Sunday, August 10, 2008

everests of opportunity

Factor # 8 -- daily learning to survive
Factor # 9 -- facing mountains of difficulties; and being repeatedly crushed

"Why Mexico? Why don't you retire in one of those nice communities in Arizona?" I have heard those exact words -- or variations -- almost every week since I decided to retire in Mexico.

The subtext, of course, goes something like this. Live somewhere safe. Somewhere comfortable. With the type of people you have known all your life.

Sounds like a cemetery to me. "There is plenty of time for comfort in the grave."

I have seen these communities. Do any of you remember the television series "The Prisoner" from the 1960s? That is exactly how I envision a safe, comfortable retirement.

Because I thought that was what retirement meant, I had almost feared the prospect of quitting my job and moving on to a different life. In my job life, each day is a struggle to survive, but I learn a lot about myself and life every time I get crushed.

The moment I decided that I wanted to move to Mexico, all of my retirement concerns disappeared. The aspects of my work life that allow me to enjoy life would certainly exist south of the border.

I want to wake up each morning not being certain that I will know how to make it through the day. I am not talking about despair. What I want are challenges. Mexico will offer that. I will need to learn how to shop, how to find new foods, what I need to do to keep the electricity running to the house.

I was prepared to go so far as to live in Chacala (enticed through Andee's blog) where there is only 4 hours of water supply available each day -- when the pumps have not been vandalized or the wiring stolen. But Andee convinced me that I need a bit more infrastructure to support my adventure.

What I do not want is a large expatriate community to completely relieve the pressure of daily living. I can easily navigate the brie and Chablis crowd, but if that is what I wanted, I could retire to Santa Fe and die the death of a thousand Dorothy Parker cuts.

Is this factor still important to me?

Yes. But it is too philosophical to quantify much more than I have.

Grade for Melaque:


Melaque offers the basic challenges I want out of my retirement. It does not get an A for the reasons I described earlier. I have already discovered several gringo acquaintances during my brief visits to the area. This is one factor that I will need to watch very carefully.

I am subject to the worship of comfort as much as anyone I know. Perhaps even more so. If I am going to make this experiment work, I need to move somewhere I can find difficulties.

Melaque will do for a start.

Next post:
long walks with Professor Jiggs before breakfast and after sunset (and it will be a difficult post)


Anonymous said...

Commenting on a previous post - I haven't watched TV in about 3 years and do not miss it at all. Saw the first movie in about 8 years recently, and while I enjoyed it, have no desire to make movies a regular part of my life. Music is the same. I seem to go for long periods without it (no iPod for me) - never having it on in the house or car - and like you, listen to NPR talk or nothing at all. I enjoy the silence, and as you do, spend my time reading or writing. Am quite content to entertain myself! It's not that I don't enjoy music - I absolutely do - it's that I'm absorbed in other things, and am quite content to get lost in them - reading, writing, cooking. I live in my head a lot - and like it! : ) So I don't find it unusual that you don't seek or miss the stimulus of TV or radio...


islagringo said...

You will not need to look for challenges....they will find you!

Babs said...

Steve - just crossing the border and getting your stuff down here will be a challenge. I approach each day as an "adventure" and believe me, living in San Miguel can be a challenge - but nothing like it was when I NPR anywhere in Mexico that I have found and I DID love that station also......
I DO love getting out of my comfort zone and traveling certainly does that also.......

Steve Cotton said...

Babs -- Reading blogs and message boards has prepared me for some things. But I know I will have my own challenges. Remind me when I start whinging.

Wayne -- And I suspect I will not even see them coming.

Barbara -- It is odd how our tastes change, and often for no good reason. I started to watch a favorite movie this week when I realized how long it had been since I watched a film. I turned it off after about 5 minutes. It just did not interest me. The same thing happens with food. Some of my old favorites are just not on my menu any more. I think trying out a new life has left me open to newer things. A year ago I could not imagine putting the time I do into this blog.

Nancy said...

Steve, Every time you write "constantly crushed" I think what a negative connotation that is. Challenges are good, and living in a place with few English-speakers you will be challenged a lot. But I doubt you will be crushed at all. Even our most challenging interactions were positive in so many ways!

Oh, Babs, we stream NPR sometimes on our computer. If you have speakers on your computer it can be a nice way to spend an hour!

1st Mate said...

Amen about the retirement communities in Arizona. We go up there occasionally, but it reminds me of a huge "assisted living" facility. Shopping in my favorite thrift store, I overheard a woman say to someone she'd just met: "You look too young to be living in Arizona."
"No, ma'am, I'm just visiting from Missouri."

Babs - I get KQED (San Francisco) on iTunes.

1st Mate said...

Steve - I think we fixed the link problem!

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- I mean crushed in the sense of having an absolute failure. It is this moments where I learn much more about myself than successes. I hate when it occurs, but I like the ultimate result. The concept sounds far more Nietzschean than I intend; and good old Frederich and I are hardly buddies. How about learning to grow by overcoming obstacles? Naw. Sounds like Kant. Somewhere there is a philosophical truth in there.

By the way, have you seen the YouTube (I think) Kant-Nietzsche attack political ad? It is hilarious. I really should post it.

Bliss -- Indeed the link is working correctly now. 1st Mate is working correctly in my blog roll.

I can also receive my local NPR station by streaming. That way Nina Tottenberg can annoy me at least once a week.

glorv1 said...

Goodness, this is a heavy duty post. Can you really say you want to wake up and wonder if you have water? How will you take a shower, or have a coffee? And then if there is no electricity,how will you blowdry your hair, or wash your clothes? I have to have my shower, blowdryer, and definitely my cup of coffee. You have been surviving all your life and it seems done a good job of it, but, Man oh life, I wish you mucha suerte. I think thats how its spelled. Good luck anyways. :)

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- One reason I have always enjoyed camping is the surprises that it brings -- like the night Professor Jiggs was stalked by a cougar on Steens Mountain. I suspect I seek them for the same reason we all love roller coaster rides: we get to face the fear of death under controlled circumstances. For all of its short comings, the challenges of Mexico are hardly deadly -- just frustrating. And they give an opportunity to put all of those middle class values that our parents taught us (patience, love, hope) to actual use.