Do you allow yourself to change your plans, even if they feel terribly Important to you?
Last week I enjoyed a luxurious yoga-and-womens’ listening circle retreat in Paradise given by my friend, prima photographer Linda Wolf. A 45-minute boat ride from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Yelapa nestles on a perfect beach in a sparkling blue protected bay. It’s never been colonized, has no cars, and they got electricity just a few years ago. Sunset magazine named it the top place you must see before you die. So I can die happily now.
For a woman who smooshes her creative work between a day job and busy family life, the trip offered both an opportunity to recharge body and soul (feed my spark), and to Work. I packed my pet project, a graphic e-book I am storyboarding. I’d reserved a sweet open-aired palapa right on the beach. I imagined taking a dip then writing and drawing at the little table beside the azul sea, my most juicy creative spot on Planet Earth.
Wrong! We arrived Easter weekend, the busiest holiday of the year. My palapa was only a few feet from the well-traveled stone path to the village pueblo. The small, intimate beach was bursting with tourists and locals. The lack of walls, windows and doors — so enticing in the photos — meant that I could be seen by all and could hear their joyful cacophony: the boats, dogs barking, kids yelling, everybody swimming, hanging out.
Unfortunately my muse requires quiet so the voices in my imagination can be heard. I felt exposed and disappointed. I actually threw myself on the warm polished concrete floor (the only place no one could see me) and cried a little. How crazy is that, to be so unhappy in paradise? Wherever you go, there you are.
They say, Never give up. Stick with it! Persevere! But for me, giving up was the best thing to do. I put away my pet project. I took in the sounds, the wild splashing, the astonishing beauty, the presence of my small tribe of women and yes, the Tequila. I shifted from what I had brought with me to what was right there, inviting me with open arms.
That night I sang at the local jam session with my ladies: so much fun! The next few days, I scat sang with Chris, a versatile pianist, up in the jungle treehouse he shares with Beverly (Casa Isabel hostess, sculptress and miracle body worker). I sang in a secluded pool below a waterfall; at another jam in an outdoor cafe which did not click — one more lesson in focus and flow; deep, healing songs in a cave on the Marieta Islands.
My heart opened so wide to the people, the place and the experience of living in the Now, that I spontaneously sang Ave Maria in the open-aired village church just before Mass. The villagers gathered, applauded. And there were tears. It’s easily the most joyful experience of singing I’ve ever known, with no fear, just giving voice to the beauty that flows from and to the Divine. My gift of gratitude for Just. Being. Here.
Expectation is the Devil, I say. Even if your desire is deep and feeds your soul, your pet projects or to-do lists can keep you from living the life that is right in front of you.
Sure, it’s easy in Paradise. But every moment – in any place – carries the possibility to be here, now.
Right here, right now, at my laptop, I wish that, for you.