Going South: In Search of Enlightenment or at Least a Good Story — By Jennifer Shipp
Mexico North America Yucatan Trips

Going South: In Search of Enlightenment or at Least a Good Story — By Jennifer Shipp

This is a photo of a police officer in Mexico dusting our window for fingerprints after we were robbed.

Whenever I glimpse my own craziness or frivolous behaviors, I start referencing various religious perspectives to justify my behavior. What would the Christians say? Well, it’s Christmas so I suppose if I were truly good or godly or whatever and not just another everyday Jane trying to cope with the grim realities of life on earth, I would probably give the money from our flight to Mexico to some poorer, less fortunate soul. Or better yet, I’d give the money to The Church/God. I’ve considered doing the “giving money to the poor” bit, but then, if I didn’t go to Mexico, I would have to buy a heavier coat. Or I’d have to be cold a lot (which would definitely be more righteous…especially if I also bought a heavy coat for someone less fortunate than myself). Then, I’d probably get sick from being cold all the time and I’d have to go to the doctor and get antibiotics (and contribute to the worldwide problem of spurring the development of “super-bugs”) which would cost more money still. The thought starts to break down at this point because the cost alone of heating our giant house to a reasonable temperature costs as much as a vacation rental in a rural community in the Yucatan.

If I were a Buddhist, instead of going to Mexico, I would spend the winter months in rapt meditation trying to reach nirvana, despite the cold. Instead of running from the coldness and shortened days, I would try to become friends “with myself” and embrace the profound seasonal depression as an expression of Maya,The Illusory World, as it descends over me. I would also deny my sexual impulses and be abstinent and eat undigested food fragments out of animal feces in order to survive. Instead of going by plane, I would don a loin cloth (and perhaps a covering for my upper body), take a walking stick and head south by foot, preaching and meditating all the way. And, I wouldn’t write about it.

I could go on, but basically, I can’t justify my actions through a religious proverb or tenet. I also can’t justify it financially or culturally. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve looked for little religious proverbs and clichés to uphold my way of life, but though major religious figures tended toward minimalism and wanderings throughout the known world, none of them said that this was what one should do, per se. Or, at least support for this semi-nomadic way of life is not often highlighted in the holy books (I suppose churches and mosques wouldn’t do very well financially if congregants regularly traveled to more comfortable climates). Jesus told his disciples to leave everything behind and follow him, but what if I’m not following Jesus. What if I’m following myself and my inner urgings? Does that count for anything? Is that the same thing (metaphorically)? I might decide to believe so, out of convenience to justify my behaviors, or to make myself seem good or at least better than others, or not. It depends on my mood. But I’m pretty sure that other people don’t see a reflection of Jesus or Buddha in me when I fly south to Mexico or South America for the winter.

Somehow, to go to Guatemala seems a bit more intrepid than going back to our little town in Mexico and since I can’t justify my actions by referencing Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, or any of the other biggies, I find myself in a position where I at least want to come home with an epic story to tell. One worthy of a holy book. But it isn’t  adventurous to take up residence in a familiar location among friends. Is it? I suppose this will be the trip that will answer that question.

Related Posts:

If Eddie Vedder Were the Vegetable Man: In Search of a Curandero in the Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp

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Visit During the Off-Season If You Can…and Wander — By Jennifer Shipp

Like We Never Left: Progreso, Mexico– By Jennifer Shipp

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