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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

time.




Disclaimer #1: In making my comparisons, I am by no means condoling a life-style that has "on-the-sides". Haha.


Americans all "know" about "Mexican time". The famous "mañana" expression often seems to aptly sum up the mindset here.

I, being married to a darling Mexican man, had many adjustments to make from day one in marriage. Now, I like things fast--even by American standards. I talk fast, eat fast, move fast. Rey is my balancer... aka my opposite. He enjoys taking it slow, doing it well.

Sorting out how much of our differences in the "time area" is personality and how much is culture has been an ongoing process.

Here are some things I've found out:

In the US, the joy is the destination, the goal.
In Mexico, the joy is the journey, the process.

That is why a cook-out can be planned months in advance... but, often the hosts don't go out to buy the meat and disposable plates until the first guests have arrived. That way, the guests (friends) can accompany them in their errands and the time together is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out.

We can argue all day long about which perspective is "right" or "better"... But, that's how I've found it to be. I think in the US we can afford to have that perspective because we are able to separate play and work. (Get your work done quickly so you have more time to play). In Mexico, where many of our time-saving devices are lacking, work is literally all-consuming, never-ending. So, they adopt the "play as you work" mindset (since work is never done).

When I was learning Spanish, I learned the word "ahora" = "now". And, when you add "-ito" or "-ita" on the end of the word, it makes it smaller. (ie: "chico" = boy, "chiquito" = little boy). So, I kinda fell in love with the word "ahorita". I mean, if "ahora" is now, "ahorita" has to be faster than now, right? Like, "Dude, I am going as fast as I can to get this to you." Ha. Nope. Here, if someone tells you they'll wait on you "ahora", they are on their way. If they say they'll get to you "ahorita", they're telling you to stick a sock in it. They'll get to you when they get to you.

Ah, the ambivalent use of time words. "Mañana" isn't "tomorrow", as the dictionary will tell you. It is "sometime in the future. Pretty definitely not tomorrow."

My little comparison to how the two cultures see time:

Americans see time/the clock as the boss. The controller of our world. We have an obligation with time.

Mexicans see time as the girlfriend on the side. She's there, you gotta keep her happy but you don't talk about her all out in the open like that. And she definitely is not calling the shots. They have a love-affair with time.

That is why here friends can drop in any time without notice, and spend half the day at your house and be happy. Or, they can come by your house without notice, and you are out--so they don't see you. But, they are happy. They can think of someone else to go visit.

So, as we know, we often see Mexicans as more laid-back and less stressed out in regards to time in general. But, as Americans, we can often point out how much more a project would advance or how life could be made easier if they adopted our perspective.

But they won't. Just like we won't adopt theirs. It's just how it is.

Disclaimer #2: I do not profess to be the keeper of all knowledge on this topic. Just my observations. Humble observations. Mm-hmm.

2 comments:

  1. COULDN'T DO IT!!! COULDN'T TAKE IT!!!! No way in this world!
    Guess that's why God didn't send me to Mexico. : )

    Rachel

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