This past week, I took a quick trip to San Francisco from Guatemala. I had a number of things I needed to get done and didn’t even let most people know that I was in town. My days were packed with appointments and meetings, and before I knew it, it was time for me to head to Guatemala.
While the differences between San Francisco (a large, bustling city) and El Remate (a remote jungle town) are pretty obvious, this time I felt the differences so much more – maybe because I now have a house and connection to Guatemala that extends beyond a vacation or writing trip. I realized that I am truly straddling two different worlds in my life.
The San Francisco world is action-packed, driven, filled with pretty much every convenience known to mankind (have you seen those robots you can program to follow you and carry your belongings?). There are museums, restaurants, cultural events and a melting pot of ethnic, religious, and lifestyle backgrounds. It’s crowded, noisy and filled with people and buildings.
The Guatemalan jungle is slow-paced and laid-back. Life is simpler here, but not necessarily because of modern conveniences. There are people here who live in homes with dirt floors, and some women still bring their family’s laundry to the lake to wash it. El Remate has a handful of restaurants, a beautiful lake, and not too much more…except jungle, howler monkeys, toucans and Mayan ruins.
Even driving is different. In Guatemala, I drive La Bestia, my beat-up 24-year old Toyota pickup truck. We chug along at our slow pace over the pot-holed roads. I have plenty of time to think, since there’s no radio, and, because I’m driving so slowly it takes me longer to get where I am going. I see a lot of tail lights of the cars that pass me…but don’t see any rude gestures since people in Guatemala tend to go with the flow with a variety of driving speeds (and vehicles!). In San Francisco, I drive Baby Car, my beautiful hunter green Audi TT convertible. We zip along, with the top down and music playing. She’s a dream to drive and never fails to make me smile.
But what I realized on this trip is that the two worlds that I’m inhabiting are a metaphor for a life lesson that I have been working on for a while now: being vs. doing.
San Francisco is definitely “doing” – goal oriented, outwardly focused, making things happen, bustling, masculine energy. And El Remate is “being” – introspective, receptive, going with the flow, feminine energy.
I have perfected the “doing” side of things and can juggle and organize many things at any given time. It’s a skill I learned in college when going to school full-time, working full-time (and then some), and being actively involved in several school organizations. It’s a skill that came in handy in my career as a consultant, since I had to be goal oriented. And did I mention that “doing” is more masculine in its energy? Often in my work life I would be the only woman in the room and would need “fit in.” Luckily I realized a number of years ago how much it was hurting me to suppress my femininity and I made a number of changes, but our society in the United States values the masculine, “doing” energy more than the feminine, “being” energy.
And yet, it is when I connect to my feminine energy and just “be” that I get deeper insights into my life, I have a clearer vision of the life I want to create for my life, and my heart expands. I can more easily see the big picture and more easily connect to joyful living. I move much more slowly in Guatemala. While part of that might be the heat, I truly believe that the “being” energy here is responsible for this. I still accomplish things, but I don’t feel compelled to go at the breakneck speed that I did in San Francisco.
“Being” is a state that I only began cultivating after I began my shamanic path. It took me a while to get used to it, and, even today, I sometimes have to remind myself to “just be” instead of trying to force things to happen. The interesting thing is that when I am “being” and going with the flow, opportunities and doors open for me that I never would have imagined. Just yesterday, an opportunity presented itself for me to do sacred ceremonies with an area resort. This possibility hadn’t even been on my radar, and yet, here it is because I was open to it.
What I have been learning is that I am at my best when I balance and cycle through both. When I incorporate both worlds into my life, I am far more effective and far happier with my life than when I don’t. I start by “being,” and I get very clear on what my heart wants for my life. I have a strong sense of purpose and know what I need to do to get there. Then I shift to a “doing” mode, and take the steps necessary to realize the vision my heart has. This is often a daily practice – I may start my day by “being,” whether through meditation, a shamanic journey, or just sitting on my balcony looking out over the jungle. Then I spend time “doing” based on what comes up from “being.” If I get bogged down during the day, or find myself being unproductive, I go back to “being,” recalibrate and then, when the time is right, move back into “doing.” It’s like a dance throughout the day and I’m getting clearer on my own personal cyclical rhythm between “being” and “doing.”
Much as there is a rhythm of my time in Guatemala and San Francisco that allows me to feel balanced and able to accomplish things, there is a rhythm between “being” and “doing” that allows for the same. In this way, I straddle both worlds and bring the best of each forward.