… and then you turn a corner and look up.
After dinner the other night, we were on a rather mundane errand to pick up our laundry when the American spotted something. We stood on the darkened lane and watched the brightened lanterns drift up, and up, and up into the inky sky. We stared as 100 or so illuminated orbs twirled and rose and dipped a little and rose higher, until they started to fade out. It was silent, peaceful, and beautiful. A moment that made me feel a little bad about declaring that Thailand was trying to kill us…
These were the same kind of lanterns released in the famous Yee Peng/Loi Krathong (the Festival of Light) each November. Sadly, we missed the main festival by a matter of weeks but were lucky enough to catch the remnants of it. I could only imagine the joy of witnessing the thousands of lanterns rise and be carried by the wind.
Yee Peng is a week-long celebration here in Chiang Mai, some believe in honor of Buddha, and others in respect for their ancestors. Whatever the reason, the festival is famous for the release of thousands of rice paper lanterns into the night sky. These lanterns, called khome, are lit and released to symbolically carry away all your troubles. Some also say if you make a wish as you release the khome, your wish will come true. The whole event looks magical, peaceful and romantic.
On the back of such beauty and such an encouraging turn of events, we returned home and heard about an “unconfirmed” shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have heard enough from me about the tragic events. My stance on guns and the lack of mental health resources in the United States has only been reaffirmed. Words can’t express the devastation of something like this, and there have been great articles (here, here and here) about various aspects of the case. What else could possibly be said? It’s a sad time for my adopted home of America.