Happy 2013 Everybody!! I’m so glad we made it! What with the mysterious Mayan calendar ending, and all. Which only made me wish, once again, that it was just as easy to travel in time as it is in space. As wonderful as it is to go visit historic and ancient sites and see what has remained…it would be so wonderful to be able to visit these sites in their hey-day. For example, did you know that all the Mayan ruins, their classic stacked stair temples and tombs, were once painted fantastic and vibrant colors? Reds, blues, greens, even indigo, covered these giants. Imagine paddling down river in a hollowed out tree trunk to see that rising out of the rainforest!
But sadly, time travel has not yet been mastered, or at least no one has stopped by to tell me about it. So in a few weeks ago my sister Melody and I had to make do with some regular old traveling on the plain old surface of the globe. We headed down to Belize to celebrate the ending of the current Mayan Calendar cycle, and maybe to learn what the locals thought of all the omens, legends, and warnings.
We learned some pretty interesting things, but the coolest thing we saw was the different energy around this “ending” down there. In America all the talk was about the end of that calendar. But in Belize the talk and celebration was about the beginning of the next calendar! Duh! It was a time of rebirth, renewal, and hope. The pain and ugliness of the last cycle was on the way out they said. Armageddon has already happened, the worst is behind us, we are already in a state of growth and repair. Be joyful as you look towards the future. How can you help bring in the glories of the new cycle? How will you be a better person in the new present?
Those are some good questions. I said. I will have to put some serious thought to them…just as soon as I am done feeding this adorable spider monkey some of these hunks of watermelon we brought for lunch. And maybe after I clamber hand over fist to the top of a massive temple or two. But certainly by the time we are back from our bike ride into town I will have an answer for myself.
In keeping with the spirit of rebirth and new beginnings, on December 21st we celebrated the start of the new cycle by visiting Altun Ha ruins for a sunrise exploration. There is always something special and dignified about rising before dark to begin a journey. We traveled by bus to the ruins, walked through the dewy fields and climbed up into the fog itself as we mounted the first temple. This one gave us a view of the entire plaza and gave our guide a chance to explain a bit about the Mayans and their architecture. But quick, he said, this is not the temple for the sunrise. Across the plaza, the acoustically perfect plaza, is the Sun Temple. That is the temple we should view this sunrise from. So back down the steep stairs we went, across the acoustically perfect plaza (one could talk with merely a loud speaking voice in the center of the plaza and the sound would bounce off the tombs and temples and be carried to every corner of the square. No need for microphones, fancy PA systems, or the risk feedback), and up another steeper and taller set of stairs on the Sun Temple. From this temple we watched the fog burn off and the sky slowly brighten. It was a calm and quiet sunrise without much pomp. But somehow as the fog burned away I felt the troubles of the past burning away too. I felt cleaner, lighter, full of potential, and ready to begin this new cycle. Our guide lit some incense on the altar at the top and our little group took some time to welcome in the new day each in our own way. Some prayed to their God or gods; some sat quietly facing east, west, north, or south; and one or two moved through a few yogic Sun Salutations. And that was that. Down in Belize we experienced the wonderful energy of the locals and the Mayans. It was incredibly friendly, genuine, and comfortable. There were no theatrics put on for the tourists, nor did I feel like we were invading a touching traditional ceremony.
Without even making it to the coasts, I can tell you Belize is a wonderful place. I highly recommend visiting, and I might even be adding it to the short list of places to which I will be trying to return.
On the flight home I again contemplated how I personally would embrace this new cycle. I considered all the cultural influences in my life, and there are plenty. In America we feared the end of the world. In Belize they celebrated the budding future. In my world I will celebrate the present. I will strive to be patient and content wherever I am. The present is often under-valued and neglected until it becomes something we can reminisce about fondly, or it is analyzed as a launching point for our future plans. This year I hope to embrace the present as “the place where I am supposed to be,” and enjoy it for that reason alone.
What are your plans for this new cycle? How will you embrace the spirit of new beginnings and renewal in your own lives? Think about it!
Cheers and Happy New Year!