Of Bicycle Tamales, Love, and Slogging Through The Work



I’m going to talk with you about bicycle tamales in a moment. That’s my local dealer in the photo, above.

But first, a little context.

Confession: I’ve been in a bit of a slog lately.

As in: way to much work, and very little play.

The thing is, I’m totally happy with what I’m working on. But I’m at it for long hours of the day. I moved to Oaxaca, Mexico in February of this year, because I thought it would be a great place to work. To focus.

And that’s what is happening. It’s been kind of magical really. There is a pace to life here, slower, that is very conducive to deep-diving into creative work.

The past couple of months of just flat-out, horse-blinders on focus, has been especially intense. I keep hitting giant walls of resistance, and moving through them. It feels like a marathon of sheer endurance sometimes.

I consider this a good problem to have, by the way. Not the resistance part. But the focused work part.

I have ideas. I have energy to act on the ideas. I have a real thing that will be put into the world (any day now, I dearly hope). This is all good, as I’ve had years of no energy, ideas, or courage to put them forward. So. I’m grateful.

Since I’m striking while the iron is hot, and working as much as humanly possible to take advantage of the trifecta of ideas, energy and courage that is happening right now, I’ve found one simple thing to keep my  spirits high. To help me lift a bit out of the slog.

It’s simple. I go for a short walk in my neighborhood.

When I walk around town, I do it as sort of a walking meditation. Since I’m fond of meditating with art supplies, the camera comes with me.

I focus on every bit of what I appreciate. Paying attention to what brings me joy. Sometimes I snap photos. Shifting focus, positively, to the world outside, helps me better attend to the ideas inside. It’s an instant refresher.

As I walk, the slogginess of being bent over my laptop lifts. Attention turned to the ordinary beauty and magic of life, I begin to feel this tremendous love everywhere all around me. It seems to vibrate up through the limestone sidewalks. That’s where it starts for me. It flows up through my feet, making its way to every cell of my body.

Love resonates in the sound of countless Volkswagon Beetles (the old kind) that are still widely in use here in Mexico. I taste love in the fresh peeled fruit sold on so many corners of Oaxaca. You can see one of the fruit ladies in the photo above, too.

The love vibes are hard to explain. I’m so happy being able to do my work. And then I’m happy to walk out of my apartment building into this culture, into this city, that keeps me entranced, enchanted.

Oaxaca is full of sounds. Taxis honking. Vendors of practically everything you need roaming the street with their wares. Roving knife sharpeners? Yes. Water and gas are brought to the door, too. Each vendor has a special sound. The sound of the garbage truck pickup is a tinkle of delicate bells. More like Tinkerbell, and not what you would expect garbage pick up to sound like.

Then there is the bicycle tamale guy. What’s special about him is not just his 3-wheeled bicycle. Lots of tamale vendors park their bikes on a certain corner and vend from one place.

This guy rides around town. All day and into the night. He has rigged up a portable PA system, with a speaker and taxi-style radio microphone, so he doesn’t have to yell.

Tamales, Tamales, is the simple call to action that comes crackling into the airspace. Sometimes, there is a lot of feedback or interference of some sort. Which reminds me of the calls to prayer I heard flowing from the speakers atop mosques in Morocco.

And there’s just something about that. The call of Tamales sent forth over a loadspeaker from a beat-up 3-wheeled bicycle.

It’s just one of the things happening here that make me feel happy to be alive, and lucky to do my work, and go back to the work refreshed after a simple walk around a few blocks in my adopted city.


bicycle tamale vendor, oaxaca mexico

One Response to Of Bicycle Tamales, Love, and Slogging Through The Work

  1. Javier Jimenez October 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    There is so much to see in Oaxaca that only persons like artists can realize as Lisa does.
    I guess we all are invited to experience and enjoy what Lisa describes in so colorful language.
    Gracias por el artículo Lisa

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