This coming week is my last week in Guatemala. From here, I’ll spend a couple weeks in San Francisco and then head over to Japan.
I know that I am a different person than I was when I first arrived here. For starters, I am no longer afraid of scorpions! But, more importantly, every interaction I’ve had, every person I’ve met, has impacted me and had a ripple effect in some shape or form.
- From the man at the gas station who called me dangerous (because I showed him how to close the hood of my rental SUV after he tried unsuccessfully to close it four times) I learned to laugh when other people projected their personal fears or hang-ups on me.
- Through the Guatemalan celebration of Mother’s Day with friends and the family that took me in, I learned that “mother” means so many things and that it is completely possible to give birth to others without ever being pregnant.
- From the jungle itself I learned an even greater love and respect for nature and the planet. Every animal, every plant and even every insect has a purpose and beauty unto itself, and there is a freedom in just being yourself, rather than trying to be something else.
- Each adventure I took, including routine daily events like going to the grocery store or car rental place, taught me to more deeply go with the flow when unplanned for things happened.
I am so grateful for these and the other life lessons I learned here.
And I also realize that the “ripple effect” is two-way. Every interaction I had not only helped to shape and change me, but also had the same effect on the other person.
- When I went back to that gas station, that same man was there. He told me that he thought I was a very happy person. I laughed and told him that I was very dangerous. We both had a good laugh.
- As I’ve gotten to know my friends and “my” Guatemalan family here better, I’ve led from the heart in nearly every interaction. For some of them, I am the first non-Guatemalan that they have spent time with. And while I know that sometimes they think the things I do are crazy or different, I also know that I have, by just being me, given some of them a different perspective and some things to think about.
- The jungle brought me a beautiful cat that I have named Rayas (“Stripes”). He was extremely thin and extremely hungry when he sauntered into my house. It’s been two months now, and he has filled out nicely and has even been to the vet for a check up and vaccinations. He has gone from a scared, battered, starving cat to a healthy, happy, love-muffin of a cat that spends a significant amount of his time sleeping on my bed or lap. Next week he goes to his new family that has promised to love him as much as I have.
It is eye opening when you start to think about how one simple action or word that you say can become like a tidal wave as it gains steam. I have no way of knowing the impact I have had on others, but I hope that each one helped the other person in some manner.
Going forward, I’m committing to leading with my heart with all interactions. Maybe it will help all of us become more tolerant and loving towards each other!