waiting

March 18, 2019

To be in a hurry in Mexico is to miss the point. I am writing this not from theory but from practice, as I sit here waiting for a taxi at the botanic gardens just outside of town. You see, Mexico operates on a much different sense of time than its northern neighbor. In the States, everything is urgent. Even the things that truly aren’t urgent (which is most things, if we’re honest) are still perceived as nuisances to rush through.

However, not in Mexico. Patience (coupled with an innate ability to just be in the present moment) is embedded in the culture. It is something I am quite envious of, actually. Because if I observe the times I grow impatient, it is rarely because I truly need something “faster.” It is only because I have this cultural urge within me to speed everything up. And, if I really observe this urge, it becomes quite clear that instead of actually serving me in some capacity, it only ends up controlling me.

So, back to the botanic gardens. Because they are located in a more remote part of town and few cars pass by, the staff regularly call taxis to come pick up waiting passengers. There was a group of Americans in line ahead of me, and I overheard them sharing their frustration. They had been waiting for twenty minutes for their cab, and in the meantime, a few other taxis had stopped by dropping passengers off. However, there is a system in place. Technically you are supposed to wait for the cab that was called for you and not leave before it arrives, because otherwise, the driver will end up making a wasted trip.

This group of Americans that preceded me had chosen to wait for their taxi that was en route, but were now regretting it, and wishing they had just jumped in the last cab that had pulled away. Their American efficiency perspective was starting to take over and, in the process, detract from what had been a relaxing afternoon in a tranquil nature setting.

Waiting for a cab in Mexico is but one example of a million ways the culture offers a chance to learn how to put aside any entrenched American sense of urgency. But, maybe it’s better to call it an opportunity. Because these mini-exercises in waiting are actually practices in freedom. Like I mentioned earlier, 99% of the time I find myself growing impatient, it is not because I actually really need something to be happening faster. It is only because I’ve become conditioned to let impatience control me and rob me of my ability to be in the present. Waiting, then, is most certainly a helpful antidote to being controlled by the false tyranny of the urgent. Something from which most Americans could surely benefit.

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