Christopher Smith Burananont

Founder & Owner of Gym Bangarang (Muay Thai, Boxing Camp – Chiangmai)
Age 40, United States of America

It’s been 18 years since we last met on the sands in the Middle East. Some of us never returned home and many of us came home broken and shattered much like myself. Some of us don’t like to be reminded of our past and some of us even today cannot escape our own fears.

The Brothers we left behind, the widows we confided and the children we told stories to about their fathers are always a constant reminder to why we keep pushing forward… but to what end and to what purpose?

I have to say as much as I am proud to have served with you I have also been deeply saddened and wounded by the experiences we all had to share. The fighting, the death, the destruction, and chaos of men passing on their burdens to their children and to other men’s children. A vicious cycle of death that we must endure to the end of our days with some of those days having more intention than others to finally make it our last moment and our last breath just to ease the suffering inside of our minds and our souls.

My Intention to tell you of my suffering is not to discourage you, it is to let you know that if you have or are still also suffering that I have finally discovered my inner self and am now on the path towards healing and it is also discoverable for you.

For the past 18 years I’ve been on a rocky, turbulent path of self-destruction, sabotage, chaos, and longing. Desiring so much in my heart to make the pain stop I have not left any stone unturned in my zealous desire to heal my wounds. Looking back on my life I see how bizarre my behavior was. Being a wounded animal for so long while looking for an ailment has created catastrophic conditions in my life that for some may seem unreal or unfathomable. This is our way though, because we don’t know any other and we weren’t trained to do otherwise.

I took the journey of being a monk to relearn everything that we were taught and everything that we experienced negatively and instead did it with positive intention with kindness, compassion, and love.

Everything was similar but this time all the emotions were out on the table. I was eating by the numbers, I was living in a tent, I was appreciating having nothing and living a simple routine. We rose early in the mornings and trained all day and all night. We walked in formation, our heads were shaved, we were given a uniform and tools to use as weapons… for our minds.

I could not believe all of the similarities that were so obviously noticeable and interchangeable between being a monk and being a marine. The only difference was the intentions and the end goal. I nearly broke halfway through my journey.

There were moments in our hikes that reminded me of when instead of carrying a tent bag for resting at night we were instead carrying a weapon. There were moments when we walked in the early mornings to beg for food from the locals that it felt like I was on patrol searching the villages for contraband or hostile activity. There were moments when we missed home and longed to be with our loved ones and all we could confide in was ourselves. And there were also moments when I meditated and realized that my past means nothing.

We have today and we must be thankful and if we are lucky, we will see tomorrow. I will not spoil the journey because you must see it for yourself and I know that there are some of you out there longing and looking for the arrow thats pointing in the right direction. I can tell you from my personal experience that the arrow that I see now from this experience points directly at me and it always has been. The biggest problem that we all have is that we have accumulated so many layers of pain and suffering that we can never go deep enough within ourselves to find what it is we are always searching for. The only way I was able to understand this was to take this journey.

For any brothers that I have harmed in the past or will harm in the future I ask for your forgiveness. I took this journey as a sign of good faith that an effort was made in making sure that none of our brothers would be left behind. The battle is not over and the work is not finished. Until we meet again in this lifetime or the next.


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