Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Nasty Week; Happy to Be Here

I haven't posted for awhile. It's just been one of those months. Topped of by a week that I'd gracefully describe as one of the most stressful I've had in some time.

Details aren't important, but it's been sort of like this...

I have been waiting for Immigration (Instituto Nacional de Migración) to approve and deliver my new permanent resident visa, which I must possess in order to leave and return to Mexico. In January and February I have met with the same friendly and helpful personnel in Migración who've annually processed my paperwork. I have had no problems with the process. It's just that this year they are working under brand new federal laws, and the system has slowed down somewhat while they implement new procedures.

Since the new visa was in process, I've been putting off a planned February visit to the States to see my elderly father. Finally a week ago when I found I would not have my new resident visa ID card for a couple more weeks, I decided to apply for a special letter of permission that will allow me to leave and return in lieu of my regular visa. This involved going in at 7:00AM a couple of mornings this week to be near the front of line when Migración opens its doors at 9:00AM.

At the same time I've had some business dealings go awry. A check I received and deposited was returned due to a spelling error, causing me technically to default on a payment I'd promised to make the following day. Resolving this problem necessitated consultations with my lawyer, careful diplomacy with the person to whom I'd promised the money, various visits, calls and emails to banks, and jumps through a few other hoops. It's all working out, but it has been time-consuming, tiring and stressful, because of the need to resolve all the problems by Friday or end up paying out quite a bit in losses and fees.

And I have a ticket to go see Dad on Monday. He's been expecting me for a month.

To slather sour icing on this already-rotten cake, I ate something that disagreed with me Sunday night, and have slogged all this week through a dense haze of fever, lethargy and nausea. Being stubborn and thinking I'd deal with it on my own (not to mention being really busy), I waited a couple of days to see the doctor. I could not sleep and became dehydrated; instead of feeling better, as all this transpired I felt steadily worse.

There was a lot more, but that's the basic outline. It's been a pretty nasty week, truthfully. But it looks as if I've made it.

The good news is that when finally I called my doctor he saw me within the hour, and two hours after my call I was back home, medicated, and on the road to recovery.

And this morning after my last meeting, knowing now that everything is on the right track, I went home for a break. I threw off the shoes and business costume and stepped into the garden. The sky was bright blue and the morning breeze was warm but not yet hot. Heliconias are in full bloom as are some orchids. I thought gratefully about several Mérida people who stepped in this week to help me feel better, smooth over problems and make it all work out.

And I felt very happy to be here.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Contentment: You Get What You Need

No matter how you plan and try, life never works out the way you thought it would. And that's what makes it so fascinating.

Some time ago I was talking with my friend Hammockman on the topic of planning for security later in life. What he observed is that it doesn't pay to plan excessively because things will never work out the way we think. Security is all an illusion, he said. And I agree with him.

I don't make new year resolutions any longer, but I do find that the beginning of a new year is a good time to think about what I can focus on that will be meaningful to me in the year ahead. I have found that if I keep moving toward what gives a sense of purpose to my life and eliminate all that is unnecessary and distracting, although I may not get what I want (in the words of the Rolling Stones song), I get what I need.

For example, for decades I thought I would live out my life in Juneau, Alaska, living in the old wood-frame gold miner's house I owned on Starr Hill. I couldn't imagine spending my days anywhere else. However I pursued my interests, and eventually landed in Yucatán, a region that in important ways resembles the Alaska of my childhood, an Alaska that barely exists any more. I maintain strong ties with my roots, but am happy in this new place.

I never imagined that career ambition and "accomplishment" would seem so unimportant. In fact, I've come to view much of what I once would have considered constructive or successful as precisely the opposite.

I would not have guessed that I'd be interested in agriculture, but now find myself fascinated by planting and growing things (not to mention eating what I produce).

I find meaning in dealing well with the most difficult problems. I never imagined I would have the capacity to be so patient.

I love people and love life in ways and with an intensity I had never expected would be possible.

I believe my best years are ahead of me. That is because I accept that we can't know what to expect, and therefore I feel prepared for whatever happens. I feel a steady force pulling me towards a future that is satisfying and meaningful.

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need

If this topic interests you, I recommend this thought-provoking book.