I am a 32-year-old, somewhat affluent, well-fed white man with an out-of-control beard. I have a beautiful wife and daughter. My entire family is close and loving. I can get big hugs and kisses whenever I want. Our home is in a city where the water is the cleanest in the world. It’s plentiful, and cheap. I have a job where I use my brain, not my back, to make a good living. I can work wherever I want. I have no boss but the client. In my home country, I have so much personal freedom it’s outrageous. I can, and do, talk shit about politicians and the police at home and I have broken no law in doing so. I typically buy my clothes used, but they are comfortable and high quality. I can buy more clothes any time I want.
A sizable portion of my financial budget is set aside for restaurants where other people feed and clean up after me. There’s a machine in our apartment for the sole purpose of maintaining temperature and airflow to maximize our comfort. I could write a hundred pages more just like this. The whole world just bends over backwards to make sure my family and I are safe, comfortable, and well cared for… but I know that when I walk out of the front door of my apartment, I will see a man with no arms, wearing rags, sitting next to a pile of trash, begging for change in an alley. He looks like he hasn’t had a good meal in months. There are hundreds, maybe thousands more people just like him within a few kilometers. They’re living in appalling conditions, with serious health issues, seemingly alone.
I do not know how to reconcile their lives with mine. I simply cannot wrap my head around it. No matter how hard I try, I cannot relate. I guess that’s a large part of why I travel. I need to see the wounds of the world just as much as I need to see its beauty. Sometimes it hurts to look at, but who the hell am I to complain about literally anything? The universe isn’t fair, and the deck is stacked in my favor in a big way. I’m not doing enough to give back some of the goodness I have received. It hurts to even write that sentence, but it’s true.
There’s no intended lesson here. No moral to the story. I’m also not trying to be a buzz kill. Travel is amazing, the world is amazing, people are amazing, life is amazing. I also want the reader to know that Bangkok is a beautiful, modern city, and I’m very grateful to be here. These are just real thoughts that slap me upside the head sometimes. I’m incredibly thankful for what I have.
Also published on Medium.