For The Love of Mexico – Tiempo –
Mexico can teach those of us from the north a thing or two about time management: Go with the flow, don’t worry, no problemo. Those of us lucky enough to spend extended time in Mexico are getting the hang of it, but it’s downright difficult to give up our built-in schedules. Even with extra time on our hands in retirement, our wound up psyches still march to our clocks. We fuss, “That workman agreed to be here early today…we’ve been waiting all morning…where is he?” Really it’s just a word problem. “Mañana” can mean tomorrow, and it can mean morning. But if you’re aiming for the workman to be there tomorrow morning, you’d better say, “Mañana por la mañana.” And, we have found that often the word in a casual sense means sometime in the future, as in putting off a task with a shrug…”Mañana…”
We foreigners, especially from the U.S. I’m guessing, tend to mark our time by measuring accomplishments, big and small, as in checking off our to-do lists, even our “bucket lists.” Also, we tend to be on the precise side when it comes to time. That mentality is so deep in our DNA that our trying really hard to let loose and let go can have an unintended opposite effect…wound up.
Change has its own stress. Somehow the stress of our self-made timetables is often more comfortable than completely letting go. Those first days in Mexico each year, we innocently continue keeping pace to our clocks…expecting the unreasonable from a culture that has its own rhythm, a rhythm not based so much on clocks. Just speculating here, but this causes me to consider…could it be a rhythm based on Spanish music of the centuries? After all, the Spanish word for time in fact is tiempo, not so much different from our English “tempo” which, of course, is the speed of a musical piece. This sort of logic I get.
We from the north carry on in step with our ticking clocks. And then one day well into our Mexican time away, as if suddenly awakened to a novel idea, we feel that new rhythm in our being, as if swaying to a bolero, and we leave our watches behind. Ahhh…the relief.
And so we learn to wait and eventually welcome the difference. We even begin to give ourselves the same sort of slack, catching on to this wonder of Mexican time. On any given day our good intentions may shift with the prevailing winds or simply evaporate in the heat of day. And, here’s the best part: We don’t care. To-do lists are put off for mañana.
I like to imagine that, rather than a daily medication for, say, easing one’s stress, a doctor might prescribe a lengthy stay in Mexico – and it just might work. The prescription might read: “Unstructured activities of one’s own choosing, as needed basis, unlimited, guided only by the sun. Side effects: whimsical wanderings, relinquishment of time pieces, lackadaisical attention to U.S. politics and things of that sort.
In the works, my book: “Mariachi, Running Off To Mexico…on Beach Property, Retirement, and Crossing Borders”
So continues my blog “For The Love of Mexico”