It’s been so long since I’ve taken time to write for myself. I’ve been so involved in everyone else’s lives and my own daily moments that I haven’t taken a moment to process it all. I think that’s why my leg hurts, why I have been waking up at night with stomach aches, and why I slept all day on Wednesday. It’s been so long that I can hardly remember the details that I wanted to share with you. I wanted to share the irony of being chased by a gang of vicious dogs, then immediately listening to the police driving by announcing over the loudspeaker the pet parade that would take place at the town square. I wanted to mention the Frisbee tournament that I went to last weekend not to play but to make a complete scene – a white girl screaming at the men’s team in broken Spanish about how to orient themselves in their space. How they smoked a bit of weed on the way back home and discussed the need to change Mexico in such a way that we see success as not by climbing onto the back of your neighbor but by helping him up as well. Revolution, or subtle changes in the nucleus of society? Can they be one in the same? How we went out for a beer on a rooftop bar with Julián and discussed the expectations of Mexican women in relationships, or how we met a woman on the bus who gave us peaches and started a conversation about racism and capitalism in the United States. Or even further back, how we gave in completely to this scam artist, lost about $800 USD collectively and spent the next week trying to trudge through the bureaucratic system to protect my identity and offer a declaration so that he could be caught. OR the following weekend, how Cecilia saw him on the streets and chased him down, called the cops riding around in their pickup trucks with their boots up to their knees and their important machine guns. How they asked her to get in and all of the women in the crowd now surrounding her screamed “No! Never get in their truck!” And how the cops sped off when they realized that the beautiful blonde wouldn’t ride with them and the rest of the crowd offered up every means of support and care that they could.
And while all of these details have occupied much of my time, they have not occupied the majority of my attention. I’ve been reading The Zahir by Paulo Coelho, and it’s all about love. We try to put love into rules created by society - I should feel this way, I should act this way, I should only see this person at this time, etc. When in reality, love, romantically or otherwise, is the driving force that moves us to act and as such, how can we possibly try to contain and control it? Coelho is so much more eloquent than I, so rather than word-vomit all of his beautifully explicated philosophies, I will instead highly recommend that you read it.
Everyone around me has been coming to me to talk about love and work and passion, and I don’t have the answers, but I’ve been internalizing a lot of that negative energy. How do you love unconditionally and be there for someone without incorporating their emotions and issues into your own? This week was all about self-exploration, and taking the next step forward in the face of great personal challenges (or for me, how to deal with these challenges from an external perspective both to help my friends and to learn for myself). And a bit of compunction for not “working as I should be” (as defined by my American values…and my Jewish guilt). But then I realized, a) I am NOT in the United States, b) this is MY life, so who else but me is telling me to feel guilty for which rules and structures I should follow and c) this IS work. As I sit here sipping on my delicious coffee, listening to Ina and her friend Erika work through the challenges of both romantic and self-love, ego, the patience of learning life’s hardest lessons (repeatedly), and listening, truly listening, to what the world around you is telling you, I realize that I am indeed working.
Fuck the capitalist, American definitions of success, the Mexican tendencies of pushing yourself to the front of the line and working every day without rest. This is work. This is progress. But I have miles to go before I sleep because that little minion sitting on my shoulder still whispers “you’re not doing enough” “look again at your standards - are you really as good as you could be?” In one sense, of course not – we could always be improving. But with humility and love, not with ego and society’s superficial values. In another sense, yes. My mom and Oprah, two women who I highly respect, told me that I AM good enough. And to realize that does not bring you to your goal – it provides your foundation.
Now all of this sounds beautiful and flowery and “oh, Rachel, how much you’re growing and learning.” But saying these things, writing love on my wrist, or saying ok, this time I’ve actually learned how to let go, is the theory. Now the world’s gonna throw you some tests and examples. Oh, yeah? Really? You get how to love unconditionally? How to love yourself? Here’s a scam artist. Here’s another 3 hour delay. Here’s another night of disappointment. Boo-yah, silly human. How much have you learned? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Talk to me again when you’re 36, 58, 92 or a slave in Egypt (reference to Many Lives, Many Masters - another must read). So, I think I’m going to let all this settle a little more – the coffee was definitely not decaf, and I have Zumba class in about 45 minutes, and then we have friends visiting from Mexico City. It’s going to be a very full weekend, but I hope to give myself this opportunity to reflect again very soon. I had forgotten in these past couple weeks how critical it is for me to do so. And I thank each of you for being part of this opportunity to share. Much love.