Thursday, April 8, 2021

Lessons Learned From A Year in Mexico

I moved to Mexico at the beginning of April 2020.  This means I have been here for a year.  I took some time to reflect on what I learned.

1) The world needs more peacemakers and less agitators.

I was guilty of being an agitator - mostly because I was agitated.  I publicly ripped Trump and everyone who voted for him during and after the election.  Trump voters include my family members and people I've been friends with my whole life.

At the time, I was so angry and disgusted by what was happening that I didn't want anything to do with Trump or anyone who sided with him.  I didn't want to hear one word from them.  However, you can't just get a divorce from half the country.  We are going to have to learn how to live together one way or another.  

So we need more peacemakers and less agitators.  From now on, I vow to do my part by not calling people ''assholes'' or ''idiots'' no matter how misguided their political ideas may be.  Which brings me to my next point...

2) Things that are obvious to me are not as obvious to everyone.

This doesn't mean that I am any more smart than them, or any more stupid.  It just means I have a different perspective.  I had the good fortune of receiving an excellent education.  I also had the good fortune of living in England, Ghana and Mexico.  These experiences shaped me and changed me dramatically.  I see the world very differently than I did ten or fifteen years ago.

Specifically, it's obvious to me that the attacks on Asian people that are happening right now are directly caused by having a racist President.  What's insane about this is that I personally know many Asian people who voted for Trump.  To me, racist attacks are a foreseeable result of having a racist President.  Why any non-white person would ever vote for a white racist is beyond me.  But I guess it wasn't as obvious to them as it was to me that having a racist President was going to have horrific consequences.  

What kind of country is this where someone's grandma can't go to the grocery store without being attacked by a deranged Nazi?  What kind of a country is this where a kid can't go to school without getting shot and killed by another kid?  It's a war zone.  It's a dangerous, third world shithole.  That's the kind of country it is.

3) Nobody hates your success more than someone who has failed at what you're doing.

Don't expect people who have failed at what you are doing to be happy for you.  Expect them to be jealous.  It doesn't matter what skill you are learning: a musical instrument, a sport, a second language, or weight loss.  There is no bigger hater than someone who has tried and failed.  

Surround yourself with people who have succeeded at what you want to do, not people who have quit.  Associate with people who found a way to win, not people who found an excuse why they couldn't do it.

4) Following American news just means being angry all of the time.

Democrat or Republican, it doesn't matter.  If you're watching the news, you're pissed off.  Turn it off and pick up a book.  Especially if you're watching Fox News.  It's poison for the mind.  Unfollow the news and go do something else.

5) Greeting people in the local language is the single most important key to integrating into a new society.

The simple act of saying "hi'' or ''good morning'' in the local language goes farther than you can even imagine.  Even if that's all you can say, still say it.  Greet your neighbors and the people you meet in the market.  Greet people you pass by on the street.  In a village, everybody knows everybody.  Greeting people will establish you as a friendly face and will open up conversations.  These conversations will lead to friendships and opportunities that would not have happened if you had stayed silent.

6) I don't ever want another job for the rest of my life.

My stated goal is to never have a job again.  Some people want to be a billionaire.  Some people want to be famous.  I want to live to be 100 without ever having a job again.  I have more than enough ways to occupy my time.  I don't want or need anyone telling me how to spend my days.  

I will agree to contracts, and I will fulfill them.  But I don't want anyone telling me when to wake up, when to eat, or when to show up to work.  That's what happens when you're an employee.  They own you.

7) The greatest thing about America is diversity.

Living in a highly homogenous society (Ghana) made me appreciate the diversity we have in the U.S.  Even in Mexico, there are pretty much Mexicans and a few white westerners.  I have not found many black or Asian people here.  In the U.S., you can find people from every background under the sun.  The problem is that we don't have nearly as much diversity in congress as we do on the street.  American politics are still run by the same greedy, egotistical, white male pricks who have always run American politics.  

America is great specifically because of it's diversity, and for almost no other reason.  America's diversity is it's strength.  Things will start getting better when we start getting more women and more melanin in the American Senate and House of Representatives. 

8) The greatest American export is music.

Go anywhere in the world and you will hear American music.  Even in countries that don't speak English.  If America is rich in anything, it's music.  We have all different types, each with their own unique history and culture.  We have rock, punk, jazz, hip hop, EDM, reggae, classical and everything in between.  I'm not aware of any other country that has as deep or as broad of a music culture as the U.S.  This is something to be proud of.

9) America doesn't value humility, and it's ruining American culture.

Americanism is egotism.  More is never enough.  Win at all costs, including lying, cheating and stealing.  

The one thing your ego will never let you have is ''enough.''  But ''enough'' is where happiness and contentment lie.  You will have no semblance of peace as long as you are constantly craving more.  The Buddhists figured this out long ago.  It's time for America and the rest of Western society to catch up.  A society of humble, real people is a much happier place than a society of arrogant, phony, egotistical pricks (like Donald Trump).

10) There are lots of people who move to Mexico to "learn Spanish.''  There are few who actually do.

Learning a second language seems like a great idea until people realize the amount of work and consistent, daily commitment it takes.  Everyone wants to learn a second language, but few ever do.  Simply moving to Mexico isn't enough.  There are people who have lived in Mexico for decades and still can't even order food in Spanish.  Learning a new language takes consistent, daily studying and commitment over the course of months and years.

11) I still don't know how to chill out.

My life now is probably the least stressful that it's ever been, at least on paper.  This is mostly because I don't have a ''job.''  

But I still feel anxious and depressed and angry.  Yesterday, I got so sick of my headphones falling out during training that I stopped in the middle of a run, smashed the headphones into a tree, then slammed them on the ground and stomped them into oblivion.  Anyone who saw this must have thought they were watching quite a madman.  What crime had those headphones committed to meet such a fate?  They fell out of my ears one too many times, and I don't like my training sessions being interrupted.  So I smashed them.

The headphones were only about two weeks old, and I could have returned them and got my money back.  But I didn't think about that at the time.  I saw red.  All I could think about is how mad I was.  I've been mad for as long as I can remember.  I've tried meditation and therapy, but I am still mad.

I said earlier that my goal is to never have a job again.  That's one goal.  But my real goal - my most important goal - is just to stop being angry.  Surfing helps.  Weed helps.  Not having a job helps.  But honestly I am still struggling.  I am full of fear about running out of money, and it gives me constant anxiety.  I have an anxiety attack every time I go to the ATM, and it's not because I'm broke.  The mere thought of running out of money is enough to stress me out constantly - it's every day that goes by without a paycheck.  

But I would rather suffer this than take a job.  A job might ease some money worries, but it would make me even more miserable because I wouldn't be spending my time the way I want.  I know this from experience.

So the choice is pretty simple.  I could take a job and not have money worries, but the rest of life would suck.  Or I could keep spending my time the way I want, and feel constant pressure for money.  I choose to spend my time the way I want, and I will just have to pray that I can get money when I need it.  People tend to be deeply religious in places where they don't have much.  I can see why.  When you don't have money, you need God.  Those prayers really start to take some meaning when you're afraid of being homeless or being a drain on your family.

I am closest to God when I am dead broke, or about to get smashed by a giant wave.  Those are the moments when God and I are really looking at each other.