing happening after 8pm. Maybe Pai offers a breaking-in period where I can make an educated decision as to what works for me rather than just assuming I can handle the isolation.
Pai is also famous as a bit of a hippy commune. Please keep an eye on me. If I start to question the Muay Thai and consider a career in pan flute or start a drum circle please send help (it must be a cult and I’m not there through choice!). Believe me, they must have drugged me and braided what’s left of my hair and forced me to wear hemp sandals. If I start blogging about getting in touch with my spirit animal and no longer needing the challenge of training. Send help! Do I hope to learn more about myself? Yes. Do I hope to learn about Buddhism and expose myself to spirituality offered by different cultures? Yes. Do I want to become a carbon copy of the opt out circus folk, sudo-intellectual lazy activist. Not so much.
So the plan is… cover myself in deet to keep the mosquitoes away, watch fire poi from a safe distance, check all body kicks and keep my blog updated to keep me on task. If in a year’s time I look back and it’s just a weekly moan and gripe but I still stayed I can live with that. Hopefully it’s more positive and I’m not that guy. God I hope I’m not that guy.
You can follow Andrews’s progress as he prepares for moving to Thailand to fight at: http://bruisedshin.blogspot.co.uk/