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Keeping Death In Mind

March 10, 2010. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Late morning.

I pulled on my swim trunks, trainers, and a tank top and walked out of my little guesthouse room, sliding through the cramped restaurant strewn with tables, and out into the hot, dusty air of Phnom Penh. It's a hot day. It'll be good to swim after lifting weights.

I said, "No no, thank you" to the tuk-tuk drivers offering to take me somewhere in the city, pushed through the little crowd, and out onto the street. The streets in Cambodia more resemble alleyways than streets, and I navigate around people and vehicles.

I went down to the end of the street, turned left, and skirted along close to the local restaurants, half-tent half-storefront type places to get food. I stepped into the crosswalk, the Hotel Cambodiana rising in front of me. I check right and then left, and I watch left as I cross, watching for oncoming traffic.

A loud scream rings out. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

The Keshik Feigned Retreat Ambush

When you travel through a dangerous country, you're generally safe if you're self-aware and vigilant, and generally unsafe if you're unaware and distracted.

I was in the Philippines for four days recently, and I generally had my awareness high.

Except for my last night there.

For whatever reason, when you're about to leave somewhere and nothing bad has happened, it's easy to lapse in awareness. I was exhausted at the end of the trip, as I'd done a bunch of tedious administrative work with an intense focused effort on getting it done, and I'd been doing some mental training at the same time to increase my focus, ability to stay focused and single-mindedness.

And it had all gone well.

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