What I Realized After Being Mugged At Knife Point in Bogotá
On my first day in Bogotá, my partner and I were walking in La Candelaria area around 2pm. We were on a trafficked street near the university, with a group of people ahead of us. We were on our way to ride the gondola up to overlook the city at Mount Monserrate, it would be our last adventure of the day before heading back to our Air BnB in the busy area that is La Chapinero.
Abruptly, two tall Colombian men pushed into my partner and my immediate thought was for them to watch where they were walking. What idiots. But then, one dug his grimy claws into my shoulders and pushed me fiercely, slamming my back into the chipped concrete wall and started yelling in words I could not understand. I can still see the deranged look in his eye as he tossed me aside to steal from my partner.
We were being mugged.
I can't recall much from the incident, as it happened so quickly and my fight instincts took over. I remember yelling weakly while pulling one of the men off of my partner. I remember thinking a van would be pulling up soon in which I'd get shoved into, never to see my loved ones again. Knife in hand, the men attempted to take our things and potentially our lives, but we fought back. In an instant, it was over and the men ran away into nearby hills. Disheveled but unscathed we ran towards the nearest taxi quivering and hysterical.
They had a knife, but they didn't hurt us. We had valuables, but they didn't take them. For all the different outcomes that could have been, we think that's the best way it could have gone.
While this is the first time anything of this caliber has happened in my lifetime, it brought up deep thought about life, the world as we know it, our minds and how we respond to these situations.
A Call-to-Action for Good Karma
As someone that identifies as spiritual, my viewpoint of the outcome of this incident stems from karma and my path of love over hate. A path of healing over destroying. A path of understanding and acting upon right versus wrong.
Karma can appear in different shapes and forms. For instance, one might look at that situation and say "It would never have happened in the first place," if we had good karma on our side. But I disagree because everything happens for a reason and although I don't understand now why it happened at all, I know there's something looking over me that had my best interest. What if we had taken a few more steps only to be hit by a car? The universe works in mysterious ways.
Our world is scary right now, hell, it's always been scary. We're just at a point where we're so interconnected and media-driven we hear more of the stories that fuel nightmares.
We also feel small in this world. How can we ever make a change on a macro scale? The sad news is, we probably can't on our own, but with collective responsibility and conscious-living, we can start.
Even the smallest of responsibilities, such as throwing your trash in a garbage rather than on the street, can start to fuel a consciousness revolution. Being aware of your tone when talking to people adds to the fuel. Showing empathy to someone that feels frightened, alone, and targeted because of our new "president." Signing a petition to save the DAPL online may feel futile, but your participation and persuasion over your peers will go further than you think.
That is good karma and that is what our world needs. Understand that by acting out of love affects the micro and the macro of your life, so when bad shit happens to you it's not the "rock bottom" outcome!
Taming Our Self-Destructive Minds
Then there's the aspect of a type of self-mutilation of the mind. Situations, events, crisis occur and regardless of the outcome, we build a million others in our mind driving us to the point of lunacy.
When we were attacked, I cried for hours after because of what could have happened. It could have ended in a trip to the hospital, I could have been shoved in a van, there were so many variables in my thought process at the time. The fear receptors in my brain went haywire and sent me off in a million different vivid scenes that did not happen and no longer would happen. The reality was it was over and we were safe.
In order for society to progress and come together, on a micro-scale each and every one of us needs to get past this destructive habitual thought pattern and accept reality for what it is. Our minds are the greatest storytellers of all, using fear to paint a narrative of fictional results which then directs our actual response. What happens to us - or what happens to someone elsewhere that we hear about on the news - combined with what our mind creates can shape our forthcoming psychological and physiological responses, and then comes racism, hatred, and a complete shift in perspective.
Going back to elementary concepts, don't judge a book by its cover because you read a headline on Vice, or you read this article thinking, "I'll never go to Colombia!" Become aware in your situations whether the thoughts spinning yarn in your head are factual or just apart of your stress-induced fairytale.
We're not perfect and I don't expect this post to revolutionize the way one acts, but I do expect it to promote thought and conversation. How can we change ourselves to change society? How do we cope and move forward when we're scarred by the past? Now more than ever, these are things that need to be and will be discussed in order for us to move towards inner and outer peace.
Don't let your ego, or our collective ego, make this world go down in flames. We're at a point where we can rise from the ashes and collaboratively revolutionize how we live and see the world - we just have to do it together.