If ‘living’ is a source of wisdom then I’m feeling so much wiser these days. Of course when one lives long enough and survives the traumas and obstacles set out along life’s’ path, we most certainly should be much wiser. That very fact causes me to wish there were some things I could have seen much sooner. But there of course comes the source of the old adage about the value of hindsight.
Living on the coast in Manzanillo has given me a privileged perspective. I‘m not talking now about the obvious things like the incredible beauty of the place, the weather, the ocean, the people; all of that is so easily assumed. We are the envy of many friends and acquaintances when we escape the frigid Canadian winters and head south for six months. Though here I have to clarify that in my youthful days, the ice skating rinks, ski slopes and the stunningly brilliant light and winter snow- scapes were all thoroughly enjoyed and coveted. Now? Not so much! My body complains and as the years go by, I tend more to a hermitic lifestyle round fireplaces and reading in sunny window nooks and perches. Living in Manzanillo has the complete opposite effect. You want outside for any reason; a walk on the beach, or to sun by the pool, or just to stroll along the streets meandering by little cafes and shopping.
But a new realization has been developing over the last few years. I’ve begun to learn how to live more simply. Our condo is small but comfortable. Much of the utensils of daily life were left behind when we bought our condo and they seem to have served our purposes very well. Naturally, we’ve done some maintenance, spruced up furnishings with new coverings and basically slowly morphed into this new lifestyle and space. In the past few years as spring arrived, I found myself saying “It feels like I’m leaving home to return home”. I have the same feelings in the fall prior to returning.
In the last couple of years however, a new perspective has formed. We arrive back in Canada and once recovered from the trip and unpacked, I find myself looking around and wondering why on earth we have all of this ‘stuff’. So much ‘stuff’ that the garage is overflowing and stacked with boxes also filled with the accumulation of many years of living. From my recently acquired wisdom, I realize that we really don’t need any of it any more. There is a feeling akin to guilt when I survey our ‘kingdom’. Yes, one can rationalize that we all reward ourselves with things that we enjoy over our working lives. Yes it all seemed to be ‘needed’ at the time. But given this new perspective (and so much the wiser) it’s shocking to take stock of how much we don’t need. This new perspective also comes from the awareness of just how much we have enjoyed while others do without in so many parts of the world. We’ve certainly fueled the economy and perhaps contributed to employment and other good thoughts but how much do we really need and when do we stop accumulating? While we are by no means rich. Just your average middle-class Canadians. We have been so privileged.
And so it begins. We search for clarity and simplicity. We begin to unburden ourselves of the inventory of ‘stuff’ knowing the only important things in life are family, friends, people, love and peace. And now we dream of an unencumbered life and begin another chapter looking forward to living out the rest of our lives more simply and wishing we could have seen it sooner. How much did we spend? How much could we have shared? But that wisdom only seems to drop into place with the passage of time. If only this were a lesson we could teach our children but it seems to take a lifetime full of living to understand it.
Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.