Sometimes things show up the opposite of where we think they should.
And we have to look closely to understand how they got there.
There is tenderness everywhere. How gently the fungus cradle the leaves.
I am observing circles and the stories they tell.
How the elements hold each other.
Both random and profound.
This month I have been writing a book. And my internet provider awaits new equipment lulling in customs, so my internet is glitchy. The above is a picture story of my days as I prepare to publish a book for the first time!
I spoke these words aloud as we walked and the scent of neem flowers swirled around us. The scent is reminiscent of peonies: my favorite flower.
This is how I have lived far away, for a long time. There is no spring, with crocuses bursting through the snow, or the tingling joy of removing layers to feel the wind on your bare skin, but there is the scent of spring.
There are hundreds of examples: there is no, but there is…when you live outside of your own culture.
The question is, is it enough? And are the reasons you are willing or wanting to be elsewhere worth what you will lack? You may think you will only gain, especially if you’re leaving to make your money go farther in a different economy. Even if you live better, there will be sacrifices. If you live a long distance from your friends and family now, trust me, they are farther when there is a border between you.
In your new country, if you are involved in the community you are still a foreigner. It feels different to be a citizen. Maybe it shouldn’t, perhaps I’m not evolved enough, not global enough, but in my experience, it feels different in my body, being in my home country or my host country. The sensations are both unpleasant and comforting, in both locations.
I’ve been asked many times if I ever plan to return to the U.S.?
No, I don’t.
Will I ever leave Nicaragua?
I hope not. I love Nicaragua. My body feels good here, even though I am foreign.
It seems a lot of people are immigrating these days. Looking for places that suit their personal politic better than where they are. I left the U.S. for personal reasons that were politically based. I have never regretted it, nor have I ever wanted to return. So, I’m going to go out on a limb and give some advice on being an ex-pat.
Imagine you are a guest in someone’s home. Because you are. Be who you are, and remember that a good deal of that is where you came from, but, don’t try to superimpose it on your new home.
Look for your familiar comforts in what is new and unique to where you are now. Peonies speaking to you from the Neem.
In Mexico, Felipe and I practiced something we called “sticks and mud technology” we made it work with what we had, which sometimes was sticks and mud.
I had several “offices” that were built on this principle, with crossed fingers and a lot of walking in search of a signal.
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My cow pasture office. I once had internet stick.
My desk, and internet stick in the cow pasture office.
Sometimes I worked out of internet cafes, they had their benefits and challenges. Benefits; chairs, food if one has money, pretty good signal. Negatives: usually, a really smelly bathroom, vicious mosquitos that breed there, and video games played at sonic volume at the computer next to you.
El Studiant, ‘office’
Internet office Tehuitztla
This was a particular favorite of mine, the hazardous waste desk. It was behind the clinic in La Tigra and just happened to have the best signal in town.
My Bioharard office behind the free health clinic in La Tigra
The hazardous waste office made me feel really dedicated to my craft.
-my super fancy home office in Nicaragua, complete with an actual office chair
But, things are quite a bit cushier in Nicaragua, I have an office chair!
I got the office chair because my back was bothering me, and it did help, but the problem persisted so I went back to the sticks and mud approach and asked Felipe to make a sofa desk for me. Just like the one I had at the Piedra Rahada. I wrote three books and over 200 posts with this little desk made of a sawed-off plastic garden chair.
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This was the orginal sawed off desk chair, being used as a chair here. It was versitile!
Here’s my new sofa desk, complete with Beagle.
Even with the new office chair, and sofa desk I found I was having back pain. The solution? A standing desk! An end table topped sofa desk! Sticks and mud at its finest.
I would love to hear how you make yourself comfortable working at home. I’m also up for advice on back health for writers.
I am blessed with a trail on the land next to my house. The man we bought our home from still owns the property next to us, and he allowed me to create a path around it. It takes about 10 minutes to walk, but it’s easy to wander out well after that.
-Tigger, Pirate and Chica’s morning walk
Walk. This word is for me a spell, the action a rite.
I am a Walker, not for exercise: for thought, connection, and growth.
When I suffer, I walk as if I am kissing the earth with my steps, as we were taught by Thich Nhat Hanh. My bare feet touching the ground heal me. When I cannot feel joy, I can find it through the soles of my feet, from the earth, the sky, the wind, all of life around me. When I feel lost, when my loved ones are not enough to hold my heart, I have my feet and the earth. They are always enough.
Grounding, is part of the process, but the forward movement is essential as well. And the sunlight, the wind. Dr. Andrew Huberman agrees with me. It isn’t just abbyscience. He prescribes a walk or jog, outside in sunlight upon rising for the best brain function.
I thought when I moved close to the ocean I would want to walk on the beach every day, but I still prefer the woods, I like shade and birdsong. I like to see animals going about their business. There are of course birds and animals on the beach, but it feels different to me, I guess it’s the Midwesterner in me that still prefers green to blue.
-harvesting congo chilies on my walk this morning
I logged hundreds of hours on Chicago streets, finding treasure in garbage, my creative flow stemmed directly from my feet on the pavement.
I memorized 52 poems in 2016 while walking the Cero Frio in Mexico. I mourned my father walking that mountain, and I lost my beloved Bear there. But, I had hundreds of deep work walks there with her too. Walking is not a cure for hardship, it’s a balm, and can be therapy when applied regularly.
I wrote three books while walking, putting them to paper was the outcome of the actual work that occurred while walking. I have received real magic from the earth as I place my feet, one in front of the other upon her.
-my spirit animal, red dragonfly, resting in my hand
I know the earth is alive and sentient. I have felt it, heard it, talked to it, received care, support, and inspiration from it. If you haven’t visited her lately, she misses you.
Are you a walker, a surfer, a gardener? How do you touch the earth? I’d love to hear your stories of earth magic.