Inspired, or rather Outspired by Afua Hirsch’s book: Brit(ish), i’ve spent the last four days writing a screenplay about the life and death of Mzee Mohammed. I’ve written my first draft. I’m open. The rest is up to you universe!
During our News Years celebrations this wonderful woman came up to me and asked me to write something for her small project ‘the Exquisite Dead’ in which she selects strangers on her travels to write whatever they want (preferably a poem). We attach our emails at the end of it and then she’s going amalgamate them into one great poem.
Here’s what I wrote:
Life is like a yoyo,
With as many downs as it has ups,
We try our best to stay up,
But in doing so we miss the beauty
That darkness offers us,
If we only knew that darkness is just
As nourishing as light.
Like when we rest our heads to dream at night,
It is darkness that sends us soothingly to sleep.
Some say we are most ourselves in our dreams,
Who we spend our waking hours trying to neglect.
Don’t forget, we were born in the belly of the abyss,
We too shall return into blissfulness.
When the suns’ rays attack our days,
We seek refuge in the shade.
In reality: we gain the same amount
from our struggles,
If not more. Smooth seas
Don’t make skilled sailors they day
So we must embrace our darkness as a beauty within itself,
Learn from those moments; allow them to give us strength,
Then, only then, may we be truly infinite.
…Chiaroscuro (The balance of light and dark)
Stuck on the block
Sittin’ in a box
Don’t let the say what you can’t achieve
When people where enslaved
One of the things they did
Was stop them READing
‘Cos it’s well understood
That intelligent people
Would take their FREEdom.
If we knew our POWER
We would know
We cannot be held down
If we knew our POWER
We would see
That we’re rich already
If we knew our POWER…
“Actors need to have an arrogance about them. Not in public or in the their private lives but when they work. Actors have to have that drive, that instinct that says: this role is mine”
A Life in Parts
I feel myself withdrawing, a habit of mine I deploy when I feel uncomfortable, slowly losing confidence, I retreat inside me. My curious Mochileros eye’s have turned inwards and everything turns from positive to negative.
I’m sitting in this hostel, kicking myself for not being out there and enjoying Mexico. I think I have this pre-conceived idea about Mexico, that I’ll be out there, facing my fears, boldly throwing myself out there, meeting an array of people and having the best time! I’ve done a lot since coming to Mexico. Just came back from a day trip to Hidalgo. It’s ok to have a day where I stay in, keep to myself, chill and read a book. I have read a lot today. I’m coming to the end of this book A life in Parts an autobiography by Bryan Cranston.
I’ll never forget the day after I came back from an endarkening experience in Amsterdam which I speak briefly about in #Unfucktheworld in which I got high on space cakes, abandoned my friend Killian, wondered off and got lost for 6 hours scrutinising my heightened senses and began writing poetry based on the subconscious fear a person of the African diaspora inherits Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote about in a book I had just read called Between the World and Me.
The day after that trip, with seeds of the thought of travelling now blooming, I sat on the toilet and watched an interview with Bryan Cranston in which they asked him “What is your best advice for a young actor?” He response was to “Travel… go explore, get lost and wander”. It was from that moment I knew I wanted to go and travel.
Now I’m sitting on a toilet in San Miguel, Mexico wondering if I should stay in this town or leave. It’s just not the quite the right town for me… I want to see other backpackers, young Mexicans. I want to be able to party, dance and have a great time. As beautiful as this city is, San Miguel is just not that place I want.
I met this cool Italian guy, called Guadope, he was a 40 year old traveller, who appeared as if he were 28 with a small frame and hearty beard. He’d lived in Mexico the past 7 years, making and selling jewellery, never growing tired of travelling through it’s spiritful town.
Each encounter I have with a Mochilero corroborates my desire to travel more. But to what cost? I graduate from MST nearly 6 months ago with this idea of beginning my acting career, but now I’m swayed with the notion of travelling. Listening to various people’s tales of travelling, leaves me yearning to explore the world. To dedicate time, months even, venturing off into the unknown and experiencing a countries culture and history.
I love art and acting and writing etc This is a part of who I am no doubt but how do marry these with exploring the world. They’re not antithetical, granted, but how do I fit my love for art in with my love for travelling?
Things to do tomorrow
- Pick up laundry
- VIsit Benitez park
- Go to Mama Mia for Breakfast
- Maybe stay at La Catarina Hostel
- Visit the Spanish school
- Post postcards
“Get your house in order, your relationships, your health, your personal life: that’s your foundation. If your home life is sane, it allows you to go insane in your work.”
A Life in Parts
One of the benefits of learning Spanish and speaking it, is that it forces me to be more concise. No bullshit, straight to the heart of what I want to say; say it. (Besides I don’t know a vast amount of word to be garrulous anyway 😉 I notice now when I do speak English I’m less verbose. What do I want to say and say it! Of course, I want to still be amicable and conversational, but practising Spanish instills a certain discipline of structuring sentences that I never had before.
I’m currently sitting in the museo de Jose Alfredo Jiminez in Dolores Hidalgo.. On our way home from that appalling concert yesterday, Wendy, who I met yesterday, spoke about this town, which was a 40 minute drive from San Miguel. It was the home of the Jose Alfredo museum, the legendary Mariachi musician (I watched the Disney movie ‘Coco’ the other day… Diego Rivera reminded me of Jose Alfredo… just saying!). She told me it was a Pueblo Magico, one of ‘Magical towns’ in Rough Guides and instantly I was intrigued. “I could take you there if you’d like.” she prompted. “Yeah, when?” “Tomorrow” “Cool!” “Meet me at the Mama Mia restaurant tomorrow at 11.30 am, I’m meeting a friend there for breakfast, and we’ll drive in my car.” “Excellent!” and so today we explored this magical town.
One of the things that ran through my mind (a had done so many times before) was the idea of understanding the power of self-value. Knowing one’s history.
Many Mexicans desire the American Dream, that is to move to
America the US, take advantage of its “opportunities”, move their family and their life would be complete. But as Rafael said, that’s all it is. A dream.
Once this country values their own skills and history enough to break the chains of a somewhat colonial neighbour, they’d be able to benefit from this countries resources and skills. They may also understand that they can have their dreams right here in Mexico. Here, many people wish to don designer Italian leather boots. Why? Because brands like Armani are a cultural symbol of wealth. They are loaded with status because of the importance we stamp on it. But when I learned that Armani import most of their leather from Leon, Mexico, I ask myself hypothetically “why do I want Armani boots when I can get just as good, if not better quality, from Leon?” Knowing my history, and self-worth would help me to seek pride in my countries own products and stop looking at cultural stamps as badges of assurance. I don’t know if I’m making sense…
I am living my dreams and now starting to explore the world! I have already caught the travellers and have no doubt that this will be my last backpacking journey.
I want to use this as an opportunity to thank you for raising me in the way you did. The love and security that you, dad the family gave me, built a foundation that has allowed to feel confident in venturing off into the unknown. In the process I am learning more about myself.
I enjoy how much more we communicate when I’m away. I feel like we make more of an effort to understand each other. I hope this continues when I get back.
I love you to the stars and back.
P.s: Please keep achieving your dreams too!
My mind is blank, I don’t know what I’m doing…
Today, I meditated on a bench in the Instituto Allende, surrounded by these magnificent murals and workers preparing for a wedding that weekend. This hasn’t been my most productive day: I had planned to explore certain areas of San Miguel, and ended up having a meltdown after feeling useless at speaking Spanish, navigating around town and generally despairing over this solo-travelling thing I embarked on. This is all part of it though. I feel the transition from bustling city life to the unfamiliar rural side have exposed my insecurities about travelling. I know no-one here, I can hardly understand anyone, trying to get across town becomes a labyrinthial and soul-destroying process.
However, there were several positive highlights today…
I met this lady, Maria in this artisan shop. She worked there and lived in San Miguel most of her life. Like me, she loved to travel, both throughout Mexico and internationally. We walked out onto the balcony, which overlooked the Zocolo, discussing Mexico, San Miguel and their history. We spoke for a little while, the sun beamed down on us, lighting up our faces, and with it, my spirits. Maria recommended this Spanish school to take a few lessons, but when I got there it was closed. Summed up my daily really…
I managed to visit one place on my list that day: Instituto Allende. Exhausted from all the internal panics I had that day. I retreated onto a bench, ensconced into archway which observed the mural opposite it. I sat and reflected on the day, my journey so far and started to rebuild myself mentally. I started to day-dream and woke up to hearing two
American (women from the US) talking. I moved towards them and saw them in the corner on a table painting with water colours. I sat down a few tables away, and began to look at the food menu. One of them recommended I try the restaurants chicken croissant with lettuce and this mango chutney sauce; they were regulars here and that dish always picked her fancy. Wendy and Kathy were two elderly expats, Kathy was from California, Wendy from Sussex, England. I told them about my day and they told me to check out the view overlooking San Miguel…
I got back and had that chicken croissant: it tasted delicious! I learned that both Wendy and Kathy travelled extensively throughout their life… India, Nepal, Cambodia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, across Europe, the States, South America. I was in awe listening to their travels stories. Wendy spoke about this one time in India she had hitched a ride with a backpacking buddy who was also female. The driver randomly stopped in this village, got out and began chatting with this other man. The two stuck in the back seat, panicking what to do. “If they try anything, kick them in the balls and run” she said (I paraphrase but that was the general gist) They waited and waitied. The driver eventually came back and invited them to dinner with his family. They ate some of the best tasting food, cooked with such love and warmth, stayed the night and re-embarked, the man driving them to there intended distantion. The kindness of strangers! Now they had settled in a small, quaint town overwhelmed by “Gringos” called San Miguel.
“This is wedge in between two mirrors. You can see the hand sanitizer just under it.”
We ended up going to this ‘concert’ – I say concert but it was anything but. It was insipid, uninspiring and resmeblemed more of an Armish church cermemony than a concert in Mexico. I couldn’t believe my eyes, everywhere I looked I saw elderly white expats from the states! There were 4 Mexican people, looking incongruous in Mexico, who were sat on a row at the front. I couldn’t wait to leave! Wendy felt the same way too. She expressed this with the quick glances to me and the door, the lack-lustre expression on her face, by both of our stifled laughs at how ludicrously different this ‘concert’ was from our expectations.
Kathy didn’t enjoy this event also but felt compelled to stay as one of her friends were in the choir. The interval came. Wendy and I bolted out the door. Wendy dropping some money into the bucket an expat was holding on the way out. Why? I thought.
We were free at last! “There were too many gringos in there!” Wendy scoffed. She taught me that the origins of the word “gringo” derived in the Military where the US citizens were almost always given the ‘green go’ ahead to enlist in the army, but those from the Southern part of the Americas, eager and just as fit to fight, were not granted such easy passage. Green-go, morphed into a derogatory name for some in the US, who was so accustomed to getting their desires met in this world.
“Why was it called a concert” I asked on our way away from that place. It turned out, the concert was created to raise money for the four young Mexicans, sat on the front row, to help fund their university fees. “Even though this place is crawling with us gringos, we do a lot to give back to the community.”
“I’m free as a bird. Going places, seeing things, being who I want to… be…” – Erykah Badu
Listen to the radio station
That plays your kinda music
Watch the TV Channels that-
They come in waves
And drift slowly
Study your darkness,
Learn from it,
Let it guide you to your dreams.