The Gift — updated

Dec 19, 2019 | 8 comments

Author’s note: This is an update of my original story of “The Gift” that appeared two years. The original appears below it.

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all been sufficiently naughty or nice to get some Santa action coming your way. Over here, we are more than ready. Edie and I love to cook so we are going wild for Christmas with Beef Wellington and also with Sow Belly “burnt-endz”… think chunky smoked bacon on massive doses of steroids! Man oh man … I can’t wait!

The Holiday Season is upon us again and with it comes memories of family, friends and great times under the tree. It’s a time to give, that’s for sure. But, it’s a time to receive also and to give thanks for the bounty that most of us have.

Some fellow expats and Cuencano friends were lamenting this year’s lighting of the luces to me. According to them, this year there are austerity measures in place that prevent the full blown event as Edie and I have experienced it before. As a matter of fact, it has only been a really big show the first year we were here and we’ve been here four years. I don’t know whether it will ever be the same again.

That prompted me to dig up this photograph from three years past and the story I created, two years ago, to support it. My original story is still on the money. I’ve just continued to expand my horizons in Ecuador continuing in a vein of personal growth. Accomplishments in personal growth constitute the brass rings that are my prizes. I like stacking them up, too.

In reference to my photograph, I doubt there will ever be a chance for me to create something like this again. I’m watching though, waiting…always ready to receive the winds of change that Ecuador has to offer. They feel more and more like a caress of my cheek by a warm wind that rises in the early afternoon of my life.

Original post of “The Gift”, from December 2017.

Change is inevitable, that’s for sure. I think it’s how it is dealt with that’s the issue at stake. I’m afraid that I often do what I set out not to do. As the years have passed, I find I have to be more vigilant of certain responses I have to change. It’s a very powerful force that isn’t going to be denied its voice. Sometimes, change is happy sometimes it’s sad. Change can be scary or reassuring. It wears every emotion on its face. When change arrives as the unexpected, its cloak can be dark and sinister or as if a warm breeze came up and gently caressed your cheek.

So, even though I pulled up stakes and moved to Ecuador two years ago, that sure doesn’t mean that I’ve conquered all the challenges that change and the unexpected serve up. But, I will tell you this, Ecuador has been a good tempering agent for me. It’s not the time I’ve been here but the experiences that have created some new insights.

Edie and I went the other night to photograph a wonderful annual event, the lighting of the luces at plazoleta Santo Domingo. We really enjoyed the photographs we made in 2016 and were ready to repeat our great experience and create even more compelling imagery. Alas, all was different decoration wise and there were throngs of people, three times as many as the previous year. Disappointment based on change or expectation wasn’t a part of our thoughts. We just joined friends in the crowd for some catching up and good laughs. After some street food, we headed home and made a pan of brownies while listening to some music.

As I rested at our table with the nuances of chocolate lingering on my palette, I laughed out loud at the simplicity of my thoughts, my ideas, my solutions to bits and pieces of life that pass by. I’ll leave you to your own ideas but for me, suffice it to say that I have more expectations of myself than ever. And, I’m working, and it is work, to receive the winds of change as a caress to my cheek. Ecuador is always teaching me whether I am a willing or unruly student, that’s part of her beauty. I’ve been humbled by this special and unexpected gift the culture here provides, and it’s an ongoing process.

Here’s that photograph I made in 2016 at plazoleta Santo Domingo to accompany my personal reflections. I wanted to share the gift of my experience there with you again. I wish all of you wonderful holidays with a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Brian Buckner

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