Sometimes in life we are thrown into the chaos of this world and forced to witness scenes we hoped we never would.
Having read many news articles, several seeming misinformed, I wanted to share my personal account of the recent shooting at the BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This is not to dramatize the situation. It is to share what happened from one person’s point of view and the way that it has shifted my perspective indefinitely.
I never knew the affect this would have.
On Sunday 15th January, my wife Lizz and I had enjoyed an amazing day with the Desert Hearts crew at their BPM day party. Next, we all headed into center of Playa Del Carmen to check out the evening Elrow party at Blue Parrot.
Coming down the main road toward the venue, we were already starting to feel unsure about continuing into packed crowds. It was starting to not seem worth the hassle as we waded through hundreds of people in the streets.
It was busy with punters at various bars and clubs, many of whom were locals. We waited outside the club and a few friends headed inside. Those of us left outside changed our minds about going in—it must have been a subconscious warning as we all started getting itchy to leave as soon as possible.
Our friend Lee went inside the club to retrieve those who had just entered so we could all leave together. In hindsight, I should have known my intuition was calling out, asking to be heard but amongst the many people and group dynamics I forgot to check in.
A man who I now recognize as the deceased Kirk Wilson, a security professional for the festival, pushed past me, locked eyes with me for a second. He seemed alert and intentional, moving with the energy of a warrior on a mission as he disappeared through the queues toward the entrance.
Something about his behavior made me feel extremely uncomfortable. I decided that the vibes here were not for us and we should definitely leave.
My intuition was now back in the driving seat.
In that moment I thought of Notting Hill Carnival in London, the year that people were shot, which now seems an interesting reflection.
The music from the different sound systems around us seemed to become louder, like I was in a pressure cooker and I searched for my earplugs.
The lyrics were singing, “nothing, nothing, nothing even matters.”
At that point, my wife Lizz suddenly said, “We need to go, we should just leave right now, let’s go!”
I saw that Lee had come back out and as I shouted over to him to ask where our friends were, gunshots started firing.
Crack, crack, crack, crack, crack!
Suddenly, all the people queuing for tickets and everyone in the entrance queue were rushing toward us, fleeing for their lives.
It was like a herd of buffalo and as I turned to run with them, the force of people clambering and running took me down to the floor.
I can’t believe I was not trampled on but somehow people merely caught the edges of my body. I curled in my fingers and pulled up my knees, my face pressed against the ground—the gun shots were still firing rapidly but erratically.
In the midst of all of this I felt deep calm in my body.
I knew I would not be hit if I listened carefully to the voice speaking within me:
“Stay. Stay here. Don’t go till I say. Where is your bag? You will need your phone. Your wife is gone. When you look up your bag will be right there on the floor and then you will run. Not now. Not now. Stay. Stay—okay, now!”
I looked up to see a wounded man up ahead in front of me. He was motionless. I grabbed my bag and ran. Gunshots still firing—20, 30 now?
Crack, crack, crack!
I seemed to be the last person running, the crowds of people were far ahead of me. As I turned the corner I saw Lizz, screaming my name and searching for me. She was barefoot. She grabbed me and we ran.
We passed police cars. They were idle. People were screaming at them to do something but they sat motionless. We ran and ran until we got back to the hotel where we unfolded into pure adrenaline and shock. We spent hours checking if everyone we knew was safe.
From what I understand about the event, a Cartel gunman demanding money was in the entrance, shot at the security guards and then in toward the club.
He must have then turned the gun into the street. Most of the shots I heard were directed outward and there were bodies in the road. We stayed up all night in our hotel, with friends who finally turned up safe. As the calm and golden dawn broke, it seemed so surreal that we had even been through this experience. I have never felt so grateful to be alive.
In reflection, I recognize this depth of gratitude should not require a near death experience. I try to be grateful every day but in reality, there are certainly moments in my daily life that I forget to be so.
We are all human. Challenges can sneak up on us which seem tedious. Frustrations can occur and catch us off guard. But what I realized, really, is that death is as close as life itself.
In every moment simply by being alive we are all co-existing with death. One is as close as the other. To fully feel our aliveness we must also recognize that the opposite will, one day, inevitably come.
And with that humble acceptance should we not be living every single second in the greatest fullness that is possible? And can our gratitude from living fully inspire us to bring more positivity into the world?
From now on, I will listen closely and let my intuition guide me:
Am I making my decisions from the heart?
When I speak, is it my deepest truth and what I truly wish to share?
Am I following my dreams without fear and trusting I will learn the “how to” along the way?
Can I honor myself so that I may give more fully to those around me?
Can I dream beyond myself to envision a better world?
Can I breathe deeply into every challenge knowing that I am being given an opportunity to grow?
Can I see beyond my stories and be a wise observer of my life?
And knowing that there exists sadness and fear in the world, can my daily actions create a positive wave of loving kindness?
At the end of every day, I want to be able to say yes to this—I dream everyone of us will say yes to this. When we eat, let us eat with the gratitude of a last meal.
When we dream, let us dream knowing we have no limitations. When we make love, let our bodies come together in divine union.
To do anything in halves is to cheat ourselves of our entirety. Like a woman who dodged a bullet I have a passion to live and make life matter. We do not have to wait for a brush with death to appreciate what we have. We simply have to remember every single day the precious nature of this life. And I know if I forget, the universe will have a way of reminding me.
I pray that it doesn’t have to. So let us choose life. Let us choose love. And let us live knowing that slowly, with loving awareness of our choices, and guided by our intuition, we can help co-create a world that we are grateful to be fully alive in.
Author: Guinevere Short
Image: Wanderlust Photography, used with permission
Editor: Deb Jarrett