Hola amigos! For those who have been following my odyssey in the Way Fourth you know I have been living in a little village called Ajijic south of Guadalajara, in the State of Jalisco, in beautiful Mexico for a year now, after my hair-raising, but profoundly important journey in August of 1999. God called me here and He certainly knew what He was doing! For in this wonderful little town I have been doing my life's work: massage, healings, lectures, workshops and most important, learning, learning and learning.
Within days of arriving in Ajijic on Friday Sept. 2, 1999 I was introduced to the New Dimensions Center, a multicultural non-denominational spiritual center. From this truly loving place I have met dear new friends, and clients and my workshop students, all like-minded people seeking truth of spirit and self. These people all have been on their true paths for decades, wanting to share their path and their joy of discovery with all. The energy vortex and the perfect weather and glorious countryside drew them all. Their individual stories of why and how they came here are all intriguing and all as amazing as my own. And besides the joy of doing my life's work and meeting all of these charming ex-patriots I have found a new way to see life, thanks to Mexico and its colorful, unique people.
When I first suggested to Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick of Tayu Center, before moving down here, that I wanted to submit some of my experiences of my new life to the Way Fourth, I had offhandedly said I would call my entries, "Living a Conscious Life". How prophetic of me! Because the absolute truth is there is no other way to live here!
Living in a third world country is not like moving to another city in the good old US of A. No, it is more like being transplanted to another planet. The way one interacts with others, the way one eats and walks and drives, and even the way one thinks, all have to be clearly altered. There is nothing one can take for granted. Everything is a lesson in observation. (Gurdjieff could certainly have used this experience as an exercise for his students!)
Even something as basic as shopping and eating has to be done with attention. One doesn't just buy fruits and vegetables and pop them into one's mouth ... no, not hardly, not with all of the fancy bacteria lurking on everything. One takes them home, washes them off and then submerges them in a chemical solution for 30 minutes, then they have to air dry before you can even think of eating. It does wonders for eliminating compulsive eating! And pure clean water does NOT come out of the faucets. No, you must have bottled water for brushing your teeth, and cooking and of course drinking. You learn quickly not to open your mouth in the shower. You learn and learn.
Mexico is a very polite country. One must say "please" and "thank you" and "good morning" and "good afternoon" before one can launch into any kind of a dialog or question. The quickness, and now I feel rudeness, of my American way of jumping into a conversation with someone, now seems embarrassing. And, of course here in Mexico conversation does not come easily to us Gringos ... us transplanted expatriates, whose lips are used to hard short sounds. The lyrical trills of the "r" sound and the tongue changes one must accomplish before saying the most simple things in Spanish are difficult and easily mispronounced. Like the tone differences in Chinese, the slightest mistake in pronunciation in this lovely Spanish language can mean an entirely different thing. Take the words "cansado" (tired) and "casado"(married), which caused me a great deal of embarrassment when I told a neighbor I'd once been married for 23 years. When I realized he was carefully giving me home remedies for my affliction of exhaustion I understood I had again used an incorrect word! Ah, the joys of conversation!
Grimacing, that charming way that Americans have of communicating displeasure or frustration is "no-bueno" (not a pretty thing) in my new hometown. Being aware of one's own facial expressions is an interesting new discipline. My scrunched up face can easily be misconstrued as hostility. One doesn't do that without causing an international incident! And for a wealth of new experiences, take the simple task of driving here! There is no such thing as a "fender-bender" ... no, one loses both license plates and drivers license, which must be bought back for "mucho pesos". And there is always the scary thought that in Mexico one is guilty until proven innocent. There are many, many stories told by expatriates of days spent in dark, cold Mexican jails to testify to the results of careless driving.
And there is no road-rage here, only acute attention to the casual and risky driving habits of the Mexican drivers. It is a lesson in grounding, a lesson in observation, to be able to stay on the roadways without killing oneself. And there is no time to debate the reasons why a driver will choose to pass 5 cars on a single lane road, when signs indicating "No Passing" are plastered everywhere. No, there is only time to get out of the way when one sees a semi-truck bearing down on the casual, careless driver, who invariably has 5 children in his beat-up old car or 20 people hanging onto the side of his ancient truck. No one honks their horns, or flashes the universal finger signal of anger. As a matter of fact no one seems the least bit surprised or concerned as the renegade driver suddenly swerves back in line, seemingly unconcerned (by his placid facial expression) that he has barely escaped killing himself and everyone in and around his vehicle.
One learns about the differences in culture by simple statements, such as "mas tarde", loosely translated as "later today", but more likely it is later this week or later this year. The Mexican workers want to please us ... even if they can't accomplish what you need within the required timeframe; but rather than disappoint you they give you the answer you want to hear. Is that lying? You learn it is not quite the same thing. You understand quickly, if you are "in the center of your head", that theirs is just another way of thinking. And there is a lot of that! I adore the quick smiles and charming politeness of the gas man, even if I've been waiting for 3 days for my delivery! I have also learned that to accomplish tasks in what gringos call "a timely manner" simply does not mean here what it means outside Mexico. I've watch the workmen fixing the street in front of my house for 2 weeks now. They've happily dug it up 4 times. It's called job-security. Don't fix it too good too fast or you'll be out of a job.
Ah, and the joys of home-life! I live in a precious little apartment on the side of a steep cobblestone street at the base of the mountain. The front of the apartment is all windows that open to a sweet little garden. The bougainvillea and roses and lilies are ablaze all year round, kept up by the dear gardener and his charming wife whose wages are included in my $300 rent. I love my little place with carved brick arches and Mexican tiled floor. But one doesn't just walk casually on these shiny, lovely, terra cotta tiles, at least not barefoot. For in this lovely semi- tropical country there are Scorpions. Big ones, little ones, yellow ones, and God knows what other color. They love to come and visit. I hear they are not naturally vicious, but they do bite and bite seriously if you happen to step on them, or roll over on them. So one is constantly alert before lying down in bed, or walking across the floor, or sitting down on a chair.
Everyday there is something that can stop your breath and test your nerves and heart. Like driving down one of the bumpy village cobblestone streets and suddenly finding the way blocked by a mother horse and her nursing baby or almost running into a herd of Brahma bulls and their wives in the black of night as they saunter casually down the middle of the highway. One could rail at the outrage, angry that these animals could have caused you to have an accident. Or one can emulate the Mexican attitude and just simply go around them and enjoy seeing God's beautiful creatures up close and personal.
Each new day I see and learn more, un poco, un poco, little by little. My mind expands to take in all that I am learning from my Mexican neighbors and from Mexico itself. I am allowing myself to truly live in the moment, allowing life to "just be" instead of trying to control it, or change it, or judge it. These wonderful Mexican people have taught me so much about enjoying life's little things, and about not sweating the small stuff. Laughter comes easily to them, and fiestas are always only minutes away. The things that would drive someone in the US totally mad, such as broken water pipes, dug up streets, sudden downpours and roaches and scorpions in the casa, just don't seem to take them apart so easily. I wish I could bottle all this up and send it back to the States to give this simply charming attitude to my US countrymen.
I love this new exciting chapter of my life. I am so grateful that the universe gave me this opportunity, AND I am proud of myself for not being afraid to take it. Change is exciting and lifegiving, and opportunities to grow and learn are everywhere. This one I found by driving 2,500 miles through fear and self doubt, through monsoons and lightening storms, through
blown tires and white-knuckle driving, through months of listening patiently with my heart, and observing and observing and observing! And the richness and the joy and the growth that I have been experiencing in Mexico truly allows me to stay wide open to all the new changes and adventures that are always right around the next corner here on earth-school.
Adios for now!
Love and Healings,