The American Dream Isn’t My Dream at All

Markings by Dag Hammarskjöld

I lose days. It is a thing, and not because I am mindless and move mindlessly through. On the contrary, I find myself falling into the rhythm of the creative life. It is consuming. It is full. It shows me how quickly one in the morning appears. It was just six. I lose days while gaining every minute that passes. It is possible to live in the perplexity of the conundrum. I do. I have to check the calendar on my phone to confirm both the day and the date. The event reminders there are a saving grace, and I appreciate them so much that I stop everything to key in the responsibility of my needing to be somewhere, and because I am no longer working, it’s always social, a responsibility nonetheless. It is challenging to leave home. I am a lover of quiet, and of solitude and aloneness, and an introvert with a haunting need for deep and authentic connection. I am a contradiction. 

I quit my job and moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where the warm days are long and full, and where the night comes unknowingly, a breeze of cool to close windows. Mornings start by sleeping in, then reaching for my phone to see the time, the notifications on screen, the news that is social media. A ‘thank you’ regularly falls out of my mouth. I am grateful. There’s a dog somewhere barking. My mind, rested, starts its day. I join it. We go to beautiful places together. We’ve traveled to the altar, the pour-over coffee funnel, the bathroom, and the window to see the expanse. San Miguel is beautiful. My mind tells me all that its been up to and thinking about, and I allow it the room and space, because mostly, I like where it’s going. Then I quiet it. I tell it it’s my turn now, that balance is necessary. It acquiesces. I read. I write. I sip slow my dark roast. I am inspired.

Mexico gives me the breathing space to almost study who I am. There is only me here in this foreign land. I came alone. I trip through the language, learning as I stumble. I am ever settling into both Mexico and myself in this my not quite midlife. I am aware that through time we grow and expand, or those with that intention, yet I can’t recall a time before now when I was as present to all of the things, all of the places and areas within that stretch and expand for that growth. There is a spotlight that follows those who move through the world alone, particularly those who have stopped the tugging of the world, that is, the demands, for a simpler life, which is what I’ve done. My adult life has been kind to me; hasn’t tugged too hard or too often, and I’m grateful for that. Still, my life was not completely mine. It belonged to my career—each of them—at any given point in time, most recently a near-decade spent in hospice.

I am not yet a millionaire, just someone who did what many of us want to do: quit and move, or quit and travel, or quit and work on creative projects, or just plain quit. I took the money I had, and left on a one-way ticket. There are many years before I reach the age of retirement (whatever that is. Remember I worked in hospice), so eventually there will need to be a shift. What that shift is exactly is left to be encountered. To be honest, my practice is focusing less on that and more on the present reality of sleeping in and losing days, because when it is my turn to cross over, I will not regret having leapt inside of the net. My losing days is not a loss or a frittering away, but rather an encounter, a coming into with the vastness of life and trusting its bounty, its ability to carry me.

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