Saturday, August 26, 2017
more than sunsets
"What can you possibly find to do that keeps you interested in Mexico?"
I hear that question every time I visit The Sates -- usually from the same crowd that constantly yammers on about being bored.
My answer is always the same. Well, at least, when I am not feeling churlish. "I daily anticipate the unexpected."
Stephen Sondheim teaches that good music has two qualities. It is creative. And it is inevitable. Not predictable, inevitable. When it ends, you know that is exactly where it had to go, even though you did not know it was going there.
Mexico is filled with those inevitable moments. And they are always a surprise.
Take that sunset at the top of this essay. I strolled along the beach in Barra de Navidad this evening after a dinner of chicken curry. (The dinner alone was a Mexican surprise.)
When the sky is primarily clear (as it was tonight), we are inevitably treated to a sunset. Some are small gems. Others are as flamboyant as a London drag queen.
Tonight's was in the middle of the spectrum. But just as beautiful in its individuality as the proverbial snowflake. (The type that fall out of the sky as opposed to the type that fall on the ground screaming whenever encountering a view different than their own.)
All of those Melaque yellows soon morphed into magentas -- a color invented by French designers after seeing the blood-smeared white tunics of the massacred Austrian soldiers at the battle of the same name. The light show continued to morph as I walked home.
But I did not make it back home. At least, not directly.
We have a rather forlorn-looking town square in my little village. It looks like a parking lot created as a result of the demolition of some indifferent building. It is not a place that calls to the soul to pause and contemplate.
It did tonight. A crowd had gathered round ahat looked like a piece of street art. It wasn't. It was a boxing ring. Complete with a pretty round girl sitting rather disconsolate holding her Round 1 sign.
After the typical bout of loud music ("Eye of the Tiger," no less), over-blown announcements, and plenty of dead time, the boxing matches began. The announcer had informed us there would be eight contenders. But I had missed the age class.
These were young kids. Showing off the skills they had recently acquired from their grizzled trainers.
At one time, every young gentleman learned the fine art of boxing. It taught confidence, skill, and the unnatural acts of winning with humility and losing with grace.
I was born a generation too late for that type of gentle education. Football had taken over as the molder of young men by the time I was born. We admired Cassius Clay and his road to becoming Muhammad Ali. But we would never know the thrill of his occupation. To us, he was another entertaining athlete.
Whether these boys become an Ali was not really the point of the competition. They may have had dreams, but the skills they learn in the ring will serve them wherever their dreams take them.
As for me, I was simply pleased to once again be surprised by the inevitability of life. And that is why I live in Barra de Navidad -- and not in Salem.