What joy in hearts, all around the world, to see the terrifying, seemingly hopeless ordeal of the Wild Boars soccer team members, trapped deep underground with ever rising dangers and few reasons to hope for a happy ending. And yet….and yet…so many people, from the boys and their coach, to the local and national community of Thai people, official and unofficial, and so many people around the world, stepping up to say “What Can We Do?” and “Let’s Make A Way!”
I love this photograph of Thai students expressing joy and gratitude as the incredible, beautiful news of the unfolding rescues became known. It was taken by Photographer Tyrone Siu for Reuters News Service, and shared in many publications.
During my Peace Corps days in Thailand, my middle school students wore these same school uniforms and often shared this energy and delight. While much has changed in Thailand since my time there, many things remain the same: Thai people’s generosity of spirit, courage, heart for community and connection, optimism, and a tradition of making calm tenacious efforts to solve problems and face challenges with strong hearts.
My practice teaching program took me to Chiang Rai province in Northern Thailand, where this extraordinary story unfolded. This time of challenge brings back many memories for me, and I feel great relief, and deep ongoing dazed joy over the success against seemingly impossible odds.
What to do when happiness replaces fear and doubt? “Cook and Eat!” are two things that have always come to mind for me, and perhaps like me, you are thinking of Thai food! Here are a few recipes from my kitchen to get you thinking about putting a taste of Thailand on the table this week.
Or go green with my vegetarian/vegan green papaya salad, from the same cookbook:
And for in-a-hurry, busy-day, Thai-inspired bowl-food, here’s my instant-noodles-made-wonderful Thai-inspired Red Curry Shrimp noodle bowl:
It’s a great lesson for me, one I cherish especially these days, that impossible things can happen. Insurmountable obstacles can be overcome. To say they are Insurmountable is a decision to accept defeat. Believing and trying and giving it our everything over time does not guarantee success, not at all; but how tempting it was to cry and give up and move to mourning, when the energy and knowledge and passion and creativity and courage of SO MANY People meant that the “perfect storm” of challenges was in fact not a perfect storm at all, but rather, an obstacle course worth running, and oh my goodness they did run it. Reverent memory and honor to Khun Saman Gunan, whose bravery took him into the water on a mission of generosity, one which cost him his life. Thankful to know of his strength and sacrifice.
And now, to go get ingredients to make Team Moo Bah (The Wild Boars!)’s wished-for dish, one of my very favorite Thai dishes, minced meat with holy basil! I’ll use the basil we have at the grocery store, as the holy basil, bai graprao, for which the dish is named, is difficult to find around here. Ground/minced chicken, pork, or beef are typical, but shrimp would work, and finely chopped firm tofu and mushrooms together makes a very tasty vegetarian version, with salt to taste instead of fish sauce. I’ll be back with that tomorrow. For now, CHAI YO!!!! which in Thai means HOOOORAYYYY!!!!! and other such exclamations of joy, excitement, triumph and gratitude.