Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Force it!

In my days as a young whipper snapper athlete on the soccer field, the time I spent playing on la cancha significantly shaped the way that I saw the world.

It was on the field that I began to really deal with my overly shy and nervous traits that colored my childhood. I learned to face a crowd, throw bows with girls who were twice as wide, and put my foot where my shit talk was. This may be the influence of futbal obsessed Argentines seeping into my skin, but I definitely learned some of my favorite mantras on the soccer field, especially one in particular.

As an excitable and energetic, midfielder I would often race down the outside of the field looking frantically to cross the ball towards the goal. My eyes would dart side to side until I caught a favorable jersey and I’d peg the ball over in that direction. Sometimes the defender would pop up and the ball would ricochet behind me before my teammate could even get a foot out.

In these moments, no matter how rowdy or quiet the crowd was, I listened for one voice. My couch since the beginning of my soccer experience, and my good friends father—Coach Leroy. He was a burly brown skinned man with a graying-santa claus beard, and an unmistakable voice.

Deep and husky, his voice always echoed down the field. No matter if the score was 7-0 (yea it bes like that sometimes) he would energetically advise us from the sidelines.

“Don’t force it!”

It still remains the way that I try to live my daily life, and it’s a mantra that my studies and my practice has always confirmed. In my experience the universe/God/Allah (whatever you name the energy that pulses around us) will always provide us with that which we need. Of course, it may not be exactly what we WANT or BELIEVE we need at the time, but even in our weakest moments the universe has a lesson for each of us.

As I’ve often said to people, I don’t believe in the term “deserve” in terms of academic, work, or personal merit. The justice system, universities, nor the government have any idea on how to distribute power or just desserts. I do believe heavily in karma and the constant movement and redistribution of energy. We get back what we put out…we essentially are treated with what we’ve asked for and with what we demand from our actions, or choices, and our mentality.

I’ve come to Argentina the same way that I try to come into most situations—open to what may come, trying to read the messages that the city and the people in it have to offer. Well, I’m constantly trying at least, I definitely have my energy blocks.

I have one cycle that I’m actively trying to break which is a constant gnawing at my brain which tells me I’m not being productive enough, that I’m not taking enough advantage of the opportunities that the world grants me.

I try to jump into a million and one activities to feel like I’m producing something, and realize that I can only do them all running. This leaves me exhausted with no time to actually enjoy life, and often makes me a pretty grumpy person.

This trip around, the universe has given me some pretty clear signals about lessons that I need to learn. God has shown me that she's ready to take care of me in anyway that I need but I have to decide exactly what it is that I want.

After a bit of stress during my first weeks of not doing the type of research that “I should” be doing, of not exploring enough, of not “getting enough done” the universe threw at me everything that I thought I wanted—all at once.

I arrived in Buenos Aires late because the Fulbright Committee forgot to adjust my plane ticket after an orientation change. Luckily for me, later was better as I got to spend more time fighting for my VISA and hanging out with my family, friends, and boyfriend. Unfortunately, my late arrival meant I would miss my orientation, and instead would go to the orientation of the Argentine English Teachers Assistants. Most of orientation was a fierce fight to not catch a narcoleptic episode.

After I (mostly) won the battle versus the dark side, I decided to accompany a few former Fulbright scholars for some coffee. Over a green tea lemonade, a spritely, bouncy-haired, twenty-something revealed her interest in yoga and yoga communities. She told me she would be teaching at a studio in Recoleta, and she put me in touch with the studio owner.

And thanks to some universal magic, after a few days in Buenos Aires, I had a job that I had always wanted—A YOGA TEACHER.

A few days later, at a protest that I attended with a few friends, I noticed an older brown-skinned man walking in the crowd. I went to greet him, as I do all black people in Buenos Aires, and he started up a conversation as if he knew me. I followed along until he asked me to remind him where it was that we had met. I told him we had never met, but I was just wanted to say hi to a fellow brother.

He looked at me with a bit of surprise and appreciation, then he pulled me over to meet his sons who are marching with huge drums in the protest. He tells me that he’s an activist living in Dock Sud, from Cape Verde.

“I’d like to talk to you,” he said. “I’d like you to meet my family. I thought you were another Cape Verdean. You need to come and meet my community.”

I passed along my information excitedly as I could feel his genuine energy and goodwill. What a beautiful thing to invite someone to be a part of your family upon meeting them, to invite them to dine with your people, to conocer a tu gente.

My friends were impressed that my research actually came to me instead of requiring a tenuous search…I shrugged and felt in my heart that this would be much more than just a contact for research, but an important part of my experience here in Argentina.

From running into reggae artists right before their shows, constantly meeting rap artists excited about contributing to my project, to running into three people by casualidad from Pittsburgh or who have lived in Pittsburgh. (All of them mentioned Shadow Lounge!! Shout out to the 412). The universe has given me a lot, now its time to synthesize and understand how it can all fit together simply.

Perhaps the most important lesson is understanding what to say yes to. As much as some of us like to try, we can’t say yes to everything all the time. A focus has to be declared and understood…

Well, for now, I’m just trying to figure mine out.

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