New Year’s Eve Reflections

In Merida, we’ve had internet issues through the Holidays. Neither of our largest providers (Telmex and Cablered) have been able to deal with the extra-heavy traffic. I could rarely get Skype to open and even my gmail account was sluggish. So I gave up, and for the most part, I shut my lap top down until this morning.

The last time I really read online was before dawn, the morning of December 24th. Among the sites I viewed was WordPress.com News. Without new input, the featured Christmas Eve post has run through my mind ever since – so much so – that I want to share it with you today.

http://sethadamsmith.com/2013/11/02/marriage-isnt-for-you/

I recommend that you click on the link and read it all, but if you want a synopsis, here it is:

In the post the author, Seth Adam Smith, states that a life-long union of two people is not for everyone. He writes about his fear of commitment, his unhappiness with the boundaries, and his resentment over the limitations that marriage would put on him. He turns to his father for advice, and the older man tells him, “Marriage isn’t for you.” He goes on to explain to his son that marriage is not about pleasing yourself, it is about making your partner happy, about forming a family and living in a way that furthers these aims. Deciding his dad must be right, young Seth marries his “best friend” Kim, and yet the doubts don’t go away until she shows him, through example, what his father was talking about.

As I muddled over the post, I started to apply the logic to wider criterion, and concluded that it is appropriate to all of our relationships and endeavors. If we are in it just for ourselves, we are not going to be happy.

Living in Merida is an opportunity for this same kind of giving and the resulting personal growth. Many who move here from other countries do so because they believe that in Mexico, they will be able to live at a higher standard, enjoy a nicer place to live, have help with house and garden chores, and so on. When they realize that this lifestyle change will also extract a rather high personal price, the doubts set in. Many begin to criticize the culture and the people they meet, their surroundings and the noise level. The climate is hard to deal with and they miss “home” more than they anticipated would be the case.

A certain amount of this is normal – no one completely escapes culture shock. But if a person doesn’t look for ways to give back to the community, to become involved in local causes and to make friends, it will be the beginning of the end.

Change is not easy for most people. Lots of them want it, but hassle-free. However, you have to give in order to get back. And so, this is my New Year’s resolution:

I want to make meaningful change in my own life by helping to fulfill needs I see around me. My patience must increase, my compassion must be more immediate, my efforts must be more consistent and my thinking must be more open.

I must not allow old patterns to dictate what 2014 will bring to my life.

And what if the other people in my life aren’t in sync with my perception of the “best-for-all” program?

Then, we have to talk, and listen to one another in order to determine the best course.

Living in a country that is not the country of my birth involves constant adjustments – but hey – living in the one where I was born would too. Change is the way of the world and I know that I must deal with it.

How about you?

Happy New Year 2014
Happy New Year 2014

25 thoughts on “New Year’s Eve Reflections”

  1. The key to happiness, wherever you are, begins with loving yourself and then you can love and do for others. Going with the flow, which is not always smooth, is the only way to traverse the long (hopefully) and winding road. You, my friend, are an incredible example of what a person can accomplish with the right attitude. A salute to the New Year and all the adventure it holds.

  2. The first time living in a different place, even elsewhere in the same country, is always the hardest. Once done, there’s a certain realization that you will not only be able to cope but also to enjoy the new place. If I hadn’t lived in Alberta for several years before Quebec, Montreal would have been more difficult. The straight-laced culture in Calgary in the 60s compared to Victoria was always a puzzle. Banff and Assiniboine were different, but then we lived very much a Norwegian culture at Assiniboine. Much later my last school, just north of Toronto, became more and more multi-ethnic, with Cantonese the loudest language in the hallways. I could insist, and did, on English in the classroom but just couldn’t get my tail in a knot about what happened when students stepped out of the door. When some of the scrapes they got themselves into came back to me to be sorted out there was nothing to do but sit on the hall floor with them and laugh. What they had done was often so absurd. As Dept Head of English, I was ‘den mother’ to the ESL off-shore teenagers, so I spent a lot of time on the floor laughing when numbers stretched to almost 400 one year. Canadian teenagers in their wildest fantasies would never get into the predicaments many of those kids did just trying to manage a different culture.

    1. How true! I know a woman who got so lost in Merida, she resorted to following a nicely-dressed man in her car, all the way to his house. She figured that when he stopped, he’d surely speak English and would help her. He did not speak a lick of English, but his wife and daughter did and they kindly got into their car and led the distraught woman home. Such is the magic of Mexico

  3. Home is not always where you were born, neither is it where you were raised.
    I was born in Saudi Arabia, raised from age 2 to 10 in Venezuela, and from age 10 to 18 in Holland. Then immigrated to Canada where I have now lived for 40 years, and hopefull will be able to retire in Mexico, so My wife and I can be with all you lovely, lively people…

      1. If and when you are in BC we would love to meet you and talk about a life in Mexico, we live in Langley if thatbis anywhere near your destination…

  4. Sometimes change comes to you, no need to move. I first came to Merida in 1966. A very precocious traveler. Moved to the area “permenentemente” in 1994. I have seen more change in Merida in the last five years than the previous 40 odd years. Most of it less than favorable, but the entire world is following suit, so, at least I am not 22 years old and $50,000 in debt and working as a barista. Happy New Year!

    1. Oh there’s no need to look for change, is there? It constantly looms and you need only decide if you’ll accept it or not. As for changes in Merida, it is quite amazing to those of us who knew the place “way back when” Happy New Year to you, and thank you for commenting

  5. For whatever reason, I have not found slipping into the little culture in Melaque as being daunting. Perhaps I am just oblivious. But I pass through life here much as I did in Salem. Maybe I am too much like Seth. I have a well-defined sense of my self — and I like the guy. The trick is then realizing that my story is only part of the greater “our story” and that it all fits into “God’s story.” I am still working on it.

    1. Yes, some people have an easier time adapting to new cultures. When I moved to Merida I was in my early 20s and the challenges of this unfamiliar environment seemed insurmountable. But I married a good man, and together we have built our life, one that I do believe is a part of God’s. Happy New Year Steve, thank you for your comment.

  6. Well expressed Joanna! All the best to you and yours in 2014. Hope we can see you all very soon. Hugs, Reg and Larry

    Larry McIntosh On 2013-12-31 2:39 PM, “Writing From Merida” wrote:

    > writingfrommerida posted: “In Merida, weve had internet issues > through the Holidays. Neither of our largest providers (Telmex and > Cablered) have been able to deal with the extra-heavy traffic. I could > rarely get Skype to open and even my gmail account was sluggish. So I gave > up, a”

  7. Happy New Year Joany – loved this post.. so nice to see the family pictures in the previous ones too. Hopefully when you come up here we will be able to get together (and have a few more join us for lunch this time?!) we are going cruising in mid April to beg of May tho.
    Much love to all of you :-)
    Mari-Lou

  8. While I agree that changing from one culture to another is not the proverbial “walk in the park”, I do consider myself blessed that for me it was not that problematic. But then I have lived and worked within different milieus and cultures for most of my life. I was fifteen when I went to a convent boarding school for four years. It was a very strict environment – almost militaristic – with every activity of your day governed by bells, bells, and more bells. But despite living among a bunch of rambunctious teenage girls in a restricted environment it was a good life in that we never had the baggage teenagers in Canadian public schools carry of wondering if they are with the “in” crowd or worrying about what to wear, etc.. All we had to do was throw on our uniforms and concentrate on our studies. Funny how it is that on looking back many of my student colleagues met lots of boys during those convent years, married them and stayed happily married for the most part. After my convent days there were the many years of exposure to the French culture in Ottawa and Quebec. When I returned to Ontario I was next very lucky to work five years with one of the big international Japanese trading houses and that was a real learning experience. Over the years I have been lucky to work within the Arab community through my hobby. Now that I winter in Merida I am thoroughly enjoying living and finding my way with another culture, despite the usual frustrations of coping with the “manana” attitude, and have felt most honoured to have been invited to participate in their major holiday activities such as the Our Lady of Guadalupe festivities and parade. I strongly believe that to enjoy living and working with another culture one has to keep an open mind and, as Nancy W. says, “go with the flow”. The worst thing to do is show attitude by wondering and griping about why they won’t “do it my way” That is a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot by denying yourself one of life’s greatest pleasures.

    1. To adjust to any new endeavor or situation, you have to want to do so, and accept that the adjustments will not all be on your own terms. Sounds easy, but it can be challenging. Personally, I like challenge to a point. But we all need to have the strength of character and a sense of humor in order to keep trying, even when we figure “enough is enough”

      1. “Enough is enough” all right and I’ve had it with all this rain which I’ve been told is most unusual for Merida at this time of year.

  9. Just dropping by to tell you that I have been enjoying your blog for over a year! Happy New Year to you and your sweet family.

  10. Thank you, and a Happy and healthy New Year to you and your family!

    I think strength of character builds as the years go on and the “moves” one makes…

    1. “Strength of character builds as the years go on and the “moves” one makes…” So true! We never know what we are made of until we’re tested. A Happy New Year to you and your family

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