Thursday, March 22, 2012

As the World Goes Global, Be True to Yourself

Lone fisherman on the beach, Sayulita, Mexico
One afternoon on the beach in Sayulita, Mexico, amid the horde of North American tourists drinking margharitas and eating ceviches, outnumbered by at least a few hundred beach hustlers to his one, I glimpsed a lone fisherman.  He was standing at the ready with net in hand, as the tide went out and the surfers rolled in.  A youngish man in his thirties, he crouched among the tide pools as still as a statue and patiently studied each new wave ready to collect his dinner.  Twenty years ago in this spot, he would have been the norm.  Maybe a few trailblazing surfers would be out there but today he is the lone survivor.  So strange was this sight another gringo was ready with his telephoto lens to catch this rare event.  His patience proved greater than mine and after ten minutes waiting, I continued my stroll through the palapas and vendors of cheap silver and hammocks.  But he was not the only anomaly on the beach that day.

Weaving a bark h
In a couple hundred yards, I saw a young girl adorned in tribal dreadlocks weaving her original and strange craft.  Not an ancient tradition like the fisherman’s, but unique to her.  Weaving feathers and beads with she wore a pointed wizard’s hat made of bark.   Not the mass produced hipster hats made in China that are the vogue today.  Also, not making the typical colored thread bracelets made to order with your favorite sports teams, city, or person’s name.  She was pursuing her path, her calling.  Not following the throng of mass appeal. 

Xipatzin:  Didgeridoo & more
These days in Sayulita can be seen the effects of globalization with all of its ills and benefits.   A burgeoning Mexican middle class shares space with the North Americans now.   Shopping at Costco, Home Depot and at organic farmer's markets, they are indistinguishable from the tourists til they speak.   In part due to NAFTA, in part to modern communications, our cultures have blended into an amalgam of tastes and styles that serve the mass merchandising ethic.   Middle class lifestyles have an almost irresistible appeal all over the world with undeniable benefits of comfort and entertainment for millions.   The lure of modern culture is seductive.  Drop the old lifestyle and you too could be like the stars on the telenovellas.  Only a few hold outs resolutely follow their inner calling, what comes natural to them, what is authentically them.   I met a few here in the former isolated surf beach, now developed into a tourist friendly destination which is currently undergoing a major facelift of the old town center.  Another of the originals on the beach is Xipatzin, a multi-talented musician, poet, and fire artist.   He regaled me with his powerful Rumiesque poetry instantly translated on the spot.  Following your inner call is never easy but must be especially difficult in a town like Sayulita where the lure of the mass marketplace has arrived.

Gentrification comes to surf village
Be True to Yourself the Beach Boys sang to our generation.  Valid fifty years ago when they wrote it and even more so today.  Being true to yourself is not an easy path.  Many newly ‘retired’ persons find themselves lost.  Freed from the demands of 9 to 5 can be an existential dilemma.  With a fresh canvas to fill, many questions arise; What gives my life meaning?  What do I want to achieve?  What pleasurable hobbies/ experiences call me?  Who do I want to associate with? It is easy to slip into default and mass produced lifestyles, entertainments, and activities (mostly planned to extract maximum dollars).  Maintaining a personal path can be challenging to fishermen and crafts vendors on a tourist beach, it is a matter of survival.  For renewing Boomers the risk is just breaking out of our comfort zone and heeding our innate urge to express our uniqueness.   

A vision of an original and vital life guides my decisions and fuels my quest to swim free from the homogenizing tide of globalization.  Taking up the call to live from the inside out defines freedom for me.  Even as the world around us changes.  Everything changes all the time.  But be like the fisherman among the hawkers on the beach, like the girl weaving a one of a kinky bark hat, and the musician doing didgeridoo healings on lobster red ladies from Montreal.  As Robert Frost said back when Beach Boys sang Be True to Yourself, taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Someday is Here: Dust off Your Dreams

Not Any More!
At a recent celebration of life service, I saw friends from ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. One person after another got up to share memories of the ‘departed.’  Relatives, lovers, close friends, acquaintances each shared a slice of the story.   The sharings ranged from a couple words of love and tears to ’s prepared 1000 word text.   Yes, funerals are often old home week.   The finality of this life is inescapable in this setting, whereas most of the time we ignore it, hid from it, and deny it.  It is a coping mechanism that allows us to get on with ‘the pursuit of happiness.’  The experience got me thinking about time and for us Boomers and the Rolling Stones, time is not on our side.

We’ve all heard the catch phrases about aging; ‘you’re only as old as you think’ ‘I still think of myself as young’ ‘someday I’m gonna…’.  As unspoken partner to our cultural denial and fear of death, we resist aging as if there is something wrong with it.  Just as we act like death is a mistake.  When we think clearly the truth can’t be refuted.  It's not all bad news.  Recognizing and confronting aging can be liberating.  When we cast the discerning eye of truth to the situation, we likely see a sign flashing If not now, when?  I had a small reminder of the passage of time recently.    Attending a late night concert by an old music hero from the 70s (Dan Hicks), there was a hint of marijuana in this 55+ crowd just like back in the day.  I had no thought of age, until I left suffering from lower back pain.  Never had that thirty years ago.  

The sun shines brightly, the street in front of me is being resurfaced, and I am thinking about aging.  And the end of this life.  Such a sad and somber topic for a generation who virtually made a religion out of youth.  Counting our years is not popular with my peers.  I visited a friend from high school (we graduated 1968) and he said he doesn’t feel old.  I don’t either til I look in the mirror.  How to reconcile the inner self concept with the external reality?  Is it necessary?  Can one live in two worlds, feeling young and being ‘older?’  Dancing with the two; physical aging and inner youth maximizes this time and feeds fulfillment.  Can you imagine being on your death bed and finally realizing that you missed important stuff because you thought you were still young and had plenty of time?

A recent survey from individuals on their death beds yielded powerful insight into what is really important.   Staying fixated on the illusion of perpetual youth can prevent one from doing what is really important.  We’ve all thought it, ‘Someday  I’d like to ….’   The interviewees knew there was not much time left and all they could do was look back with bare honesty.  Some of their regrets we’ve heard before; I would have spent less time at the office or I would have kept up with old friends.  The comments were not surprising but they were stark in exposing deep feelings.  The one that hit me the hardest was the proverbial bucket list.  Things I’ve always wanted to do.  

Living the Dream in Sayulita, Mexico
Dusting off old dreams has been a practice of mine in the last couple years.  For example, when I was thirty I had a dream to play in a reggae band on a tropical island.  But I put that idea on the back shelf in a psychic box called Someday.  I buckled down to practical life and did a professional career, saved for retirement, and got the gold watch.  Pulling that plan off the back shelf and checking it out has been a stark, in your face, wake up call that I say to everyone in their 20s and 30s.  Do it now or make tangible plans to do it.  If you wait til much later, sometimes the person who had that dream has changed or the world has changed.   It may no longer fit.  At my manifestation group the other day, a woman in her 30s said she wants to live in France for a years.  My response ?  Make it happen this year.

Fill in Your Bucket List
For us who have now reached the next chapter of adulthood,  check out those bucket list items.  What still has juice?  What can you do with joy and enthusiasm?  Then make a plan and don’t forget the next action step.   As I write this, I am on a tropical beach in Mexico.   Half the population is North Americans of all ages, who are living their dream of a winter home in the tropics.  The others?  Lobster red one week visitors.  Breaking out of the home routine, exposes one to a range of people making different choices.  On this trip I met individuals in the Boomer age bracket who are riding motorcycles overland from Canada through Mexico, others living in a trailer for the winter and practicing violin, and many who manage a business from Sayulita.  They are living a dream, not waiting.  I have wondered how my life would have been different, if I had not waited for Someday.   But not for long, it is time to dust off that Bucket List and take action...Today.