I felt like something tweaked me from the inside, and I unconsciously began rubbing the pads of my thumb and index fingers, which immediately disrupted the relaxation flow generated by meditation. Then, I opened my eyes and saw a line of golden light on the horizon. It was growing and brightening the early morning sky, slowly spreading and touching every building with its gentle warming glow and moving towards me. I was on the balcony, still sitting in the lotus pose. Some birds started singing, enhancing the arrival of light and the beginning of a new day.
Looking at the sky and reading the clouds, I could tell it would be a beautiful day, something I learned to understand living in this “tropical paradise.” Gorgeous, magnificent day, but I didn’t feel anything gazing at that natural, scrumptious show. I’ve seen hundreds of beautiful sunrises over the sea in the past nine years and stopped counting and distinguishing the difference. It was all the same for me.
Think about your favorite dessert and imagine you have had it every day for nine years. Would you still like it? Would you still anticipate a moment of making a first bite? Would you still perceive it as delicious?
Can you get tired of endless summer vibes and the sun? I answer: “Yes!” But if you live in a town where it’s freezing and snowing a lot, you would probably disagree, and I understand you. I would have done the same back in 2013. That year in October, I arrived in Cancun from a city where it snows heavily even in April, and the sun is considered a delicacy.
I forgot about the aesthetic life and was hungry for the sun, warmth, and the Caribbean Sea. Every cell of my body was longing to feel it. And when it happened the first time, I was mesmerized and thought I could live there all my life.
In nine years, my perception of that place shifted dramatically from “Amazing! I want to stay here” to “Horrible! I want to run away!” The site itself didn’t change much; from a tourist perspective, it still looked “Amazing!” But I was not one of them; I lived and worked there. You could have called me a local, though I didn’t look like one of them. I could have become a guide based on my knowledge of the area, but I didn’t feel I belonged there.
I love nature, its wilderness is a cradle of sincere inspiration, but humans are complex beings. We love comparing and searching for the better while still romanticizing the past and wanting more. Once you get the taste of artificial city life, that generates “more” instantly, it’s difficult to forget it. You can’t erase that memory, even walking in a hectic-free and safe part of jungles around cenotes. At one moment, you’ll remember something that, like a reputable ghost, will disappear the next moment, leaving you with an aftertaste of its unexpected visit. That’s when you understand memories will walk with you, follow you, and travel with you everywhere.
My memories of life in a big city of dashingly vibrating cultural life, flamboyance art on different levels, and never-ending choice of aesthetic experiences activated on my six year living in Playa del Carmen. It aroused the question: Do I like it here? Do I feel comfortable? And the answer was obvious: “No” because if I would, I wouldn’t even ask myself these questions.
A hunger for aesthetic experience.
The word aesthetic originated from the Greek word ‘aisthētikos,’ meaning “to perceive, sense, learn” and “relating to perception by senses.” Then it can be concluded that “feeling life with all five senses” is another word for aesthetics.
Aesthetics is about feeling life, actively using all five senses to arouse curiosity, and continue exploring, thus enriching one’s mind and spirit. This endless process is what adds a feeling of richness to life. A simple example is that it’s not about the number of clothes in your wardrobe; it is more about (the process) combining them, thus actively using them to express your individuality, mood, and aspirations.
When I made my adventurous trip halfway across the world with a one-way ticket, I was driven by my curiosity and eager to explore every new aspect of life. I felt like I was an artist of my own life. I enjoyed those days when I was a kind-of-hippie and bathed in the glory of every freedom-like-moment. Surrounded by the sea and bathing in sunshine, I thought that feeling of an addictive, divine easiness would last forever.
Once I settled in Playa del Carmen, made a “tropical paradise” my home, and concentrated only on growing business, I silenced that curiosity and feeling of life. The Technician in me walked on stage and got all the attention.
I focused on marketing, advertising, and promoting my photography business. I learned how to build websites based on WordPress and write SEO-optimized articles, record videos and edit them in Premier Pro and After Effect, and use social media to spread the word about my business, and I also learned a third language. All those efforts brought me financial results and a satisfactory feeling of success, a strong combination that entices me to believe that that is the ultimate happiness of life.
I grew up in an ambiance surrounded with art, European-style architecture, and cultural variety. It became part of me, my biology, my cultural DNA, and my basis for understanding the joy of life. It was inside my system and difficult to remove. Under the pressure of the actively-different circumstances, it was silenced for a long time. And then a moment came when it woke up, roared, and demanded attention, notifying me that something important was missing.
In his book “How to get what you want and want what you have,” John Grey writes about 12 love tanks. My “tropical paradise” tank ruled by Technician was undeniably overfilled. I couldn’t take more. I was missing aesthetic experiences, the beauty of life. I felt like a robot, doing things on autopilot. Even the creative side of my business, taking photos, became a technical-routinary process because my only playground-studio was plain sand, sea, and sky. At some point, I realized I didn’t feel anything looking at that marvelous landscape, pampered by joyful sunshine, hearing the sounds of waves. I was emotionally numb, and I had nothing that triggered my imagination.
For an endlessly curious person like me, a tropical paradise turned into a trap, or maybe I made a trap out of it. And to find a way out, I needed aesthetic experiences; I needed to activate all my senses to feel life again. I wanted a hectic lifestyle back, one that I ran away from nine years ago. My eyes were ready to be bombarded with the visual diversity of a big city; my ears wanted to hear the sounds of classy music, soft jazz in a bar, opera; my hands wanted to touch cashmere and furry coat. I want to feel life; I don’t want it to pass me by while pretending to belong to a place where my only anchor is my photography business.
The absence of aesthetics made me feel the complexity of life and understand the necessity to add art and beautiful experiences to maintain a balance.
How visual aesthetics revived my enthusiasm for life?
My first attempt to add visual aesthetics into my life was by painting with oil and acrylics. In a short time, colorful abstracts inspired by nature filled my living space. My tactical experience using brushes, palette knives, and sometimes fingers to create them was enriching and nourishing. Also, it helped me to release the tension generated by “living in a technical mode”:
- Strictly following the agenda
- Typing on a laptop or computer
- Calculating, following the rules of 1:3
- Taking photos
- Looking at the computer screen or the back screen on my camera
- Multitasking daily
Painting with acrylics and oil became my source of meditative relaxation and allowed me to feel time and create just for the fun of creation.
Painting helped me to become more attuned to my creativity and brave in trying new experiences. Shortly after completing my eleventh painting, I started attending theatre classes in Cancun. It wasn’t easy to find them because that “tropical paradise” is made for an unstoppable-fun-club-drinking experience rather than for aesthetics and art. Nevertheless, I found them in the “Casa de la Cultura” (Spanish translation “House of Culture”), and every Saturday for many months, investing three hours on the road to get there, I was present there to learn and enjoy.
I can’t express enough my gratitude to the teacher for sharing the mastery of acting, owning our voice, understanding our body, and communicating. Being part of theatre classes, performing on stage, and talking in Spanish, my third language gave me a gentle sense of belonging.
Then the Pandemic hit the world, and my aesthetic experiences stopped. For three months, I only expressed creativity and received aesthetic pleasure by writing and editing videos for my YouTube channel.
I’ve never been a golf fan but living in Playa del Carmen and Cancun, I got exposed to the golf culture. Most all-inclusive hotels have golf courses, which creates an ambiance that forces you to think actively about the game. I was no exception and got charmed by the abundance of the golf courses. And after the global shutdown was removed and life restored in Cancun, I signed up for golf classes. It was my way to celebrate the rebirth of “normal life” and recharge my enthusiasm for action, which later resulted in something unexpected.
Rediscovering my femininity.
This was something unexpected because I didn’t know it was lost. Years of being a solopreneur, organizing vow renewals, and beach marriage proposals buried my feeling of femininity. This topic deserves a separate article, which I will write later. Still, now to summarize, I want to add, the guidance of coach Candice Oneida and her master class helped me to understand how that happened. It facilitated the process of rediscovery, which started by working on my personal style and wearing dresses.
The creative consequence of a previous experience was that I added Flying Dress photoshoot to my photography services, which added visual aesthetic pleasure to my life. Those colorful dresses made me feel alive and enthusiastic about the creative side of my job. It also added a spiritual value to my photography because the “Flying Dress photoshoot” helps women feel beautiful and empowered.
After flying became available again at the end of 2020, I flew to Mexico City to relax and verify the level of my visual aesthetics hunger. It’s one of the biggest cities in the world, with 152 museums and over 50 galleries, and it was the only place I could travel to then. I visited two museums and a gallery and felt incredibly inspired. The trip was like a breath of fresh air; it cleaned up the horizon from the smog of doubts and stress and allowed me to see the direction for enriching experiences.
I returned home inspired to transform aesthetic loneliness into abundance and revive my enthusiasm for life. However, it was clear that I couldn’t live all my life in a beach resort city where the only joy comes from the sand, sea, and palm trees and is disrupted by the “wildlife” that one can observe in nightclubs.
Despite some controversy surrounding aesthetic and aesthetic experiences, it’s not about fancy, luxury, money, the the-most-expensive-item, the number of dresses, watches, purses, cars, and bold consumerism. It’s about consciously and artistically using what you have to maintain a balance and evolve.
Aesthetics is a heartbeat of life, a pleasure that brings knowledge through the senses. It awakens curiosity, the engine that generates enthusiasm and interest in life.
How aesthetics revived my enthusiasm for life:
- It allowed me to fine-tune my schedule and balance work-active leisure-relax time.
- It demonstrated to me the richness of decorating an apartment with personal style elements that make it “A HOME.”
- It showed me how a simple act of buying yourself fresh flowers and putting them on the kitchen table would put a smile on your face every time you look at them.
- It helped me to see a road and start a journey of self-love and self-care
- It made me rethink the value of art and creative activities, ultimately leading me to start the “Fine Art Lifestyle.”
- It helped me to make my life interesting and filled with enriching experiences and other curiosity elements.
One day in 2022 I boarded a plane with a destination in New York. Flying over Cancun, I looked outside the window to feel nostalgic about the beaches, where I walked hundreds of times. I knew I wouldn’t miss them, but they will have a special place in my life story. And someday, I will gladly return for a short stay.
Let the tropical paradise stay pristine and be a place to dream of simple happiness. We need it as it is, filled with the sounds of the ocean, soft sandy beaches, palm tree leaves rustles, loud calls of seagulls, and romantic sunrises. Mother Nature created some places to help relax and revive a feeling of humble contentment in the overworked ones. We need to know it exists and is open for us to escape and disconnect from a noisy business world to recharge the human-love battery. Only to return where we belong.
Aesthetic, an unmeasurable feeling of life, requires both elements: In and Yan, good and bad, rain and sun, because the balance can only exist with two components, one on each side. And my personal type of harmony includes aesthetics and art. And how about you?