All the things that could have been

By Danié Gómez-Ortigoza

October 16, 2020

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Last night I went to bed thinking of all the things I know at this point I won’t do during this life. I’m usually quite positive, and mindful before I go to bed, but I just started reading American Dust, and if you’ve read it you probably understand why suddenly I felt as if I was running out of time. The first 7 pages are a blood bath, so visually described that your mind believes it’s happening. When I was discussing the drug cartel situation in Mexico, which is the main theme of the book,  during breakfast with my husband,  my son said ‘but mom, you always say we should only read and watch things that bring good thoughts to our mind because otherwise you call for bad things to happen.’

Yes. I’m also that person. But not last night.

I’m going through a process of understanding further what it means to be defined as a Latina in this country, and what it means to be also American, and where is my Mexicaness (which for me is what I identify myself with the most), in this strange equation of how people define you depending on where you are geographically located, and the strength of the group you belong to. I’m in the process of understanding those who risk everything to come to this country even though the American Dream is less of a dream every day, given the political situation and the threat to democracy that this country is going through. I’m trying to understand what I can do to make things better for my people, who are all people, because I see how heavy everything has become just by looking into their eyes.

But then, retrograde hits, and I just freeze. I’m trying to do so much that I find myself in a position where I feel I haven’t done anything. I’ve left 5 unfinished projects. I can see them dancing in the air staring at me, laughing from the distance. And I refuse to call 2020 a lost year, because Time is limited, and I won’t give Time that pleasure.

So what’s next, I wondered last night, when all I truly wanted was to be a theater actress and get a chance to feel every feeling incarnating different aspects of human personality without having to suffer too much. I probably won’t be that anymore. Nor will I be a ballet dancer.

That was also on my list. My body shouts for it,  even when I have zero coordination skills, I soul dance all the time.

But age matters. Family matters. I get a glimpse of that un-lived life when I perform braiding rituals.

I always thought life would be a straight line with a couple of deviations, but if I could draw my life it would look like Jackson Pollock’ Number 16.

It’s a good thing I guess, but where I’m at right now is the realization that not even achieving my dreams would have landed me in happiness, the brand,  because everything has always ten million complications. Even the big achievements in my life have come with so much sweat and tears, and conflicts that by the time I get there, I’ve lost the squishy and marshmellow-like element of what dreams were supposed to feel like. No background music playing ‘We are the Champions’. No hugs and kisses. No rest. On to the next level.

And it’s ok.

That’s why rituals matter, from baby showers to birthday celebrations and funerals to coming of age events, to braiding ceremonies. We need those to see closure in certain stages of life. Covid has turned most of those things into memories of a world that no longer exists. And we miss each other. And we miss finding friends in random strangers.

And this is not a negative post, it’s quite the opposite: the one thing I understand about life today, is that happiness is a commitment, and a decision where only you have a say. It’s not something a person can give you. Or landing your dreams job. Or something you can buy. Or something you feel if you look a certain way.  It’s opening your eyes to nature. Meditating. Braiding your soul to those who you love, and know how to love you back.  Taming your mind not to miss the fact that being alive is a miracle, and that the way you process emotions will create your reality.

So yes. I won’t be a theater actress, or a dancer, or a poet, but I braid all those professions that might not happen, as I use all that yearning to do the things I do today. In the end it all goes back to the act of finding human connection in everything I do. And that I have achieved.

Keep looking inside and be surprised by what you’ll find. Everything that truly matters, can’t be seen with the eyes, and the journey IS the destination.