both and

March 13, 2019

sanm

My life here in San Miguel could not be more different from my life in Los Angeles. LA is a massive city, full of creative energy around every corner, and full of people. The energy of the city is coupled with a sense of expansiveness and spaciousness in the ocean that borders it. Nature along the California coastline provides a sense of calm and peace that balances the chaos of the widespread metropolis.

But yet, despite the masses of people who live in close proximity to one another, the city does not readily allow for true connections. Although meeting people on a surface level comes easily, a subtle sense of disconnection penetrates relationships. As a result, life there contains an emptiness that is hard to describe, almost a heart longing. Busyness is coupled with a feeling of isolation.

Life in San Miguel is something entirely different. It is a tiny town, nestled in the hills in the middle of Mexico, far from any coastline. Instead of being anchored by a large body of water, the town is full of stone - cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks, stone churches and ancient buildings. One must travel outside of town to connect with nature, and even then, it is a desert-y and dry nature, far different from the ocean side living I’ve known for so many years.

Despite its much smaller size, San Miguel is also chock full of people. However, here, amidst the bustling streets, there is never a sense of isolation. Every morning when you step out of your house, you are greeted with “buenos dias” from every corner. Mexicans and expats alike are constantly connecting to one another, socializing, and creating a deep sense of community. Life is “full” in all the ways that matter for the heart. There is almost never a sense of emptiness, because you regularly experience a deep connection to the rest of humanity.

While it is easy to fall into compare and contrast mode, I am learning to embrace the “both and” in all of life, no matter where it takes me. Both Los Angeles and San Miguel have and are shaping my soul in important ways. The good and the not so good, it all plays a role. The sense of stillness and spaciousness by the ocean in LA, its opportunities, and even the sense of isolation that pervades it, together with the feeling of deep heart fullness and connectedness here - each facet has caused important transformation work to happen deep within me. And, although it’s human nature to wish for something that is missing in either place, I’m realizing in new ways that the Divine is present in all of it. Present in the emptiness and in the fullness, in the isolation of a large metropolis and in the ways I am deeply connected to those around me in this tiny town.

When we fall into wishful thinking or “either/or” kinds of thoughts, it’s so helpful to remember that all of life truly counts. Every season refines a piece of our soul, if we allow it. It is all part of the journey, and it is all good.

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