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Hay Más Tiempo que Vida: Lessons from the Slow Lane

“Shoot, I would love to! But, I can’t, I just don’t have enough time.” Most of us have both heard and said that countless times in our lives…at least those of us with experience living in societies where the idea that to “be productive” reigns supreme. That by being productive and efficient (only so we can be MORE productive on MORE things), we are somehow doing better.

But, what is the metric by which “doing better” is measured? And what important things may be missed entirely from a perspective that disproportionately uses this “productivity” metric to guide decisions and behaviors? What does it even feel like to truly deconstruct this notion that the fast lane is one of progress, and the slow lane is only for those who haven’t quite “figured it out yet”? What if the predominant way of being was to use a metric that instead valued participation, savoring the moment, and saying yes to the “small things”…all free from guilt that it was somehow a waste of valuable time?

A common saying and Spanish proverb heard frequently in Nicaragua is “hay más tiempo que vida”…literally translating to “there is more time than life.” I am sure there are many ways to interpret this, and my personal interpretation comes from my time spent living in Nicaragua, communicating and connecting with the local community, trying to learn something from people that simply do not exude the typical stress and worry and hurry in their day to day lives.

When there is more time than life, rather than not enough time, there becomes no reason to sacrifice enjoyment in all the small + joyful things, because there will be no punishment for not being “productive enough”. There is an understanding that the opportunities to enjoy and savor time are not to be taken for granted. That life is shorter than we think, and the point isn’t to be the most productive person on the planet. Maybe the point is the exact opposite….to remember that the fast lane often means missing beautiful, tropical sunsets; meaningful, deep conversations; peaceful surrenders into Savasana (final resting pose of a yoga class), or the simple making of memories laughing and joking with the ones you love.

What beautiful lessons are woven within the vibrant, friendly, and grateful culture of Nicaragua. Lessons that illuminate the need to question the value we place on efficiency and productivity rather than slowing down and experiencing life for the very temporal gift that it is. Lessons that are simple but not easy. Lessons that we may possibly understand but still have trouble breaking the engrained habits of rushing to get more done.

I can say that slowly but surely I am better understanding these lessons. I still falter and catch myself with that familiar feeling of anxiety that I haven’t done enough. But, it sure helps to be surrounded by an entire community that supports the idea that we should not strive to be people who are so busy with productivity that we feel there is never enough time for actual LIVING. That the small things are actually the big things.

Nicaragua gives inspiration in how to get more comfortable in the slow lane, to reclaim the value of the moments in our life that won’t come again, and won’t wait for us to get done with all the other stuff we think we have to do first. The slow lane is often times the sweeter lane, where there is more time than life, and hurrying and sacrificing just make us more efficient at dying rather than living.

So take your time, travel to new destinations, marvel at the cows enjoying a beach sunset, and refresh your mind, body, and spirit with some time looking at things differently. Maybe Nicaragua is the next affordable, tropical, and unspoiled Central American destination that awaits your decision to cruise in the slow lane…

See you there,

Kate

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