Monday, November 27, 2006

It Was Never About the Money

It´s the feeling of being violated that really eats away at you. I was frantically searching pants and jacket pockets already searched hoping for a result I knew was impossible. My next step was to process whether or not I could run down a moving bus already a couple hundred yards away. No, impossible. DAMN! About the same time I became resigned to my fate I imagine that someone on that bus was leafing through the wallet they had so smoothly robbed me of, and smiling at their discovery of a Credit Card and US $50 (a goldmine by Bolivian standards).

And yet, the money, even though it is close to a month´s salary, was not what was on my mind. Make no mistake I felt pain and anger, but if there is anything positive to take from the experience, it´s that $50 and a Bank Card were the least of my concerns. Instead my mind drifted to the photos of family and friends I had kept with me throughout the years. I thought of the Magis Man card I had treasured for years, a card I read when I struggled with my reasons for being here, going through all of this, and it angered me to know it was gone. I thought of the quotes I had scribbled down over the years on scrap paper and napkins, some for inspiration, others to never forget a funny moment with a dear friend. I even thought about my old university ID and State of New Mexico Driver´s License, momentos of a life lived in that seemingly foreign land: The United States of America. All that, momentos of my identity were gone, and with it, something else was speeding away with a bus, something I so desperately hoped to never lose.

There is the inclination immediately after being violated to lash out at the world. I try and be honest with these reflections so I must confess that it took a few minutes to remind myself that this did not happen because I was in Bolivia, it could happen anywhere, and if anything, it happened because I was foolish and not secure enough with my belongings. But still, in Bolivia or LA, there is a profound hurt inside not only about the sentimental items lost, but indeed about a sentimental consciousness that deep down wants to believe in the good of humanity.

In the end, it is not about the money or the credit card or even the photos and quotes. The financial items are easy enough to replace, perhaps a statement of how extremely lucky I am even in my most unlucky of moments thus far. The pictures too while never being the same again can be replaced by new photos of old friends, perhaps a greater gift than keeping the old ones around. And the quotes too while gone forever will eventually be replaced, full circle by other moments of inspiration, other joyous moments I won´t soon want to forget.

Buddha has a quote that says we can´t travel the path until we become the path itself. I am sure he had a different meaning in mind than what I have in mind, but in an attempt to take a lesson from every experience, every moment, I must say thankfully a part of me is able to give thanks for this robbery. She (the gut works in such a way that I am almost positive I know who it was) robbed me of a wallet and she robbed me of a my trust, but she reminded me that it is the very pain and darkness in this world we stumble through that enlivens us with the desire to do what little we can to fill it with joy and light.

“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldous Huxley

In other news, I am rebuilding my collection of sentimentality, any cool photos, quotes, or good memories (quotes and memories prefered on scrap paper or napkins please!) between us can be sent to the following:

Asociados de Santa Cruz
Attn: Patrick Furlong
Casilla 238
Correo 11
Santiago, Chile


And now more than ever, please remember to shop responsibly this Christmas.

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