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"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Sunday, July 1, 2007

How Cilantro in Cancun, Soft Contact Lenses in Miami, Construction Noise and Strange-Smelling Trees in Spain Caused My World to Change

Full Moon last night (30.6.07) and its reflection on the water as we
enjoyed dining on the beach in a "chiringuito" in Marbella, Spain

Bear with me today. I’ve got a 4-part story to tell. It may sound a bit wacky, not really important enough for you to read, and yet I promise you that if you make it to the end, you will see some aspects of your life in new ways. And seeing in new ways literally means your world changes.

When I moved from Spain to Cancun, Mexico in early 1990, where I was to spend six years in an idyllic setting right on the beach in view of that unbelievably transparent aquamarine water (where I was able to spend a great deal of time writing), I found that most dishes in restaurants contained cilantro (leafy part of the coriander plant, that resembles parsley in appearance, although not in taste). I found that I not only hated it, it almost made me nauseous just to smell it. I tried avoiding it, but soon found that finding a dish that had no cilantro in it, was like trying to climb a Mayan pyramid in stiletto heels…almost impossible!

So then I tried to pick out the diminutive pieces of finely chopped cilantro from the dishes I ate in restaurants, and found that it was not only an onerous task, due to the ubiquity of the tiny green bits, but also due to the fact that they left their very pungent taste in the dish even when I had managed to remove them.

Here's the incredible water I looked out on every day while living in Cancun

I debated with myself. I fumed at this impossible country. And about two weeks after moving there, I decided that the best way to deal with it was to decide to love cilantro.

Easy, huh? Now I love cilantro so much, that living here in Spain, I go out of my way to find it, as not all supermarkets carry it.

A bunch of cilantro. Photo Credit

Fast forward to 2002 in Miami, where I lived for eight years. Gardened a lot. Got a Ph.D. in just over 3 years. Taught at university. Enjoyed my sons. Had some wonderful cats. And found that as time marched on irrevocably, my gas permeable contacts that had stood me in good stead for well over 30 years were no longer doing their job. Suddenly I could no longer read and had to wear magnifying glasses over my contacts and another kind of glasses over my contacts to see the computer screen. The contacts were now only good for distance. So off to the ophthalmologist I went. He recommended moving to soft lenses and using one lens for close up and one for the distance. I knew I hated soft contacts – the quality of vision is poor as compared to the gas permeable, but I tried. Of course the poor man was wrong! It just didn’t work! Everything was a total blur, I couldn’t see, so I had ortho-keratology done instead with the wonderfully patient Dr. Boshnick. Worked like a charm, despite that I was not in my 20’s, so I didn’t have to worry about the glasses anymore.

Fast forward to 2006 in Marbella, Spain. My special ortho-k lenses broke. I couldn’t find anyone here on the Costa del Sol that is specialized in this still relatively unknown technique. So: fly back to Miami, or find an alternative here. I went to a marvelous optician…Optica Machin…and after extensive examinations I was given two alternatives: glasses or soft contacts using one lens for close and one for distance…just like the man in Miami 4 years earlier. So I gritted my teeth and agreed to give it a try, fully expecting it not to work again.

View to Africa (Morocco) from Tarifa, Spain (only 14 kms separate the 2 continents at this point)

I was fitted with the trial lenses and sent out to have a coffee as I grappled with this new blurry nebulous world I was seeing. Just before I walked out (I felt like asking for a cane), I asked what would happen if I did not adjust to these lenses. You will need to wear glasses, was the answer. So off I went, had a coffee, and told myself: you will adjust to this. You’ve been told it’s a question of the brain being flexible or not. So it will work!!

And do you know what? A few minutes later I was seeing perfectly. Because I had decided to see with these contacts that I had previously convinced myself that I would not be able to see with.

Easy, huh? Now I’m so thrilled with my new-found excellent eyesight, that I encourage everyone who has similar problems, to try what I did.

Fast forward to April, May, and June of this year, 2007. I power walk every morning for about an hour, plus do about 15 minutes of stretching and calisthenics when I reach the beach part of the walk. To get there, I walk through the urbanization where I live, and pass by the 11th hole of a golf course which ends on the beach. For the past few months, major water and sewage pipe renovation has been taking place, hence the normally tranquil residential streets I walk though to get to the beach have been converted into dusty, noisy, raucous places of anything but peace and silence. No more birdsong to accompany my early mornings, only noise, noise, noise. I am very sensitive to noise. I hate noise. I live where I live precisely because it is so peaceful and quiet. Furthermore, my morning power walks form part of a kind of open-eyed meditation and time of creativity, and here it’s being spoiled by jack hammers and loud construction workers… So when I realized after a day or two of annoyance, that this would be going on for quite some time, I decided to be ok with it. To observe with interest the new progress every morning. To observe what each machine did. To observe the different immigrant nationalities working there (at this point, Spain has an enormous influx of sub-Saharan immigration, legal and otherwise, and the same from most of South America). And so immediately it all changed for me. I no longer was annoyed, quite the contrary, I literally looked forward to seeing each day’s progress.

Easy, huh? Now, although they are gone, I know that I will never view construction in quite the same way as before, nor my annoyance about anything at all!

Fast forward to yesterday morning. Again, on my power walk. There is a tree– no idea what said tree is called – with long, narrow green leaves and a long, thin trunk that has a pellet-like flower with a slightly hairy surface which blossoms in spring and summer. I pass a number of these trees on my walk. I find the perfume of these blossoms horrid.

A small branch of the "offending" tree with some of its leaves and small pale yellow, "furry" blossoms

I have even occasionally tried not to breathe as I pass them. Just a smell that was not at all my cup of tea. So yesterday I decided I would find something to like about this particular perfume. And so immediately it all changed for me. It was no longer bothersome.

Easy, huh? All I did was change the way I thought about it.

And that is what this whole post has been about. If you change the way you think about the world, the world will change. So simple. Try it.

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