Privilege–Got It! Unfulfilled Desires–Got That too!
Well there’s nothing like being in Mexico on vacation for 5 weeks to remind oneself of what it means to have privilege. Here in San Miguel de Allende, high in the Central mountains, an incredible community of locals and expats from America and Canada co-exist. I wander the streets daily and pick out the day’s impulses—be it my organic imported Hemp milk at $7 or my locally made wine soaked goat’s cheese, or a fresh baguette and chorizo sausages. We choose whatever we desire, whatever food, drink or experience takes our fancy. In the evenings the biggest decision of the day arises, when we must choose where to go for dinner— one of the rooftop terraces, the pork belly taco bistro, or dare I have the lamb chops and octopus salad again from the Beunos Aires Cafe. In and between all my vacation impulses, desires and needs, I see the faces of the poor as they sit in doorways, huddle on street corners, or walk through the restaurant tables selling their handmade wares or simply asking for money or food.
Yesterday coming out of an art gallery where pieces were selling for thousands of US dollars, a middle aged man and his two teenaged children came up to me and asked very politely for money so that they could eat. They were well dressed, clean, and had no belongings with them. He asked with a look of desperation on his thin aging face while his kids did not meet my eye. Of course the first culturally trained thought came into my mind—are they really poor and hungry or are they feeding a drug habit? The next thought of course is the hardest one, do I give to them or do I decline saying, “I’m sorry” and scurry away from this reality as quickly as I can. All I can tell you is that my heart hurts to see all these bodies, minds, and souls struggling to survive. I give a smile to them all and I give money to several people everyday that I am here, because it is what feels right. This man and his children was not one of them that day.
After this encounter I return to my 3-bedroom villa, ascend to the upper rooftop patio, looking out over the city, open my Mexican craft beer, and see what my friends and the world are up to on Facebook. If traveling in poor countries is the number one reminder of my privilege, FB is number two. A platform for telling the world how we are, sharing our opinions, rants and passions, liking what resonates and becoming enraged at what doesn’t. I’m not saying it’s bad, no it’s actually inherently human. We all want to be heard, to be liked and to feel important based on how many people respond to our posts. The reminder of feeling privileged and reading Facebook comes when I recognize that everyone of us, through what we choose to post, is sharing some kind of unfulfilled need. You might be thinking, “No, I don’t do that!” “I’m just sharing my photos so people can see my house, or the snow, or my kids or the dog, I’m connecting with my friends.” Okay so you’re not a selfie addict (except for those who clearly are) but what I am suggesting is that if we look a bit closer we might see a part of us that is needing something….
Some of us need-want-desire to be fit, to be thin, to be more relaxed, to be clever or funny, to get rich quick, to be seen, to stand up for what we believe in, to show the world our wounds, to belong, to disagree, to connect and ultimately I believe, to make a contribution to the world we live in, even one “like” or “share” at a time. Privilege is also being free to say what we like, what we believe in, what we don’t, to not only disagree but to dissent. We are all walking around in our lives with unmet needs and today I am incredibly grateful that food and shelter is not one of them.
When I’d finished my beer and snack on the deck I began to write in my journal about my own unfulfilled desire, about how I needed more compassion, for my recent bout of sleepless nights, from the person closest to me. As I ranted on the page I noticed how strange and uncomfortable this juxtaposition of acknowledging my own privilege and feeling unfulfilled at the same time really was. If we have privilege —of the dominant race or language or finances—does it mean we are not yearning or striving or looking for something more. Does it mean we don’t have needs? In fact I’d even posit the idea that privilege brings with it a deep desire to keep on desiring, that for most of us in this category we are on some level deeply unsatisfied. Maybe not now, but think of a time in life when you were. Unsatisfied in relationship, in career, in financial security, in housing, within yourself. And when that issue changed, did something else arise that we needed or wanted to change? Recall just how easy this state of mind arises.
So I do not invite you to feel like shit—not about having things that others do not and not about anything else for that matter. Because feeling guilt or shame or any other negative feeling is not the point. The point is that we can connect to and help one another, in fact any human or animal on our planet, because we all want the same things. When we can recognize that shared humanity in every impulse, desire and action in our daily lives, we have then really achieved our evolutionary purpose.
Your challenge for the month is to look inside of yourself (hint hint-mindfulness practice) and choose to cultivate a fulfilled state of mind by examining your unmet needs? Because ultimately when we nourish and love ourselves, by meeting our own needs we can nourish and love all that is around us. Today when I made that split second decision to not give that man money for food I also made a decision to say so with love. Just on the off chance that he may need that as well.
With deep respect for all of you! My intention is to live an authentic and grateful life, sharing all of my humanness with you along the path,
**NEW COMMUNITY RESOURCES**
Many of you know that I was part of a community of integrative health practitioners and visionaries to help bring whole person health and education to the greater valley. While that group is on a pause, there is another group that has formed for the purposes of Wellness and Support. They have a private Facebook group and also meet in person in the community! Check out this exciting new group:
There is also a meditation practice resource that I want to share with you and you can read about it here as well.