The Gift of Chilling

Personal Writings

Puerto Escondido       Our family just spent over an hour watching a squirrel over the wall where we were staying.  We talked, read, whatever, but the squirrel was tireless, scrapping away at the husk of a coconut, determined to find whatever prize lay within.  Mi hija called it a National Geographic moment, and it was that and more.  What level of generational squirrel adaptation had spread the word throughout the species that oak trees were the stuff of myth, but here, near the Mexican Pacific coast in Oaxaca, coconuts rocked?  I found that fascinating and enrapturing.  Later mi hijo reported watching an unnamed yellow and red bird dive into a pool of water four or five times for another a drink, a treat, or who knows what.  All of these were wonderful moments to cherish in the same way that simply sitting there listening to the family was an equally special time.

We were lucky in Mexico City, a place we dearly love.  Pure chance and the gift of fate over our almost two-week stay had found lifelong friends and comrades in the city at the same time, allowing us to get together and enjoy each other’s company.  Having visited there off and on over fifty years, it was fun to hear all of them who had rarely, if ever, been to the city, talk about where they were going, where they had been, and even making recommendations of our favorite places to help them along.

I also have to admit that I found it a relief that I didn’t have to go to any of those places, or in fact to really have to go anywhere at all.  I could simply wave the “vacation flag” after a long, exhausting year, and simply chill.  Sure, we did a couple of things like going to the Café la Habana, the Botanical Garden, and even a mescalaria, owned by a friend of a friend kind of thing.  We walked in the local parks around Condesa and along the avenues there and in Roma Norte.  We cultivated a favorite panaderia and certainly missed few meals, but mainly we just kicked back.  We read. We worked on some projects we had saved for this time, when we could, and when we felt like it.  Once or twice, real work intervened.  The recent noncommercial radio filings rolled up on our shores several times.  A quick proposal for organizing training and support cropped up and took some time.  Mainly, though, we didn’t do much at all.  Habitually, I made my daily list, but often it was several days, not one, and I didn’t even bother to check whether any more than the bare minimum had been done.

We relaxed, absorbed the culture, and, frankly, felt very, very lucky.  One night walking back to where we were staying, we saw a man bent over on two crutches, largely dragging one leg, as he went slowly one step at a time, while tethered by a rope to two heaping carts, piled high.  Was this his living or his home?  Was his labor finished for the day, or did he have miles to go before he could rest?

We’ll never know, and we’ll often wonder, but we do know that just sometimes being able to do nothing is a rare and welcome gift for us all to cherish, giving any or all of us the opportunity to seize and savor some peace and quiet time in the turmoil of our lives.