Today was the anniversary of my arrival here in San Luis Potosi, it has been a wonderfully incredible year for me and I figured now would be a good time to look back at some of the highlights from my first year living and working in Mexico.
For the first time in my life I have a job that I love and, one year in, I don't have a penny to show for it but that's OK, I am rich in other ways (and I have also wangled a pay rise going forward even in these tough times).
Since the moment I got on the plane I have been living in the moment, and in the moment we can find forever. I changed everything to discover what stays the same. A new house, new friends, new loves, new job, new country, new food, new language, new ideas and outlooks (not to mention the weather!) - I have learned so much but never before have I learned so much about myself.
I have met some wonderful people who have influenced my life hugely, from conversations on a bench in a Meridian plaza to a shared ride and a discussion about a man's life work, to soulmates and kindred spirits I seem to have known my whole life.
I have fallen in love with beautiful women and lived all of the ups and downs that come with that.
I've been able to share with all these people because I have learned to speak Spanish, which means I can communicate with two thirds of the human beings on this planet.
I've also learned English! Believe it or not, when I arrived I couldn't tell present from future continuous - I didn't know if I was coming or going! There is a saying: "To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach." I read that on a tea bag the other day (does that mean my tea bag is wiser than I?!).
The Latinas haven't been the only heartbreak - the dream cup run ended in penalty shootout tears.
I got a tattoo.*
I only had one dangerously infected insect bite.
I have explored the mysterious ruined cities and pyramids of the Mayas from my childhood fantasy, bussing, hitching and hiking around the ancient country of the Yucatan Peninsula. I spent the week in the Caribbean, lying on a beach drinking rum.
I even released a rap album in the mix.
I have spouted blathering chat each and every day.
All with a little help from my friends (new, old, and lifelong)
I have celebrated today by scoring a goal and playing in my 2nd guitar recital which was held at the music school that has been such an integral part of my life here.
Between The Tao of Teaching and Mexperience (an "uncut" email update I send to family and friends) I have shared every moment with words. Maybe through my various writings I have inspired others to follow their dreams. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it! Perhaps I have even boosted the tourism in SLP, I mean, nobody had ever heard of Provence before Peter Mayle
So, now that I have written my A Year In Provence, what's next for the Tao of Teaching? Hmmm, I'll probably just write Another Year In Provence!
In some ways I have come here in the spirit of the first great adventurers to step foot on this continent, and in other ways decidedly not
I often think about the real impact of my actions, perhaps English is the Galleons of the past, opening up the trade routes of the world. Or the missionary erasing native culture in the great globalization whitewash. It is true that we are losing languages of the world and ideas and feelings are being lost along with them. However, I do believe that I am doing good work, I am helping the world to communicate, and I truly believe that we can't have understanding and community without that communication. Everyday I share ideas and stories with people who have grown up in a different world to me. We learn from the differences between us and we learn what we have in common, that which is universal.
Well, I'm actually feeling rather good about this. I think we've all arrived at a very special place, eh? Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically...and whatever the next year may hold it will be Toujours Tao.
Until next time...
Positive Energy Activates Constant Elevation
*A swallow is a traditional sailor's tattoo representing 5,000 miles at sea. Never straying far from land, it was an omen of good luck and a safe return home and, if not, its wings would help on the journey up to heaven. Now, I am not a sailor (although I shall not consider my life complete until I have run away to sea) but these are no longer the days of sail. They are more like the days of wings and so, this being my first long voyage, I got mine. For me this tattoo represents freedom, and the knowledge that I can fly as high as I choose with the only limits being my own.