Monday, January 15, 2007

Changing Me in Chacala -Mexican Time

It’s hard to try to step back and try to become aware of how I have changed over the past three years I have spent in Chacala. But I know I have changed in some ways. Today I noticed one change pretty clearly. It's do do with making plans, versus kind of "going with the flow". To use a phrase I never liked.

Over the past year or so I have moved to hardly ever making plans ahead of time. Even a day ahead. And I like living my life that way. I do have mental lists about things I want to get done. The main items are usually: doing rental arrangements and emailing with the renters, getting stuff from the store (generally toilet paper, milk, water, and pan/rolls), and occasionally going to the bank, tianguis, or laundry in Las Varas. And once or twice a month going to P.V.for English books and other stuff I can’t find here. But I hardly ever decide to go until a few minutes before I actually take off.And similarly, I never actually plan to swim in the ocean, but I always have my beach water shoes handy at the beach somewhere. And now I just swim in the regular clothes (shorts and shirt). Easy and I never have to think, “Oh I should wear or bring my suit, etc”. If the water looks like fun or someone I like is going in the water, I just go in. Usually almost everyday.

People who are visiting Chacala like to schedule things, just like I used to in the U.S. Like making dates with people when to met for dinner, and where, etc. Or when they might come over, or whatever. And I can understand wanting to do that in a strange place. Which Chacala prbably is for first-time visitors. I guess it's a way to kind of get your bearings, or make some markers for your day. But I really don’t like doing that anymore, and I try very hard to avoid having people expect me to do something or be somewhere any particular time or place.Partly it’s because I don’t like being tied down, and partly it’s because I never know what will happen between the time we might make a plan, and when the time arrives to get together. Things come up and things happen, and it feels better to take care of what’s important in the moment rather than ignoring the present in order to fulfill some obligation made in the past.

I know that in my old life I didn’t feel that way. I would have been terribly insulted if someone made a plan with me and didn’t show up or whatever. It would feel very personal. But it doesn’t feel like that here. Sometimes the thing that came up is much more important for some reason than some old plan from days ago.

And it doesn’t seem to be considered rude here to not show up for most planned events or whatever. Or to be late. Even very late. My guess is everyone understands and appreciates that things happen, and that you will get there when you can. And I think everyone enjoys the freedom that attitude allows you.I think this approach, that is, not making plans, makes it easier to keep your priorities straight. And when you know other people are taking care of what’s important to them, it feels okay if they don’t show up. Or are late. Or whatever.

I had a really hard time a few months ago when someone I was counting on kept not following thru with our plans. It felt really personal. But it really wasn’t. She was doing what seemed important to her at the moment. And her job, kids, and other family obligations were her first priorities. And clearly came before our little plans. It first it kind of hurt, and then I started noticing how freeing it feels to be able to do what’s important in the moment.

I used to feel like people weren’t “keeping their word” if they no-showed, or were late. Then I figured out maybe that’s not the issue. It doesn't need to be written in stone that you will meet whenever. It’s kind of an estimate and an intention. And both parties here seem to understand that’s the deal. That sometimes other things come first, and it’s nothing personal.It was hard for me to get used to that way of interacting with people. But it feels very freeing. And I really try avoid allowing myself get drawn in to making plans with people to do something later. I don’t like how it feels. I like my life better when things just work out. You run into people you need to see, or they are home when you go there, or show up wherever you are. It’s very easy and nice.Now that I think about it, I never much liked making social plans ahead of time in the U/S. So I guess I found the right place for me. I never understood the term “Mexican time”. But I think I do now. And I like it. But it makes it hard to be around people who want future things nailed down today.

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