Lesson From Mexico
In my first blog post I was contemplating what I desired to portray about the picture I had taken of the rocks at Rye Beach. There is something about those rocks that every person who has grown up with them feels. Not the same something, just some thing. Being off the easel just long enough to relive that spot and recall the memories and sensations led me, to my great relief, into a moment where the painting simply fell off my brush onto the canvas in a whirlwind which no words can capture. The rocky section of Rye Beach, (now called Jeness Beach), just north of the parking lot was my weekend playground as a child. The rocks were ominously huge to me then and in this painting, I strove to capture the slight feeling of danger, which of course is simply delicious to a child!
Shortly following this I came “off the easel” for two and a half weeks for vacation, and literally slowed to a snail’s pace to relax, renew and reset goals for the upcoming year, I was immediately confronted with the question of, “what will I do?”. What will I do to be the change I want to see in the world, during these trying times. Yes, I can paint, write or vent on Facebook, but what will make significant positive changes? Me…. doing…. right now, today.
While on vacation in Mexico I am always amazed at the respect the general population have for the elderly. When family’s go to the beach or out for dinner, they have grandma and/or grandpa with them. Last year on New Year’s Eve, on the east coast in Playa Del Carmen, I watched, from my balcony above the bustling 5th Avenue, as a large family, Mama, Papa, children and Grandma, pausing in the street at midnight to pour a round of tequila for all (littles excluded). It was a beautiful scene as fireworks went off overhead and Grandma held tightly to her cane while slugging back the tequila, as a mariachi band played at a neighboring restaurant.
This year on the west coast of MX, just south of Puerta Vallarta, in Mismaloya, I again witnessed several Mexican families out to celebrate on New Year’s Eve at a restaurant with Grandma and Grandpa (and children) in tow. The next day at the beach I watched as an elderly woman was pampered all afternoon by a Mexican waiter. “Is the sun too hot, Mama? Is the chair uncomfortable, Mama? Do you need more water, Mama” She was questioned every 30 min about her needs and comfort while he kept the umbrella moving with the sun to shade her throughout the afternoon. In the US, this scene would more likely have been an effort from the restaurant to avoid a law suit from someone overindulging in sun exposure, but not there, they are genuinely concerned and respectful of elders. This warmed my heart and I took the lesson….again. Value all human life, especially those who’ve lived many years more than us. Talk with them, care for them, consult with them, comfort them. Give back to them.
You can see I’ve been reminded of the benefits of a slower pace of life. The elderly and Mexicans in general have a way of confronting my constant need for speed, which to them appears to be wasted energy, if not psychotic due to the heat! If something doesn’t get done today, there is always “manana”, tomorrow. Just do things right, slowly, compassionately, considering those around you.
In a world, as unpredictable as a butterfly’s seemingly erratic flight pattern, take time with those who have lived through centuries of change. Those close to you. Have you ever sat long enough to hear their stories? Or maybe you have, for the hundredth time. Then listen patiently, draw wisdom from their insights.
Do something for them which slows your normal speed down to a half, something mundane. Clean their windows, “their way”, with newspaper and vinegar, something that forces you to get off the roller-coaster for a while.
As I strive over the next few months to capture the magnificence of the physical landscape of Mexico, I hope also capture the humanity of a beautiful people, a people I’ve come to greatly respect over the last eight years. It will now be my great honor over the next few months to strive to portray the beauty of Mexico and the Mexican people. So many visions floating through my head!
In closing, the most important take away from my time off the grid was not that I necessarily need to do more. But to keep doing it better, with more intention, with more respect for others. I have an enormous amount of opportunity to give and make change, one encounter at a time. While helping my 84 year old mother with mundane tasks, with my 30 private violin students, with my four beautiful adult children. Make each one count.
As if to emphasize this point, my phone just rang in the middle of that last sentence. It was a call from the local seamstress, telling me Moms coat was ready for pick up. This season of life will end, they all do eventually.When exactly was the last time I held my youngest child on my hip? That moment just quietly slipped away without any warning into the next season, as many others will also. I choose to live well in each.
For now I will continue to challenge myself and all I come in contact with to think of others and become the best person they can be. To give to their family and society in positive ways. I’ll continue donating financially to the organizations I believe are doing good. And as each season of life continues to gently roll into the next, I’ll ride the wave, grab the pitchfork and labor alongside those who believe in compassion.
Cheers for the New Year! Go make your change!
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