At this moment I am sitting on a palm-fringed beach in Koh Tao, a small island on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. It is 5:45pm and Mother Nature is exhibiting her magnificence, spreading an array of red and orange hues across the sky as a tangerine sun melts into the horizon. In the foreground, colorful long-tail, wooden boats sway in turquoise water as white foamy waves lap at my feet. Please help me, it is miserable here.
I do not carry a thermometer when traveling, because it takes up too much room in a suitcase, but I would venture to say the water here is 87 degrees. This is not a random guess. Eighty-seven is a temperature I’m very familiar with from childhood. I spent many hours swimming in our eighty-seven-degree pool in the suburbs of Philadelphia. That was the temperature my father declared as absolutely perfect. Anything above it was too warm in the heat of the day, and anything below eighty-seven made for less enjoyable night swims. So, there you have it; a bit more insight to my rough and tumble childhood in the burbs, and a tad more confidence in my assertion that the water here in Koh Tao is eighty-seven degrees. Okay, maybe it’s 86, but no colder. It’s certainly warm enough to walk in neck deep without having to dive under. In other words, it’s delightfully warm. Shall I go on about the water? Perhaps at this point you are thinking, “Is Neil going to share anything of value in this email? He’s been gone for months and all he can ramble on about is the friggin water temperature. Do you have anything worthy to say, Neil?”
Reasonable questions, I assure you, but I have no answer as of yet. Perhaps the reason for this correspondence will reveal itself as we meander on. Or as I meander on. For all I know you will have lost patience by now and move on to the next matter at hand. Something productive, not an incoherent communication from your friend who seems to have nothing but time on his hands.
Ah yes, time. The one precious commodity we give away so easily. We hold on to our watches, cars and jobs but we give away our time as if it is an infinite resource. So for now, I am savoring my time, cherishing it. I am embracing nature’s perfection, fully present to this gift, this joyous life. Perhaps, if there is anything at all missing at this moment, it is having you next to me and seeing your smile. This, my friends, is probably the purpose of the email and why you are receiving it…To let you know that it would be nice to share this hour with you. To let you know that I am thinking of you, right this moment, while I am halfway around our earth, verifying for all of us that it is, in fact, round. And that the water in Koh Tao is eighty-seven-degrees.