Passing Through

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.09.36 AMI am a practical guy. I learn through experience. Typically, life lures me down a few extra random paths before I learn my lesson. This type of learning has its advantages and its disadvantages. I bring this up simply because of my current living situation, which led me to today’s lesson. For the past few years, I have been envisioning a living environment that feels like a seamless blend between the indoor and the outdoors. I simply have a need to be closer to nature. I had planned to build a tiny home on a trailer with some sort of large opening on the side with a drop down porch so that I could instantly be outside and in some sense, bring the outdoors inside. Life delivered, just not how I had foreseen it. I ended up in Sayulita, Mexico living in a small eco-community on a hill with an ocean view. The front of this house is a half circle and the back is built into a hill.Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.10.13 AMSliding glass doors open up the entire front portion of the house providing me with a direct view of the ocean and well. There is neither window nor doorframe obstructing my view. From the furthest room in the house it takes about 10 steps to be outdoors and while this certainly feels like a constant invitation from nature to come visit, it poses another interesting situation. Everything outdoors that is alive and can move, is also seemingly interested in visiting the inside of the house. I had not quite worked out this minor detail in my head as I designed my tiny home but now I’m living it and well, learning the practical lessons of this design.

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As of two hours of being awake, a fourth dog has come to visit and is currently napping beside me. Thousands of bugs, insects, crawly, slithering, and flying things, buzzing and biting things have come and gone and I’m barely finishing breakfast. I have bites all over, it is 9am and already 80F, I am dripping from the 70% humidity, but there is a pleasant breeze…from the ceiling fan. As long as I am here with the doors open, nature is just passing through. I watch as a centipede-type looking worm slowly inches its way across the floor. As it finds nothing of interest, it turns and heads another direction. It is not here to chitchat. It is here to live and it is looking for whatever a centipede-type looking worm needs. What do they need? Some of them climb the walls and some are swept out with the other insects that for some reason or another meet their doom on the floor of the house during the night. Do insects just have a short life span? The morning looks like a battleground after a massacre with insects everywhere on the floor, table, and countertop. Some seem to have met their doom, while others have not heard the alarm clock and as I sweep them out, they wake up. One might wonder why not just put in screens, but a neighbor made a good point about them just keeping in the bugs and to be honest, no matter what, bugs will get into the house. Even in the zipped up airtight homes of modern society, one will find spiders and scorpions. They are not human predators. They do not come in looking to bite people. They come in possibly tracking a food source and cannot get out or find that it’s easier to hang out inside where other insects seem to congregate.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 11.11.01 AMOne of the advantages of this open-air home design is that with the thousands of things that come in, 99% go back out. I’ve had just about everything with wings, except for a taradactyl, fly in one entrance and find different exit—‘excuse me just passing through.’ And yes, insects use run on sentences and don’t capitalize. In the evening, with lights, there is a special breed of insect that is attracted to the light. Relentless light addicts, they dive bomb my headlamp and inevitably miss and smash into my face, head and neck or hang out on the counter where light is shining. They get what they need (which I have yet to figure out) and leave when there is no more light; I feel so used. Some come in to feed on me, on drops of water, on the fruit and others are just strolling along their morning walk through the jungle and come across a concrete patio. Some learn that the inside of a house is a great place to set up for finding meals. Some climb up the short patio wall, walk in the house, and out a another opening, arriving home days later, wondering what kind of weird universe they passed through. It is no doubt a weird relationship I have with the bugs and the bugs have with this indoor space. We are both equal foreigners.

It makes me think about relationships we have with other people. When it comes down to it, one could say we are all just ‘passing through’ each other’s lives. Some people come into our lives to feed on us and leave when they get what they came for. Others might hang out a while and suck us dry, like parasites or amoebas. Others come in for a short period of time, change our lives and leave. Some ask nothing in return and others will not leave until they get what they came for. And when I say others, I mean you and me. We all approach people looking to get something from them, some of us more than others. What if we shift that and instead of always looking to gain something, we look to serve or to simply receive? Instead of getting discouraged when we do not get what we want, maybe we can assume that we are providing another person with something they need and that sometimes it is a one-way street….and it is not about us.

In the end, it is a perfect system and there are just as many human personalities as there are insects. Well, that is not a proven fact, but I am sticking with it. Other times, maybe we just run into someone for no reason whatsoever and there is no point in trying to figure it out. We do a little dance, spin around, maybe go for a walk together and arrive at home a day later wondering what the hell that was all about. Instead of questioning it, maybe we can let it go and just be OK with no answer. Maybe it comes later. Maybe never. We are part of a larger symbiotic system of energy bouncing around into other energy matter. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it feels good, sometimes we do not feel it at all and that is OK too. So, for me, the moral is to open the doors and experience it all. If you put up screens, you’ll filter what the universe is trying to bring to you. We are all just passing through each other’s lives.

About Carlos Bill

Carlos is a dynamic public school teacher and Principal with professional development experience in 2nd language acquisition, educational technology, and classroom management. He also is Co-Founder of Travel to Learn, an organization dedicated to teaching people how to live a truly regenerative lifestyle with respect to health, relationships, and the natural environment. TTL does this through public speaking engagements, workshops, and travel programs.
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6 Responses to Passing Through

  1. Jill Turek says:

    Beautiful stories and writing. How long will you be in Mexico?

  2. Nina says:

    Loved this read Carlos, happy to know you are finding peace with your new home and it’s tiny neighbors.

  3. Gmail says:

    Love this post, Carlos! Hope all is well in Mexico!!! Very beautiful place you are living in…hope to see you someday soon! :-)

    All my best,


    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Elena says:

    You are a fabulous writer Carlos! I know that having such wonderful experiences means you have great stories to tell, but you really know how to make a person feel as if she’s there watching the animals, scratching the bites, and enjoying the views. I hope that Mexico is good to you. xox

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