June 13, 2013

A Short Guide to a Humble Life.

It’s a lovely summer day in Austin, Texas.

The birds are chirping in my parents’ luscious backyard. The mosquitoes are out in full force. I have been in the States for nine days.

My mom asked me the other day if I miss the conveniences of home. At first I was confused, because I think of my home as Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, where I happily reside with my boyfriend and baby and black cat. Down there, stuff is not too convenient.

But, of course, she was referring to this home, my childhood home, Round Rock, Texas, USA. And the truth is NO. I don’t miss the conveniences. I am overwhelmed by the conveniences more and more each time I come back to visit.

Yes, I appreciate the hot showers and dishwasher and microwave and lightning-fast wi-fi connection and the DVR and the dozens of choices of beers and salsas when I’m here, but I miss the volcanoes and the lake and the lyrical Spanish and the quiet tranquility of the foreign place where I have made my home.

Here in Americuh, we’ve become too accustomed to scanning and clicking, liking and sharing, updating and uploading, downloading and digitizing.

Last August, my house was broken into and my technological toys stolen: MacBook, camera, iPod touch and Kindle reader. I was briefly devastated but soon found it rather liberating not to be constantly drawn into the virtual world. It was just stuff– expensive, fancy stuff–and I learned to live without it.

After getting over the anger, I appreciated the chance to start anew. To read good, old-fashioned paperbacks. To meditate more, in lieu of playing endless games of Scrabble on my iPod touch. To write, longhand, in a paper diary. I’ll admit that I did miss my music terribly. Once, a few months after the robbery, I heard “Hey Jude” coming from a neighbor’s radio and burst into tears because I hadn’t heard The Beatles in so long… and because I was a weepy pregnant lady.

Get off the phone and play with the baby!

Back in March, I decided to get internet at home again. Even though the connection was painfully slow, it was nice to be able to at least email and read articles. Maybe a smidgeon of Facebook or Elephant Journal, if I was lucky. Certainly no videos or audio files would load.

My current system in Guatemala is to alternate: one month online, one month off. Here, however, I am a glutton for high-speed interactivity. I find myself scrolling through Facebook nonstop, scanning articles in lieu of reading books, taking a zillion photos and composing clever captions in my head. It’s no way to live presently. I am also eating far too much queso and cake. I rationalize: it’s only a two week trip.

The thing is, no matter where you are, in the world, you can overconnect and eat crap, mentally and physically. Or, you can live mindfully and feed yourself with good brain and body food.

May we remember how essential it is to be able to disconnect, to go out into nature with no gadgets, to breathe and be still and listen and engage fully in what we are doing. To be there with whoever we’re with, because they are going to die and we are going to die.

May we experience and enjoy life in the only time it is able to be experienced and enjoyed: NOW.

G’bye. I’m going out to play!

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