By Bárbara Arredondo
I am a Mexican woman who is taking a chance in allowing my heart to lead the way on this journey. I have made peace with the fact that one day I will not be here anymore, nor those who surround me.
But I have also made peace with the fact that somehow we are always together, the journey never ends and at the same time, each day we are given an opportunity to recreate and redefine ourselves to practice what we came here to learn: to love and be loved and to forgive and be forgiven.
Ever since I can remember, I have questioned myself, as so many of us have, about the purpose of being here. A question that the 13th century Sufi poet, Rumi, would address over and over, saying: “Where did I come from and what am I supposed to be doing?”
After going through multiple episodes of depression from the time I was 21 years old, I wanted to find meaning and purpose to my existence. I wanted to make sense out of beauty and the unexplainable perfection that is life. Deep in my soul, I believed there was a grander purpose to this human experience beyond anything than I could ever comprehend.
I was born in Monterrey, Mexico and eight years ago, after having lived in fear for months, I decided to listen to my heart. To do so, I asked: Why are you afraid? The answer came: “You are afraid because it is time to do what you came here to do”. It was simple and true. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. As an international relations graduate student, I found myself lost. However, I decided to take a chance and believe and trust in that voice that gave me infinite peace.
A short time later, I became a journalist. I felt at home writing, interviewing, and sharing but somewhere down the line, after three years in journalism I became depressed again. I felt as if my voice had no place. Monterrey was going through an unimaginable wave of violence and fear that captured us all. A part of me wanted to believe in something different, in 21st century Gandhis, Einsteins, Mother Theresas and Chaplins.
My longing led me to an article written by Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International. Zainab’s story was a sign that my quest was only beginning. After interviewing her in New York and being in her presence, I wanted to share the experience with thousands in my city. I wanted to do an event. The year was 2009 and it was then that I committed my life to beauty, truth, compassion, peace, love, and hope. I declared: I will do an event, write a book and these principles will guide me, if this is what I am meant to do.
For the past three years I have dedicated my life to creating spaces where we can recognize one another as equals, become inspired, and take action. On 2012, I created IListen an agency where we create projects that redefine human potential from which the I Am Here Series was born.
I Am Here Series is a platform designed for participants to recognize their own potential to create a change in their community, from inside to outside. The platform consists of conferences, workshops and community building projects and was launched in Monterrey, where 300 women participated and had the opportunity to meet and listen to Zainab Salbi, Patti Smith, Abby Disney, Marianne Williamson, among other world-changing women.
As I continue to follow my heart and believe in my journey, i Am Here Series will now take place in Mexico City on November 7 and 8. This year’s theme is Together We Rise where men, women, youth, and children will be able to participate.
I have learned we are not alone, that transformation is possible and that it must come from within in order to have a long lasting impact beyond ourselves. Having a support system is essential in each of our quests as well as becoming a supporter for someone else. I could have never been able to do this without support from my parents, sister, and brother. I recently realized how blessed I am to have their live, encouragement, and their backs to fall upon.
Being here is an honor, a gift. As Rumi put it: “I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.” And as long as I am here, I will continue to renew my vows in leading a life of service, for beauty lies in experiencing our equality, interconnectedness, humanity and our capacity to love.
Bárbara Arredondo is a noted cultural curator and journalist in peacebuilding from Monterrey, Mexico. She is the founder and CEO of Ilisten and I Am Here Series. Barbara was named as a Global Shaper in 2013 by the World Economic Forum.
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This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 7