I’d like to break away from my usual travel blog pursuits and share a poignant lesson.
A few weeks ago I met a young Thai guy named Theerawat. He’s twenty years old. I’ve never met anyone with such incredible perception. And now I often try to “remove” myself from the immediate environment in a process of challenging myself to see the world as he perceives it. You will understand shortly.
At first I thought his enthusiasm and zest for life was due to his young age. Hey, it’s easy to compare such aspects considering I’m more than four decades his senior. Nevertheless, Theerawat and I have been able to connect on a very profound level–one that transcends chronological age.
Few are as sensitive to their surroundings as he.
Two nights ago he dropped by for some conversation and so I invited him to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Along the way we had to pass a very choatic Thai intersection. Out of nowhere came a roar that was excruciating to the ears. Theerawat was aware of the impending danger long before anyone could see what was coming. Just in the nick of time he steered us off to one side and we avoided a potential mishap.
The “tuk-tuk-gone-wild” blasted past us with ample clearance.
Theerawat makes lots of hand gestures and people often stare at him . . . until they are noticed, which doesn’t take long. He seems to possess a sixth sense perception. But he’s gentle and not threatening at all. This puts you at ease when he engages your eyes with a warm smile. And then you don’t feel uncomfortable for having stared so long.
He seems so free with not a problem in the world. I’ve never met anyone so attuned.
I’ve watched him watch television. The TV characters come alive in his life. He emulates their every gesture and he’s so animated. His smiles are profound. And when the characters cry, he suffers intensely with them. He appears to soak in everything: all pains, all joys. It’s so refreshing just to watch him interact.
Theerawat has been 100% deaf since birth.
He signs in both Thai and English and he lip reads fluently in either language. I find myself talking to him by going through the motions but not uttering a sound. He’s always wearing his iPod earphones listening to the latest hard rock dance hits at full volume though he doesn’t hear a thing. His body pulses with the vibration in his ears and he can’t keep from dancing.
This kid is simply amazing.
Absolutely nothing escapes his attention and I ask myself why I often find it difficult to listen to another human being at a depth that appears so easy for him to master.
See these books to learn more about the incomparable Thailand.