The Key(s) to Happiness
I remember the first time, as a kid, that I had my first Keys. One was to a small plastic footlocker that I kept some toys and stuff in. (very secure) The other was a Key to our house. The day my parents gave me a key to the front door. That was HUGE. I was beside myself. Scared too. What did this mean? Are you leaving me in charge of something, to come into this place by myself? And now I’m gonna need to get a Keychain of some sort. That was cool. Then came the responsibility to, from that day forward, always have my keys in my right pants pocket.
As is the case, you “grow up”, you get more keys. House, Cars, Work, Office, Mailbox. I tried to always keep it to a minimum. But we all know those people who have so many keys, it’s like they’re Captain Kangaroo. (Dated reference. Google it.)
Living in San Francisco, I didn’t need a car. I did the ZipCar thing. So, no car keys. I had my keyring down to just 3 Keys. Condo. Mailbox. And the Studio door at the Radio Station where I worked. In fact, as we'd leave the house for a run, my ex wife, leaving her keys at home would always ask, "got your keys?" I would just look and say, "I will never leave home without my keys. Ne-ver." (I'm just neurotic that way) She always asked. I always answered. (She couldn't wait until the day I left them. Never happened. Never will.)
Then, a few years ago, I decided to move to México, and sold everything I owned. I mean EVERY. THING. Condo-Totally furnished. No more house/mailbox keys. No more Studio key.
I was Keyless.
After all those years of habitually patting my right pocket to make sure my keys were there, I felt kinda naked. More than a bit scared. What does this mean? Until I get to México and get an apartment and stuff, unless I have some change on me, my right front pocket will be...empty.
Over the next 10 days, in a hotel before the big move, I went from a panic when I’d tap my right pocket..oh, no, where are my...oh, yeah..to a feeling of... Freedom.
I felt lighter. (and even though I’m the over-responsible type) Less to have to be responsible for.
Ahhh. Never felt this before. A new experience.
But, alas, I get to my destination. A new apartment key. New mailbox key. I’ve got it down to just 2. I’m a grownup again.
I don’t have the Key(s) to Happiness. But for 10 glorious days, I was a free man.
I had a taste of the Lightness Of Being and learned that we let too many little things weigh us down.
According to Urban Dictionary "A New York Minute" is "An instant". Johnny Carson once said it's "The interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn."
There's a flip side to that coin.
"A Mexican Minute".
How long is A Mexican Minute? Well, it's....flexible. Life moves at a slower pace here. Living is seen as more important than making a living.
Got a plumbing problem? Call a plumber. He'll be here "pronto". Now, pronto could be in the next 1 to 4 hours. Or, should something come up, like his brother-in-law having car trouble (family always comes first), "pronto" could be "mañana".
Oh, and there's a caveat on mañana. That could be tomorrow. Or it could be a week from tomorrow. Or never. Mexicans do not like to disappoint or say no. So it's "mañana", "next week", "maybe", or "soon". But never, "no".
So, in the time it took to read this, there have been hundreds of New York Minutes. But, The Mexican Minute is still unfolding.
Relax. It'll be over pronto.
The First 100 Days in México….
Ok. Just passed the 100 Day mark on the new "Adventure". The biggest decision I've ever made.
I intended to write about this from Day 1. But I'd been to México quite a few times on vacation, never more than 8 days though, and always to resort-beach areas, and I wanted that "vacation feeling" to go away first, then start this Blog. Anybody can fill a postcard about a vacation. But this is no vacation. This is a step. A BIG step. The First step toward…something else. However, at 100 Days, it still has a definite vacation feeling. So, I'm not waiting.
100 days ago...
I stand in the middle of the San Francisco Penthouse Condo. I survey the panoramic Downtown Skyline, Bay and mountain views and all the incredible things I'd put together over 30 years.
It. Is. Perfect.
And tomorrow, it will all belong to someone else.
I'd decided to sell it. ALL. Everything. The home and everything in it. The plan was to buy 3 large suitcases and pare down my life into those, buy a one-way ticket to México, and not look back. After all, it's just "stuff". BUT, to give it all up was an equal mixture of deep, deep sadness and elated freedom.
The research had been done. A recon trip had been taken to the location I scoped out online. A place I'd never been. In fact, on the 1st (and only) trip to scope things out, I rented a place on my 3rd day (t)here, called my SF realtor, and set things in motion.
It was at this point it felt as if The Universe was doing the driving. I was just along for the ride. Surreal. Is it early retirement? An unpaid, open-ended sabbatical? The End? The Beginning? Yes. Thank you, Shiva. I get to go on my terms. My choice. What a feeling.
In the following hectic days between "sold" and "wheels up" things moved at a blur. I go into the house for that final "drop off the keys and say goodbye to it". Slowly closing that big 9 ft door behind me one last time. (The condo had high ceilings.) Since I sold it with all the "stuff" included, it was as if I were just leaving any other day--looking back at everything in its normal place. But this time to never see it again.
A few manly tears, then to the hotel. There are miles to go before I sleep.
The Day came. Leaving San Francisco, my profession, friends and stuff became secondary. Now focused on where I'm going. (That "Day", by the way, was about 2 and 1/2 days long--of hell--then, Mexican Heaven. But that's another blog)
"Way down here, you need a reason to move. Feel a fool running those stateside games.." -James Taylor
Wheels down. I'm here. Met at the Airport by my new Mexican Landlord. My new friends. (Up until this point I'd probably spent a total of about 3 hours with them--in person and by phone--yet I feel closer to them--and know more about them than any friends I've ever had.)
Breathing easier already.
20 minutes later, I'm REALLY here. Not in a hotel-resort. In my new Apartamento.
This is not "Vacation México". It's México. I didn't take this step to spend my life somewhere on the Beach sipping Margaritas all day. Although it sounds fun, that would probably soon lead to rehab and/or a very short "retirement". I came here to begin this chapter of travel, life and discovery. I chose well.
A City of nearly 6 Million people is within a 20 minute drive. Small towns/villages and lakes surround me.
Incredible Farmers Markets--or as they're known here--markets, are a daily happening. And I do mean "happening". Little shops, artists displaying their work-in galleries or on the street, are everywhere. Coffee shops abound, or you can buy it fresh from a guy grinding it on the street corner. Mariachi Bands walk the street, stopping at each sidewalk cafe to play a song. The people seem happy to be alive, and will celebrate and have a parade on any given day. (I always have to ask what the occasion is. Sometimes it's just...because.)
If pressed to tell you what I do with my time, I'd say I can't really tell you. But I'm always busy. I can say that I get up at no particular time, go about my day with no particular expectations, no schedule and ultimately, I just do what I want to do. Workout at the gym. A Yoga class. A walk along the lake. Maybe breakfast at a new little place I find on the walk home. Some days, I take a left instead of a right-and end up not getting home until the evening. And I usually make a new friend each time I stop. That's very easy to do here.
Mostly I am just…living. It's not a mindless existence by any means. In fact, just the opposite. There's time to be mindful about everything. All the things that went unnoticed before. Hell, I'm still trying to shake the nagging feeling that I need to be somewhere. And when will this vacation feeling stop? Eventually, I'm thinking. Or maybe, just maybe I'm confusing it with a feeling of contentment. Or even being happy.
One Yoga Instructor says, "When you drop what you don't need, when you let go of what no longer serves you…what's left?".
I'll get back to you on that...
And each night I think, maybe there'll be another chance to get it right tomorrow. 100 days has flown by and I'm still just a babe in the woods.
That's it for now. I have to go. Where? I dunno. Haven't decided yet.
I'll leave you with something I call "Random thoughts in a run-on sentence":
my bar for the use of the term spicy food has been raised dramatically mexicans are always cleaning they even sweep dirt no really i mean they sweep the dirt floors i guess tequila could be considered a food group the stars and big dipper here are amazing some of the best restaurants in mexico are just carts set up on the street corner every rule in the spanish language has a bunch of exceptions what day is it mexican people are the nicest happiest people i've ever seen no matter how meager their lives you could stick a pencil in the dirt here and a beautiful tree would grow from it it's friday again are you sure cobblestone streets huevos rancheros kick ass
paz y amor