It was early and the knock on our wooden door seemed upbeat. From the courtyard I heard our neighbor announcing: “I accomplished a major developmental task! I woke up this morning and cancelled my flight back to the States!”
A week before he had noticed our door ajar as he was checking out the Mexican flagstone walkways and desert/tropical landscape—all new since his last visit—and greeted us upon his arrival. He had finished his semester of teaching and summer vacation had just begun. A week in Baja was his first step of freedom.
Living in Baja for most of the year, we say a lot of hellos and goodbyes. We watch our friends in the process of decompression over the course of a week or two of vacation, literally hour by hour.
Most friends arrive from the U. S. with lists of all the things they need to accomplish while in Loreto. They arrive fully entrenched in the American standard: even on vacation, they hold onto the mindset that life is a job, a series of tasks to be accomplished.
Buy food at the Sunday market: check. Head out for a morning walk on the beach: check. Read a book: check. The neurons are firing in their familiar mode, ticking off each activity on the list with great satisfaction. Until there are no more tasks undone.
“Now what?” you say.
This is when we discover: we have been running way too fast. So we adjust our pace ever so slightly, influenced by the Loreto tempo. What we begin to notice is that slowing down time leaves room for random and unplanned events and spontaneous occurrences. Conversing with strangers-turned-friends. Learning about the local environment or trying a new activity. Spending time alone or focusing on self-care.
Suddenly the emotions that have been kept at bay flood the mind. There is time now to consider the ways we are slaves to our well-ingrained thoughts and expectations. There is time now to question some of the beliefs that have been so well wired into our brains, and to play with new ideas.
Sometimes if you feed your achievement-oriented brain one little tidbit (accomplishing one errand, making one connection, or solving one problem), it will be just satisfied enough to take a break. Then your mind can unwind a few of your self-imposed ‘shoulds’—after all, guilt on the beach is no fun.
When the calendar clears, there is room to enjoy the fine details of nature: the wind on the water, mother birds feeding their babies, the blossoms on the cactus. Notice ice cubes melting in your glass and other simplicities of life, and resist the urge to fill in every spare moment.
Then consider whether or not a few extra days in Loreto might be exactly what you need to settle your busy life.