Just got back from a logistics meeting feeling incredibly excited about a new personal project I’m doing. Next Saturday I’m flying off to Udon Thani, a small town in Thailand, for about a week. I’m going to visit my friend Paiboon, who’s been a monk for the last five years, at the forest temple of Wat Pa Don Hiay Soke.
I last visited him four years ago; I told the story of my first visit to the forest temple and the subsequent 10 days in a Vipassana meditation retreat in the now retired Life Coaches Blog. I’ve always wanted to visit with him again, but I never got around to doing it.
Since those four years, I’ve polished my interviewing and photographic skills working as a full-time writer, and I dreamed up this idea of not just revisiting Paiboon, but applying my skills there to come back with a short video interview about his life as a monk in this remote forest temple.
I thought his friends back home would be curious to know why he gave up his secular life and career four years ago to become a monk, and especially curious about why he’s stayed a monk for the last five years when at the beginning he only wanted to become one for three months.
What has he gained that makes him prefer a life of austerity over a secular life, and what nuggets of wisdom can he share with us after following the Buddha’s path for half a decade? Does he ever think he’ll come back to a secular life, if not, why not?
Even though I’ve had this idea for some time, I procrastinated on it, telling myself that “I don’t have the time/money/expertise/equipment.” It wasn’t until I shared the idea with a close friend of mine that he pushed me and convinced me that not only could I do it, I had to do it, if only because the project scared and stretched me. And it spoke to my soul as part of my purpose; to live “a life of artistic expression and courageous exploration, inspired by love, wisdom, and honor.”
I could never have planned for it beforehand, but one of the reasons I’m so excited is that just by visiting with a friend today I managed to borrow a whole set of lenses for use in the video shoot. I don’t have a lot of equipment, and the budget for renting gear is tight, so I appreciate any help I can get. It’s just as W. H. Murray said:
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I’ve gone on journalistic trips before, coming back with written articles and photographs. But I’ve never gone on one shooting video, and I haven’t shot any video since my school days a decade ago. So this project has got me equal parts nervous and excited, but I’m happy to be stretching, and happily looking forward to seeing my friend the monk again.