Many people that I care about have endured extreme disappointments and challenges this year. Whenever Life presents a hurdle in my path, I compare my modest frustrations with those who have suffered losses, and I am so thankful for my meager little problems. I am rarely frightened, and I have learned that staying calm usually helps one find a positive way out of confusion. Almost always, what we fear might happen is much worse than what actually happens, and we’ve worried for nothing. (And if it DOES happen, we’ve had to live through it twice!) If we don’t have obstacles in our paths, we don’t grow as people. We look back later and say, ‘Wow! I am a much-stronger person because of those trials.”
This past week presented silly frustrations; on my way back from Guayaquil, I stopped at my attorney’s office to see if there were any new papers to sign concerning my visa. This business visa will allow me to come and go without the 90-day-per year limit for a tourist visa. I did not want to get home, only to receive a message to come sign something new. I live a three-bus /five-hour trip from my attorney’s office!
The legal assistant assured me there was nothing new, so I resumed my journey to home sweet home on the river. Three days later I received a message to come sign new papers! Exhausted, I waited a few days before returning… The first hour was the walk to town, then the second hour by bus, then a transfer by boat taxi, then a city bus to the bus terminal where I caught the next bus, which traveled for over an hour to the next city, where I changed buses and journeyed 40 more minutes until reaching the port city of Manta! Three signatures later, I was free to return home.
“What’s next?” I queried, “How many steps are left before I get this elusive ‘company visa?’
(My attorney’s office is having a hard time convincing the superintendent of companies that I am in fact a serious artist and not pretending to be one for an easy visa! The process has taken almost two years!)
“Lisa,” my attorney said, “The’re not quite sure what to do with you!”
I had to laugh.
I was told that the 29-page color catalog that was printed six months ago for this application now needed to be presented in black and white. Four copies, front and back were to be notarized page by page and then delivered to different offices. She shrugged and acted as if it would take a while just converting the color catalog to black and white copies.
I interjected, “Gonzalo (whose graphic arts office is nearby) has the file; the computer will produce higher-quality images than black and white copies from the copy machine. All he has to do is print it in black and white, and presto – it’s ready!”
The legal assistant looked at me as if I were joking; surely it couldn’t be that easy?
I nodded, “It’s simple, I’ll email him now and ask if he can do it.”
Dear sweet always-busy Gonzalo wrote back and said, “I can print it now…”
The law office was about to close, and I volunteered to pick up the documents and deliver them the next morning. I would not be able to catch the last bus back home, but the luxury of crashing at a hotel sounded pretty great at that moment.
The next morning at breakfast, I nodded, “Buen provecho,” to a couple as I was leaving the hotel restaurant. I went to my room to collect my things and was about to leave for the day. The manager of the hotel called up to me,”Leee-SAH!”
Richard, wearing a huge smile, wanted me to meet another artist! Standing below and gaping up at me was the couple from the restaurant!
What an instant friendship the three of us made! Nelson Roman and his wife Norma live in Quito and had been in Manta on vacation. We swapped business cards, and I promised to look them up when my trail took me to Quito. I dashed to Gonzalo’s, and they left for Quito.
I realized how lucky I was that Life called me back to Manta; I was also lucky that I spent the night instead of making the marathon round trip in one day. I try not to swim against the current of Life, as sometimes Life has other plans. If I don’t listen, Life sometimes throws a breaker switch and says, “STOP!” It’s not what you have planned for the day, but what the day has planned for you.
Rudyard Kipling’s “If” has always been one of my all-time favorite poems. Years ago when I struggled with the decision to move to Ecuador – or not, I awakened in the middle of a rainstorm with part of the poem floating through my mind, “… if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting too…”
With clarity, I knew that I trusted myself, my destiny, and I was also able to understand and make allowances why some of my loved ones questioned my decision to live so far away. (I have discovered that many people who move to Latin America also struggle with these pulled-apart feelings.)
The poem, written in 1909 for Kipling’s son, captures the traits of great men… Kipling’s son died in 1915 in World War I, although the poem continues to touch many lives. It often touches mine, and I am forever grateful for my English teacher who insisted that we memorize it, once uponce a time when I was young.
This post is dedicated to all of you who are fighting illness, who have lost loved ones, homes, or are enduring a life that you really don’t like but have not found your way to a better place. May we all remember to be grateful for Life’s lessons, as we become stronger people because of those lessons.
Enjoy the poem and the images;most were taken at Guayauil Ecuador’s MAAC Museum.
IF….. by Rudyard Kipling
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
To those of you who are facing disappointments and challenges, may Kipling’s poem give you strength to endure and hold on.
PS: Enjoy BTG’s post which was ironically published a few hours before this one. They seem to compliment the other!