I imagine the atrocities being committed beneath the silent cover of night. I fear for the lives tormented and destroyed by corrupt systems and economies built from deception.
There is anger and hopelessness amidst the encampment of blue tarps nestled in the zocalo. My walking through feels intrusive, jovially talking and buying, while my eyes graze stern faces and warm bodies in tents awaiting retaliation. The stark difference between my day and yours, maestra and maestro, is readily apparent. I feel your strength and determination locked in vaults between your ribs. Blood pounds demanding justice and change. Brown hands tenderly weave, sculpt, and create the brightly colored wares eagerly devoured by cream-colored privilege.
I am disillusioned by thoughts, perceived judgments, and experiences that are not familiar with the acrid taste of your immobility and restriction. Does it feel as though you are frozen in time? Falling backwards with no hope of hitting the ground? Is it like a dream state, wading through rivers of molasses, wanting to run but feeling the sticky weight of corruption corroding your joints? Your heart beats on, your lungs strong for screaming your protest, but only then do you notice the earmuffs and blindfolds restricting the senses of those around you.
These feet. Lighter than one might expect. Small for the great height they carry. They take me to the wondrous natural beauty of Hierve el Agua, Monte Alban, and Mitla; places where I witness the resilience and artistry of the local people. These feet, they stand a great distance from this head, unaffected by the complicated kaleidoscope spinning in circles until dizziness and confusion ensues. Sweet feet, they receive signals to go and to stop. So simple and untroubled your days must be. These feet walked me to Oaxaca. And while my mind shuffles through pages of outdated histories, obsolete textbooks in impoverished school systems, my feet jump and hop to the reggaeton, cumbia, and salsa beat. They gracefully carry me down the cobblestone streets, past vendors packed with handmade wares and resistance graffiti on vibrant colored walls. There are other feet all around. They stomp, walk, and run in solidarity for justice and progress. Crippled feet, feet unused, feet abused. What stories those feet could tell, that all feet do tell.
In the mountain pueblo of Capulalpam De Mendez, my feet waded into cool creeks, tickled by smooth stones and fish darting by. Walked into a temescal, the heated volcanic rock and bunches of herbs soaking into these soles. It’s slower here in Oaxaca, more time to investigate the deeper recesses of the mind. What privilege I have to do as I please. And yet…my head races on, worried, distracted, and preoccupied, while my feet soak in the cool mountain stream. I wait for transformation, hoping for integration, but these feet have no expectation and merely are…feet.
Here in Oaxaca, I have been lodging in a household stained with regret. The senora speaks of her divorce, crying that we give everything to men only to be left alone. Her eldest daughter shares her bed, returning home after a divorce as well. Disappointment and sadness flow out of them to spill onto the table between us. The weight of her life weighs heavy on her mind. A separation of language keeps us at a distance and yet her energy touches me and leaves me tired and unsettled.
The night before I left my California home, to be embraced by Oaxaca’s warmth, I began to look inwards. Through my time with the host family, I have learned the importance of open communication and being straightforward. I already knew these words, I already acted them out, but maybe I never really embraced them in my body as law. Muddied water and ripples remain when my words are not impeccable, when I do not speak my truth. I see me now, leaving assumptions and others’ judgments behind. There is kindness, empathy, and compassion and then there is being a martyr and trying to take care of others who are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. It is dis-empowering to both people involved. I will take this back to my practice, remembering to be gentle and thoughtful with my words and actions, to think but not to overthink every step.