Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Love letters to my life #1: A new venture

Tree of Life
This is the first in, hopefully, a long series of love letters to my life, to be written on the 17th day of each month remaining to me. The thought that I might not be here to write the next one, prompts me to express my appreciation for every tiny moment, all the joyous occasions, and each heart-wrenching setback that has landed me in this particular moment of birdsong and unfolding new directions.

I am one of the lucky ones. Here in this moment, in the early days of my eighth decade, I am free, healthy, engaged with beauty and expression, rich in friendships and community,  exploring a new culture, learning a new language, watching, sometimes with astonishment, as each new page turns, revealing bits and pieces of the world and myself that I never knew existed.

Understanding the infinite immensity of all that surrounds me, I rest in the awareness that revelation will continue as long as I breathe. After that, who knows?

Neill James, photo and article
Today, I thank all the forces that brought me to a new landscape ... Mexico … and invited me into the unique culture of Ajijic, a small village guarded by two distinct feminine spirits … Teomichicihualli, goddess, fish-princess of Lake Chapala, and Neill James, an adventuress, travel-writer from the United States, who settled in Ajijic in 1943 and proceeded to do the work that called her … perhaps as an incarnation of Teomichicihualli herself. (For more about these spirits, read here.)

Artist: Jesús López Vega
Each of us writes, and lives, a story about our lives. It’s
never a true story, but it’s a handy one that provides a lot of justification for the choices we make and explanations for what befalls us. My story was simple … I was an only child, separate and alone, childless and unmothered, rolling through life free and independent. I could make all the details of my life fit that story. It was a story that didn’t allow space for community as I rolled from one place to the next, even though I frequently proclaimed my desire to find connection and community.

When the rolling stone of my life plopped me down beside the largest lake in Mexico, something changed. Life took me out of my rolling, 60 mph life and said: Walk! And, while walking through the streets and along the shores of the lake, community sneaked up on me. I fell in love with this odd blend of immigrants and indigenous, Spanish and English, wealth and poverty, raucous noise and generous souls. It’s like I have been touched by both Teomichicihualli and Neill James.

Many years ago, in the throes of an entrepreneurial moment, a friend and I started a small gallery of art and crafts. It was a joyous adventure and we created a luminous, creative offering for the community. It lasted three months and, when it failed, it broke my heart … and the friendship. I swore I’d never take a risk like that again. 

Never say never.

Tiny gallery to be on Colón
A new friend and I just signed a lease for a new gallery here in Ajijic … Galería del Futuro.  Steve and I are both digital artists and had been talking about finding a place to show our work. When the right place at the right price showed up, we started talking seriously about the possibility. Shadows from the old venture wafted through the air and I outlined all the reasons I didn’t want to be part of it. I didn’t want to be tied down to a retail store; no one was going to buy our work anyway, it would be a waste of money … amazingly negative talk from someone who believes in positive thinking and benevolent self-talk. 

What it might look like after painting.
However, as we continued to discuss the possibility, a new thread appeared … we could help young, local artists by showing their work also. Suddenly, passion was ignited as the whole project took on a different aspect. We both recognized our deep interest in supporting young artists … a kind of support we had never experienced ourselves. This possibility also linked us to a project some established artists here were working on to try to support promising young, local artists in their artistic development. We began to see this new gallery possibility not as just a commercial venture that might succeed or fail, but as a connection to the community, an investment in the future, a legacy.

As always when a new venture begins, we do not know whether it will succeed or fail. However, I do know that this is now part of my journey, a new piece of me being opened to life and the connection of everything. 

I am so grateful for my life and all the wonderful experiences coming my way.