Life Part II – Our Mexican Experiment & Challenging the Fear of the Unknowns
This article originally appeared in Escape From America MagazineWhen X and I met a little over three years ago we knew instantly our lives were about to change. Through trial and error we had independently found ourselves in comfortable places but were both restless for change and we quickly discovered within each other a mutual craving to experience life from a new vantage point. It was clear that we had found partners to take on the journey. The crazy chemistry thing didn’t hurt either. In less than six months we were married.After weighing our current situation we have decided the time is right; we are going to pack up and become modern day nomads for a while. We realize that we are exceedingly lucky to have the means and for that we are extremely grateful. At relatively young ages (Jon-50, X-43) we have decided to leave our current careers and seek what else life has to offer. We are consciously moving out of our comfort zones, away from the mundane and running toward “Life Part II”.We are selling our house in Texas and moving to a small unspoiled fishing village in Mexico. We are trading our front yard for the white sand beaches, coral reefs and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. “Our House” is off the grid but we do have electricity. Solar panel technology and conservation allows us lights, computers and a satellite dish. Internet access allows us VoIP telephone, email and news (not that we really want too much of that). Good ‘ol propane allows us an oven, stove and refrigeration. Entrepreneurs in delivery trucks come by three times a week offering fresh produce and meat. There are also a variety of tiny restaurants that people in the little village set up in their homes offering us a variety of dining options. Well, OK there is no McDonald’s. But, hey, THERE – IS – NO – McDONALDS’S!We plan to reach out to the community, learn to speak Spanish, learn to cook Mexican meals and soak in the culture and history of Mexico. We will not be sequestered behind the walls of some gated community but plan to enjoy and learn whatever our new neighbors will teach us. If we are lucky they will integrate us in some small way into their lives. We will travel a lot and get to actually know the area, not just see it from a car window. We know there will be compromises but tropical breezes, SCUBA diving less than a hundred yards from the front door, sand between our toes and palm trees for us make up for the convenience of being able to buy a ten pack of Chinese made tube socks from Wal-Mart at 5 AM.In the mean time I am going to dive more completely into my photography in the hope that I will be able to help charities and NGO’s by providing them with extraordinary advocacy and fundraising images for at risk people and endangered eco-systems directly from location. X is going spend more time as an artist and continue to teach through volunteer efforts and maybe a few classes.Then, after a year, no matter how much we love it, we are going to move someplace else for another year. At this point our goal is to do this for ten years before we consider a place to permanently settle. It is a big world out there and we want to discover it for ourselves not have it fed to us through the lens of a xenophobic corporate news media bent on convincing us to consume more things that we don’t need. We are also doing this as a challenge to ourselves. We want to push our mental and physical boundaries. We want to discover our limits. We want to get to know ourselves and each other more closely than ever.Over the last few years we have made some difficult but good decisions. We have lived well below our means, paid off all debt and even managed to save a bit. We have had long discussions about what it is we are seeking, the steps needed to get there and put them into action. We weren’t sure exactly what the plan was at first but we knew what was restricting us. We began downsizing, donating, discarding and selling.Frankly, it is a bit scary. Have we planned enough? How hard is it for an adult to learn a new language? What about the conveniences we have become used to? What about red tape? What about casting off all the anchors and intentionally allowing ourselves to drift? Won’t we get bored? How hard is it to live without a long term “permanent” base? We are about to have these questions answered by doing. We know there are unknown, unknowns but we don’t worry too much about those. They will find us.One thing that we are rapidly learning is how many people we know live in fear of those unknowns. They are willing to sit at home with their fears not daring to challenge themselves beyond what they have been conditioned to find comfortable. They search for news that reinforces the worldview they have been sold by mass media and quietly allow their common sense and curiosity to lapse into coma. Living in fear is simple. Living that way is common. Living that way is sad. We choose not to live that way.We are fully aware that we have been afforded very lucky circumstances and it would be a huge disservice to the “fates” if we didn’t take advantage. I will be getting a pension and in America we know that is quickly becoming a thing of the past; kind of like knowing your neighbors and only taking what you need at the buffet. Staying and going for more and more it would almost be as though we didn’t appreciate it. We also know that once it became possible to go we knew if we didn’t we would no longer be working to take care of our needs; we would be working to support our possessions. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, “we would have become the tools or our tools.” Some things may be difficult to replace but the one thing that is undeniably irreplaceable and precious is time. Working longer could bring us more money and possessions and even arguably more comfort and security but is that really what life is about? Wouldn’t it be tragic losing your most valuable days just so you can hang on to your stuff?We live in an era of more, more, more but is admiring a beautiful painting on the wall of a museum really inferior to proudly admiring an equivalent painting on the wall of your own home? Speaking of walls, how many rooms can a person live in at a time? Is being surrounded by waiters in a five star restaurant more romantic than sharing time alone on a secluded beach and savoring a picnic of locally selected exotic produce? We know these are judgment calls and we aren’t about to tell you what is right for you. We do however know what is right for us. To us it feels like the global society and we along with it have lost our way. In a competitive world where we are just beginning to see that in fact resources are finite, many try to find ways to dehumanize those that they get their labor and resources from. We don’t want to participate in that. At the very least we need to be more mindful.One thing we are continually asked is won’t we miss our family and friends? We don’t plan on it. We may not be as “wired” in as we are now but we will be available through various combinations of the Internet, Skype and Email. Sure we will be further away but we will be in different places with time to spend growing our relationships with family and friends. The world has become a much smaller place and almost everywhere is accessible in less than a day. Dropping in for a few hours is less doable but dropping in for several days is eminently more so. Life will be less rushed. Relationships will be savored. We will also be more psychologically available, more focused and centered. We have a new measure of success – “a simple life well lived”.We are fully aware there will be challenges and down times. There will be struggles and hardships; highs and lows. There will be red tape and bureaucracy. Not everyone we meet will be likeable or honest. There will be periods of discomfort and more challenges than we can begin to perceive at this point. But, we are not running away from life. That is way too easily done at home. We are running toward life and seeking to find an awareness of our place on this tiny little planet. We want to live life more deliberately; more authentically. We are integrating our lives and our lifestyle and setting aside the duality that is life today.Come along with us as we live “Life Part II”.