by Dr David, Editor / Publisher
A woman came up to me in the Saturday Market this afternoon, while I was selling shawls, to tell me how much she enjoyed reading my articles. I replied, "That's very sweet of you." She protested, "No, I'm not sweet. I look forward to them. They're so... intelligent." I drafted her to model the shawl for the women who were considering buying. When I'm selling, everything is for the sale. So with this woman's appreciation in mind, even though it's 11:15 and I already have four articles scheduled to publish in a few hours, I decided to write a little something.
I just returned from a birthday celebration where I was the only non-Mexican. The birthday girl (that's her in the slideshow above), a good friend of my girlfriend (herself in absencia) is turning 39. The celebrants came together in front of the fire in the living room in a circle (more or less) and conducted a ceremony with drums, song, smoking sage, flowers, water, tobacco... At one point we went around the room and gave out personal appreciation of the birthday girl.
Living with my girlfriend, who knows only a few words of English, my Spanish has improved a lot. I was understanding better than 50% of what was being said. This lack of perfect understanding is a bit like being a young child. Maybe it is also what the Buddhists refer to as Beginner's Mind; when you know you don't know. When my turn came to offer my appreciation, I did fine. Yes, I confused ser and estar, but Mexicans are very forgiving of that sort of thing. This self-congratulations on my part maybe because, although I still try (sometimes too hard) to get it right, I've adopted an increasingly permissive idea of perfection.
It's estimated that most people get through life using only about 500 different words. But, if you are trying to learn Spanish and you have a good vocabluary in English, you'll notice that there are many words, which, if not exactly the same, have the same Latin root. Take "gratitude" and its Spanish equivalent "agradecido." They share the "grat/d." However you say it, I'm feeling a lot of it, because there is a lot going right in my life, gracias a dios.
The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Tich Nat Hahn advises his students to use the mantra "I have arrived." Striving to achieve, to get something or somewhere, it is a relief to just relax into where you are. If you keep in the journey mode, then you never arrive; you don't realize you've made it even when you have. Now, of course, I am writing this from the perspective of someone who has striven.
Another fan of mine recently told me, "You're persistent." I've been publishing (first my calendar, then, also, my magazine) almost since I arrived in San Miguel, almost eight years ago. And recently it's become apparent that my persistence is paying off. I've always imagined my efforts as a nucleus of community. I'm very happy to say that people and projects are coming into orbit. I don't like to count unhatched chickens, but it looks like very soon we'll have an interactive digital map and a full-fledged art section for our magazine.
Recent changes with this magazine have characterized my go-it-alone approach; publish it and they will come. As this is the beginning of the aforementioned birthday girl's 39th year, so this issue of San Miguel Sunday is the beginning of the second month of our new, expanded format. We've gone from famine to feast. I have a "responses" folder on my computer. In it are pre-written responses that I copy and paste and personalize when someone writes asking to subscribe or unsubscribe or for advertising rates, etc. Recently I've needed to add another form to the folder, "Thank you for your submission to San Miguel Sunday. I'm sorry, but I haven't had a chance to read your article..." It's a different world. While two or three articles a week used to be par for the course, I already have four for this week, scheduled to publish in a few hours (and four is enough), yet here I am writing a fifth.
I've had a very strange feeling of fullness lately, not in my digestive system, but in my spirit. Some important things that I've worked towards, in my publishing and in my personal life, have arrived. Then, also, I've eased into a better appreciation of who I am before and beyond the work. My neurosis and I have a better relationship. I'm still my obsessive-compulsive self, but that doesn't stop me (as much as it used to) from relishing my imperfect perfection.
I sign all my emails "Gracias y saludos," even when I am the one providing the service. Studies show that counting your blessings improves your life. "Please" and "thank you" are a big part of my vocabulary. And for a tough guy from Hartford, Connecticut that says a lot.
photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)
Dr. David welcomes you to San Miguel Sunday. Anyone with any interest in contributing articles is heartily encouraged to contact him at the email below. The "Best City in the World" deserves a good Lokkal magazine.
You must register and log in to write a comment.
Please use the "login" link at the top (right) of the page.