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A Fucking Nightmare?

Today at the car mechanics I started feeling frustrated. To put it very mildly. I recently bought a van here in Peru and I have had more than a few problems with it. And trying to find a good car mechanic here is like trying to find someone who doesn't think some woman called Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to some historical religous hero figure called Jesus.

So I walked out and I said to under my breath "This is a fucking nightmare."

Then I felt frustrated with myself for using that kind of self-talk. And I felt frustrated by the people who taught me to think like this and talk to myself with these kinds of words. It reminds me now of the time I was trying to start a fire once in Australia and the match went out. I said to myself, "You fucking idiot." It was about three years ago and the memory is faint now, but I remember writing about it after the fact.

I know logically that saying "this is a fucking nightmare" is not helping things. The mechanics can sense my frustration. They feel bad enough already because they know they have not done good work. So they have started avoiding me. It is getting harder and harder to be friendly with them, to joke around with them. I am feeling more judgmental, more impatient, more frustrated.

So I walked away. I needed a break. Then I got online and talked to someone for a while. I felt better after we talked. She was a pretty good listener. She said she would love to learn from me. She is seventeen. I could say quite a bit about that but I won't right now. I'll just say a little. She is one of the most intelligent, self confident and open-minded people I have met in three months in Peru. Yet she can't legally leave home and work with me or travel with me as she wants to. This is similar in so many countries in the world these days. But here in Peru they especially control the females.

I pretty much hate Peru. You can read a bit about it if you want on this link http://eqi.org/perusum1.htm - but anyhow, I mostly just wanted to say that I was taught to say things like "This is a fucking nightmare." But I wasn't taught that that doesn't help things. I think where I learned to listen to what I say to myself was in a couple books I read when I was about 35. One was on what are called cognitive distortions. Here is a link if you want to see a few notes from that book. They could have taught me this in school somewhere along they way in my 18 or so years in schools and universities. But they didn't. I feel cheated, misled, misguided, miseducated.

I suppose in my own family I was taught to think negatively -- to say things like, "How could you be so stupid?" I suppose this led me to call myself a fucking idiot when I was around 40 years old trying to light a campfire.

I am really trying to re-train myself. It is a long hard process. I know that what I say to myself makes a lot of difference. I am trying to not take things so seriously. I am trying to remember to try to learn something from each experience which I think is a "fucking nightmare." I have a lot to learn still. I am constantly learning as I travel. Today I asked myself, "What can I learn from this experience?" I didn't come up with an answer but it helped calm me to just ask the question. I was so frustrated as I left the mechanics that I was actually hitting myself in the head with my hand and swearing out loud.

So is something a fucking nightmare, or is it a growth opportunity or a learning opportunity? Or is it just part of the adventure of traveling and trying to live and communicate in a different culture, a different language? It makes a lot of difference how I look at it.

I was thinking also about this word "attitude." I thought that it makes a lot of difference what my attitude is. Then I thought again that attitude is a combination of thoughts and feelings. And now I realize that my thoughts affect my feelings very intensely. At the mechanics I was thinking "these are the stupidest mechanics in the world." and "I can't believe how incredibly fucking stupid these people are." lol It sounds funny now that I look at this as I write it. But this is what I was saying to myself.

As yet, I don't know what I can learn from the experiences I have had with mechanics here. Maybe I am learning to take things less seriously and to remind myself that, as one song says, "its only life after all." I think that is the song "Closer to fine" by the Indigo Girls.

At the very least maybe writing about this will help someone in some small way. People seem to like my little tidbits of my real life. I guess that is one reason why my site is number one. So I will keep putting real life stuff on here. Even when I don't appear very good in them. Like today, I hesitated to admit I was saying "This is a fucking nightmare" but it was exactly what I said to myself.

And when I went back two hours later after talking to my friend I felt more peaceful. I even offered the mechanics a taste of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Something they have never had before!

Which is something else I don't like about Peru. It is next to impossible to find peanut butter!!!!!

Anyhow, that's my little tidbit for today.

S. Hein
Chiclayo, Peru
January 21, 2005