As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the loving and affectionate culture in Guatemala. Every time I walk around I see friends holding hands, walking, and laughing. I left one restaurant hugging the bartender and waitress because over my dinner we became friends. Wherever I go restaurants, laundromat, spanish school, and on the street locals stop and chat with me. It is hard to describe, but there is this genuine level of excitement and carefreeness I feel when I am talking to the people here.
Although, I’ve only been in Guatemala for a few days I realize that I need to take life a bit slower and enjoy the moment I’m in: work, relationships, and activities. I sometimes feel buried under the expectations I place upon myself to be or do something. The hardest lesson I’ve learned since coming here is to just let life flow and stop trying to optimize or maximize for anything. It is so easy to get caught up in the “cruft” of life, the expectations, goals, and desires that we forget that life is happening in this very moment.
Traveling alone and outside of the U.S. is allowing me to start seeing beyond the barriers I erected that keep me from being present. I’ve always had this grandiose vision that I have to accomplish x, y, and z to feel joy, but over the last few months and especially now I’m realizing any pursuit of joy happens in this moment, and can not be contingent on something needing to happen. I’m starting to experience the joy of just being in the moment, walking slowly, and connecting with people.
This isn’t my way of telling the world that I’m not coming back to the states: going to become a monk and move to Guatemala (Mom if you are reading this, don’t worry I won’t become a monk and yes I will come home soon 🙂 ). What I’m starting to realize is that this understanding is true no matter what I choose to do and where I choose to live. It is easier to have this realization away from home because my attention isn’t being stripped away by responsibilities, media, activities, social pressures etc.
That being said I’m looking forward to starting life again at some point back in the states and applying the lessons I’ve been learning in my time off to my day to day living.