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Hugging Hamid

In Vallarta, you sit in the street. Everybody does, because A. It’s hot (most people don’t have air conditioning), and B. That’s where everything happens. From pre-dawn until well after midnight, people drag their plastic chairs out onto the tiny strip of sidewalk in front of their apartments and get on with the business of living. Needless to say, I love this tradition and every morning I would drag a chair outside to have my coffee, listen to the river and watch the world wake up.

This is how I came to meet Hamid.

One morning, I was outside just feeling the breeze and meditating, when I heard a voice say: “Excuse me, do you know if there are any cheap apartments for rent in this neighborhood?” When I opened my eyes, there was a man standing in front of me with a copy of Vallarta’s classified ad newspaper (the local’s craigslist). I said that I didn’t, as I was just a tourist but that my friends might and I asked him what he was looking for.

He said his name was Hamid and he was wanting to move down from Vancouver because it was getting too “difficult” to live there. “Cold?” I said. “Yes” he said, “and I am originally from Iran although I have lived in Vancouver for over thirty years. It’s hard to look Iranian there, and getting harder.”

I didn’t press him for any more information on that point and he didn’t offer any. Instead, we talked about how nice Mexico was and how we both loved all the Bougainvillea that grows everywhere and how amazing frigate birds are and how we were both vegans and had simultaneously developed a real affection for Papaya.

We must’ve talked for about ten minutes, and then something totally unexpected happened. I could tell that our conversation was naturally coming to an end and so, without thinking, I got up from my chair and instead of shaking his hand, I gave him a hug. Not like a long, sympathetic thing. Just a quick, “this was nice. I’m glad we’re here at the same time” kind of deal. I have no idea why I did that. I wouldn’t, normally, but it just felt like the right thing to do and he must’ve felt the same way because there was no weirdness or resistance to it.

I’m not sure if there was any lasting significance in our meeting for Hamid, but it made an impression on me. It was further evidence that being a space for what is needed in the moment is one of the best things I can aim for. The automatic nature of the hug didn’t enter into any kind of thought process. There were no pros and cons that were weighed. It came from an intuitive flow state that is present when I’m open to what’s happening in front of me and not putting any conditions on my experience.

I left our meeting with a reignited desire to live like that all the time. Not to hold space for people, but to “be” space. Holding space has always sounded to me like you are taking a break from the important business of being you to do something for someone else, and that’s very good, but “being” a space where everything necessary is provided and nothing unnecessary is added and intuition drives what happens is where I want to be.

Thanks for the reminder, Hamid.

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