I’ve been in Mexico City for about a week now. The city’s tempo is just like most other urban centers of the world, fast paced and congested simultaneously. The streets overflow with pedestrians, careening taxis and sirens morning, noon and night.
I haven’t blogged in a few days. I’ve been walking the streets of the Mexico city for hours at a time when not working. Public transportation and walking are great ways to learn a city’s secrets. I have to admit though that Ive been a little anxious about getting back to my hotel to return emails, phone calls, and respond to communications on social networks. My tour manager, Alberto, has helped me to divide my days in half. One half = work and, of course, the other half = enjoyment.
I did have an incident occur a few days ago that I wanted to share with you. My tour manager and I completed work at a school early in the day and headed back to our hotel. When we arrived to the hotel I noticed, as we were exiting the cab, that neither of us had my camera bag.
Time to panic right? We searched the cab and didn’t find it. We assumed that we had left it at the school. There was nowhere else it could be. Since I had to return to the same school the following day it wasn’t an issue. I found a silver lining for this mishap. Had I managed to bring all of the audio/video equipment back with me, I would have been trapped in my hotel room working. Since I couldn’t work without the equipment I took it as a sign that I needed to just relax. What did I do to relax you may ask? Well, of course, I walked the streets of Mexico City for a few hours.
The next morning when I arrived at the school and inquired about my cameras I discovered that they were not there. They were missing. Time to panic right? I had, literally, no idea where the cameras could be. The school’s administrator went into action searching high and low, calling in the assistance of everyone on campus. The entire school was on alert and searching for my missing cameras.
Here’s my point in writing about this. There was a time, when I was much younger, that I would’ve probably jumped to the assumption that “Someone stole my stuff!” This negative assertion would have been accompanied by a great deal of, self-inflicted, psychological and physiological stress.
The school’s administrator had made my loss a priority and was doing everything humanly possible to bring it to a positive resolution in my favor. When we had a moment to talk, I pulled her aside to speak privately. I let her know that I had no anxiety associated with my loss. There was no one to blame or at fault for whatever might have happened. I told her that if I, the owner of the missing items, was able to put them out of my mind and be at peace, then she should the same.
She wasn’t buying into my Zen theory of loss and continued on her focused mission of recovery.
I was here to share culture, music and time with the students of this campus. I was well aware that the “potential” stress aligned with my missing equipment possessed the power to derail my usual successes. I wasn’t going to allow that to happen, regardless of the circumstances. There is a line in one of my favorite films that I sometimes recall in moments like this. The movie is titled “Daughters of the Dust” and I believe it debuted in the early to mid-90’s. In the film there is a child who has yet to be born speaking in the opening. The child says, “I’m on a spiritual mission but sometimes life gets in the way.” I could be quoting that inaccurately but you get the point.
If I take a step back and examine my reactions to this situation, I have to say that I am really proud of the manner in which I was handling it. The equipment was expensive and yet, I was not feeling any of the turmoil that one typically feels when something like this happens. I chose to celebrate my calm disposition as opposed to fixating on my loss.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first session with the children and didn’t permit any thoughts of loss to disrupt my focus on them and their needs. The second session I felt even more successful and managed to have all of my learners engaged from start to finish.
The students were laughing, smiling and soaking up every word that I spoke. There was nothing else in the world but our time together and whatever we chose to fill it with (music, stories, question/answer, conversation, etc.).
At the end of the second session, while I was releasing the students back to their teachers, the administrator entered from the back of the room. Cradled in her hands was my black bag of camera equipment.
I grabbed her and hugged her with the tightest most sincerely thankful hug I could give. I asked her where she found it. Her answered embarrassed me a bit. It had been left in the cab, she explained, and the cab company brought it back. She, personally, gave them a reward of 500 pesos for returning it. The cab company didn’t want to accept it, they were returning the equipment based on their honor.
It was an ephiphanal moment for me. To leave anything in a cab, anywhere in the world, and have it returned, is nothing short of a miracle. If it had not been for this school’s administrator and staff, I know, with certainty, that I would never have seen my equipment again.
It would be self aggrandizing for me to put forth the premise that my disposition of release, and making the students a priority, helped to create the conditions which allowed for the return of my equipment. My only success is that I never permuted the negative thought of “Someone stole my stuff” to creep into my mind. The bare truth of the matter is that one little tenacious woman, assisted by the staff of the school, refused let the issue rest until they prevailed.
Thank you Frances and all of the staff at Green Gates school for your warmth, hospitality and patience.