This is a question I frequently ask myself when I’m not currently having fun. It’s my mind snap to either get more involved with the situation so the fun level increases or step aside and seek another pasture as perhaps my time in the situation has expired. Change is the only constant in life and all activities, no matter how fun they once were, change and often, end.
I just asked myself “Why are you here?” earlier in that Friday evening while in Escobedo (about an hour south of San Miguel) where I volunteer teach dance each week. Part of the reason for my boredom was obvious. I was on year three which is a long time to volunteer at anything. I never liked the hour long drive to Escobedo combined with the increase in holiday tourism here in town often forcing me upon my return to San Miguel to walk for an hour home when taxis weren’t around. In the cold and dark, not much fun.
Plus there was the changeover in students. With every holiday break some leave having outgrown the level of the class and graduated. As a teacher you are proud of them, but also a bit frustrated as you’d like them to stay on to form a more advanced class which is not being offered by the Cultural Center, my “employer”.
It was right about then I notice a twelve year old student I worked with the week before. She loved learning to dance and comprehended passes with remarkable speed and endless energy that swallowed up my self-doubts.
Just then the gentleman caller of a student in her twenties came by. They’ve obviously been a couple for a while as it was the first time I saw her ever present pug dog show an interest in a human other than her. I admired how he was trying to learn what interested her and she had succeeded at so I worked with him directly to enable him to share in her joy.
I certainly was no longer lacking a fun factor.
So imagine my surprise when a middle aged local man approached me to ask, in flawless English so I misunderstood nothing, “Why are you here?”
I was taken aback and answered the obvious “Teaching dance.” “I see that, I mean , why are you here?” he queried. I was taken aback having the voices in my head come out of someone else’s mouth.
So I explained how every Friday we three teachers come from San Miguel to Escobedo to volunteer teach dance and that it is a fun way to start the weekend. The lad goes on to explain how he left Escobedo for Des Moines when he was 18. He became a US citizen and served in the army to recently return to his hometown and was gob smacked to see a person from the US teaching Cuban dance in the town square stating he knew I didn’t live there.
He was perfectly nice and fun to chat with but I’ll never forget the feeling of having someone else say my inner thoughts out loud.
By Joseph Toone
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin