Thursday, January 15, 2009

What's New? Not Much

At the cheap hotel where I'm staying, there are a number of Americans and Canadians staying for long periods of time--a month or longer. One old guy staying just a few doors down is a mystery. He's retired and lives the rest of the year up in a small town in Idaho. He owns a storage locker business, from which he rakes in rents automatically each year. His wife died last year. And so now, he can be found simply sitting on the covered second-floor porch of the Hotel Lerma. Just sitting and smoking. At any time of day...morning, afternoon, evening. He doesn't read, apparently doesn't walk around town. Just sits.

Now there is a lesson there. Sitting isn't a natural skill for me. I have to work on it. I normally feel like I'm supposed to be doing something. And during my working life in Phoenix, I was. I was the king of multi-tasking, talking on the phone while doing emails. Running some laundry through the wash while gardening and polishing my shoes. But I don't think God designed our brains to do several things at once. Oh, we can...but at what price? Clearly something gets left out. Like the woman in Phoenix who crashed her car while driving and text-messaging on her cell phone. Well, duh.

Here in Mexico, you do less. Like an American expat woman in Oaxaca told me last year, one thing is enough for the day. Like, for example, standing in line to pay the gas bill. That's enough. Or going to the market for fresh vegetables. That's enough, too.

So when the champion sitter from Idaho asked me this morning, "What's on your agenda today?" I was nonplussed. Agenda? What agenda? I don't do agendas any more.
I had to think hard to come up with an answer. Yesterday, my one thing was to take a boat over to Stone Island, walk along the beach, and get an open-air massage from a nice Mexican lady who had a little impromptu curtained-off table. It was nice. And afterward, I came back to the hotel and took a nap. That was enough for a day. And today, I hiked up to the highest point in Mazatlan, the lighthouse on top of a small mountain in the harbor. There was some real exertion, and some real sweat.

When he asked what I had planned for the day I replied honestly, "not much."