Monday, May 14, 2012

Tranquila

I've made my way over to Starbucks. Its a new Starbucks right smack dab in the middle of downtown. And its beautiful. It feels almost like a Peets Coffee. My schedule has slowed down a bit, which is good. I am no longer working 16 hour days. I'm no longer running from one thing to the next without time to breathe. I find myself walking slower, enjoying smaller things in life.

I am trying to take life more slowly. Life in Chile moved more slowly. In fact, sometimes it seems like a snail's pace to me. I know its my gringa-ness that pushes me to not "waste" time. Like if I am in the middle of doing a certain task, and I run into an acquaintance on the street. Social norms here say that I have to fully stop, do the cheek kisses, ask how the person is, how their family is, and then, only then, after a solid two questions can I proceed with my errand. I'm learning to be okay with being a few minutes late. People come first.

So I'm trying to move slower. Trying to relax and enjoy my time. Trying to not feel guilty when I "waste" my day doing "nothing". My natural gut reaction is to think that my day is totally wasted if I haven't accomplished something to better the world, or at least better my life. Chileans value relaxation, rest, time with people. Gringos value accomplishing. So if we are going to spend time with someone, it's to really spend that time with them. We need to talk, to eat, to do something. If we just sit there and say nothing, we are wasting time. Not to chileans. It's not uncommon for a chilean family, with adult children, to spend a few hours together around a table for "tea time". Hours and hours.

So I'm learning to be ok with this perception of time. I'm learning to quiet the voice in me that says that spending a whole day doing "nothing" is wrong. Maybe, just maybe, it's ok to spend your whole Saturday just sitting around. Not always, but maybe sometimes.

I'll never really be chilean in my perception of time, but at least I'm learning to let myself "go native" a bit.