I was listening to an Adele song the other day when I found myself transported back to Ecuador. In Baños, we had a CD player with Adele’s 21. The song brought back vivid memories of cooking in the plain white kitchen, humming (and singing) with the music, and watching the active volcano blow off stormy clouds of ash. The occasional explosion would startle me.
In Baños, we were free to spend our time how we pleased, with no constant demands nor societal pressures to keep ourselves busy. We could enjoy one another as a family, had almost zero stress in our lives, and we were living life as it came to us. Not being over-busy did not mean that we were unproductive. Contrarily, it allowed us to get done what was needed and to use the rest of our time to learn, experience, and embrace another culture.
This slow-moving culture found in Baños is partly Latin and partly small town. These six months of living freely and not being constrained by the chains of occupied, busy, or “no time for that,” have given me a taste of how our lives should be. We should be able to do what is right, living without professional constraints that prevent us from helping others.
In the United States, it is very easy to be overbooked, to not have time for many important things such as family. In fact, this is normal. It is weird to not be super busy. Many paint a stress-free life as something impossible to obtain. It is like a mysterious island in the distance, never seeming to get any closer. Or perhaps it is drawn as a missing city overgrown with style and fads, and only the select few, those with money, who are cool, or have extra time, can go there. This is a mirage. It is an illusion that many believe. All are welcome to this city, this lost place that can be found. I know it is hard to keep one’s life ready for God’s calling, for family, and self-reflection, but it is necessary. Do not let yourself become wrapped up in societal pressures. For students, being overloaded with homework makes it especially hard to make time for spontaneous events. All I can say is don’t give in. Live life as it is meant to be lived. To the fullest.
The Extravagant I am lost in the music that swirls in my head as I I twirl my first pizza made from scratch. The outcome doesn’t matter for it is said, it is the journey that changes you. Distant explosions from a nearby volcano rattle the windows, shaking the kitchen too. Musical notes spin off of the page as I belt them out as if I were in the shower. Nowhere to go, nowhere to be. There is the oblong pizza, God, and me. These are the times that once were, the times that I cling to. Back in the flow of American culture, I long for this moment, a culture once found is now lost. It has already gone away, so I call it the extravagant.