I’ve always been an expert at making huge, glaring, public mistakes.
(Thus, “Misadventures” on the path to consciousness!)
Until fairly recently I lived under a cloak of shame, and these public bumbles would send me reeling into my cave of self-protection; hiding from the judgmental eyes of the world. It was only when I entered the path of Self-Realization; studying Eastern spirituality, that I realized that the mistakes were vital lessons – intentional parts of my education – and I was able to shift my reaction so that I learned to react with joy and appreciation, instead of shame.
What a tremendous difference in my quality of life that shift made!
My latest bumble happened just a few weeks ago. I was at my partner’s B&B in Morocco, which is in the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains. This area is inhabited solely by Berbers, who are the indigenous people of Morocco (and perhaps the most ancient human civilization). Berbers in the mountains live very simple lives …. money is scarce, they are farmers and so food is available, but they live in crude adobe structures on the sides of the mountains, usually with their livestock. The land near the rivers is considered sacred, and is dedicated to agriculture.
The old women of the villages go down into the valley every evening and cut huge bundles of grass for their sheep, goats and cows, which they carry back up on their backs.
It was a super hot day, and the nieces and nephews were visiting us, for some relief from the sweltering heat of Marrakesh. It was early evening and they asked to go for a walk, so I took them down to the river. We got lost a few times in the orchards, but when we finally got down to the river, I was surprised to find that it was filled with hundreds of people sitting with their feet in the water or swimming in a newly-made swimming hole, and even playing soccer on the side. There are about 6 villages in the vicinity, so they came from all over and socialized while keeping cool.
There were many women wearing full body coverings – burqas – and I made sure to greet them, looking them in the eye, and I found the most beautiful eye-smiles you could imagine. The thought of wearing those coverings in this incredible heat – it makes me sweat from the inside out.
About a half hour before sunset, everyone began to leave and so we joined the throngs heading back up to our little village. Being the blond American, I am always a Person of Interest and people are usually very friendly and inquisitive. As we were walking up the dirt path I was saying hi to someone above me, when I took a bad step, and tumbled backward down a little hill. I wasn’t hurt at all, I got right up – but everyone around me just of laughed at the “bumbling gringo.”
I immediately saw the value of my bumble – usually, the western white woman is perceived as the “ideal” – wealthy, educated, independent. In this simple mistake, every Berber woman around me was instantly granted the status of “better than the American” and from my perspective, it was almost like a gift. Because I am certainly no better than any other person, it’s not how I present myself, not how I act, not how I live my life. So, I laughed with them!
On the way back into the village, one boy who is learning English asked me, “Everyone wants to know, are you blessed?” And I thought, wow – that’s an interesting question – and so I replied, “Yes, I really am blessed.” But then I realized, he was probably asking, “Are you hurt…” so I caught up to him and let him know that I am fine.
But really, I AM blessed!
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