Sunday, Apr 10, 2016

Thanks for sharing in my South American journey for three months today!

It seems like so many emotions, experiences, and challenges have transpired over the last 90 days. On one hand the time has gone fast, on the other hand some things, like my Spanish, seem to have gone painfully slow.

I think the biggest challenge being here over the last 90 days hasn’t been about finding our way around this town or this country, navigating the bureaucracy for our resident visas, finding a permanent place to live, or learning the language. The biggest challenge has been to maintain a mental and emotional space that allows for the creation and expansion of possibilities.

Of course the opposite of creating and expanding a world of possibilities is living in beliefs, feelings, and moods that constrain, constrict, and limit what is possible. Staying in the place of possibilities is the real challenge I have had to face over these 90 days.

In fact, isn’t this the “real” challenge for any scenario we find ourselves in? Whether we are talking about relationships, careers, finances, relocation, learning, teaching, you name it, we are fundamentally walking, breathing, and living in what we believe is possible. So how can I, and how can you, see what is truly possible?

Emotions play a big role in the possibilities I can see. The duration of an emotion has an even greater impact because it lays down a foundation for the creation of a mood, and moods are what you and I live in. They can last days, weeks, months, even a life time. They can be present for so long, one doesn’t even consciously see them anymore. There are of course positive moods and negative moods.

If my base mood is one of joy, peace, love, happiness, satisfaction, contentment (choose any positive, upbeat descriptor of a mood that resonates with you), then the possibilities that I can see for my situation, my circumstances, my life are many. My world grows.

If I take another set of moods like anger, fear, anxiousness, shame, bitterness (again pick any negative mood descriptor that works for you), then the possibilities I can see are few. My world is made small and I become limited in my ability to see all that is possible for me. Without possibilities, I have fewer options; without options, I become stuck, stagnant, and/or frozen.

So moving to Ecuador and adapting, embracing, and flowing with the realities of what is here and what is not here, and what I am able to do and what I am unable to do, requires me to be able to see the possibilities that allow my world to grow and to expand. And that my friends requires the ability to shift myself out of moods that do not serve me.

How can I shift myself out of a shitty, anxious, fearful, depressed mood that limits the possibilities I can see? I ask myself some questions in three areas:

1. Facts

Facts are the things “that cannot change”. They are the past, and those things that cannot change in my present and immediate future. They are the landscape of “what is” that I do not control.

What are the facts of my current situation? Are these actual facts or things I have come to believe from past experiences? Can I change these facts in my immediate future? If I cannot change the facts in my immediate situation, am I willing to accept them? Am I unwilling to accept them?

The answer to the last two questions is going to determine my level of suffering and my potential for possibilities moving forward. I do not control the universe, so I cannot control everything that happens in it…which when it happens becomes a fact. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, or even accept it as a long term prognosis of how things need to remain.

When I wanted to have a permanent place to live in three months and I don’t because what I want isn’t available, it doesn’t mean it was a mistake moving here. I don’t need to high tail it back to the States. I can accept the fact current inventory is limited, and allow for the possibility that it can change in the future, and also allow the possibility of discovering other areas I may enjoy living in permanently.

When I am clear with myself whether I am accepting the facts of my situation…or not accepting facts (those things that cannot change in my immediate future), it helps me to see what I am actually choosing…a mood of suffering or a mood of potential possibilities.

Who wants to suffer needlessly? Not accepting fact creates suffering, and when I recognize this is what I am choosing, it becomes like a slap in the face and wakes me up to choose differently.

2. Possibilities

Possibilities are what create the mental and emotional landscape of wide open spaces from which to live. They are the things of “what is open to change”. And from there, what actions are then possible; what choices are then available.

Possibilities are the paths to positive mood shifts. It is the way out of moods that cause me to suffer.

Have you ever done this? I will admit that change is possible and in the same breath I will deny the possibilities for me and my situation/circumstances. How fucked up is that? I just said I have no future that is different from this moment I am in.

How is that even logical? Even if I acted like a toadstool in the dark and did nothing, the external world would act upon me in various ways and force me and my situation to change…maybe worse, maybe better, but definitely changed. My point is by not accepting that I can change, that my circumstances can change, and that my mood can change, I am hamstringing myself and imposing limits on my possibilities.

Bringing this awareness to my consciousness allows me an opportunity to choose differently. I can accept possibilities for myself. When I do this I have just opened up a world that is bigger and more expansive. I’m no longer a toadstool in the dark; I live in the light of possibilities.

I don’t know for sure that my life in Ecuador is going to work out like I planned. Living in possibilities however gives me my best shot at dealing with the various challenges living here to make it work out. I also don’t know the end of this story.

…which brings me to point number three.

3. Uncertainty

The world is an uncertain place. Do you accept that? I do…and I have to remind myself of this too. I prefer certainty. Who wouldn’t? I like knowing the eggs I buy at the market are going to be 10 cents each, that my investments will keep going up in value, that my wife and I will love each other until our dying breath. Who doesn’t want certainty?

Life doesn’t run according to my plan. It has been, is, and will continue to be uncertain at various times and in various situations. If I choose not to accept this, I am inviting undue suffering, increased fear, and negative moods into my life. There is a worse outcome in my mind than even this however.

If I cling tightly to a belief of “I control” in order to avoid uncertainty in living, and then shit happens anyway, I risk internalizing my inability to control all of my circumstances as a personal fault, an inadequacy of who I am. From there, moods of anxiety…fear…being a victim in an unpredictable world could permeate my being. For me, choosing not to accept uncertainty only allows for a very small, cramped box to live in.

When I accept uncertainty as part of my life’s landscape, I believe I can be much more effective at actually managing my life. When I ask myself questions of what I don’t know, or name what I don’t have answers to, I have at least identified something. For me these unknown things feel more tangible, and not so daunting.

I don’t know where I will be living next year. I don’t know when I will become fluent in Spanish. I don’t know if I will have the financial resources to live “forever” in Ecuador in the manner I want. There is a lot I do not know.

When I can be clear about what it is I don’t have answers to, then I can orient myself in a direction to learn and gain knowledge to help me answer them. I do not exist as a piece of styrofoam floating on the ocean being randomly tossed about. I can choose my directions to move forward and toward something.

At 90 days out, I am “living in the mystery” of what it means for me to have left a well paying career, sell everything, and move here with my family. Have I made the right move? I choose to live in that question for a while longer, and I choose to not need its answer at this moment.



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