Going between the States and México is like landing on different planets. It’s not funny, it’s hard. I seem to do okay upon arriving en el Norte, but coming back home is ironically conflictual.
Why would coming back to the place I love be anything but joyful? There are different sensibilities in each country which challenge my beliefs. In México, I work constantly to let go and flow, as that is the primary energy of the place. In the U.S. I enter the flow of information, resources, answers and help. As my time to return to México approaches I find myself fearful and furiously investigating supplements and other items not available where I live. I become increasingly unhappy, tense, exhausted and edging into a percieved state of
emergency. Of what? That I must get everything I might need in México before I leave or else I won’t have it. I’ll never have it. I won’t be able to continue with my supplements and then what would happen to me? From experience I know the answer: I’ll re-enter the flow of México, other methods of dealing with my health will be available, and I’ll realize that all those late nights on the internet and worry were not necessary: there are ways to survive and thrive even without the amazing resources available in the United States.
There’s another issue that rears it’s ugly head when I return to México: How am I going to earn enough money to survive? I have gone in and out of panic on this theme for years. When I left the States and my job security almost eight years ago, I knew this was an issue for me. I was not one of those people who could be self-employed, never knowing if they’d earn enough to pay meet their expenses each month. Still, I jumped, knowing that to do so meant I had to trust that the universe would support me following my heart and dreams to Latin America.
So here I am again, freshly returned from my second six month stint in two years to be with my elderly mom. I encounter the familiar fear-stories, but this time I have enough experience with miracles and gratitude that I am able to call upon it. Still, my fear-based mind has performed several Oscar worthy dramas to prove its case that I can not make it financially here; that I won’t be all right. Two ten day bouts of utter despondency later, I am brought to that familiar place of death. The end of the road. Giving up. The positive side of which is surrender.
While I was away for these last six months, my landlord put up a hand painted sign that said “se vende refrescos” (soft drinks for sale) in front of the house, so that it would appear like someone was living there and no one would consider trying to rob the place.
Upon my return, Don José asks if I’m willing to sell the two bottles of Coke he put in my fridge for him. I tell him I’ll sell these two, but after that I won’t support the sale of soft-drinks. I explain that they exemplify how my country is negatively effecting the people of México where obesity and diabetes are rampant. The country is in fact number one in the world for refresco consumption. It has nothing healthy about it, I tell him. It’s hurting people and enticing them to spend their pesos on litres of it for breakfast. I tell my landlord I would, however, support the sale of traditional aguas, refreshing traditional drinks made with natural ingredients, to remind and teach people about healthy alternatives already part of their heritage. I ask him to talk to his wife about it and see if she remembers some recipes from her abuela, her grandmother. He listens and seems receptive to what I’m saying.
Don José tells me he has a dream of one day building a small hut by the gate to sell snacks and softdrinks to passers-by on weekends. He says I could sell my energy bars, too. I like the idea of us selling things together but I don’t like the image of promoting junk food in plastic wrappers that will be tossed unthinkingly on the beautiful land and I tell him so. He says we could put a garbage bag outside the gate, but that does not please me. I’m not interested in my home becoming a dumping ground for garbage. I’m not interested in supporting and promoting the use of products that contribute to ill-health of body and mind, nor of the unconscious use and tossing of non-biodegradable materials onto the ground. I explain to him how my energy bars come on a little plate made of dried corn-husk that when no longer needed can be tossed without harm. I tell my landlord that I’d rather tell the passers-by to take their garbage with them when they leave. I feel very protective about my pueblo and it hurts me to see the casualness and unconsciousness with which visitors to our village discard bottles and wrappers wherever they are.
A few days later a carload of young hikers stop at the gate and yell. They want to know if I have refrescos. “I have one,” I tell them. They want it. I come back to the gate and ask them to please not throw the bottle as basura, garbage. They promise me that when they return from their hike they’ll lean it up against the gate for me. I appreciate their consideration and collaboration. Then they ask me what else I have. “I have an energy bar in the freezer.” They want it. I go up to the house and discover I also have a package of four bars. They happily purchase the packet of four. Then they ask “What else do you have? What a fun game! I don’t have anything else to offer but my wheels are turning and I tell them, “I cook authentic Indian cuisine professionally. I don’t have any today, but next week I will.”
I visit Don José and we talk at length about selling natural, healthy foods and he’s interested. I tell him I’ll repaint the sign in front of the house to include our offerings and he agrees. Yesterday he put the sign back up, securing it with wire and a nail. Using my saw and machete to cut back the branches that obstructed plain view of our sign, we were in business! Back in the yard he painted a picture of the future: He could put up a lona, a tarp or corregated metal roof, get a couple tables and chairs, and then people could sit, eat and enjoy our food there. My dream! A restaurant, finally! And a collaboration between myself and a family of the village! What could be more real and delightful?
I say real because I returned from the States determined to force my life to be a certain way in order to have “prosperity.” Like the supplements only available in the states, it was hard for me to believe things could be okay if I just sank into the actual life of here: the life in the village I love, where the people know how to live and survive. Where they live in community and in relation with one another and the natural world around them. A life so simple. A life that is sustainable, what I really want and which perhaps I could have experienced at any moment of these last eight years.
I have feared real life, the utter lack of control as I let the reins fly unattended. Memories of my dad’s voice boom in the background that selling energy bars is no way to make a living. “You’re living below the poverty line,” he used to chide me. I’m a failure, is what I heard. So this is the letting go and this is trusting, and finally, this is a new prosperity. The one I have dreamed of and held myself apart from.
I have fallen into my simple life.
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow living
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