Nothing shines a light on our 2018 narcissism epidemic than standing beneath one of the wonders of our world and realising that selfies are outnumbering lanterns a million to one.
People were too busy adjusting camera settings trying to get that perfect shot, too busy looking through a lens or posing, too busy pretending to be awe-inspired by what was around them while wondering how good they look, too busy adding filters, posting pictures and talking.
They were missing out on the preciousness of our existence and the power of Now.
Because no photograph, no video footage, no words could ever convey the magic of those moments as I stood there on Narawat Bridge looking up to a nights sky full of rice paper problems floating up into outer space.
LOY KRATHONG & YI PENG IN CHIANG MAI
Chiang Mai is the only place in Thailand to celebrate Loy Krathong and Yi Peng at the same time. Both festivals are deeply rooted into Thai culture and are rich in symbolism of light, water and luck.
Yi Peng is a Northern Thai festival that means “two full moon days” and falls on the full moon day of the second month of traditional Lanna calendar.
It’s also known as The Lantern Festival, or The Festival of Lights and is when hundreds of thousands of khom lois, lanterns made of rice paper, are let go into the air. It’s a way of saying goodbye to problems and worries and making a wish for something good.
Loy Krathong, translates as floating basket and takes place on the full moon day of the 12th month of traditional Thai calendar. It’s said to come from an ancient rural ritual, paying respect to the Goddess of Water, and was brought to the northern capital in 1947.
Krathongs are lotus-shaped rafts that can be made of banana trunks, spider lily leaves or even bread and are decorated with bright yellow marigolds, lilac orchids and lotuses, and deep purple globe amaranths.
In the centre of each krathong are incense sticks and a candle. The candle symbolises Buddha’s light and wisdom, the joss stick represents purity and the flowers that surround them represent worship.
The purpose of setting the krathongs off onto water is not only to show gratitude for the abundance of it, praying to the Goddess Phra Mae Khongkha, but also as a symbol of letting go of any bad luck.
Apparently you’re can throw in a few strands of hair or toenail clippings too, which helps get rid of past ill fortunes or you can add some coins in to get you some extra merit.
LET IT GO
As the sun was setting, we wandered down along the water’s edge towards Nakhon Phing bridge.
The burning orange ball of flames and hazy blue skies had merged to light up the world with a beautifully calming dusky pink glow.
An interesting collection of Thai reggae songs were being belted out from a small neon stage as we plodded past the rows of stalls lining the busy roads selling street food and krathongs in all shapes and sizes.
I chose two; one for me and one for every other Being on the planet, then we wandered down to the waters’ edge.
I squatted down, tormenting the fringes of my white frock and submerging my pretty flip-flops in inches of thick sloppy mud, trying my best not to be “that girl who celebrated Loy Krathong by falling headfirst into the sewage-ridden waters”.
I curled my toes, firmed my balance and placed my floral crowns gently into the river before slowly pressing them forwards with my fingertips and saying goodbye.
I let go of my krathongs and I let go of everything.
LET IT GO
The real magic of the night came shortly after when I was stood phoneless, cameraless and silent for almost an hour on Narawat Bridge.
The chattering crowds, the whining sirens, the frantic fireworks, the oohs and the aahs all faded out into a background humming noise as I stood still amongst the madness singing Firefly by Ben Cocks to myself, loud enough so only I could hear.
The Lanterns were fireflies, they were glowing jellyfish, they were moments rising up to meet the stars. They swayed and soared in the vastness of the night sky just as the thoughts and philosophies and dreams and memories floated around the vastness of my mind.
My body tingled and my eyes began to water.
I thought about goodbyes. I thought about loss. I thought about the pain and sadness and suffering of our human existence, from the minor tribulations to the biggest trials and traumas within all of us.
I thought that just as quickly as the pain of the present can hurt us, it can float away into the past.
I thought about smiles and laughter and moments of madness; the times when I’m squealing with excitement, when I’m choking on my own laughter or when my stomach feels on fire with Love.
I thought about the joys of life, those magical milliseconds that we will never, ever get again.
Impermanence really is all we know of truth.