When I’m super busy during the semester and feeling stressed out about all the things I have to do, I always desperately wish I had a moment to just sit and relax. Now that I actually have that time (I definitely have more free time here than I have in years) I find myself feeling guilty about it! I feel like I should be using every minute to do productive things or that something is wrong because I’m not racing from one thing to the next. It’s crazy that in our culture being busier than everyone else is almost the goal and people compare how many things they’re trying to do at once. Being here, I’m realizing that not everyone lives like that. In Panama, time is much more flexible – if you agree to meet at 8pm, that really means 9pm or even whenever you’re ready; if something doesn’t get done today, no worries, it can always happen tomorrow; “now” often actually means something much closer to “later” or “when I get to it”.
So this past Saturday when I had nothing pressing to do in the afternoon, I embraced this attitude, hung up my hammock outside, plunked myself down in the sunshine, and did absolutely nothing except look around and think. It was such a pleasant experience and a great chance to do some reflecting on some questions that have been swirling around in the back of my mind. For instance…
- Why don’t I usually have free time to just relax like this?
- Should I start structuring more time like this into my life?
- What would I need to cut out in order to do that?
- What am I actually looking forward to next semester?
- Does feeling proud of the things that I accomplish outweigh the stress and overwhelmingness of being committed to what can sometimes seem like too many things?
- Does it really matter in the end how involved in extracurricular activities I am?
- Does it matter to me?
- Which one of my commitments are most important to me? Which ones would I be willing to let go?
- Why is it so hard to make decisions?
In answering those questions and reflecting on my experience here so far, I’m realizing more and more that time that I invest in other people is always well spent. It’s from all these interactions that I learn the most, and seeing friends and the people I care about is what I’m looking forward to when I get back to campus… I still have more decisions to make about what to do, but luckily I’ll have more opportunities to hang up my hammock for some more reflective moments. On that note, I hope you’re able to find the time today to hang up a hammock if you have one, or at least stop to do nothing except relax for a moment.