Another long journey home. I have taken Airtran to and from Boston these past two weekends and every flight has been delayed. Either it is the weather or a medical problem in the prior flight or some other excuse. I guess you get what you pay for, since I did get remarkably good prices for these flights. I am trying to train myself to adjust to a world where time does not have the significance that it has in the life I have been accustomed to. Traveling to Ecuador has always required a suspension of any expectation that schedules will be followed or that we will arrive anywhere on time. With the students we are woken up incredibly early with the expectation that we will catch a plane at a particular hour, and invariably we will arrive at the airport and wait. No one ever knows what the schedule really is, and we must simply accept that eventually we will arrive at our destination. Nothing ever happens as expected, but often the waiting can be entertaining and we can see and experience the unexpected. Eric reminds me that I must become comfortable with people and events and meetings not happening when expected, to be willing and relaxed about the uncertainties and irregularities of time. This will certainly be a challenge because I am used to sticking to a tight schedule. I make it a point not to be late for my patients and am somewhat less of a stickler for other appointments, but am not tolerant of waiting or lateness or carelessness about time.
I must recalibrate for this year in Ecuador. I must accept that time has different significance in this unique culture. Ecuadorians are known to be late to everything. There are jokes about a former president who made a point of being tardy to all appointments and meetings, so much so that it was embarrassing for the government and the newer president is trying to change the culture of tardiness and make Ecuador more like a 'western' country. Although it will be a stretch for me to let go of concerns about timeliness, I look forward to living with less of a schedule and enjoying the journey. Today I got through most of my Sunday New York Times, which is quite a feat. Lately I have been giving up on buying the Times because I never have the hours on Sunday that are required to get through it all. I remember the days that Eric and I would work on the crossword together and I would not give up 'til late Sunday night or early Monday morning to finish it. Those hours reading the newspaper were sacrosanct for years, but somehow that precious time evaporated. So the three extra hours the Airtran delay gave me were put to good use reading my favourite newspaper, which only feels good.
I am looking forward to the time that I will have in Ecuador. I will have no office to go to, nopeople to see and take care of. I love my work and I appreciate my patients and all they teach me, but how wonderful it will feel to be able to wake up and face my day without anywhere to go and nothing I must do. I will ready my daughter for school and get her on her bus, Eric will go to his office, and I will do whatever I wish to do. I have no idea yet what it will be but I like the idea of not having an agenda, of being entirely free to be or do or not do. I plan to appreciate the feeling, to enjoy it. I want to read books. In my ordinary everyday life I have no time for books and am embarrassed that I am so behind on reading. It will take another lifetime to catch up. I am not sure how many English books I will find there. One of my fellow passengers waiting in line for our flight had an Amazon 'kindle' machine, which may be the perfect way to go to Ecuador with all the 'great books' in one small space. I have my list of the hundred greatest books in Western literature. I wonder how many I will read. The first one on the list is James Joyce's 'Ulysses', which I have tried and failed to read many times, but plan to try again. The next on the list is 'The Great Gatsby', which I read a long long time ago, so it is time to reread it. The list goes on. For the first time in my life I will have the time to read.