Tag Archives: detachment

Finding Our Balance

It has been awhile since I have written. Time always brings change and the last two months have been no exception. As the dust settles it’s easier to have perspective.

We drove out of Mexico in late December and headed for our old home of Colorado. We had reserved a VRBO rental in downtown Denver, and have lived there since we arrived. We now own a condo in the Spire building — a highrise in the heart of the 16th Street Mall area. This will be the home base from which we will be “making tracks” in the future. We move into the condo in a week or two once the floors have been redone.

After having lived for two years with only the possessions that fit in our Chevy Blazer, the tasks of the next few weeks seem surreal. It seems foreign, but we have purchased a couch, bed frame, and mattress. We will be flying soon to visit the storage space in Chicago we filled in February of 2013 before leaving to spend most of the year in San Miguel de Allende. I fully expect it to feel like opening somebody else’s time capsule. What are all these items? What would anyone possibly need them for? What here could actually enrich someone’s life vs. what is clutter and distraction? That’s what I expect to be asking myself when the door rolls up.

We will be furnishing the condo to be able to rent out as a monthly corporate furnished apartment, but want to stay true to the minimalist principles we’ve come to enjoy. Of course a couple flat screen TVs, a compact stereo, and some kitchen items will make the trip back west with us. However, with the condo being a tad over 900 square feet, much from our previous lives will be (happily) left behind. I’m sure some of what does come with us will end up on EBay. Then we can settle in, spit and polish, and start the process of advertising for renters. The adventure of getting out and hitting the road again begins when we have paying tenants. We welcome the idea of the unpredictability of what lies ahead.

I do miss Mexico already. I miss the warmth and friendliness of the weather, and of the people. too. I miss the pace of each day and how it feels removed from the ticking of a clock, and how “manana” doesn’t mean tomorrow…..it just means not today. I miss that even the roosters crow on and off all day, when they want, and not just at dawn. I miss the joyousness of the culture and the day-to-day activity in and around the Centro and Jardin.

We will get back there. We will explore other places too……probably many more and more often, even if for shorter trips. The reality is that if we are going to spend significant time in the States each year this move makes a lot of sense. Months of furnished rentals in the States are expensive. Months of a rental in Mexico and many other destinations……not so much. This year will be about both adventure and stability — and finding the balance.

Taxi Drivers Party Too……….You Lookin’ at Me?

Friday night was a rough night to sleep, but a great night for a festival here in San Miguel de Allende. This weekend has been “La Alberoda”, the birthday of the patron saint of this beautiful town in Central Mexico, Saint Miguel Arcangel. That means the entire weekend is ceremony and ritual, dancing, decoration, and of course fireworks. The blasts and booms started around midnight and hit a crescendo around 4:30 in the morning. Our feral kitten Chuckie (who we adopted here last May) spent the night under the bed or under the covers. He’s loving and affectionate but has a highly developed amygdala.

Every one else in SMA has been having a great time…..and I mean everyone. Yesterday we saw children hoisting paper machet figures on poles march into the Jardin to have them blown up one at a time as they giggled and shrieked. We saw the majesty of beautifully groomed mounts and caballeros promenade through the square for the “Blessing of the Horses”. We saw parades of locals dressed as Native Indian Dancers from a bygone era…….and my obscure favorite……the Thursday “warm up” of the Taxi Motorcade where a long string of a few dozen decked out taxi cabs roll slowly into the square of the Jardin. And they make quite an entrance. Their horns honk, their alarms blare, their lights flash, and the driver’s smiles beam. Why not, and why shouldn’t they have a seat at the celebration too?

Many people wonder (and ask) why we would want to spend time living in Mexico…..and especially a town they have never heard of that isn’t on the beach. Typically their knowledge of Mexico is limited to the picture of danger painted by a sensationalist, ratings driven US media or a “bubble travel” trip to a resort town (Cabo, Cancun, pick one….any one). They typically go plane-shuttle van-resort-shuttle van-plane-home. None of that begins to tell the story of our experiences here.

We love the warmth and friendliness of the people, their work to live not live to work mindset, the beauty of the landscape, the casual pace of day to day life, the history and architecture and movies and dining all within walking distance. We love the simple pleasures here and the freeing feeling of escape from a culture of identity based (and measured) on conspicuous consumption and accumulation. And yes we have always felt safe here. Statistically we are safer than when we lived in Chicago or Oakland. But it really always comes down to the warmth and the joy of the people, and the feeling that any time and for any (or no) reason there is cause for celebration.

Nobel Prize Winning Mexican Poet Octavio Paz said “any occasion for getting together will serve, any pretext to stop the flow of time and commemorate men and events with festivals and ceremonies”. And everyone rejoices…..from the highest seats of government to the taxi drivers. And the taxi drivers not only want you to take a good look at them, but for all to join in.

Randy.

Traveling Light. Detach and Embrace.

We will be leaving Lincoln City, Oregon the day after tomorrow and we’ll have been here two weeks. We left behind our rental winter home on the coast of Baja Mexico on May15th.  This has been the first place since then where we’ve settled in for more than 6 days. On the first day here we unloaded from the Blazer only what we take out when we stop for a night in a hotel on the road. That means our carry on bags with a couple changes of casual clothes with exercise dvds and toiletry kits, one small bag and one backpack holding valuables and electronics, litter box, the cats and their food pack…….that’s it.

Over the day or two after I pulled out the rest of our belongings from the vehicle that is our rolling home. That was mine and Traci’s duffle bags (1 each) with other clothes, a small box of kitchen supplies with canned and dry foods (and coffee…the one item we still buy in enough bulk to warrant a stop at Costco) and a small bag with laundry supplies. With that, the Blazer was pretty much empty and it was a reminder of how light we travel.

There was a time when we first contemplated this lifestyle (from a conventionally stocked 2 person 2 car home) that we wondered “how could we live without all of our stuff?”. Eventually it became “what do we DO with all this stuff?”. We sold or donated most of our possessions (including a car, all furniture, etc.). Admittedly there is still a storage space in the suburbs of Chicago with our padlock on it that houses a couple flat screens, clothes, a stereo, kitchen items, bedding, and I don’t know what else. We don’t really miss any of it. It’s just stuff.

Being detached from their “things” is a very unsettling idea for most people. It’s too easy in the current culture to attach your emotions and even your own sense of self to what you do and what you have. In fact that’s the norm. But none of that is who you are.

This lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and someday we will probably want a home base again where we hunker down for a part of any given year and rent that home out for the majority of the time. Then we can lose the storage space. Until then we are loving the freedom of roaming, the sights we see, and the experiences it allows……detached from all but the most basic of our “stuff”.

On detachment, Ali Ibn Abi Talib said “detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you”. Centuries later Albert Camus famously said ” And never have I felt so deeply at one and the same time so detached from myself and so present in the world” Detached from a house of possessions and present where we are in the world, we look forward to Wednesday morning. We’ll load everything (and everybody) in the Blazer and in 5 minutes time we’ll head north, ready to embrace the wonders that lie around the next corner.

Randy

 

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