Have you ever lost your keys or your phone? You know that terrible feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize you’ve misplaced something and you don’t know where to find it no matter how much you search inside your mind? There might be clues on where you might have left it, but you’re not sure. I think that there are times in our lives when we try to step into our future where we struggle to do so because we’ve forgotten key parts of our past.
When I decided to film our Global Child Mexico episode, I knew that it would be a challenge because I grew up in Mexico City, but I’ve always thought of Miami as my “home”. It’s interesting because I was born in Miami, lived there till I was two and then moved to Mexico, yet I still consider Miami my home. I moved there after my father died when I was two from brain cancer. I don’t remember much about that time in my life but I do recall distinct memories that happened in Miami. In the first, I remember being in the baby car seat and watching the back of my father’s head on the left and my mom’s hair on the right as they drove on the famous I-95 highway in Miami. I remember “I just called to say I love you” by Lionel Richie playing on the radio and feeling peaceful as the Miami skyline stretched out before us. The second memory is a brown carpet, I must have been walking because I remember trying to stay upright when these enormous perfectly lacquered black shoes approached and two firm but gentle hands picked me up. I saw khakis, a black belt, and the memory ends. Of course, that was my father and though I don’t remember his face, I know by those two memories that I was loved by him. Thinking about that move from Miami to Mexico got me thinking how I’ve always had mixed feelings about Mexico. I knew that as I was about to embark on this exploratory quest for the show, I was going to have to deal with some of my feelings about Mexico if I was to create something unique and unbiased. It was time to explore my roots and dive into my own past.
Our adventure began in Mexico City where I grew up. We ended up going on this epic Hot Air balloon ride over the pyramids of Mexico thanks to my friend Paul and Arturo from Bamba Experienced that actually built the whole itinerary of the show for us. I went to school with both of them since elementary and we’ve been friends for over twenty five years. Surprisingly, I’d lived in Mexico City from two to seventeen and I’d never done that activity hot air ballon ride activity before. It was incredible. I realized after several conversations mid-air with my lovely co-hosts Alice and Carine that if you don’t know where you come from it’s very difficult to understand where you are going. Much like the balloons, the pilots can tell if they’re on the right path because they can trace the direction from the departure point and the distance to the landing place. Without a solid reference of a beginning point or origin, it’s very difficult to calculate the trajectory. Life metaphors.
When Carine and I explored Tulum, we partook in the Mayan Underworld experience where we traversed underground cenotes or limestone caves. It was the most unique experience I’ve ever filmed. Imagine walking through ankle-deep crystal water dripping from stalactites above you for a good hour or so until you reach a hidden underground lagoon you can swim in. Our Mayan guide Pako, reminded us that roots are important because, much like the roots we saw from certain trees trickling down through the limestone rock, these roots determine the health of the trees above. I began to realize that if I didn’t face the source of discomfort in my own association to my personal childhood in Mexico, I wouldn’t be able to reach the full stature of my future. In my case, in a nutshell… my childhood as beautiful as it was, was also difficult because of a divorce between my mom and stepdad. That typically leads to financial and emotional instability in the house and though we all turned out more than alright, I still had issues to address within my own roots. I had already decided to forgive that guy years ago and he’s a distant memory, but I hadn’t identified that the instability of that time in my life also became associated with my entire experience in Mexico growing up. This happens to people with certain foods or smells. If they had a deeply unpleasant emotional moment while eating, hearing or being in a certain place they can make unconscious associations. The only way to get over these is to explore them at their roots to make a new and positive mental association. It was time to separate that personal moment for me from the present and let it go by learning the positive lessons that all negative situations tend to carry.
Mexico was a truly incredible experience. From the majesty of Tulum, I headed to Chiapas with my friend Alice who had visited there many times. It was my first time and I was so impressed with the natural beauty, with the culture and kindness of the people. I had stayed within my little upper-class Mexican bubble growing up and I was missing incredible people and places because of it. After this whole Mexico experience was done, I realize now that sometimes we have to understand the past so we can appreciate the future. We have to forgive and let go of what is behind us so that we’re not tied up to move into the present. Without roots, nothing lives. Ignoring the problems in our lives don’t make them go away, they just tend to get worse. True success is growing in all areas of our lives and that requires checking our emotional roots. Perhaps there might have been difficult situations, unanswered questions or distant memories that are unpleasant and we might not want to re-hash. However, healing never comes by concealing, but rather by revealing. Look, if we need to chat with a loved one or a professional to work out through the emotions, I highly recommend it and there is no shame in seeking to become fully healthy. Whatever it is, memories are a part of what makes us who we are today. When we apply the positive lessons that the negative situations in our past give us and we let go of the toxic through forgiveness, we can strengthen our roots so that our present becomes even more healthy and we can step into a wonderful future. Thank you, Mexico! I can’t wait to go see you again.