As I sat reflecting during my final hours in Colombia, I wrote the following piece as it flowed out of me in a matter of minutes:
Colombia, much more than Magic
I love you even though I sometimes I want to hate you.
You are always in my face
Sometimes I want you there,
Sometimes I don’t.
But you are there.
Your people are beautiful,
Inside and out.
Sometimes they are rude,
Sometimes they cheat and mistreat me
Just because I am a Gringo
Sometimes they just do not leave me alone.
But I still love them,
Like I love you.
You, like them,
Are generous and genuine
Full of life at all times of day
Resilient in the midst of seemingly endless
Inconvenience, difficulty, and violence.
With a smile,
Trusting that no matter the chaos and pain,
All will be o.k.
You have taught me so much.
Trust the process.
Go with the flow.
Be patiently persistent.
Take a deep breath,
Even if the air is contaminated.
You never work the way I think I want
Or the way I expect,
But you always seem to work,
One way or another.
Maybe that’s why I love you.
By learning to trust your instabilities,
I also learned to trust my own.
By loving you,
I began to love myself,
Like never before.
By loving myself,
I began to practice loving everyone,
No matter how they treated me,
No matter where they came from,
No matter what they smelled or looked like,
No matter if I have ever even met them,
No matter what,
Like never before.
Maybe slightly cheesy, but nonetheless, infinitely true:
To freely and unconditionally love
Is to live.
Like never before.
Thank you Colombia
Some photos and reflections
During my final day with the Magic Club at Bella Flor, they sung me an improvised rap song about what magic meant to them, they made me an incredible card (all on their own), and they began writing really meaningful messages on the windows that were fogged up from us playing for nearly two hours straight. They now call themselves Magos Imparables (Unstoppable Magicians). Tamara wrote on the window: “Magos sin Fronteras, mucho mas que magia” (Magicians Without Borders, much more than magic). That was an important part of the inspiration for the piece I wrote.
Through Dr. Santiago, I met my soul brother, Fabian. His spirit animal is the Condor and mine is the Bald Eagle. He has a sacred home that vigilantly protects the base of a beautiful mountain peak that lies at the end of one stretch of the Andes. He invited me to his mountain. I performed what was my favorite, most intimate, and final magic show in Colombia at the one room school house in the rural village near Fabian’s mountain. The children and teacher completely understood what it was all about, they truly believed, and began to acknowledge the magic in their own lives. A part of my soul will always be with those children and with Fabian on that mountain.
Passing the wand off to Carlos. He is going to do wonderful things with Magicians Without Borders in Colombia. Keep him in your thoughts as he is recovering from having surgery on a broken hand due to a moped accident that happened in the chaotic streets of Bogota.
I was trying to decide what to do with my bike, when a friend offered to do a trade. He is Cesar Giraldo, a world-renowned leather craftsman (he has been featured in the NY Times) who has his workshop right across the street from my house. He offered to trade a beautiful hand-made leather briefcase for my bike. At first, I was hesitant as at this point in my life a $225 briefcase feels a bit extravagant. But after thinking it over, I went for it. I will use it every day in Medical School and it will instantly take me right back to Colombia. The money would be gone in a matter of weeks. This briefcase is likely the finest thing I own and it will only get better with time.
I recently returned from spending a week with Johanna on San Andres, an amazing Caribbean Island. It was just her, me, and a moped that we rented.
Colombians tend to me much more easy-going and flexible than all of us from the U.S. I was finding myself getting frustrated more easily than normal as minor inconveniences occurred (as they always do) during my last few weeks here. Then, on my last day in San Andres when doing this 30 foot jump, I ruptured my ear drum (for the 4th time). At first I resisted the pure fact of it and this caused me to suffer. I thought about my upcoming trip to Mexico, all the flights I will be taking and how my ear was going to hurt, my summer will now lack swimming, etc… Then I realized, I do not have control over anything! My eardrum has been a somewhat harsh reminder to relax, accept, and go with the flow of what comes. When I stopped resisting and began to accept, the pain lingered and will continue to, but the suffering I was causing myself immediately disappeared.
Saying the final good-bye to Johanna was extremely difficult. I am going to miss her like mad. We have been psychologically preparing ourselves for this moment since we began dating, so in one sense we are ready to move on to the next phase of our relationship. We are going to do the best we can with the distance and we realize that it may or may not last. We will trust the process.
This is it, Colombia. Thank you. Also, I want to thank each and every one of you for reading and for supporting me from afar. Knowing that I have been accompanied by a loving, supportive, and engaged community back home has given me well-needed inner strength every step of the way. Also, please keep in mind that I will be home and eager to perform some of my new material while helping you add a magical twist to your summer festivities. You know where to find me.
It truly has been Much more than Magic.