Just over the border is Guatemala, Mayan highlands that are just the same, but much poorer in poverty and yet far more rich in life.

This overcast morning, seeing our mountain pines suffused with drizzle and fog, I am overcome with nostalgia for the south.

Cross the Chiapas border and you are entrenched in Mayan territory, a place where a more traditional way of life is underscored by a certain tragedy and sadness. Huehue, Chimal, Xela, and Chichicastenango….The civil war left its warm people the scars and inheritance of cruelty and a touch of black humor in its jokes. Thoughts enter my head. And I remember the cement wall where Carlos said that villagers were dragged into and shot or macheted. Or the lingering poverty that plagues the campesinos.

And these days (at least my own experience in Chiapas) there is rarely any of that. Maybe it’s a good thing. I have been cheerful, going out with new friends, joking, celebrating, amused, getting used to a city and rural life. Happy to the extent that it tires. An social existence of design, creating beautiful things, receiving flowers and enjoyment with which I am then starting to become too carefree, too unaware, callous to pain. And after all the laughter and getting along with everyone, there is somehow the tinging desire for repressed tears and grief, for good measure and balance.

I yearn to go back to Guatemala to remind myself that other dimension of myself: how fragile life is, how utterly imploding painful conflict is; how sorrow and loss feels like so that I might be transformed. If you are there with locals long enough, there will be a moment you feel so connected with the anger and loss itself. You do see that life is unfair. It is indescribable compassion that you didn’t know you had. One friend asked if I wanted to see the rural school they have built for poor children, another friend works with orphans of the indigenous.

There is such majesty and humility in that everyday moment you acknowledge humanity in its dimension of suffering and eventual loneliness. From stark nothingness, we respire deeper, our heart blossoms open, and that in itself is a subdued miracle. And we are able to love your friends deeper with more wisdom and appreciate our coinciding path in this moment in time on earth.

Few places stain their cultural richness with brutal darkness the way that Guatemala does. There is a time to be replenished, a time to be contented, a time to be exhausted. Now that I am full, I somehow wish my well to be drained. I wish to experience and be around loss, I wish to be melancholy… it is the field left fallow so that things may grow from it. This is one of my favorite quotes:

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, and bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may.

For it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face into the pillow, or stretch myself taut or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, for your return.

A lot of people here generalize, exaggerate and become disgusted with the United States (or, the rich). The idea that Americans *all* are moneyed because we don’t sanctify, we don’t value the community enough to spend and re-distribute what they have for the benefit of the whole, on the contrary we privatize wealth and push social expenses onto everyone else, the definition of an evil person. Here is the Mayan perspective: “Finding treasure will make you poorer than ever, because treasure, takin, is literally the “Sun’s shit”; filthy money will always jinx you. Mother Wind knocks down the cornfield.— Page 31, Incantations.

I beg to differ. It is not that I dislike living well there, in fact, among the few percentage of Americans that comprise of my social circle there, I find a good number them to be more admirable, more fascinating, and more sensitive than the people saying these things. On the contrary, being an American (or of any industrialized nation) is an enormous blessing, especially if you can utilize it as one frame of reference. Both Tamana and I are able to relate to this place so much better when we talk about how life and human behavior is in Tokyo.It is the ability to live there for a while, live here for a while, to drench our identities with emotional vibrancy that I find life so worthwhile to experience. The act of seeking things of the soul will give you resiliency for rough times that lie ahead.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Spanish Words of the Day:sortilegios, hechizos, hechicería” spells, charms | “cuenco” bowl, basin | “laúd” lute | “juramento” oath

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