On The Zen Of Border Crossing

This could help
BY: DANIELLE WILLIAMS

For reasons imponderable I do not have SENTRI.  While wishing I could harness the amount of commiseration folks have blown my way, I look forward to crossing the border as an opportunity.  Generally thought of as a good venue for frustration, it need not be so, particularly if you, as I have, eschew the sport of jockeying for position in a hypothetically better lane.

 Pushing aside the obvious thought of what I could be doing were I not sitting in “la linea”, I approach it with a whole laundry list of priorities which I have yet to complete.  Forget Books on Tape, they put me to sleep.    Instead, several articles I had long planned to read, cleaning out my purse, organizing my CDs,  nail filing, and  all activities doomed by near terminal procrastination are now possible.

Driving past the cripple, the mother and baby, teen acrobats ditching school, the able-bodied young adults unused to the notion of employment, it is not always  easy to decide who gets the 10 pesos. The antidote to the wave of emotions this display of human suffering can stir up is to talk to those amenable to conversation.  I look at the loose change as a resident tax for which I get much in return.  Everyone has a story.

 I remember Elidio, the one-legged young man on his crutches, who had come all the way from Guatemala on a freight train and lost his leg in the process who explained  how this did not interfere with his strong belief in God.  As he hobbled with me all the way to the gate, he shared his daily routine:  early morning to midday, the border; then home for a rest then going to play chess at Parque Teniente Guerrero downtown TJ in the afternoon.  This led to a visit there later with some chess aficionados. There was Elidio. He challenged one of my friends to a game and won.

Another time, a vendor from one of the shops approached me with:  “Buy something from my shop, please.”  As I politely declined, he added: “They don’t have those Mexican artifacts where you’re going”.  Finding this rejoinder peculiar, I asked “Where am I going?”    “South Dakota”. Take some souvenirs to South Dakota” was his brilliant suggestion.  I had to explain the why’s and wherefore’s of the SD auto registration.

No two crossings are alike.  Many times I catch myself day dreaming.  While not recommending Transcendental meditation behind the wheel, I feel that mindlessness does lead to creativity and can spawn a poem, a story, or a journal entry. 

Approaching the lamp lifted by the golden door, I feel it was all worthwhile.

Written while in line  between 12:10 and 1:08 to the strains of classical cello.