1.5 days since the storm hit and the car is still drying. Have a capable boat electrician (the irony ;)) on hand and a couple diamonds in the rough, outcasts of the shadow mind, helping. It’s been moved twice and it’s now down to a lot of elbow grease and humor to get the mud out of the moving parts of the engine. There’s no water in the engine nor the transmission. Lucky.
Back at the casita, next to roads that were rivers just 24 hours earlier, all day yesterday I cleaned everything I owned. I washed away the mud and silt. Besides my laptop and my phone there were two books that are essential to me right now. They survived and I read one of them, at the end of the day as I lay exhausted in the hammock. They take time to read over and over, because they jar one into questioning “where is the vision in me?” What must I see through to awaken to that privilege?
I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I was struck these last few days, how tight and bonded is the indigenous community that surrounds me right now. I may be a temporary stranger, passing through, but I am a witness and friend nonetheless.
Two years ago a storm hit that knocked out the power for two months in the village. America has never known power shortages like that. Europe had it in the wars. But when you don’t have television and social media to distract you there is a fire and the tales of the fishing folk. The local school has been set up as a temporary refuge for the villages that were hit the worst around us.
The book I was reading talks about the future of mankind, and it is the voice of the wisest man I have met in this life. My teacher and friend Tara Singh. It takes a lot of discernment to see what is wise and what is not. Though the heart is good in all, vision and deep wisdom may be quite rare.
A couple years ago, I was living in the UK for a year or two; the first time in decades. And then life took me to California, Nevada and Arizona prior to and after closing my life in India. I had business in Paris too.
In England, I remember this nasty old woman who was my neighbor. She wasn’t a particularly nice person. She looked down on everyone who wasn’t an owner of an apartment in the apartment building that I was a caretaker of a flat therein (for my friend who was slowly developing dementia in Paris). It was a complex situation. And it was the first time I had lived in a developed country in a decade.
I remember thinking how mean and cold she was. How her heart was bound and suffocated by rigid and impoverished ways of thinking. And in America too, I witnessed how busy and threatened people have become. How money has become more important than sanity.
My friend in Paris had this old neighbor from Normandy, she was in her 90s and had moved to Paris after the war and she, in contrast to the English neighbor, was so warm hearted.
We spoke in French for a number of hours over the course of my visit and she told me of the changes she had seen in her lifetime. One day I came back to the apartment in Montparnasse and she was gone. I think she had had a stroke and was in hospital.
That book predicts the inevitable rise of giant slums in cities like New York. You can see the start of it now if you drive through downtown Los Angeles and San Francisco. The tent cities that overwhelm the homeless officers who are paid $200 000 a year.
It is rare to come across wisdom. So few have it. It demands relating to eons of time. It demands understanding the accelerated life that we have built: how agriculture made us greedy and advanced technology made us into a species who excels at, as Thoreau put it, mastering “improved means to reach unimproved ends.” It is essential to slow down and listen to come to know the vision that lives at the heart of our humanness.
It demands, above all, having the capacity to see what insecurity is, and how it makes us limited and fearful; a glutton for appetites, a creature removed from his sanity. Wisdom sees through time and space, to a different dimension of our being, that is not clouded or blinded by judgment.
The power lines, which they call the “light” in Spanish, have been down for two days. The water came on for a few hours yesterday. My neighbor next door had his car radio on and there was news blaring out in Spanish and English. I thought to myself of Jefferson who said that the man who is ignorant of the news is less ignorant than he who is educated in its ignorance.
The economy here is purely built on Canadian and American money. Homes built by fools in flood plains were washed away. Some people will have been killed by the flash flooding. The main thing on the radio centered on the airport and how the flights, in and out, were safeguarded: the lifeline of the tourist economy. Even the president flew in to manage affairs, so vital is Cabo to the economy. It’s cheap and easily accessible to the middle and upper classes of North America. They sell 5 times as many Rolex watches here than they do in Cancun in peak season.
Many of the migrant workers here, and they flock here from all over Mexico, will never see the inside of an airplane. They may be disconnected from their families for years at a time. But no the airport was fine. I wondered how many died from the floods. And who cared. Because this kind of thing rarely happens in the first world (up til now) we hear a lot about Houston but very little about Bangladesh. The casualties in Bangladesh are always far far worse.
Escaping the cold, the Canadians come and spend the winter here and then go back by March or April. Many have second homes and many make the long drive here. They miss cyclone season which is September and the first two weeks of October. They arrive after the carnage. And drink beer on the beach and laugh with the locals.
I’m sitting in the Red Cross, which as it so happens was the enterprise opposite where my car was overcome by the floods. A close Italian friend of mine, who I’ve eaten dinner with many times, and laughed so much laughter with, works for the Red Cross.
He is stationed in Croatia right now, but I knew him, and his lovely wife and wonderful bambinos, in India. We often spoke of the divide between rich and poor and the woeful myopia of such organizations as the one that employed him. An exasperated organized Italian in India is a sight to behold
Why do we have the life path we have? What is our purpose here? How do you undo fear and intemperance in yourself and come to wisdom? How blind and self-centered are our self-help gurus and why do they lack so much vision?
What do they and the opportunistic politicians (Trump promising to get ‘the best health care for everyone’ for example, over and over, assuring folk that no one would be left out, this without having even the basic groundwork of a tenable plan, and a lifetime of conning people behind him) mirror back to us about what we are in denial of?
Why are so many affluent folk so devoid of compassion and what brings about a shift in the individual? What can end poverty and war and what is the destiny of the developed nations in all of this?
Why do some of us grow old full of petty grudges and others are warmer, yet often blind to their inner beauty and unlimited potential? And how does one awaken that potential?
These are the questions that motivate me. Armament and its profit margins is the business of greedy insecure fools. And underpinning every “-ism,” bar humanism, from politics to economic models, the real beast that causes all our problems is actually insecurity. How do we confront that? The serious ask this and from such inquiry wisdom begins.
With sensitivity comes great responsibility and yet, it takes incredible wisdom to come to the joy of rising to that responsibility.
But within each individual there is that potential. And together we may join hands, and hearts, to reverse the insanity that is implied when fear and self-centered activity drives the speeding vessel of our lack of awareness.
These are the themes at the heart of the book I am writing.