Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why Am I Here?

That is the question that Caren Cross asks in her documentary film Lost and Found in Mexico. She moved to San Miguel de Allende six years ago and the film is about why she and so many other ex-pats have left behind comfortable lives in the United States. Why are they here?

Why are we here?

While I watched the film I felt myself walking through town with Caren and taking in the colors and sounds and watching the Mexicans as they went about their lives. I listened to the interviews of ex-pats on why they were here and I don't think that any one of their answers is exactly why we are here but I'm not sure I can put words around our "why" even though I've been thinking about this for over a month. But let me give it a try.

So very often while I'm walking through San Miguel I get that same high that I get when I do yoga and have a good meditation period at the end of the practice. I feel calm yet energized. I feel connected to the earth. I feel the joy of my body moving through space. I'm not just looking around but I'm truly enjoying the color and shapes. It is as if everything has been put in slow motion and my experience is intense but still calm. Okay, now some of my readers are probably thinking that this woman has gone off the deep end. Maybe you are right but I really like this high that I can get without taking any drugs at all. Can I get them in Houston, or Floresville or Beaumont Texas. Maybe, but I find it easier to experience these amazing moments here than anywhere else I've ever been. In the film there is some talk about magnetism and energy vortexes in San Miguel and about the lingering calm of the people who have lived here in the past. I don't know if any of those things have anything to do with my experience or not I can tell you that my soul craves these experiences.

New friends that feel like old friends are another reason that I am here. We have met some of the most interesting people in San Miguel, people that I never would have met otherwise. We have great friends in Houston. Friends of many years. We cherish those friendships. But we have some new friendships here that have quickly developed into deep and meaningful friendships. I have thought that maybe it is somewhat a matter of self-selection---that those who would pull up, sell out and move to a foreign country just have some things in common already. Or maybe it is because we are all away from old friends so we have a need to make new friends. But it is pretty wonderful to know that if I needed something or a friend needed help in the middle of the night, a phone call would bring an instant response. It is harder to make new, deep friendships in the USA, especially as you get older. Even when you move to a new neighborhood, join a club, take a course at the University.....for the most part these people are acquaintances and they remain acquaintances because the lifestyle in the USA is so packed, there isn't time to work on a new friendship.

Intellectual stimulation.....exposure to new ideas and another reason I'm here. I value the opportunity to sit at a dinner table with some of these interesting people that we have met in San Miguel and talk. Politics, ecology, travel, art, economics, medicine, family. I've learned about so many other points of view. Learning about Mexico's history and culture. Learning how to "survive" in another culture. Trying to learn and use another language....frustrating....but it does engage the old brain cells. These things keep the mind engaged and active.

One of the people in the film mentioned that living in San Miguel, made her feel a wonderful sense of being alive. And she talked about doing something she wasn't suppose to do as a child and she had a exciting sense of living dangerously. I think maybe I feel a little bit of that too. Moving to another country to live certainly isn't the norm in the USA and I guess I like that feeling of not being normal.

Caren Cross's film, Lost and Found in Mexico is fun and in some ways a simple look at living in Mexico but it has some great editing and wonderful music by Gil Gutierrez, a wonderful musician from San Miguel. Still it may leave you questioning the American dream and asking yourself, "Why am I here and what do I really want out of life?"


Anonymous said...

The perpetual question has been asked and answered at Lost and Found in Mexico

Billie said...

Hey, Anon, I like Cross's documentary very much but I hope you aren't telling me that there now that the film is out, there can be no more discussion about why one came to Mexico.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm simply sharing another's insights about the film, along with comments to that blog post.

wolverinemx said...

Cool... :D