The rental company said that because the bike broke down over 80km away, I had to make my own way back. This wasn’t explained to me when I rented it, I more than assertively expressed. I was in the middle of nowhere and everyone just zoomed by when I stuck my thumb out for half an hour or so, and nobody in the village across the road was able to fix the bike or give me a lift to the next town, so I didn’t see me making my way back on my own as a realistic option. I had been on the road for four hours now, with my energy completely focused on going forward and all of a sudden the bike breaks on me. I needed those guys to come and get me and the bike.

“Why did you even give me such a crap bike in the first place? Why did you say that it is good to go around Kuching, but actually meant within 80km? Now I need to have to spend the rest of my last day here, by the side of the road!?”

I was fuming and I let them know that I wasn’t having any of it. So when they tried to insist that I was on my own, I gave them another option.

“How about I dump this bike and the keys here and you can forget about it and my deposit!” then hung up. 15 minutes later they informed me that they are coming to get me. Meanwhile, I got to do the video review of the blade you saw in Part II of this blog, but I wanted to emphasise something else here regarding my experience.

The modern weapon of choice these days is not a fancy blade of some sort, it’s our words and actions. Pen is mightier than the sword, right? Our thoughts and how we express them are the weapons we wield on a regular basis, whether consciously or not. But with a sword, you wouldn’t just wave it around half heartedly or start whacking others with it, it’s the same with your energy – you must be aware of your words.

Listening to your body and how it behaves when moving from one Tai Chi posture to another trains your ability to tune in and observe yourself energetically. You are first observing your physical body, but later this becomes an expression of the energy body and you observe that. In real life, you observe the subtler expressions of energy, those of your emotions, your mind and how you act and react in the world.

Though it does help, you don’t need Tai Chi to do that, you just need awareness. Awareness of yourself, others and the environment around you. So be aware of your weapons and take care of them. Choose your words carefully and point your weapons accordingly. Are your words hurting someone? Why?

When your words do get weaponised in a way that you may regret, acknowledge that it’s happened, and move on. It doesn’t make you a bad person if it happens every now and then, if it happens all the time, you may wanna work on it. Main thing is to recognise what you’re doing first, then acknowledge it for what it is – simply energy, and try not to get attached to it. Let it go.

My anger outburst at the rental people was something I wasn’t very proud of immediately afterwards, but at the time it was the main expression of energy that came out of me. Sure I regretted it, but also not. It is what it is, after all. Initially I thought that I could’ve chosen to say what I said without all the F words or yelling, but you never know how they would’ve reacted to that either. Not that it justified my rude behaviour, but in many cases around SE Asia, people need to be shown that you cannot be walked over or they see it as a sign of weakness and take advantage of that. So there is that, but at the end of the day, whatever happened, happened and its best to recognise it for what it is and what it ain’t. A reaction to a situation, that’s all. No need to get stuck in a story.

Does it make you a bad person when you go nuts at strangers over the phone? Perhaps for a moment, but Tai Chi trains you to recognise when these moments occur and deal with them better without letting those things eat at you slowly, suppressed and hidden. Ok, so I let it out, whatever ‘it’ was – perhaps the very penetrating liver energy that I had been activating for the last four hours. Best thing to do is to acknowledge your actions, accept the consequences, don’t get attached, and move on. Tai chi has taught me how to release and move on with things that are stuck, and emotional energy is certainly one of those areas where this ability is often applied in practice.

So when extreme scenarios such as this one happens, I feel that through my practice I can deal with them much easier. When the two guys arrived two hours later, I felt a little sheepish at being so rude on the phone, but they didn’t seem bothered at all. They just got on with putting the bike on the back of the minivan and tying it up. They had their weapons pointed away.

“Hang on, where am I gonna sit?” I asked the Indian guy. He pointed at the floor first, then at the backseat that was pushed forward and folded up against the two front seats.

“On the floor or on top of the fold? I can’t do that. Surely you can make the bike fit AND unfold the backseat. I need a seatbelt.”

He gave me a mumbled response and proceeded to help his friend. When they had tied up the bike, I asked the Chinese man about where I am sitting. He pointed on the top of the folded front seat as well.

“Seriously?”

No way. If I sat on that 20cm wide fold, my ass would be sore in 15 minutes and I would have to crouch against the ceiling the whole trip back. So quite naturally I reacted assertively again. I took the scooter key from the ignition, told them that if they do not sort out that backseat, they will not see this key again, walked across the road and started hitching. Didn’t hear a word from them but within 5 minutes, the bike was repositioned to fit in the back diagonally and I was sitting on the backseat, with my seatbelt on. Jeesh. Why do I need to keep using a weapon to get things done right? At least it wasn’t my new headhunting blade that I was wielding.

In a van it still took us two hours to do the 100km return journey due to traffic congestion. We also waited for an accident to clear out. A car was on its side and had to be moved off the road – one of two complete wrecks I saw during this trip. I was grateful for my seatbelt and in a way, I was also grateful for the broken scooter. You never know what could’ve happened to me on the road, which I always say is the most dangerous place we put ourselves in. I still got sore and intimate with all the bumps on the road, but atleast my mind could wander and I pondered about everything that had just happened.

How do you harness the weapon of your mind, your self-expression towards others? Do you take on the role of a victim, or the bully? Do you play the blame game or plead ignorance? What is your reactive behaviour? What is your ideal behaviour? Do you notice when you are using your weapon and if you do, how consciously are you wielding it?

Going back to just accepting the situation without drama, the guys were excellent at this. They didn’t seem to be bothered at my outbursts at the least, I give them that much. They even stopped at a petrol station to offer me a drink and took me all the way back to my hotel. It was as though I hadn’t even acted like it was the end of the world. This is the lackadaisical predisposition that I love about many Asians, they just don’t seem bothered. When it works in your favour it’s great, other times when you want something done, it’s not so great. But you know that at the end of the day they were just happy to get their bike back and I was happy to get home. I thanked the guys for the four hours they invested in helping me and shifted my focus to having a meal and a massage.

The things you do when you go looking for knives. Atleast I had a good reminder of listening within, practising acceptance and moving on. It’s all part of becoming a better person, I suppose. One roadtrip at a time.