aFear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Loathing: a feeling of intense dislike or disgust; hatred.

Seven days ago on September 18 (the eve of my 66th birthday) we experienced in our neighborhood a series of break-ins.  This happened to be the eve of my 66th birthday. The neighbors had called the police and the incidents were immediately and professionally investigated by the municipal police. The next day we visited with our (Mexican) neighbors–all of whom were as concerned about things as we were. In an odd way, it was comforting to know that no one was immune and we all had the same concerns.

So, since the early morning of my birthday we have been more vigilant about the sights and sounds of our community. We have adjusted our routines. We leave a few more lights on; lock everything; I make “the rounds” before we go to bed; have the phone at hand. All of these are sensible procedures for living in an urban setting. We probably should have been doing this all along. A nice wake up call.

ceiba-and-gasparSadly, at the suggestion of the police, we had to partially cut down our sacred Ceiba tree in the back yard. Luckily this species will grow new shoots from the “knuckle” very quickly. We will keep the tree pollarded and shaped so that it can not be used for possible entry into our property. Here is Gaspar, our lovely Mayan gardner, cutting the tree. Funnily, this “new growth” will be a fitting metaphor and marker for our one year anniversary here in Mérida–a city we love. While we have, naturally, some fear we are determined to make this work. It has helped tremendously to talk to friends about this–learning that nearly all of them have been violated as well. Parallel to this we read of robbing in the US including a shooting spree at a service station in Minneapolis this week. We are very grateful that this part of Mexico is not a gun-centric  culture. And we really do not care about “things”.

So what do I feel: Fear as a Positive Force
The definition above of fear is accurate. My senses are, naturally, heightened. In a very ironic way, this has been an important experience. It has put me in a internal place that I have not been in for quite some time. I am taking this life lesson seriously. I am looking carefully at my reactions. My first reaction was “protect my family.” This created a strange sensation. I was at once fearful but prepared to react as needed to whatever situation might emerge. My second reaction was sadness that there are people whose poverty and/or drug addictions caused them to act unlawfully. In my reflective moods, I think of these people as kids sitting on their mother’s lap playing–wondering how this could have happened or what would have needed to happen for the child to lead a better life. I guess I am hard wired to care — no matter the circumstance. This was a good thing to discover.  This affirmation of my deep seated values is heartening. My third reaction was anger and disappointment. We have invested so much psychic and physical energy into this place that it would be profoundly sad to have to leave because of changing circumstances in our neighborhood. For now, we are (as I mentioned in my last post) taking it one day at a time. We really want to stay! We want to make this work. On the 7th day things look brighter! The weather is changing, the sky is blue and life evolves.

So what do I not feel: Loathing is a Destructive Force
I do not hate these people. I do not blame anyone. It is what it is. To unravel the complex path that brought these people to this point would be a difficult task. But what can I do now that this has happened? What will I do differently? How will this experience change my relationship to Merida and its lovely inhabitants.  I am not naive and know that there are millions (perhaps billions) of poor people living in this circumstance daily with no choice. I will double my efforts to become involved, learn the language and keep building wonderful relationships with our marvelous neighbors (most of whom are elderly and have lived in their houses since they were born.)

How can I make Merida a better place? How can I give back more than our wonderful city takes? This is what is on my mind today….

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