Thursday, December 2, 2010

My (partially-fabricated) Telenovela

 It would be practical to assume that the actors in my own personal Telenovela might be a Colombian girl, a Panamanian from the interior or a blonde expat from Europe living here in Panama City. In truth, however, the real drama in the everyday is the way the past manages to sneak up into my brain and plant little doubts that pull and tug at my future. Often in this vicious love-or-war battle between past and future my poor present is the casualty, lost in the soap opera coma while the others plot their next moves at the hospital bedside.

Last weekend was nearly just such a casualty. Thanks to the spectacular networking of one of my teammates we were off on another island adventure at the invite of a few Panamanians. A quick car ride from the Pacific to the Atlantic (no, it never gets old saying that) and a short boat ride later we were greeted by a beautiful, secluded, cliffside beach house on Isla Grande  with 4 bedrooms, a pool, cabanas and hammocks, all about 25 stone steps off the beach. 

My present, armed with little more than a towel, an ipod, a few books on business strategy and a bottle of Johnnie Walker, should have been just fine. It's true that I did enjoy snorkeling right off the house-front beach, lounging by the pool, spending time with new friends, hanging at the surf spot and flirting with the girl that our boat driver described as "straight out of a telenovella." Sure, all those things happened. But at the same time the past and the future were at war in my head, mulling over old decisions, guessing at future outcomes and trying to logic out actions that hadn't even taken place. The over-dramatization of the most inconsequential details played out like a bad telenovela, made even worse by the fact that everyone in the world could see how excessively melodramatic each part was being played except for me.

The rainy weather moved over the island late in the afternoon and the drama continued. Most MBA's have but a select set of worries: mulling over past job experiences, maintaining a network of professionals who can keep you plugged in while you're studying away, and finding your way to employment at the end of your two years of studying. These were the ingredients for the script of last weekend's Telenovela.

Then, Saturday evening, my present  awoke suddenly from his coma, having heard everything that the past and future had said in his sleep. Disoriented and angry, he reached for the first weapon he could find fight back at the past and future. Options on this remote island were limited and the first thing my present could grab onto was that bottle of Johnnie Walker stuffed in tiny duffel bag.You might think that from here my present fell back into the  the coma once again but I can assure you that sipping whiskey on the rocks from a coffee mug (there weren't any glasses on the island) keeps the intake of alcohol at a moderate pace. Without the mixers there was no distracting the body from what is actually going down.

Somehow, in spite of the dastardly tricks of what was and what is to be, my present emerged to take center stage for the weekend one an island so very far from home. A secluded beach, a few friends, a spot of sunshine (and a few sips of whiskey) was all it took.

Has there been real drama down here in Panama? Sure. It's Latin America. But soon that drama too will fade until it become nothing more than another part of the my past scheming towards my future.

That's what I got.

-D

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