the gift of waiting

September 10, 2021

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. Mexico operates with a very different sense of time then its northern neighbor. In the States, most things are presented as urgent. And even things that truly aren’t urgent are often perceived as nuisances to rush through.

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

The botanic gardens are located in a remote part of town and, as few cars pass by, the staff regularly call taxis to pick up waiting passengers. As I sit by the exit, I overhear a group of Americans in line ahead of me sharing their frustration. They have been waiting for twenty minutes for their cab, and in the meantime, a few other taxis have dropped people off. However, you are supposed to wait for the car that was called for you and not leave in a different one before it arrives, because otherwise, the driver will have made a wasted trip.

The Americans ahead of me have chosen to wait for their taxi that is en route, but are now regretting it and wishing they had just jumped in the last one that pulled away. Their cultural preference for efficiency is starting to take over and, in the process, detract from what has been a relaxing afternoon in a tranquil nature setting.

Waiting for a taxi in Mexico is but one example of the myriad of ways life offers us opportunities to resist our own entrenched sense of hurry. When we do so, we discover that these unasked-for times of waiting are actually mini exercises in practicing freedom. Impatience will try to control us and rob us of our ability to be in the present moment. But when we are forced to wait, we are given the gift of fully entering our current reality and are liberated from a sense of time that fills our thinking with unnecessary restraints. Space opens up in our hearts, creating room for greater awareness and appreciation for what lies in front of us.

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