Sunday, April 13, 2014

What If the Hokey Pokey Is What It’s All About?

What If the Hokey Pokey Is What It’s All About?
It was close to four o’clock when I left my apartment to walk up the street to get a liter of milk, no specific destination in mind, just a purpose—buy milk. I could go to the frutera and buy milk and fruit. Or to the Farmacia for milk and an apple turnover. Or to the Oxxo for milk and pan dulce, a sweet treat for the next morning. Or to any of a dozen other small markets for milk and whatever might catch my eye.

Instead, I crossed the street to Tony’s on the Bay, seated myself at a table overlooking the beach, the waves, and the islands across the water. A shrimp dinner would be nice, I thought. Over chips and salsa I read every item on the menu, hesitating between garlic shrimp and an avocado shrimp salad. When the waiter appeared at my elbow, my mouth said, “Chilis Relleno, por favor.” It was what I most wanted.

Tony’s shares beach frontage with two other restaurants, and is tucked between Chili Peppers and Loco Loco. They are separated only by distinctive colors on the floor, the back walls and tablecloths. It doesn’t matter which one I choose. They each serve good food. While waiting for my meal, I watched people on the beach, gathered around tables with huge umbrellas, sitting on blankets in the sun, or digging trenches around sand castles with the children.

A large family led by their grandmother came into the restaurant. The waiters scurried to put together three and then four and eventually five tables as more showed up. The grandmother and I glanced across the tables at one another, exchanged a look of understanding and smiles. I knew if she and I only spoke the same language we would discover we shared worlds of experience.

Behind me, a couple from Bellingham, Washington came in off the beach and were seated. They were soon joined by another couple, obviously friends, serendipitously met on the beach. I listened shamelessly to their conversation. I grinned when the Bellingham woman said, “We are here only three weeks this trip. I already have mapped out every meal at a different favorite restaurant. Of course, I know it won’t work like that.”

And I knew I liked her. But I never turned around to look. She sounded like me and my friend Kathy from British Columbia. Over the years of our shared trips to Mazatlan we learned to let go, skip the plans. It added sizzle to wake up and see what adventures the day would bring.

It is wonderful to have the luxury of slowing down, of being able to look at life differently. Being in a different place helps, but that is not the whole story. The luxury comes from not having to adhere to any kind of schedule. There is no shoulda, woulda, coulda hanging over my head.

All my life, when I awoke, I swung out of bed with definite tasks or duties in mind. Most of us can say the same thing. We woke up and went to school, or milked the cow, or drove to the job, or mopped the floors or had coffee at the diner or saddled the horse or cleaned the brushes and set a blank canvas on the easel.  We had a definite purpose, a destination, whether physical, mental or creative.

I had no idea how important these last several months of ease, lack of purpose, idleness and sloth would be to my overall health and welfare.  At first I had to beat down panic as I realized I was gradually coming to accept a life of laziness. I suffered through weeks of reading a novel a day, of “playing solitaire till dawn, with a deck of fifty one”.

This whole last week, a week like any other, with good news and bad news, I have been aware of one over-riding giggle down inside my center. It sounds sappy to say it, but I am happy. We don’t hear that word often, but it is the only one that fits, that explains how I feel.

What if, think about it, what if, the hokey pokey really is what it is all about?

When I left Tony’s full of good food and salt air, I walked home, content. The milk? I’ll get that manana.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

March 20, 2014

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