Something that I noticed soon after arriving to Mexico in 2006 was the (to me) strange and inefficient way things were done here.
Example: At a little stand that is offering something novel like hamburgers. That’s all they make. You get a hamburger on a bun with ketchup and mustard if you want it.
Suppose you go up to the stand with three of your friends and each one of you place an order for a hamburger, all the same. The lady or man will start with the first hamburger, cooking it, heating the bun, making the sandwich, adding the condiments, and serve it. Then they will start cooking the second hamburger. It proceeds like this, with all the attention on the entire process of making each hamburger, one after the other.
Incredulous at inefficiency
When I have seen this I feel incredulous. How can they be so inefficient? Don’t they know how to organize themselves? Don’t they see how we’re all waiting and now we can’t eat together? Don’t they understand that they could cook all four hamburgers at the same time and complete all four orders at once?
I’ve never understood this “way” that I observe here regularly, in various situations. It’s frustrating for me, but I have experienced a benefit as well:
Your unwavering attention….Ahhhhh
When it’s my turn to be served, all the attention is on me. One hundred percent, and the vender/clerk has all the time in the world to serve meand tend to my needs and desires. This feels good and I like it. It takes a long time to arrive at this moment, but as I wait in line for an excruciating amount of time, I sometimes console myself with the reminder that, while the employee seems extraordinarily slow and is taking sooooo long with that customer, “soon it will be myturn to receive that!”
My turn, my turn!
Yesterday I went to a pharmacy that sells good quality KN95 masks. Only one person is allowed in at a time and an elder woman was at the counter finishing up her purchase. I waited at the entrance, ready to pounce forward the second she got her change. Instead, the lady, who didn’t realize I was there waiting, (and now someone was waiting behind me, as well,) noticed a cosmetic product of interest in the glass case. She and the young woman behind the counter started to talk about that. The conversation went on for minutes. Nothing was purchased, and then the lady began to fumble with her bag, trying to close it and put it on her shoulder. This, too, seemed to take minutes. Clearly I am not a patient person. I tried to have compassion for her, reminding myself that I might be in the same place some day. Indeed, I’m sure I slow down the line many times as I try to zip up and quickly organize my backpack before hoisting it on my back and leaving a shop.
I waited anxiously – not because I was in a great hurry, only because I simply wanted to zip in, buy my mask and zip out. I knew how quick it could be. Instead, I waited until it was my turn. Finally, the older woman was all set and started to exit the pharmacy, noticing me as she neared.
It was my moment. I approached the nice lady and asked for a mask. She went to retrieve one and I waited, aware of the lady behind me in line, waiting at the entrance of the store. But it was my turn, I had the shopkeeper’s total attention. She had all the time in the world for me, and I enjoyed the deliciousness of the moment and the exchange. I was aware of the lady waiting outside but knew – I could take my time here because it was my time, my turn, and she’d have hers soon enough.
Present moment and nothing less
What I appreciated in this exchange, similar to the hamburger making, is the complete attention in the present moment. There is no hurry. Only now, this experience, this exchange.
And they are here for it, completely. There is something I value in that. Maybe it’s another example of the Mexican fluid “order” of things that is definitely not the calculated and fixed order I experience in the States. It’s mysterious, and I don’t understand it. Usually I don’t even feel it. But it seems there is an invisible flow, a pulse, that “they” all are in and aware of – which orchestrates and moves all the pieces – in the “divine right time.”
Irresponsible, inefficient and unprofessional or…
I endeavor to feel and be in this flow as well. The way of the “Mexicans” (folks with indigenous Nahua roots where I live) has its own sense of time or timelessness. I often judge it as, irresponsible, inefficient and unprofessional. This is my perception. But I also experience the people in some other multi-dimensional interrelated flow than I. And they seem not only pretty happy, but interconnected and vibrant – with some vital energy flowing within and between them.
While the inefficiency that I perceive frustrates me often, being in The Flow is something I recognize, admire and long for.
I believe the current that many Mexicans in my midst seem to be carried by, is the same current and web that allowed their ancestors to understand and record the mechanism of the universe which materialized as the Aztec and Mayan calendars. I believe it is through clear present moment awareness that mysteries and energy flows and the interweaving of infinite threads and facets of the ALL – can be consciously experienced.
So, the family members that make one hamburger at a time at the roadside stand, the young clerk in the pharmacy who has complete focus on our exchange, with all the time that is required – not only exhibit a different way to me, they are teachers.
As irritating as slowing down to the speed of time is when I’m in fast mode, the speed of time is the speed of nature and the world.
Perhaps part saving our present modern day world problems would be resolved, reorganized and adjusted if we were all to slow down and be fully with what is. Within ourselves, with nature, and with those beings who cross our path.
Robin Rainbow Gate
I help people midlife and beyond to find their inner power, health and well being through slow living
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