I have been a fairly positive person all my life, and I admit that my life is peachy. But a couple of years ago, while thrown quite a few curve balls all at the same time, that positive person in me broke. My demeanor changed. I started focusing on all the negative things happening in my life, and I got angry and frustrated. One bad thing after another kept presenting itself. In Spanish they call it a mala racha. In English I guess the equivalent is something like “When it rains, it pours,” which can be either positive or negative. Just as a streak of good luck brings a variety of fun surprises, so does the bad streak as it travels in malicious groups.
Last year I had a bad case of mala racha. Once I saw how my new negative attitude was affecting my close friends and family, I decided it was time to snap out of it.
People find their “salvation” in various ways. Some people give up alcohol. Others go to church. There are plenty that channel their aggression through sports and working out. But those things do not work for me. As it turns out, I find my salvation through stalking small fish.
Last winter I traveled to Thailand to visit with friends living there and my college roommates flew out to meet us. We headed south to the Krabi Islands for some fun in the sun – and that is where it happened: a chat with very good friends on the sand which brought me to tears, followed by a swim that would then change my outlook on life.
It’s funny that this moment actually happened in the sea. I have a lifelong fear of water (in particular of the man-eating creatures that live there…oh yeah, and waves). Swimming with fish, and sharks (!), usually does not equal peace of mind. But there I was, snorkeling all by myself off the shore of Ko Phi Phi, when I spotted a fish and decided to follow it. It was a small little guy (or gal?), striped and thin. I came up from behind slowly and followed each little turn left and right. Sometimes I got the feeling that the fish knew it was being followed – it changed directions suddenly and seemed to look back cautiously to see if I was still there. Perhaps there was something slightly cruel about my behavior, but once I suspected the fish had enough, I turned around and kicked myself forward into a cascade of light.
And that was my moment. Rays of sunlight broke through the surface of the water and surrounded me. With my ears slightly underwater, all I could hear were soft bells mixed with a pleasant white noise and my heartbeat. I stopped kicking and allowed myself to float there, watching as all the fish eased past me. Everything had such vibrant colors and shapes that I stared in awe.
And then I said the magic words. Aloud and underwater. I have NO idea where they came from or why I chose these particular words, but out through the top of my snorkel tube they made their way to the surface:
Thank You Universe.
A wave of good vibes washed through me and I felt super happy. And I made a conscious decision to be thankful for my seriously fortunate life. Because that is exactly what my life is – fortunate. I think I repeated those words about seven times during my trip through Thailand (there is A LOT to be thankful for when surrounded by so much beauty and good food!).
I returned to Barcelona in January with a new vision and attitude. And I can tell you that it’s been an awesome year! Despite the financial crisis, despite my surgery, despite the many other problems and issues that have come my way (and to those I love) this year, I feel calm and happy. Amazing people and opportunities keep knocking at my door. You can blame it on luck, or superstition, or fortune, or coincidence, or Obama, or God. Call it whatever you like. But think about this way – in elementary school, if you reward a child with a star for its good behavior, it will aim to please you even more. The Universe works in the same way. Acknowledge the Universe when it has done something nice for you, be grateful and truly believe you deserve it, and the only racha you’ll experience will be buena.