I woke up just after 6 am this morning to the sound of my 8 month old baby saying what sounded like “Dada”. I looked into the crib and saw her sitting up and smiling at me.
“Dada”, she repeated with a huge grin.
I took her out of her crib and laid her next to her still resting mom.
I then looked out of our bedroom window to a beautiful new day. The white puffy clouds were already moving past in the tropical breeze.
The bright blue sky seemed to accent a patch of green jungle that lies between our house and the Caribbean Sea.
I spread my arms out wide in gratitude, took a deep breath and thought, “It’s Friday”. Always a good day.
“And I freaken’ live in Cozumel with my family!”
In the spirit of online confessions that seem so prevalent lately, I thought I’d add my voice to the mix.
My name is Sean Marshall and I live on the island of Cozumel in Mexico with my family. I love this country. I love this island.
I’ve learned a few things since we started our time here in Mexico just 5 incredibly short months ago.
I’ve learned that not a day goes past where I’m not completely grateful to live where I do. “This is my life!” I often find myself thinking. It’s almost unreal.
I’ve learned that I love Mexican food (real Mexican food). All of it. I find myself saying, “Mmmmm” every time I eat.
I’ve learned I do not miss preservatives or processed food nor do I miss the 15 pounds of fat that I seem to have misplaced.
I’ve learned that I love being able to connect, even for a tiny moment and in a tiny way, with my brothers and sisters through a brief phrase. A happy “Buenos Dias!” or a “Buen Provecho” as someone enjoys their meal.
I love the word, ‘Amigo’.
I love watching relative strangers hold my baby and kiss her. I’ve been dumbfounded as people have volunteered to hold her in a restaurant so her mother and I could enjoy a meal.
I love watching those same strangers reach out to touch my older daughter’s curly, curly hair (both girls). I love the smile my children bring to others as they do little more than watch the girls play.
I’ve learned that in Mexico, family is not just something they say is important, it IS important. Family is a priority. (And that doesn’t just mean taxiing between school, supermarkets, and soccer games).
I’ve learned it’s OK to be proud of where you’re from but to be nationalistic and especially ethnocentric is only ignorance.
I’ve learned that adapting yourself to a new culture goes much further with people than making them adopt your ways.
I’ve learned that love and even just common decency bridges cultures and languages and helps you make friends incredibly fast.
I’ve learned for myself that travel opens your mind, reduces prejudice, and makes more room for love in your heart.
I’ve witnessed my 6 year old understanding and repeating back to me complex stories (all told in Spanish). Mind blowing!
I’ve learned that my girls are at least 93 times more brave than I know I was when I was their age.
I’ve learned that my wife is one of the most incredible women I’ve ever met. We are where we are because of her.
What’s more, I’ve learned that she’s incredibly unique. I’ve learned she’s even cooler than I ever thought.
I’ve confirmed a suspicion that I’ve long had in that I need the ocean. It’s not a like or a love. It’s an all out obsession.
Few things are more calming than floating weightless in crystal clear, turquoise warm water with life swimming all around you. It’s like Mother Earth herself is enveloping and comforting you.
I’ve learned that the world is smaller than we think it is. Yet it’s so full of beautiful places and cultures that I sometimes wonder how we’ll be able to see all of it.
I’ve learned that while it takes years for limiting beliefs to pile up, it only takes a few right choices (and some focused hustle) to lead to an amazing life.
I’ve often found myself on the beach plowing my toes into powdery white sand and looking out at the beautiful shades of blue of both the tropical sky and the warm Caribbean Sea.
I marvel at the beauty around me. I’m stunned to think this is my life.
I often wonder why the heck more people wouldn’t choose this life?
Perhaps this isn’t for them I remind myself. To each his/her own I console myself on their behalf.
I suppose in the end, it all boils down to choice. What decisions we make today and how they affect our life tomorrow.
Choice, after all, is the one permanent freedom that we all have. And how we choose to spend our time is entirely up to us.
So the question is, how do you choose to spend your time?