For the most part, I’m a pretty conservative guy. I don’t mean to say that I’m “A conservative” in the political arena or “socially conservative” with ideologies, beliefs, etc. In fact, some would argue quite the contrary. What I mean is that I’m conservative in the “not particularly spontaneous…….steady…….even-keeled……at times slow to make decisions……….make too many lists…..disciplined…….introverted……..hopefully not TOO boring (for you ladies)” sort of way. For example, as you may have picked up on from my previous Blog entries, it was a stretch for me to share a tiny living space with 14 strangers partying like rock stars for 5 days. Another example? Well, if I have plans to do something for an evening (or life in general), it can be difficult for me to change these plans spontaneously at the last minute and head off in a different direction altogether.
As you can imagine, this can be a real strength. I weigh the options, I plan, I stay out of trouble, and I generally have NO regrets when all is said and done. It also comes in particularly handy when setting and accomplishing goals. On the other hand though, this particular lifestyle can work in the opposite direction, as I can come out on the short end of experience, relationship, and/or LIVING in general. SO, these days, in order to avoid spending TOO much time in the category of the latter, I’ve been consciously trying to LIVE IN THE MOMENT. OR, to be more accurate, I should probably say that I’m consistently searching for the proper balance between the two.
Now I DO understand that some of you may be saying something along the lines of “what’s this guy talking about? He just sold his house, left his job, and moved to Nicaragua to hang out with a bunch of poor people in a garbage dump, all the while getting himself into various less-than-comfortable situations involving popcorn, busses, and angry border officials……..all with a seemingly significant amount of regularity!” OK…point taken….and there may be some truth in that. BUT, I’m also still the guy that, prior to making ANY type of purchase, researches EXTENSIVELY everything from computers to underwear. And don’t even get me started on the coupons!
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF: After a long afternoon in my Spanish class, I was experiencing the usual feeling of “man, that was WAY more Spanish than my poor brain can process…..I need to lie down”. But as I was walking out the door of the school, one of the teachers answered the phone and did something I had NEVER witnessed prior to that moment. “It’s for you”, she said, while handing the phone to me.
Now, you have to understand that for me to receive a phone call in Panama is an EXTREMELY unusual event. In fact, this was certainly a first. So with that in mind, I greeted this unexpected turn of events with a healthy dose of skepticism and apprehension.
UV—Hey Jason! What are you doing? Catch a taxi to Alto Boquete! Hurry up!
You see, not only did I not recognize this unidentified voice on the other end of the line, but the voice was speaking in Spanish, (of course) so I didn’t actually understand ALL of what it was saying.
J—Who is this?
UV—It’s Janeth! Come on up to Alto Boquete…….to the high school……I’ll meet you there!
My mind was suddenly flooded with thoughts of “meet me on the playground after school” type of activities. Did she want to fight? Smoke cigarettes? Make-out? I had NO idea.
NOW IDENTIFIED VOICE---Don’t worry about it!! Come on!!! VAMOS! VAMOS!
So there I was….holding the phone, suddenly faced with a very important and pressing decision. Do I remain in the comfort of my plans for the evening (i.e. make dinner……read……hang out with the folks at the hostel….email……relax)? OR do I, “in a moment’s notice”, catch a taxi into an evening of question marks and unknowns?
I know what you're thinking. In fact, I'm actually thinking the same thing myself. I know what I SHOULD have done. I know what I WANTED to do. I even know what I WISHED I had done. But as I look back from today, I can only say this......."I'm sorry". Really, I am. I DO wish I could say that I acted spontaneously and had this amazing experience doing something phenomenal etc. etc. etc. Unfortunately, I have to report that I chose to head home and …………..WAIT! WAIT!!! I’m KIDDING! I’M KIDDING! Of COURSE I TOOK THE PATH INTO THE UNKNOWN. I’ve turned this into a Blog entry, haven't I?
NIV—So what are you waiting for? Let’s go! I’ll see you there in a few minute!
J—But I don’t even know where the high school is!
NIV—Don’t worry about it……the taxi driver will know. I’ll see you there in 5!!!!!
And with that, I flagged the taxi, agreed on a price, and arrived at the high school a few minutes later.
WHO? I suppose one of the questions you may be asking right about now is this……who exactly is Janeth? Well, Janeth is one of the teachers at the school. In fact, she was my teacher for a month last year when I studied here in Boquete. As for the “other suspicion” you may have, I’ll just say this……..we’re friends.
So where were we? Where were we? Ah! So within a few minutes, I was de-boarding the taxi and meeting Janeth and her daughter in the parking lot of the local high school. After the usual greetings, along with my lingering question of “so I still don’t know why I am here……what are we doing?”, we began walking from the school. (uhh, so does this mean we’re NOT going to make-out on the playground?) Eventually, we arrived at the house of one of her relatives. A few minutes after THAT, I was showing photos of my travels (happened to be carrying the computer when I left the school) to a VERY captive audience of mesmerized individuals, most of whom had never traveled outside of Panama. In fact, several of the photos were even met with spontaneous cheering and applause from the audience! As for rest of the night? Well, after attempting to teach Janeth’s sister how to drive HER OWN CAR, I found myself chopping vegetables in the kitchen, while listening to another of her relatives singing Mexican Opera in the living room (and HE was actually pretty good!). In the end, the dinner, the company, and the entire evening were all pretty terrific……certainly a memorable occasion.
Oh, and as for the rest of my life? Well, recently, for the first time in years, I went dancing (i.e. ACTUAL dancing......not stand around “amongst” dancing while chatting with the other non-dancers). AND, not only that, but a few days ago I spontaneously bought a new pair of flip-flops from the FIRST store I entered (i.e. NO research)!
You know, I think I could certainly be onto something with this “living in the moment” thing.
…….now if I could just do something about all these lists.