Getting lost in the market.

A couple of days ago I was stomping through the very old mercado here in Antigua, Guatemala. I’ve been visiting this market off and on for several years now. Though people I know have had the occasional bad experience – a slashed handbag to make a wallet fall out, pockets picked, etc. – I’ve really only had good ones. But, for some reason, in between buying flowers from my favorite vender and making my way to the avocados, I discovered that I was lost.

In hindsight, I think it was because it wasn’t one of the traditional market days of Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday. Since some of the vendors were closed, many shops that I’d come to depend upon for guideposts were missing. But eventually I felt a bit of a breeze and followed it to find my way out. Once out I could enter again in a familiar location and go buy avocados. Two of the surest ways to find your way out of the mercado is to look for fresh air or daylight, or to follow a local walking with a sense of purpose, because they are likely headed out of the maze.

I’m offering my experience as a parallel for today’s politics. It’s remarkably easy to be lost out there. A lot of our traditional vendors have been exchanged for entertainment outlets desperate to maintain a 24/7/365 format. For years we were taught that our newscasters had our best interests at heart. That’s no longer the case. In fact, within a couple of weeks I think we’ll be finding a few of them have been paid to create a story that simply was never true. A similar thing happened a few years ago with the discovery of the JournoList.

It’s been one year since the United States inaugurated a new leader, yet nearly half the country is still arguing he’s not their president. How ridiculous is that? I told the story just last week of why I look for ways to respect President Trump. It’s my grandmother’s fault. She always told me, “Once he’s elected, he’s my president, too.” It remains a remarkably common-sense approach from a clever lady with an eighth-grade education. The statement reminds me that there’s more than my emotions at stake when it comes to being an American.

One of the reasons I’ve not had a bad market experience is because I plan ahead. I tuck money into a couple of different places and don’t carry a purse or wallet. I rarely take my local phone in so I won’t be distracted. Since I’m usually alone, I take care to sense who is around me. The market is mostly a place for women. If a man becomes too interested or chatty, I suddenly find that I need to visit with the woman in the corner stand about cilantro right this minute!

Just like hanging out in the mercado here, it pays to pay attention to your news sources. Know your vendors. Develop relationships with more than one. And if something doesn’t feel right, look for a breeze or a little daylight to make an exit, and then find your way back. You’ll find it’s easy to sift through the rotting produce now famously described as Fake News and find the good stuff. Trust your instincts.

America’s a pretty great country. There’s no reason to let the media (or your Facebook buddies) scare you into thinking otherwise. Sometimes getting lost is just part of the process to figure out where you really want to be. If you feel lost in all the political nastiness out there, just walk away. The sun will still come up tomorrow.

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