curtis fisher.

things don't go as planned

- 9 Minute Read

Today my life changed forever. Technically speaking, that's true of every day, but today felt especially different.

It's been my multi-year dream to open a wellness shala. Late at night, I often find myself researching land, construction, loans, healing modalities, and the right people to make it all work.

I imagined a spacious and sprawling plot of densely wooded land abutting a juicy lake. It would be the fresh pine-smelling kind of land you would find in upstate New York, Maine, or New Hampshire. Tucked away in little nooks and groves you might stumble upon an A-Frame home, a canvas tent, or a meditation garden. As for the programming, you would find yourself enjoying daily yoga, ice baths, saunas, weekly outdoor movies, and the company of great people.

It was a glorious vision. That was until today.

This summer, I'm traveling in Thailand. Last year I was here too, and didn't think I'd be back for many years. Things rarely go as planned.

A buddy from the States (who shares my dream of opening a shala) happened to be nearby. His name is Evan, he was in the area because he recently summited Everest. He's a certified badass.

We decided to meet up on Koh Tao, and quickly found ourselves out on a dive together. On our way back to land, our dive instructor told us about an abandoned lighthouse hike on the island. It sounded awesome.

A few days later Evan phoned me up, "Hey man, want to check out that lighthouse?" Heck yeah I wanted to check out that lighthouse.

We motorbiked our way up a mountain on the far-side of the island where the trail-head supposedly started. About three-quarters of the way up we encountered an older Thai woman and her makeshift gasoline and food stand.

"Do you know how to get to the lighthouse?" we asked.

Without saying a word, she gestured off to a side road that I hadn't noticed before.

Making our way in that direction, we eventually reached a gate. It was the large swinging kind of gate and gatehouse one might expect for a luxury gated community. Not the kind one would anticipate finding on a dirt side-road in the middle of nowhere on the way to an abandoned lighthouse. Regardless, our maps said this was the place.

We thought, "The trail must be closed, it's probably behind that gate." So we did what any reasonable, respectable, citizens would do... We ignored the gate and walked around it.

Wading through bushes likely intended to be a fence, we came upon what appeared to be a driveway leading up a hill. At the top of the hill, we could make out a cozy-looking building and a glimpse of the ocean far off in the distance.

The building was stunning! Yet, as we got closer it was also clear that it had been abandoned.

Amidst overgrown vines, broken floorboards, and unfinished walls was a beautiful, fully finished kitchen, two large empty rooms, and a large porch with a breathtaking 180-degree view of undisturbed wilderness leading down to the ocean.

What the heck was going on here?

Our gaze met the point where the sprawling land dissolved into the eternal ocean. The lighthouse stood far FAR off in the distance. We could continue with our plans to hike to it, OR we could get to the bottom of this abandoned building mystery...

We went with the latter.

The building was calling to us. Could this be the location of our wellness shala? Was this property for lease?

To learn a bit more, we rode back down the mountain to the old lady and her stand. "Do you know who owns this property?"

She did.

"Do you know how to contact them?"

She did not.

Shaking our head in defeat, we began to leave.


She said, in clear English.

And by wait, she literally meant wait. Not the kind of "Wait, I have something more to say!" kind of wait that one might hear from an eccentric uncle on his death bed gasping for his last breath as he tries to reveal where he hid the family gems, but more of a "Wait here." kind of wait that one would hear at the DMV.

And so we waited.

As we waited, a pack of puppies ambushed us from seemingly out of nowhere. I'm not kidding, this actually happened. It was adorable, and it made the time go by much MUCH faster.

Eventually, a pickup truck stuffed to the brim with Thai workers approached from the other side of the mountain. The old lady flagged them down, and they exchanged a few words in Thai.

One of the workers signaled us to come over, and he showed us a picture of a phone number.

Great, we got exactly what we were looking for! But, in that moment a sense of dread loomed over me.

This was Thailand, we were foreigners. Were we about to get caught up in a big scam?

My mind drew up stories of us paying large sums of money to lease the property only to find out that the people we were leasing from didn't actually own it. One day, the police would come knocking on our door, we would be thrown in a small Thai prison in the middle of nowhere, and our cellmate would be a DMV agent named Kevin telling us "Wait!" for the rest of eternity.

Therefore, we decided not to contact the number in that moment. The sun was setting, literally, and perhaps metaphorically on our dreams. "We might as well catch the sunset while we were up at the top." we thought.

There was a makeshift cafe, restaurant and sunset view a little down the road.


These makeshift stands are pretty common in Thailand.

We grabbed some waters and sat down to enjoy the sunset.

This island was gorgeous. It would have been incredible to live here.

On a whim, not wanting the dream to be over, we asked the cafe woman if she knew who owned the property down the road.

Without skipping a beat, she called a number on her phone and began speaking Thai. She handed us the phone and a Thai woman on the other end began speaking to us... in Thai.

We couldn't understand each other and eventually hung up.

The cafe woman turned her phone around and showed us the number. It was the exact same number from before.

Two different people gave us the same contact information.

That was enough for us to feel a semblance of confidence.

We reached out with a text, "Hi, are you the owner of the building on the hill?"

She replied, "Contact this number instead."

Great, another number... At this point, we felt that whatever number she gave us had to be the right number.

We reached out to the new number, "Hi, are you the owner of the building on the hill? Is it available for lease?"

He replied in seconds, "Yes, you can lease it."

We looked at each other. Our eyes lit up.


We asked for a price and it was crazy affordable. Like, less than I currently paid for rent in my Boston apartment affordable... It seemed too good to be true.

We looked at each other again. In that moment, both of us knew...

We're going to lease this property.

Don't get me wrong, we were still skeptical. This was on a Thursday, and we had set up a meeting with the owner on Sunday to discuss the property.

The owner lived on a separate island, and currently managed a series of weed dispensaries. That raised some more flags in our mind. There was still a chance we were getting played.

That Saturday, the day before our meeting, we decided to go down to the land department to validate the deed. We asked a lady sitting at the front desk if she could check on the owner for us. Within a minute she had pulled up the property on her map, turned her screen around to show us the property boundary (it was massive), and she showed us the name of the owner.

It was the same name as the person we were contacting.

Moment of appreciation

Let it be known that we went into a government office on Saturday afternoon and within minutes had an answer to our question. DMV Kevin could never.

At this point, we were confident that everything checked out and that this is what the universe had in store for us.

So where does it end?

Well, I'm not sure yet.

Evan and I both committed to come back in November to start construction, and open the shala in December. The owner sent us a lease that we could sign when we're ready.

At the time of writing this, it is July. I have no clue what the universe has in store for me for the next five months.

As it turns out, realizing your dreams does not solve all of your problems. What I did take away from the experience was this:


You can plan every possible detail, all the way down to the type of tree that would surround the lake of your future home. Yet, at the end of the day, the universe has its own plans for you.

And, those plans will reveal themselves in forms you probably won't expect and places you wouldn't ever think of.

Things don't go as planned.

It requires a lot of surrender to be okay with uncertainty. That's a good thing though. Perhaps YOUR plan is only a stepping stone to get to the THE plan.

Life is funny like that.

Oh, by the way, if we do end up coming back here to open the shala... We're going to call it, "The Lighthouse."

That seems fitting.

Evan arrivingEvan eatingCurtis & Evan divingWay back from divingCurtis holding puppyEvan holding puppyView of lighthouseEnjoy sunsetTouching finger tips