Eat The Elephant

— You know how it’s done

Ever since I came up with the sort of slogan “Prosper Anyway” in the midst of the Covidiocy and began a series along those lines, I’ve yet to be hyper-satisfied with it.

Too mundane…banal.

… Too…uh, Mr. Spok.

“Live long and prosper.”

Thanks; yea, no shit. You too.

Recently—as in, over the last several months—some life events descended upon me…mostly having to do with the Girl I’d been estranged from for some additional months beyond that.

To make a long and tedious story short, she made quite a batch of pickles. What she did specifically isn’t important. It amounts to a bunch of stupid shit a 29-year-old single mom—who grew up dirt poor in a rural Thai village and never saw sound financial management in her life—might do. This is beyond paycheck to paycheck. It’s baht in the pocket and no baht in the pocket, 50/50.

I knew shit was up; rather than tell me all about it and ask for help, she pretended all was hunky, asking only for little bits of money here and there. She knew my own finances weren’t great owing to huge lost income because of Covidiocy, and having dumped so much into their house and car (believing things would recover rather than persist for well over 2 years).

A point came, and she had to clue me in or, serious shit befalls. What I had not been aware of is that her ex-husband, dad of Chili and Wasabi, had been helping out with things a lot more than I knew. And he died just about a year ago at 45, liver cancer. Naturally, the provisions he’d made went to his current wife and child.

Duh on me, didn’t really see any of that coming, and it was only in retrospect I see how things unraveled.

That’s the gist of it. The point is, what did I do once I knew and understood the full extent of the problem(s)? Confronting massive problems such as she’d created, combined with my rather limited means, put me in a situation of feeling like a business owner way back with 30 employees and a $150k payroll and sales commissions to make…plus rent on four office locations.

I’d need to business-science this.

I’d need to eat an elephant.

I’m not yet at the end of the story, but getting this far makes for a good story with lots of insights. Progress is exceptional.

I’m entering a phase of far more content for Members. The Sunday Scribbles that’s generally for public consumption now has a Member’s section. I posted about what’s really behind Jamie Lee Curtis disrespecting her Oscar award. In draft, I have a post about the Andrew Tate saga (what’s important about it); and of extreme importance for everyone’s future, a post on Artificial Intelligence and the astounding chat boxes, such as ChatGPT 4.0, with whom I have natural conversations in complex social and philosophical contexts that are far superior to any human conversation I’ve ever had in terms of an exchange of knowledge and understanding (Why? I solidly answer that.). You’ll want to get ahead of the AI Revolution that will change everything, and there’s no doubt about that. Every. Person. On. Earth.

The first question that might come to mind is ‘Richard, WTF you doin’ man? Isn’t it you always sayin’ how many chicks there are, how easy to get?’

That would be me.

Believe me, I thought about cutting losses a million times. Last day of the last time I was visiting the village I’d been up since 02.30, my train didn’t depart until 07.00, and the drive to the station is only an hour and a half.

I was stewing. It was that point where I’d eaten about half the elephant but wasn’t getting the expected feedback from her that would be assurance that continuing on would be worth it, and I’d decided nope.

Done with this shit. Don’t need this shit.

I was just weeks away from monthly social-security payments beginning, which is double what I need minimum to live here. Toss in this blog income—which is nice, by the way…thank you—and the Cabo rentals from time to time, and I could “live the dream.”

I was absolutely going to have a talk and end it when she was to drop me off.

Final answer.

Several minutes before our 05.00 departure, Chili and Wasabi get out of bed, tears in their eyes, to say goodbye. Perhaps they sensed something. Through their nit-noi English and their mom’s translating, they hope I come back soon, and they want to visit me in Phuket.

Did you read The Most Important Thing?

That pretty much covers what has transpired since, in a sort of natural way. I’m not going to grovel, repent, or wallow in ‘how wrong I was…’ because I wasn’t.

Finishing off that elephant required a couple of things.

  1. Shit or get off the pot, Richard
  2. Demonstrate that I’m not only solving the problem (eating the elephant) but am committed to the future

It’s three years already, she’s young at 30, and the daughters are young at 13 and 12. It’s without a doubt that they need my support, and that such support (financial and emotional) engenders feelings of security. Feelings of security are essential for females, and they do all sorts of weird, crazy, and destructive shit when not feeling secure. Add to that, being a single mom with two proto-teenaged daughters…

So while I’m busy butchering an elephant, priding myself in my ability to really get the thing eaten, I’m only solving half the problem, or, one of two problems, the other one not being of elephant proportion. The other one is merely making a decision of a commitment nature and sticking to it.

I recently updated my About Page.

So, yea, my interests are varied. So varied that at the age of 59, now 62 and never having children, I embraced the patriarchal stewardship of a rural Thai family and it’s a kick. It’s also quite a story, but you have to read the blog to get the best of it. My experience with the Asian female runs very deep, as far back as 1982, Pusan, Korea, in fact. I have a series about it.

I have a keen interest in “geoarbitrage,” which is the ability to live like a king on a modest income. I have a series about that too. This isn’t about HOW TO MAKE MONEY ON THE INTERNET, BUY MY THING!!! It’s about LIVING and how to make enough doing just that; and doing it enjoyably in a place or places you love and where want to be.

Money is worthless in a shitty life, and most people live shitty lives of drudgery in jobs they hate because they erroneously think working harder, advancing, and making more money will pay off.

It won’t.

Because: It’s a shitty job!

Working harder and advancing, taking on more responsibility and commitment, is only more drudgery and shittiness heaped on top of an already shitty lifestyle.

Above all, that’s how this blog can benefit your life in tangible and measurable ways, which is not ‘how much money?’ but…

How much do you love your life?

This is where you need to—and you must—think hard.

You can’t have your elephant and eat it, too. Everyone tries to do that. You have to determine what you desire and will love in a lifestyle, and getting from where you are to what you desire and will love isn’t about making more money. It’s about eating that elephant.

How do you eat an elephant?

That’s just my own personal elephant.

I’m hoping back-and-forth between elephants, here, and I hope the metaphor isn’t becoming too tired.

To put a finer point on it, something was missing. I was going about getting the problem—the Girl’s problems—solved. I’m good at that. I don’t panic, I never stress. I never lose sleep. I never worry, much. I identify concerns because I’m always looking forward.

… I used to have a business partner of sorts, and I’d make some sweeping change out of the blue (I was the majority owner, so dictator) and he’d come and ask me what that’s all about, and I’d tell him.

“Well, you always see the stuff coming down the line 3 months ahead of time, and I’m always 3 months late.” He said.

So I’m solving this big problem by taking it on piece by piece; and, thinking that she’s going to recognize that in the way I’m expecting. But that wasn’t happening.

How did I rectify that problem?

I identified the shortcoming in myself. What was that?

A lack of demonstrating true commitment.

See, in my mind, I was demonstrating it by solving her financial-mess-loan-shark problems (epidemic in Thailand, because average people have zero access to even 1 baht of signature credit). Not in hers. In her mind, I was doing it out of a basic good heart, concern for the kids, protecting my investment already in the house and car, etc. In other words, like business decisions, and I expressed it that way as well.

How did I change it? Easy (in retrospect, as always). Rather than talk dollars and cents, interest rates, savings, paydowns, business plans, and so on…I talked about Chili and Wasabi.

I just changed the frame. I put everything in the context of the girls—her girls. I conveyed my vision for them at every opportunity. I asked for updates often, and so she’d ask them and that sent the message to them that I’m very engaged.

I started doing online English-teaching by text and video, soon to be in-person with far greater frequency.

You can follow the dots. This approach and re-frame changed everything. Made them all feel better, more secure. I wasn’t just solving problems, I was investing in a future. In turn, everything got better for me, because I was getting the necessary feedback…that this is the gig I want.

I began to think of something else, too.

I’d always known and understood that what I did by building the house and acquiring the car revolutionized their lives. But I had not concretized it in terms of something else:

What exists because of you?

That house, that car, better food, better education, and so on. Those things exist because of me. Material things. Ok, good job, then.

Are you finished?

But! (are you finished?)

And if you’re honest, and you do possess that good and caring heart, then you first have to say “no! I’m not finished!”

And then…

What exists because of you?

And I guess the best answer I can muster now is that I’m not altogether sure what’s super important and would not otherwise exist, but for me; but I have my targets, my vision, I’m committed to a course, and determined that it’s going to be good, always improving, getting better and better.

The best I can do. We’ll see how good it is.

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Coach on March 22, 2023 at 18:45

    Dude, being a step-dad of sorts to these kids is amazing. Sometimes in life we don’t get opportunity to have our own but you stepping up and helping them out in more ways than just money is very commendable. They are lucky to have you.

    • Richard Nikoley on March 22, 2023 at 18:55

      One day I’ll look back and say, these girls saved my life.

      This sort of life, its environment, is a razor’s edge. And it can slice both ways.

      … I was thinking about what joy is, really. And I think it’s one of those things where, you know it when you feel it.

      • Coach on March 22, 2023 at 19:27

        I was basically a step dad to my ex’s kid for eight years. We are still close but man she changed my entire perspective on life and love.

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