Sensory Overload

April 2

The young girl on the moped wasn't wearing a helmet. Time slowed as she laid down her bike and slid on the hot Bangkok asphalt toward the car that made an abrupt turn, cutting her off and forcing her to the ground. The bike and her body came to a stop just underneath the front end of the car.

My body flooded with adrenaline as I relived the trauma from my own moped accident while I was in Spain, alone, after I'd discovered my boyfriend's affair with an Italian opera singer. I suppose I would have had an affair, too, if an Italian singer swooned me. The accident happened on the 2nd day of my 2 week trip. My road rash required bandage changes every other day and with my left hand incapacitated, traveling with my overloaded backpack limited my travel and left me feeling sorry for myself.

The moped resting on top of the girl was heavy. I struggled to lift it from the handlebars while 2 people helped her to her feet. Her knee had taken the brunt of the injuries and it was hard for her to put any weight on that leg. The driver never got out of the car. I felt quite helpless. Unable to communicate, to call for help, to offer comfort. Adrenaline surged through my body as I stood under the shade of a tree on the busy street and realized I needed to head back to my hotel to arrange a ride to the massage appointment I'd made earlier that morning.

Contrast. Life is full of it. Is something good or bad or are they just events and we give them meaning based on our beliefs, perceptions, experiences and our inability to view the broad perspective of what shapes our lives. I'm not including war, starvation, disease and violence in this theory, just the everyday shit that can change your life in a moment.

It was because of my moped accident that I enrolled in massage school. I was so grateful to have the use of my hand and wanted to use them to help people. I wonder how the girl's accident will affect her. I'm most curious about the subconscious, subtle ways her experience may guide her.

Bangkok is full of contrast. From the mega-size shopping malls to the smog-blackened 2 story cinderblock apartments sprayed with graffiti to the Buddhist monks wrapped in orange robes blocks away from sex workers offering happy endings, the city has been a sensory overload. But not entirely in a bad way.

It's heightened my awareness. Buzzing mopeds, police on megaphones and grinding river boat motors co-exist with the monk's melodic chanting softly hanging in the humid air and crickets harmonizing at dusk. Trees are decorated with flowers and ribbons and the river is full of litter and motor exhaust. The choking fumes from Tuk-Tuk's, mopeds and cars yields to appetizing aromas of simmered curries, grilled meat and caramelized palm sugar thickening in woks on every street.

The sweat dripping down my back while walking through the Wat Pho Temple of the Reclining Buddha was momentarily relieved by the strong and cool air flow from fans paced the exact number of feet apart that my body craved some air movement.

And so it is with Thai food. Elements of sweet, salty, spicy and cool blend together harmoniously but each ingredient on its own is displeasing. Isn't this the way we experience life?

My moped accident was displeasing, but the massage career was rewarding. The end of my marriage was devastating, but it led to my life-long dream of writing a book. My suicide attempt felt embarrassing, but it's given me a voice to help others who may feel the same way. 

Who is is to say what is good and what is bad. 

My usual precise planning and scheduling took a nosedive when I realized last night I was supposed to be in Kanchanaburi today, not still in Bangkok, where I am scrambling to arrange transport directly to Elephant's World today, later than scheduled, but today none the less.

If I hadn't goofed up my calendar, I wouldn't have taken the incredible Thai cooking class yesterday. And who knows where that may lead.

I'm learning to be curious and go with the flow.

Patty Blue Hayes is the award winning author of  Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce and the creator of  You Can Heal Your Heartbreak, an audio program based on her book, My Heart is Broken. Now What? She's looking for more volunteer opportunities for her next book. Connect with her at


The parable of the Chinese farmer. Is it good or bad? Maybe.