FOUR more days. Ha! I´ve been having a difficult time learning to live in the moment and enjoy what little time I have left here. I still have some stuff I need to finish up (I´m pretty sure I´m going to spend all day tomorrow editing video). If nothing else, it feels good to acknowledge my eagerness-frustration.
I spent this last week visiting the branch offices in two other border cities on the Texas-Mexican border, Acuña and Piedras Negras. They were both fairly run down and a little depressing, which is to be expected of two places that have been pretty badly hit by the economic recession. Advice to Countries and Governments: DON´T sign trade agreements that will have your country´s economy completely tied up and dependent on the U.S. Bad things will happen.
What was really awesome about the visit, though, was getting to spend time with the all-female staff in both branch office. On top of working the normal 12 hour workday that seems to be standard for microfinace, most of them are single mothers. One of the managers commented that when putting notices in the paper advertising open positions at the office, she´d considered putting ¨single mothers only.¨ ¨When you have no one to depend on but yourself,¨ she said, ¨you know what it is to work hard.¨
I was completely unprepared for how healing and nurturing and lovely and wonderful and other positive adjectives it would be to spend time in an office with only female staff. It really made me feel how microfinance can be an effective way of forming communities. It makes me want to write cheesy, overwrought metaphors, like ¨I felt my heart being enveloped in a healing white ball of light.¨and so on. It was, as Tori Amos once sang, ¨a big loan from the girl zone.¨ The positive energy and sense of solidarity and support in the office was very empowering. Today when I left, one of the loan officers gave me a jacket she´d never worn because it didn´t fit her, and told me that I had an angel looking after me. I went for WEEKS suffering in the rain and the cold of Nuevo Laredo (what can I say, I didn´t pack for the cold weather because I was expecting to be in a desert!) with nothing more than my steadfast green hoodie I´ve owned since summer 2006, way back when I swiped it from a former housemate, the bitchy one who was dating the guy that got fired from Modest Mouse. My green hoodie, while steadfast, wasn´t much for protecting me from the chilly winds, but I stubbornly persisted over the weeks without buying a proper winter coat, much to the surprise and wonder of many people in the office. I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I believed that when the time was right, a winter coat would present itself to me, and that I didn´t need to go looking for one, it would find me. And it did.
Just one of the ways in which my visit was a gift, I guess. Another one was this certitude: from now on, when anyone asks me what my political beliefs are, I´m going to say ¨radicaly, hardcore, scary feminism,¨ unequivocally, without heisitation. And let them figure it out from there, if they want.
Some other things:
—-I watched Todd Haynes´ Bob Dylan biopic I´m Not There on Mexican cable last night alone in my big ole hotel room and I really, really loved it, especially the music. Since getting back to Nuevo Laredo today I´ve been listening to Bob Dylan all afternoon. The movie reminded me a lot of the concept behind Tori´s American Doll Posse and some of the things I´ve been preoccupied about this year, the idea of having a firmly-established ¨self¨ or identity that was already completely formed and resting somewhere already inside of me, and that the decisions I make and paths I choose need to act as a form of chipping away the surrounding layers, in an attempt to somehow reach this perfectly formed self, in order to become it. Well… I don´t believe that anymore. I think that we all have wisdom inside of us, yes, but I don´t think we´re ever perfect or completely, wholly put together. I think we all go through life fragmented. But ultimately having a changing, constantly shifting self can be a GOOD thing. Terrifying, yes–but also good! Or as the last lines in the movie (spoken by Richard Gere, of all people) put it:
“People are always talking about freedom, the freedom to live a certain way without being kicked around. ‘Course the more you live a certain way the less it feels like freedom. Me? I can change during the course of a day. When I wake I’m one person, when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else. I don’t know who I am most of the time. It’s like you got yesterday, today and tomorrow all in the same room. There’s no telling what can happen.”
(Apparently this line is based on a Dylan interview in Newsweek in which he says, “I don’t think I’m tangible to myself. I mean, I think one thing today and I think another thing tomorrow. I change during the course of a day. I wake and I’m one person, and when I go to sleep I know for certain I’m somebody else. I don’t know who I am most of the time. It doesn’t even matter to me.¨ Food for thought.)
—-I´ve been daydreaming a lot about Alaska recently. I don´t really know why. I think in the back of my head, I feel like it could be a potential option, to head there for three to six weeks in the summer and work 14 hours a day and make back all the money I´ve spent working for free for Kiva. It probably won´t happen, but it´s one of those potential paths (one of many) that I like to think about. Thinking about paths and options and choices is what keeps me going. As my mother once told me (very wise advice), ¨you gotta create options for yourself!¨ 2010 is gonna be a good year.
—-I almost never read the newsletters that get sent out for the yoga class mailings lists that I´m signed up for, but for whatever reason I read the most recent one I received and it really struck a chord with me, especially when thinking about the winter and changing seasons and what the past two months have been like and the lessons I´ve learned and impermenance:
For me, the last year has been a roller coaster ride of amazing blessings and tremendous challenges. As a result of all the ups and downs, I found myself losing my sense of grounding and connection with my teaching and my own yoga practice (yes it happens to yoga teachers!)—hence my perceived inability to write anything I deemed worthy. As my frustration grew, my inner voice turned toward demands, criticisms, and expectations, driving a deeper wedge between myself, my mat, and most importantly, my inner wisdom and teacher.
Most of you have had this very same experience within your personal practice. Much like the natural world surrounding us we experience waxing and waning, periods of dormancy and activity. Life is fluid, impermanence is the only thing that remains as a constant. The seasons change, the earth moves through its rhythms and cycles of birth and death, from big losses and gains to small, seemingly insignificant ones occurring again and again on a daily basis. We shed emotions and evolve into new spaces and places in our lives. This time of year especially, since it is a time of beginnings and closings, can feel like a heavy burden. We can feel wrenched away from those things in our life that provide stability and safety. So much backward and forward thinking can cause us to lose track of the very moment we exist in and as a result we end up feeling run down, depleted, and out of balance. All we can do in moments like these is be with what is, to let go of any need to change our present experience and instead practice radical loving acceptance of whom we are and where we are this minute, week, month, or year. To do this we must take the time to reassess our needs moment by moment and remind ourselves to nurture the lines of communication between our emotional and physical selves. Sometimes it feels like what we give out is not adequately restored by what we bring in. In these times, pause and have patience to listen to what is being asked for intuitively, because it is only through our own mindfulness that we continue to be effective in our relationships with others and ourselves.