Last month Dannie Hill reminded us that we should all open ourselves to the wonders of life, be humble, and keep loving. In my monthly series, The Life Enthusiast Chronicles, lovely humans from around the world talk about why life rocks.
Today I’m overjoyed to welcome my girl Abby Smith from VSVEVG (Very Simple Very Easy Very Good) all the way from Mexico. Abby’s quite the woman, an expat living on a farm with her husband Felipe, with many adventures and stories to tell. They left the US in search of a simpler, sustainable life.
As a lover of poetry, she talks about life with a passion and depth that I find captivating. Her survivor spirit is truly admirable, so she’s a natural as a Life Enthusiast.
First, I’d like to thank Britt, not only for the honor of writing a post for her blog, but also, for asking me—what makes you enthusiastic about life?
Honestly, I wouldn’t have considered myself a candidate for this project. Enthusiasm suggests optimism and, well, the charming energy of say, someone who posts “happy dance” videos.
I think of myself as more of a cynic with a desperately hopeful streak. Or a poet, one committed to exploring life’s paradox of beauty and pain. Adamant seems an accurate description of my approach to life.
So, as I often do when I’m trying to figure something out, like why Britt saw me as a Life Enthusiast, I went to the words.
Enthusiast = fan, fanatic, buff, devotee, supporter, aficionado
Adamant = unwavering, immovable, resolute, stubborn, steadfast
And that made me think of this story.
Once our well was flooded by heavy rains, and it filled with sludge: stinking, black, gooey mud full of sharp rocks, sticks and dead lizards.
My husband Felipe and I set out to clean it, with a bucket, a pulley and a wheel barrel. (We don’t have such things, as sucking machines or any real services to speak of where we live, in middle of nowhere, Mexico.)
He lowered himself up to his armpits into the slime, filled the bucket, and hoisted it over his head. I then pulled it out with the rope and pulley, filled the wheel barrel and heaved it away from the well.
The process took two days—two days covered in disgusting slime the wasps loved (we were both stung multiple times), working wet for so long, hunks of flesh peeled from our feet and hands.
On the second day I was panicky and exhausted. Every muscle hurt. I was covered in cuts and bruises.
I wanted to quit, but we had to have water, and I knew Felipe would never allow his discomfort to hinder us. He would work until we’d succeeded or all our options failed.
I grew still and acknowledged the sensations I was experiencing.
I didn’t think about them, I just noticed them: the pain, the grittiness, the slippery things, and the different layers of stink. I felt my muscles and I quit fighting the bugs.
I breathed deeply—until I was completely present.
The earth shifted. It was just me and sensation, and the sensations were neither good nor bad, they just were. Suddenly, I was awash with joy, outside of time. Transcendent.
A horrid mud bath had awarded me a glimpse of nirvana.
I changed in that timeless place. I am not always joyful, not even close. But there’s a truth that lingers and informs me.
This is a day I will never forget.
The day Felipe inspired me to really live, not to turn away from difficulty, and to know the joy of being because I was willing to experience it fully regardless of the pain. This lesson made me the adamant life enthusiast I am.
*Readers, please note…Abby’s responses may be delayed as she has internet difficulties in rural Mexico. But she will respond to your wonderful comments as soon as she can. – Britt