I’ve been back in the US for 8 months now. There is still a certain amount of culture shock to be had and cognitive / emotional dissonance to go through. Most days I wake up with memories from the south…of Salvador, Guate, Mexico, Nica , Honduras and Belize in my head. I can’t really escape it. This morning I had the memory of those cream filled Chinese cookies that were sold on the corner by where I lived and how I use to buy them to surprise friends. And I also remembered what it felt like to walk from my home to the bus stop…all the exact places that I would cross the street and the people I said “hello” to on my daily routine. It was that kind of simplicity that filled my day. Choice encounters, random surprises, choreographed spontaneity…meeting with friends, riding the busses. Those are the moments that filled my existence down there. And here is just different.
About a week ago I realized why I felt so off. I realized that my pace of life changed so quickly that I had no idea what really hit me. Even though I love my job, I didn’t realize that it had begun to consume me in such a way that I have begun ignoring the simple pleasures that I once relished in just a few short months ago. As a person who values contemplation, intentionality and quality of time, my world has now changed to be chaotic and impulsive to the point of doing things because they need to get done and not concentrating on the act itself. And despite my morning and evening reflections, my daily life has little room for extra self-centering.
I’m not trying to say that my life in Central America wasn’t busy. But rather, the things I kept my life busy with were life-giving events of nourishment and self-enhancement. My life in El Salvador was full and healthy with a balance of work, play and sport…love and loss and real challenges. Here I have all of that, but the mere pace of things throws the balance off in a direction that leans more towards a certain point of no return.
In this day and age, productivity is what is encouraged…but I would rather cultivate the simplicity of soulfulness in the hopes that real productivity would become a product of a happy and healthy ME.