A Twist on Gentrification

FullSizeRender-3I only know to change. It is the process of my evolution, of evolution itself. Yet, I can’t say that I am moving toward middle class so much as I am moving toward the essence of life, which, if we have to compare, places me in the upper of the up-up of the upper class. Where else is there to go when you’re sitting at the hem of the garment? Is that not the path, its way and the way of? It is for me and others out there chiseling their life by design. It, life, has a way of bringing us back to ourselves in every moment that we step too far away, perhaps out of reach or the vicinity of our true self. How easy it can be to hop on that train and ride, especially when the view grants us distraction after distraction. That is the role of the mind: to go, and ego is an instigator. Fist raised in air chanting, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” But we all know what happens in Vegas, so maybe we should weigh the risks and hope this time we’ve gentrified, that we’ve become more refined on the inside.

I enjoy nice things, going to nice restaurants, being surrounded by life’s beauty and abundance, and shoot, let’s not forget the luxury of time. Call me a hedonist. I do enjoy satisfying my senses. I have a donut almost every Saturday, and red wine is a staple next to water. Above all, I enjoy doing absolutely nothing, which happens to be amazingly full and I think that’s because they’re more complete and real, more tightly woven to my truth, a gift offered the moment I quit my job and exchanged one gentrified life for another. 

Living in Oakland on Lakeshore—prime locale for those who don’t know—in a top floor rent controlled apartment where every space had a view of Lake Merritt save the bathroom, I had what some might call a luxurious life, modest, yet able. My hospice career afforded what some would call a gentrified life. I could go to all of the “new,” middle-class conforming taste, hipster-smipster, wine bar, Oyster Rockefeller places, or drink all the red wine I could handle. Sounds like I had “made it,” but what are we making and where are we going? A near decade working in hospice painted a most vivid picture that LIFE IS NOW. I never had a single patient tell me that they wish they had worked more or harder. No. Many wished they had worked less and spent more real time with those they loved, others that they should have followed their creative interests and talents. Often, they encouraged me to chuck it, and go, and keep going, and live. So, I did.

I sold everything, packed up a small load and stored it in the smallest of units. I let it all go and right in the middle of life happening. I actually received a raise the day I resigned. See, life keeps on moving whether we listen to the voice within reminding us that we want and need change, that we can’t keep going like this, and… It keeps right on moving, clock ticking time forward waiting on nothing or no one, then ten years later, the voice again. Truth, like time, is always active whether we accept it or not. Too often we push truth aside, place it on the backburner, or tell it the one bedtime story about “When, then.” When I get, have, situate, save for [insert yours here], then I’ll quit, move, have a child, get a divorce, tell the truth [insert yours here]. And you know what? Truth is a smooth cat. It just smiles and nods while keying in a reminder to hit you back in about two months. See, it knows you’re getting laid off. It was just trying to give you a jump so the crisis didn’t smack you, but you’ll be okay even then. But imagine if we leaned in and turned toward more, if we gave into the spontaneity of truth over the plan. Picture that, I’ll wait.

I’m not saying everything is always so simple, but I am saying that many things are. It’s the mind lying in bed with the ego that complicates matters. The day I received a raise and resigned, the ego, who’d been chatting it up with fear and illusion, pulled out all the stops. Talking about, “See, it’s a sign. Are you sure you want to give up your beautiful lakefront apartment?”—with the low-key whisper voice like it’s afraid of the dark. Yeah, it’s a sign that all roads lead to bounty, was my comeback. It’s okay to assert yourself when fear knocks. I see any moment of fear as confirmation that I’m stepping out of the box of stability given to me by someone who can—At Will—take it away, and onto a path of freedom, something no one is capable of touching. This is a whole other level of gentrification, one that doesn’t displace, but rather points me in the direction of home. Mostly, I listen.

Anytime we turn toward our truth and say yes we are elevating ourselves, evolving, rising, and building conscious tiny houses in vast space. Call me a gentrify-er and I’ll say you’re right. I’ll take a seat at the table and eat lollipop lamb, bone marrow, and paella with the best of them. It’s just that now, here in Mexico, I’m on a peso budget, plus they don’t have all that fancy stuff, but you’re getting me off topic. All I’m saying, is this: I’m living in a Mexican barrio in San Miguel where the streets boast strings of lights strung from rooftop to rooftop, and where an old Mexican man rests on an upright crate playing guitar, and the corner-store dog chases a four-wheeler a total of about four trots, and this feels more refined.


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