Carole’s Note:This is a guest post by the awesome Mary Jaksch, Zen Master, Psychotherapist, Author, black belt in karate and a woman who loves to Tango in Beunos Aires. Mary’s blog is called goodlifezen.
Living Lightly: A Regular Feature:
Is traveling just for fun? Or can it help your personal growth?
In the following I’ll share with you what I’ve learned from my visits to Argentina.
Today is a good day:
Every time I arrive in Buenos Aires I go straightaway to a little run-down cafe in San Telmo, called Cafe Pedro. It’s run by Negra - an old lady with black, flashing eyes.
As I walked up to the cafe last year, I could see the cat marmalade stretched out on the windowsill, basking in the meagre winter sun. I walked in. Negra, gave a little scream, dropped her towel, rushed over and smothered me in her arms. It was as if I was her long-lost daughter. She cried, as she stroked my hair.
She then turned around and told everyone in the cafe - loudly - how much she’d missed me. I was then escorted to a table and served her best lunch. She stood over me to see that I ate the last morsel on my plate! “Sos demasiado delgada” she muttered, frowning. “You are too thin”
This is why I adore Argentina!
Here in New Zealand where I live, people are reserved. A little shy hug at greeting is about all I get - even from long-time friends. I’ve had to adapt to that and I restrain myself. By nature I’m expansive, laugh and cry easily, gesticulate wildly, upset my wine glass, drop food in my neighbour’s lap, and in general create happy mayhem.
But here in New Zealand I squeeze myself into a tighter package.
When I first visited Argentina - some seven years ago - it was an amazing experience to feel my spirit expand and take up its full shape!
Discovering a “new me” is definitely part of the joys of traveling.
Each new country brings out a different part of us that is usually suppressed:
Initially I came to Buenos Aires to dance the tango. (My partner is a tango teacher). I had been to other Latin American countries and enjoyed it, but when I saw Buenos Aires - I fell in love. And this love has drawn me back, year after year.
I love the sounds of the city with tango music oozing from every crack in the sidewalks. I love the faded splendour of buildings. Most of all, I love the warmth and generosity of the people.
To my surprise, I immediately found some work. I’m a Zen master and teach in various countries. A Zen group in Buenos Aires heard that I had arrived, and soon I was leading workshops and giving individual guidance. The group arranged for interviews in leading magazines, and I became quite well-known.
When a country is right for you opportunities open up:
Actually, I could immediately move to Buenos Aires and work there full-time. A friend of ours owns a recruitment agency that works for US firms. He asked me to work for him. It’s not really my thing, and I don’t want to move to Buenos Aires permanently. But I take note of the fact that opportunities open to me in that particular place. I take it to mean that it is a place where there is something special for me to learn.
One of the things I have learned there is to play. My ordinary life is pretty busy; I lead Zen retreats. I write a lot: articles, blog posts and books. I also assist David in his tango lessons. I sometimes help my son to renovate houses: busy, busy.
But, in Buenos Aires I play. I dance through the night and eat breakfast as the sun comes up. I spend fun time with David and treasured friends.
I enjoy myself!
Does that sound selfish? Well, maybe it is. But what happens is that this joy triggers my creativity and deeply restores my spirituality. It’s as if the strings on the instrument, that I am, are sometimes too tight. To get full sound I need times when I can ease off. That’s what travel to Buenos Aires does for me.
And the gift that Buenos Aires gave me has changed my life back home. For example, I’ve taken up kite-surfing. Why? Because it’s fun! My time in Argentina taught me that its vital to have moments in life that remind me that I am a free spirit.
Mary Jaksch is a Zen master and author. Her blog is www.goodlifezen.com
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