Personal column
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︎July 24, 2020

I had some pretty rough conversations this week. Sometimes you are met with silence when you are starting a new chapter in your life, but sometimes you are flooded with a lot of support and questions that rephrase or reformulate in their own words what you are going through. And I think that is beautiful, while at the same time it is important to keep pushing my own words and my own will into that discourse that is forming. If I don’t do that I start trying to fit everyone’s idea of my process into it. That has been my way, for a long time, of showing gratefulness and meeting in the middle. That’s what I thought compromise meant. Now I realize that what is really needed in my life and my relationships to others is to keep being me, with all my flaws and strengths. The biggest challenge in my life is to stop being dragged around by my own doubts, frozen in action, and start moving.

It is easy for me to get into a bundle of confusion about whether the anxiousness I am feeling is a reflection of my own fears or the ones I perceive from others, crawling into my skin. But I woke up today knowing that I still want this, all I have set in motion, that little by little I am identifying these moments of uncertainty as the moments for me to get out of my comfort zone and stop making excuses or placing the blame in someone else. The storm is inside of me, and this is no time to be anything but brave, excited, ready to give my heart away as I have done so many times before and deal with this new feeling that these are my decisions, my mistakes, my triumphs, my life. Oh boy, but at the same these are the feelings of human desire, of the common push for meaning and wants. My story is the story of everyone, of what has been and will be done.

“All matter is purely condensed into a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.” - TOOL’s Third Eye, telling it as it is.

Be proud of what you have accomplished, be humble enough to understand that the road is not easy and that you will learn ugly things about yourself, be brave enough to ask for guidance but wise in how you apply that knowledge into your next step. And be grateful, and kind, always kind. This is the person I want to be, and who I can see growing inside of me during the best of moments.
I am grateful for the people who have supported me as I grow up. I am also grateful that I have the opportunity to start becoming my own person and building my own independent life. One hard thing about existing is that in some point of your life you realize you are not only yourself, but also the people around you, and the people in the world. I cannot deny or escape those people, places and things that formed me and continue to condition me sometimes. But I can accept that they are part of my story. I can make a stable foundation out of my own rocky beginnings.

I always repeat to myself, be kind, not for the sake of being kind but because you understand pain, and emptiness, and you honor the process and possibility of letting others find healing. Do not look for confirmation and reassurance only on others, but in your own determination.

“We are will and wonder / bound to recall, remember / (we are born of) / one breath, one word / Child, wake up / Child, release.” - TOOL’s Pneuma, being awesome.

I have found out that I enjoy writing about my profession on LinkedIn and that I want to continue. I will continue writing here on my personal blog for some posts like this which are really therapeutical but I want to connect. I have found myself being very comfortable writing on LinkedIn because I am filling a desire to inspire and transmit what I am learning in a network where people actively seek to grow. I am challenged and motivated by conversation and assertions of progress and happiness. I want to tell people to not be ashamed of who they are, where they are going, what they are daring to do. To tell them to be afraid, to understand why you are afraid and keep moving. And that movement will make you free, because change is what makes us feel alive. And when we understand that everything changes, we understand that change is ingrained in life to the point where it is stable in its own apparent chaos. Is the one constant. And it is beautiful.

An olive branch for things left unsaid

︎May 19, 2020

I have been dreaming about conversations I want to have but which I end up delaying for the next day. I lay in my bed, exhausted after seven hours of Zoom meetings. At the brink of sleep, the thought suddenly comes: “Another day, and so many things left unsaid”. I can almost feel the childish dread mixing with the afternoon languor, and then I am gone.

Communication is hard. Like, super hard. When I accomplish it I feel a wave of satisfaction which runs from the tip of my head and all along the end of the sentence. During some blissful minutes the telephone line is clear, no stone has been left unturned and no need unattended. Life is good.

I believe that this fascination was one of the many things that convinced me to study Literature. That is, this constant questioning about how the things we say have shaped our reality and identities. They are the sort of questions that drive an author to write and the sort of harsh musings that usually stop them from rereading their own work. Most of the time we all battle the nagging sensation that we have said either too much or too little.

Who am I before and after I speak? Do I label and construct with words to a point where I confine myself to an image? How do I restrict others?

This love-hate relationship with language has everything to do with the power of words. It lives inside our heads and promises to be tamed through patience, love, endurance, passion and sacrifice. Just a little control over it is enough to incite a strange impulse on me. I wish to convey my thoughts fully, and transmit the emotion inside of me with just the right phrase. No small thing left unsaid. I jump at the opportunity without being ready, and I usually drown, messing with people through this weird dance of meaning.

I can see now that I started writing this yesterday to justify myself, and now I just want to say I am sorry. I raise an olive branch to those I have hurt through words. To loved ones who I have struck with my stumbling and imprecise ramblings, without thinking first about their feelings and not my own impulses. Even to myself, I ask her to be at peace and trust other things besides words. To find love somewhere else, especially in the magic of someone else’s prose.

And to Language itself, who I fearfully respect and not that secretly wish to dominate. Maybe one day we will lay together in silence, and ask nothing of one another but a quiet flow of delicate, well constructed thoughts. Maybe the only thing that can tame Language is that unspeakable closeness to the prime fabric of Life, which precedes all words, all image, all senses.

Highway to somewhere

︎May 12, 2020

My father told me this morning that, after three months of fear-mongering speculation coming from all fronts, we find ourselves as confused as in the beginning of February. “Everyone has something to say, no one can really say what’s up, and everything we think we know has been put to the test”. This is uttered as we clean the table, moments before my nephew is done with his preschool online class and ready to sit for his morning homework session through his mom’s laptop. We both make space, half finish our coffee and get ready for another day inside the house.

Before I even write this down I know that I am not doing it to add anything to that conversation. I have nothing to add beyond well intentioned “Stay safe!” wishes and the details of our own story, which I am sure have nothing of spectacular. Our case is being repeated by the thousands in different houses across Mexico, and with all kinds of variations across millions of homes around the world.

Our losses, although painful, seem so small, so frugal in comparison to the things we still have and used to take for granted: our health, our lives, our dear ones. We feel grateful for the things we still have.

And before I even write this down I know that I am doing it because this all-consuming event has grown so big and so scary that thoughts sometimes become overwhelming. Thoughts of this nature cannot be placated by anything but, I believe, a big breath and a big effort to put a good chunk of it in words.

I believe we have done as much as possible to avoid the illness. We are six people living in a small two-story house. There is not enough room to keep social distance while we eat and pass the time. Three of us have jobs that we got to keep during these quarantine, although one of us is asked to still leave the house ever so often. We are unscathed; constantly thinking about money and the future, but healthy.

Since March, some family members that we regularly saw around have visited us, especially at the beginning of this and during the last two weeks. Mainly to see my nephew and also to unburden themselves from these stressful times. I could have counted how much they visited and when, reset the fourteen days mental countdown every time something happened. I could have, if I had kept the mentality I was festering during the first month.

The beginning was the hardest for me. The mind-blowing repercussions of this seemingly irreversible and invisible force, indifferent to who you are and what you want. Just one more thing to consider during a time in my life that was rapidly changing due to decisions that have been running their course for more than two years now.

Should I stop everything? What was I trying to prove and what was the point of executing a plan in a world that had no space for any of that?

Everything seemed banal and urgent at the same time. And inside, gradually, anger. Outrage towards anyone I knew who was being reckless and putting us — me — in danger. Driven by fear, I quickly established in my mind certain unmovable rules for survival, waited for others to understand them by osmosis and exactly the way I did. And then, inevitably, I felt betrayed when the people around me did not follow through.
I soon realized that my apparent cries of concern were nothing more than veiled self-preservation. I opened my eyes to the reality of others and saw how fragile our lives really were, but also how strong our bond could become if we just understood that we cannot control everything.

As I look back to those first weeks, a biblical reference comes to me right now. I had a small golden book of Bible stories I really loved, especially because of the illustrations. They were usually colorful but crude, anatomically accurate and with unfiltered expressions of divine bliss, kindness, lust and hate. One of my favorite stories was the one about Moses and his long journey to the Promised Land.

How his face changes! How inexorable he looks as he lashes against the infidels who abandoned God while he was away at Mount Sinai. How mighty he looks as he stares down at them. And how human, how humbled he looks when, after so many years traveling, he is told that he will die before arriving to the Promised Land. The illustration shows part of his face as he sits at Mount Nebo, no longer angry. Peacefully he stares. I used to feel infinitely sad as a child. Why couldn’t he get his just reward? But the question has changed and multiplied.

What should we strive for, beyond righteousness? Why should we keep our faith on humanity? What must we do to take all of us to a better future? And what is worth, truly worth fighting for?

I have also prayed a couple of nights when I couldn’t sleep. More than an answer to my prayers, I was looking for someone to listen to me in the silence of the night. I wanted to reassure myself that I could talk to God, who is myself and lives within me and all around. It is whatever I chose to be and everything I cannot choose to change, but is. It had been years since I had prayed, and I understood what I had missed.

There are people who are strong enough to envision the consequences of this pandemic, who along with handling their own personal lives have also taken to analyze and exhort change and not let people forget that the world can become better, that we must not forget the lessons we are learning from this, the warnings that have had a long way coming, that have always been real but now are here, beyond smokescreens and rush hours.

I am not strong that way. Still, I think I could be. For now, I appreciate the good days and learn to battle the bad ones. Small wins every time.

I am aware that this might not be the most heartwarming article to begin my postponed writing project, but I feel it is meaningful. It is something I will remember I wrote, during one of the most bewildering years of my life. So far, that is. I wonder, like all of you, where all of this is heading to.

If everything goes right

︎September 18, 2019

My friend is planning to go to Canada with her husband and stay for three years or more. She is tiny, discrete, with a pale face and eyes like brown marbles, always open in a way that remind me of a frightened rabbit. But behind the first impression you can see a quick mind and what I think is her best asset; that is, an unstoppable perseverance grounded in planning and resourcefulness.

I met her yesterday at the cafeteria where we always see each other, every six months or so. She lives in the outskirts of the city and, like me, is not one to go out much. The place has become our go-to option because, first, we are not very good at choosing fashionable places each and every time we suddenly decide to see each other and, second, the place is usually the only place opened during the weird days we agree to meet. It is a reformed house in the corner of a residential area, with small rooms for private conversations, which are always the kind of talk we like to have, after six or more months of untold experiences.

She was there in one of the most difficult periods of my life, more than ten years ago. Nothing is stronger than the gratitude one feels for those ones who generously give a helping hand, tend to our wounds and give us strength and hope by just being there for a Friday call. That Friday call saved my life, I know for sure.
I am not always the first to contact her, guess that is on me, but we are both busy, we are both always in the brink of something, even if we are not particularly bound to end up in any article about the lives of the fabulously exemplary specimens of the human modern species. But we are linked, I like to believe, by an almost unbreakable bond. She is my sister in so many ways and I appreciate her being alive with a quiet fierceness that fills me with love for this tiny, strong woman. She is leaving in a year or so to Canada. She says, “Lets hope”, “I figure that maybe in a month or so”, “If everything goes right”, and I cannot help but laugh. Of course she will do it. She will accomplish her dream. If not now, soon. If not soon, one day. She is just that kind of person, the type that works every day, step by step, and enjoys the big picture through the small deeds. She is daring and has won by experience a sort of calmness that many are looking for.

I am so happy she is beginning a new project in her life and that her efforts are being rewarded. I am sure she could be in Cambodia or Beirut and I would still feel her close. Like a perennial flower, she keeps blooming and becoming prettier every time I see her. I keep our conversation very close to my heart, and her small frame is a gift I was given by destiny a long time ago.

To have a conversation

︎August 26, 2019

What is worth talking about? Is all we say important? I think everyone has heard the usual exhortation of Say whatever you want to say, you won’t have time once you kick the bucket. Dead man tells no tale, after all. But, the thing is, what do we want to say? The moment we open our mouths, we realize we know barely where to start.

We all have the shared advantage to have experienced life. Exciting experiences are another thing altogether. Excitement is a factor we humans do not share evenly, but we have all had our ups and downs, our perspective on things. This is something we should feel blessed about having. A starless night, a peaceful glimpse on our mother’s eye before she leaves our room, a lover’s touch during the weekly report meeting. Remembering these things is what brings joy and meaning to many of our days.

But to have a conversation, to share our life with others, to open our mouths and say what we want to say is beyond experience. What a ridiculous thing to think it is achievable with the simple act of opening our mouths. A starting point, maybe. Certainly better than to bottle up and have nowhere and no one to share it with.
But there is a crippleness in almost all of us. Our mind and our mouths are confused and have nothing to share between them. We are trapped in thinking and we can’t say what we want to say because our minds reveal themselves as strangers to us, rather than friends. Words do not feel beautiful or in sync. Experiences seem to lose their shine if we are not capable to share it with just the right words. Another person’s stale face during and after our chit chat is a major consternation. They don’t get it. We did not accomplished to made it clear. No one will understand what we say. A shout in the dark.

What is worth talking about? Everything. It is just that people might not be as interested on it as you are. What would give you pleasure then, when expressing yourself? Maybe the story itself. We are, however, our own executioners, our own obstacle towards retelling the stories of our lives. This does not need to be intrinsically tragic. At all. To recognize its difficulty is what gives the struggle against ourselves a drive, a face, a possible resolution. In order to have a conversation with others, to say the things we want to say to others, we need to have first and foremost a constant conversation with ourselves.

Before the oracle, with the flowers

︎August 6, 2019

Where July felt restless and exploitative, August so far has made itself felt with its small doses of cathartic releases throughout these days of diminishing heat. The heat is still there, though, in all manners of speech. There is no more scorching self-doubt, but rather an abundance of small fires kindling together a dark moor of seemingly endless land.

It is with this brief acuerdo de paz between the world and my own little self that I start wondering what will happen to me, eventually, when the year ends. I can already visualize the next five months through the rough sketches of projects, family events, spendings, and planning.
Always sketches, always the possibility of things changing by the whim of an anonymous link I cannot yet see. How curious to think that a life like mine can be so simple and dull when seen through the eyes of habit and everyday pleasantries, while still at the same time be so full of mysterious improbability. To think that a small, little woman like me has managed to survive 218 days of this year, and managed to enjoy and weave her own trifling memories out of them, is quite a feat. At least it feels that way, thanks in part to these August’s nights.

Title poem credit —  August, by Peter Cole.

Ways to remember a person you love and cannot see everyday

︎July 23, 2019

So he, she, they are gone.

They are probably loving you somewhere and having a good time anyway. It is what it is and there is really no need to fret on that too much. You wouldn’t like for them to be bitter or anxious. You, after all, love them. So swallow that bittersweet pill and enjoy it. It helps with the next step. Because you need to remember that, above anything else, the small things that matter will remain and the small things that do not will wither in obscurity. It is important to confirm these weird, abstract convictions before anything else on the list.

Now, after you get that handled, stand up. Stretch your legs and find a good space to move around. Your office, a park, a plaza, a cave, that space in-between the two rows of seats inside of a not-so-crowded bus. As long as you can keep it personal, you do you. People around you do not care about that person you love or what you do to remember them; they are too busy missing their own ghosts. You will be fine.

If everything keeps running smoothly, you now need to choose a song. I am a sucker for Ella and Louis singing the blues like there is no tomorrow, but if you need to play Rhiannon, or maybe something by Ian Dury, be it Wake up and make love to me or Sex, drugs and rock and roll, it is all perfectly plausible. Play whatever shakes your melancholic soul.
The next steps will all happen in a matter of five to seven minutes.

Start by wandering around inside your mind. Use your hands to trace their silhouette in front of you, and measure their height by remembering the last time you hold their face before you kissed them. That will help you get a grip of where their neck and the start of their hairline stand in the air around you. You will look as though you are dancing, in a very weird way. Sometimes sensually, but it is not a given, so do not give it too much thought. Focus on the hands.

After a while, and if you like to dance, your feet will go along. If you don’t like to dance, sway them a bit anyway, and take some steps back and forth, just like those times when you would link hands and try not to fall, while getting used to stumble on that ridiculous pas de deux of lovers, through a strange city on a misty night.

The memories will reel and you will remember why you miss them. I would recommend to close your eyes, and to imagine telling them, “I listened to this song once, and it reminded me of you, and I danced a little bit like this while remembering you”. It could become very intimate, very fast.

Seven minutes top, like that song by Ella. Too much of a thing is never good. Go on with your life. Miss them tomorrow. Do something in between. Make them proud, make yourself proud. If all of this fails, buy an airplane ticket.