How Laos saved my life

….I imagine for frequent visitors to Robolenin Writes it must be confusing that there is in fact, very little writing. I could attribute this to a number of factors such as the Lao heat, or my profound laziness but this would be missing the point somewhat.
….When I started Robo I was living in Adelaide, Australia. I had always wanted to be a writer full time but a saturated content market and a lack of tangible work experience was holding me back.
….Sure I was able to write here and there, but with so many people desperate to be writers, more often than not I was doing work for free — or even worse, virtually paying to be published.
….To pay my way I did odd jobs here and there. I was a swimming teacher, I worked in a cinema, I made coffees and cocktails. It was even fun sometimes — mostly owing to the wonderful people I worked alongside.
….Even in Australia, which is an incredibly lucky country economically, I was unable to find full-time work. I left one job which I loved in order to pursue a retail job with the promise of 40 hour work weeks, but a change in management soon after saw the hours dry up and I was left jobless. My previous boss would not take me back and it upset me for a long time.
….I projected my internal feelings of inadequacy onto others with cynicism and anger. Looking back I can’t be sure whether deep down I was aware of my own motivations or if I was totally adrift in my ignorance.
….Robolenin Writes was a project borne out of frustration. By channelling my feelings into writing I was able to reduce the heavy weight of my own disappointment, if only for the time it took me to write a piece. Again, it’s only by reflection after the fact that I’m able to make sense of my behaviour at that time.
….Then something amazing happened. There was a late night conversation with an old friend. A job offer. A crazy opportunity and an even crazier adventure — if I had the courage to pack up and leave.
….I left with one backpack full of old clothes and flew to Laos, Southeast Asia. At that point despite the headiness of the situation I was still being self-defeatist. I expected to fail and perhaps I had been in the habit of engineering myself to fail for some time. It seemed much easier to let my dreams slip away in the beginning than to fail half way through. I was sure that there were two types of people in the world, the achievers and the non-achievers. I was convinced I was in the second category.
….I was an obnoxious person by all accounts — grossly overcompensating with crudity and pavlovian bravado in order to mask my own insecurities. However true friends will find a way to reach you, even when you’re unable to reach yourself.
….Through a series of upsetting conversations my ego was cut back down to size. I can’t thank my friends enough for that. It was a painful process, but after the adjustment I was actually able to listen to people for the first time in a long while.
….From then on the time has flown by. I now work doing what I had always wanted to do, in a setting that I could never have imagined. It is without a doubt the best job that I’ve ever had and my boss is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met. Despite my inability to understand what is said, he is patient. Despite my inexperience, he is always willing to explain. I can only hope I make him proud with my work.
….When I wake up in the morning and go to work, I feel honoured. When I spend time beside my colleagues I feel happy. The friends and loved ones I’ve made here are some of the most awesome people I could imagine.
….Every day is a series of rapid blessings. And I suppose that’s part of why the writing is so sporadic on Robolenin Writes, because it’s not often that I’ve got the time to sit down and collect my thoughts.
….Photographs on the other hand are far easier. They take just the effort to stop and appreciate the beauty of the world around me — I hope that when you look at the pictures you can get a sense of what it might be like to be here too!
….I hope the pictures convey the great spirit of the Lao people. I hope they capture some of the beauty of the Lao countryside. I hope they convey how little the Lao waste. Coming from a country where I witnessed buckets full of bread being dumped in the rubbish bin every day it’s uplifting to see an old advertisement banner being used as a shade cloth or two plastic bags tied to chopsticks on an old motor being used as a automatic fly swatting machine!
….I hope in my time here I can learn a fraction of the gratitude and humility the Lao display every day. Their spirit as a people is indomitable.
….So, to get back to the main point — I suppose there really isn’t one single reason why Robolenin Writes isn’t seeing so much writing lately. Certainly the Lao heat does encourage sitting in front of a fan with your shirt rolled up into a tube top. Certainly I’m still a lazy person (but who isn’t at heart, c’mon!) But I think the biggest reason is that whereas the site started out as a way for me to pretend I was living my dream it is now the by-product of me living my dream in actuality.
….I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for everything that has happened over the past 9 months. I feel as though I can never repay the people in my life who assisted me with my transformation, both professionally and personally.
….There’s nothing much else to say — except that Laos saved my life.

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