Gemini-thinking can sometimes be problematic:
I want to downsize and live a Zen-simple life without too much ‘stuff’ AND I’d love a huge penthouse apartment with martini glasses hanging from every shiny surface.
I want a routine with a grounded sense of community, friends and family nearby AND I can’t wait to take the next plane to anywhere so I can be surprised by the unexpected around every corner.
I want to be fit and not have a menopausal-muffin top rolling over my belt AND I love chocolate desserts and gooey-dough-things fried in butter.
As you can see, I can easily end up at the shallow end of the pool. So, on days when I’m listing toward the yearning for what I don’t have, instead of how remembering how blessed I am, I remember an encounter that I had years ago in Guatemala.
This is my go-to memory that helps me get to the deeper end of the pool, where the waters are deep with gratitude instead of shallow self-concerns.
On that particular trip, I spent three weeks living with home-stay families. By virtue of their ability to offer homestays, these families were already in a more affluent class than most, but it still felt very basic to me. I grew immediately appreciative of hot water…mostly because there was none.
I would crank the little electric heater dial on the shower-head to the every edge of caliente while trying desperately not to touch the exposed wires. It turned out the dial was strictly a mockery to delude me into thinking I had some influence over the outcome.
I did not.
Everywhere I traveled it was the same thing. Crank the dial to the hottest setting. Wait. Grit my teeth and have a cold shower…
But it was during one of my struggling attempts to complete my Spanish homework that I learned my ultimate perspective lesson. Like me, my teacher was in her 40’s. That, however, is where our commonality ended.
My homework assignment was to write about a typical day back home in Canada. In my best attempt at Spanish, I had painstakingly written that I missed having my hot bath every night.
She read my completed page of child-like writing and was incredulous at that one sentence. She looked at me, “Agua caliente?” (“Hot water?”), she said, holding her hand to her neck as she mimed where she thought the the level of the water would be. “Si,” I said, with growing awareness at my mistake. She peered at me, trying to see if what I said could really be true. “Cada noche?” (“Each night?”) she said.
I mumbled with less enthusiasm than when I had started, “Do you like baths?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “I’ve never had one. It must be very nice.”
For some Fabulous Guatemala Images: