It’s Saturday afternoon, which means that it’s a flea market day, a beach day, and the day for grilled octopus at the restaurant beside the gas station. In this corner of the world, where the sun washes up in waves on the asphalt, the jacaranda trees have shed their last blossoms, and the dogs never stop barking, there’s a certain rejection of what’s happening elsewhere. Over coffees and custard pastries, no one spoke of who died today based on their melanin, their religion, their gender, their hunger, their misfortune of being born in the wrong place in the wrong time. There are conversations about the economy, but they don’t last very long. Hard lines haven’t etched themselves near the corners of mouths, or eyes, yet. My mother has started using the expression, “It is what it is,” which seems to sum up the reactions I’ve seen here– acceptance; little resistance.
Yesterday, on Skype, my niece told me that she’s most glad about turning six, because it means that she’ll soon be turning ten, and therefore can get a phone, and if she’s ten, then she’ll soon be sixteen, and then twenty-two, the age when she’ll get married and have a houseload of childen. She really made me laugh, and each statement had to be explored fully, but it also made me realize that at all ages in our life we rush ahead, instead of fully enjoying each moment. It’s impossible to tell a child, “Think of today; treasure today.” We were all told that, and ignored it, or told that we wouldn’t miss it until it was much too late, and we didn’t understand what was being said. I’ve already told you that my only dream when I was ten was to be sixteen, then sixteen came and went, and was it what was imagined? Can things ever be as we imagine or is it the anticipation that holds all the weight of exitement, joy and wonder? If we could really put our minds at rest, I imagine we’d be more blissful than we could have imagined.
A very good friend, in another conversation yesterday, told me that she’s thinking of moving to Europe in the fall. She’s single, childless, intellligent, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s beautiful, so I wondered why the debate? She confessed that fear was holding her back from taking the leap; no friends in the new country, no idea of what her place would look like, or what the future would hold for her there, whereas at home everything was “good,” but she had a feeling of discontent. I’ll share my response, because maybe it could help you too– “So what?” So what if you don’t know anyone, have never been there, don’t know the language, don’t know how to get around at first? You’ll learn or leave; you’ll thrive or leave; you’ll survive or leave; you’ll make it, but it you don’t, and I’m sure you will, then leave and try something else. As my Uncle Aubrey said, and I’ll never forget it, “Nothing is permanent.” One day, I’ll tell my niece the same thing, unless of course, she’s in her house, at 22, with all the children she wanted at 5.
I never really understood, though I’d heard it so many times in countless ways, that “this,” the right now, is it, not the plans for the future, but the living each day. I’ve imagined a lot, and dreamed alot; many things came to fruition and just as many didn’t. It’s wonderful though, because each day is another chance. We get the chance, and sometimes it seems the right questions aren’t being asked.
I asked my lovely friend, if she had savings, to which she answered, “Yes.” So then, what’s the worst that can happen? The very worst that can happen is occuring to some every single day, out of our sight, and often out of our knowledge. Maybe, we need a checklist to put things into perspective: no real obligations, a passport, savings, capable, intelligent, desiring– if it’s all yes, then there’s no worst case and no excuses. My niece only knows me via Skype now, and I hope she’ll take to mean that life doesn’t need to be conventional. This is what I want to say to her one day, “You are special; you were born in the right place at the right time to the right people. You are intelligent, kind and driven (and it doesn’t hurt that you’re beautiful), you can do absolutely anything. Don’t be afraid, and don’t let anyone (absolutely anyone) tell you something different.”
(*finally getting it)