Farewell 2018

© Lily Ro

As the year comes to a close, I would like to offer our readers and followers something to ponder upon.  What are we striving for in our lives?  What are the aspects of the human condition that we stand for?  And, who do we think we are and whom we can become? I am asking these questions because something peculiar happened to me this year–something that some of you might connect with or perhaps it is just something extraordinary to me.  In any case, last December when I was praying with our children a thought just came rushing into my mind. As soon as we were done praying, I told my children “you know what? I feel I am about to tap into something extraordinary about life itself.  I feel I am about to discover a secret about life. You know what? I am not going to get sick this upcoming year.” At this exact moment Vicky starts laughing about what I said. She said something like this, “Ha, ha, ha! Papi wants to discover the secrets of life!” I also laughed with her.  And I told them, I feel I can accomplish this if I meet one condition–we should continue praying every night just like we have done in the last few months and I should continue meditating afterwards.  Paulito and Vicky both said okay. Our prayers are very simple and concise. After we are done praying, I tend to continue my meditation practice in their room because Vicky falls asleep within 5 minutes and there are no distractions.

As I started meditating that night, the normal human thoughts of self-doubt came rushing into my head. What if I get sick right away? What if I get really sick? What are my children going to think of me if I fail? This is something out of my control!!! Who the hell do I think I am? Etc. A few minutes into my meditation I started to dwell into the quiet space between thoughts.  The space of absolute presence.  A space where you can see your thoughts and self from another perspective.  After a few minutes I came back to my five senses.  In that instant I knew that what I told my children came from my intuition.  You know, I am certain we all have had instances when a feeling tells us what we should do or say and we tend to not pay attention to it. This moment was one of those times and, for an unknown reason to me, I just went with it and said the thought out loud to my children. I just remember that at that instant I felt I was going to give my intuition and “faith” a chance like never before in my life.   

Something you all need to know about me is that I am a person full of skepticism. I grew up not believing in any sort of superstitions. Even now I see myself as a rational person. I believe there is always a rational explanation to mysterious events.  As of today, I see myself as a spiritual person and not as a religious person. But I respect every single religion and their followers. Who am I to tell you what to believe in?  You are here to experience your life and only your life.  From my perspective, as long as you do not physically hurt yourself and others, you are free to believe in anything you want. Well, back to the story. I remember one of the bleakest moments of this journey was in March.  During the month of March, a lot of my students were getting sick and also a few of my colleagues. I thought to myself, “how in the world am I going to survive this sickness epidemic?” A few of our students had to stay at home due to their sickness. It was at this moment that I remember my doctor telling me to get the flu vaccine since I work as a High School teacher. I have refused to get the vaccine for the last few years since, from a personal perspective, I do not see the need for it. We all need to get sick to reinforce the immune system in a natural way. For whatever reason my doctor became upset about my decision. I began to doubt myself. April came and went and I was still not sick.  During the month of May, I was thinking “I survived the month of March and April, it would be very unfortunate if I got sick in May or June at the end of the semester.” During all this time I was still living my normal life. Trying to eat as healthy as possible, and not overindulge on anything.  I started running in June because I signed up to run the Santa Rosa Marathon. The weeks went by and so did the months. The praying and meditating were a constant, but I was not pushing anything or creating any parameters around the meditation because I honestly dislike routines. Routines for me are a torture and bring me a lot of stress.  Even if I tell myself, I am going to meditate for 30 minutes. I can’t meditate because then my brain starts thinking about the time and how much time has lapsed since I started meditating.  It is so difficult to concentrate if I put any expectations onto myself. My wife dislikes that I can’t have routines or cannot say what we are going to do the next day. For whatever reason, I honestly just dislike having expectations. I don’t know why. That is something I need to figure out for myself.

At the end of August, I went to run the Santa Rosa Marathon. My 10th marathon overall.  I felt so proud of this personal accomplishment. I did not run my personal best, but I did finish the marathon in 4 hours and 17 minutes. Not bad really.  After the marathon I stopped running completely since my right knee hurt so much during the marathon that I decided to give it some rest.  And one thing led to another, I started indulging in all kinds of unhealthy foods and could not find the energy to start running again.  I even stopped using my multivitamin supplement. The thoughts of “so what? You only live once? Enjoy this life however it comes!!!” Started flooding my moments of reflection.  I felt that at one moment or the other I was going to wake up with a sore throat, a runny nose, or coughing.  I kept praying and meditating sparingly. Halloween arrived, and I was still not sick, then Thanksgiving and still not sick.  Now, after Christmas I am still not sick!!! But…I have gained 15 pounds since the beginning of September.  This is not something that I can ignore.  I cannot keep taunting the universe or myself; otherwise it could give me a good reminder of the mere mortal that I am. I have to go back to my roots.  I have to go back to loving and respecting my body because I know that the body does not discriminate, it will take whatever you give to it.  And if it is not good, it can and will implode in one way or another.

Something essential for you to know as well, is that I do not watch the news.  I read a ton of self-selective articles about topics that feed my intellect and spirit. I refuse to watch stuff that only feeds me violence, hate, subordinate perspectives, and narcissism. I am discovering that the world works in a collective order because of capitalism. I am not going to dive into these topics because it would take forever but one aspect is certain, where we spend our time matters, where we spent our hard-earned money matters, how we focus our minds matters. The only way we can change our world is by changing ourselves.  This sounds very familiar but very difficult to digest and execute once we truly know what it entails.  But as far as I can tell, it is when we start changing ourselves that we start making smarter choices, and consequently this change lead us to tell our stories to inspire others to do the same.

As I am typing this blog, my child Victoria is bugging me to let her use this computer. It is the end of 2018 and I did not get sick! Never in my life have I gone a whole year without getting sick!!! It might all be a fluke!!! But my intuition tells me otherwise. I’m at the point in my life where I am getting ready to begin the journey of self-discovery. A journey to discover my true essence. Where the realization of what the outside world entails, perspective wise, is just a copy of my inner workings. If it happens at a personal level, it might also be happening at a collective level.  The world definitely provides us with plenty of inspiration but in the end, it is up to us, if we are brave enough, to go within and search for whatever we are looking for.  If I could go an entire year without getting sick, could a second one be possible? I will definitely find out. Unquestionably, I will continue to practice and refine my craft. I will continue to meditate. I will start exploring why having routines are such a burden for me, and something I have been bewildering with lately; reaffirming for myself the difference between satisfaction & comfort and happiness & peace. Until then, I feel this story is worth telling. May all your dreams and aspirations in life become more fruitful in 2019. Happy New Year to All!!!

Thank you for reading,

Paulo Menchaca