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Asking and Receiving

Dr. David Fialk, Editor / Publisher, photos by Jeffrey R. Sipe

I was riding my bicycle home around 6pm yesterday. I had been out for a couple of hours, was hungry and looking forward to dinner. I had just turned on to 20 de enero, just 30 seconds from my house, as the bike rolls, when I saw him. X. is an artist and a connoisseur, a conocedor of Mexican culture. When he was a boy, his grandfather used to take him on horseback high up into the mountains of his native Michoacan to visit villages far past the end of any road. Among the very few bottles of alcohol I have in the cupboard below my bookcase are two liqueurs that X. distilled from exotic wild berries.

I know X. through my friend Veronica. He is very fond of her, but has always seemed a little cool towards me, although maybe I am just imagining that. Recently I've been coveting X.'s cellphone, not the device itself, but the photos on it. He really has a wonderful eye, and is always out and about, discovering and photographing it all. I want to publish his photos on my social network.

Catching sight of him, I called out his name and pulled up beside him. I am too forward, I know, but I immediately said something about sending me images. He showed me a few there in the street, and refused my invitation to come visit saying that he had to go eat something. I replied that I was just about to make dinner and invited him to share it.

Moments later, at my place X., taking much pride and pleasure in the act, continued to show me his photos, standing close by in the kitchen while I prepared the beans for the burritos I proposed. Chili is a rather daring thing for a gringo to cook for a Mexican connoisseur, but I am nothing if not bold, at least in the kitchen. Onions, tomatoes, garlic and ginger found their way into the pot, followed by the beans (already cooked), rosemary, sage, oregano, chili de arbol, olive oil, salt and corn, just cut off the cob.

Through all of this, X. shows me photo after photo, including a short video of rain in front of his shop on Umaran that has garnered over 7 million views. Through all of this, I keep begging X. to send me the photos he is showing. This gets tiring, so I pass some time trying to guess at the psychological block that stops him from sharing them. He just laughs at my from-the-hip diagnoses. I point out that the publicity of my publishing his images will be very beneficial to his enterprises, to no avail. X. continues to offer short verbal captions to the photos passing across his screen as I take two flour tortillas from my freezer, draping them over my toaster to defrost, while I cut up some avocado and cheese. Dinner is served.

At the table, X. takes a bite of his burrito, and after the briefest lingual consideration, pronounces the meal "rico" (literally "rich", but in this context "tasty"). He continues to show me photos over dinner, updating me on his life through narrations on each. I comment on his goings-on with genuine interest, while continuing to beg, in a discerning manner, so as to demonstrate my worthiness to receive those precious images.

Over our second burritos, I go so far as to retrieve my computer from the other room, plug a cable into it, and suggest that we plug the wire's other end into X.'s phone and upload all of his galleries onto my device. This, and all of my entreaties X. rebuffed with chuckles and smiles. In total he sends me just 20 of some 1000 images. Dinner concluded X., no doubt tired of my harping (we gringos can be so pushy), made some vague promise about sending me more photos (he has many thousands more at home), thanked me and said goodbye.

While recognizing other's agency, I always wonder how it is that I have "attracted" the experience in question. I've learned not to take things so personally, but I still ponder on what meaning the thing has for me, what I can learn. Here is what I've come up with regarding my interaction with X.

Believing that the solutions to a lot of the world's problems will be online and local, I've spent a lot of time, energy, and money developing an online digital town square. Lokkal, is a local communication platform, like the Yellow Pages robustly reborn for the 21st century. Building community and strengthening the local economy will solve many pressing problems that face society today.) (See "Better Community")

It's weird that I have been doing this virtually all alone. I wonder that the people who have expressed interest in participating: the ex-executive director of a major non-profit, the gallerist and now museum director, the former "Personal Photographer" for the President of Mexico, the millionaire do-gooder business-man..., keep orbiting, but have not landed.

It's conundrum, a riddle to be solved. How is it that, in possession of the solution to many of the world's problems, better community and more evenly distributed wealth, no one is lending me a hand? X. is only the most recent and picturesque example of this (pun intended).

And, I do take it personally. Not that I am affronted, far from it. I am flattered that these accomplished people find my project interesting. I remain hopeful that they will land. I even believe that X. will deliver his photos... eventually.

I take it personally, looking to myself, exploring what parts of my personality need to be refurbished or cleared out of the way, before I can welcome success in through the front door.

I suspect that timidness and an exquisite sensitivity lie behind X.'s reluctance to share his photos and publicize his name. But I know that Ive had a sense of inadequacy all of my lifé, that I don't know how fullness feels. I am proud of many of my personal qualities, but my life has often been defined by failure and missed opportunities. I don't know what success is like.

I do not believe that the dis-ease goes away or is cured. I believe that the solution is to make a place for the negativity without acting it out; to give attention and voice to the repressed emotions so that they do not assert themselves inopportunely.

And I must be doing something right, because the interested parties are coming into closer orbit. Just this morning, on a break from this keyboard, making my late breakfast in the kitchen, I heard a long series of pings announcing the receipt of messages on Whatsapp. These, it turns out, were photos (the photos that accompany this article) from my friend and colleague, Jeffrey Sipe. Last week I spoke with Jeffrey, who was a judge for GIFF, encouraging him to use his masterful eye to take photos for Lokkal. He was a lot easier to convince.

I seem to be coming in for a landing.

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Dr. David presents Lokkal, the social network, the prettiest, most-efficient way to see San Miguel online. See our Community Wall just by scrolling down this page.

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