To Be Tranquilo….

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I'm Thinin'  Tranquilo looks a lot like this...

I’m Thinkin’ Tranquilo looks a lot like this…


Do you have to live in Panama to be “Tranquilo”? Nope…Its a way of being that can be adopted to any place in the world. Mind you, one must attempt to go through life not minding when things don’t go your way and letting go of any expectations you may have about most things being or happening a certain way. You must be fine with inefficiency. It should not bother you when you trip over and nearly break your neck on a rickety, hole ridden sidewalk. Who cares if stop signs are optional as well as most any other street sign that’s meant to prevent accidents or help traffic move smoothly and efficiently? And a very important part of living the “Tranquilo” life is having no regard or need for appointments, you know Doctors, dentists, anything like that. Oh, you might set up an appointment but for goodness sakes don’t expect it to mean anything! Hah! If you think you’ve adapted to “Tranquilo” and yet you find yourself feeling annoyed by not being acknowledged by a store clerk when you walk into a particular store….think again! This , my friend, is not an expectation one may have if the goal is to embrace ‘Tranquilo’. It needs to not matter one tiny bit that you feel as though you have bothered an employee by expecting to be served, Pfffft ! Silly you! Tranquilo, can only happen when one let’s go of any such expectations.

I know it may seem hard but, you will know for sure that you’ve embraced ‘Tranquilo’ when you don’t notice or care at all when you walk into a store only to be made to feel as though your presence in the store is a huge inconvenience to the person who works there. If you decide to stop and have a ‘quick’ lunch, you know your in possession of ’Tranquilo’ when said “Quick lunch” takes two hours, and you notice that you don’t have steam coming out of your ears from frustration, then and only then have you officially embraced the “Tranquilo” life. Your living like a true Panamanian when your told by the mechanic that your car will be ready ‘Mañana’ and you instinctively understand that “Mañana” doesn’t mean “tomorrow”, it just means, Not Today. People who truly embrace ‘Tranquilo’ embrace a sense of being that emanates from a mindset that understands that life goes on even if things may at times seem just a little scattered, disorganized, imperfect or inefficient. These things just aren’t the things that are important.

What, you may wonder , is important when your actually ‘Tranquilo’? I’m still searching for the answer to this, but I think I may be beginning to understand just a little. I could be totally wrong and down the road I may find an altogether different truth, but for now I think the Panamanians have embraced ‘Tranquilo’ mainly because they seem to live in the moment. Its pretty simple really. I’ve observed that most Panamanians don’t have a care in the world about tomorrow, next year or even 5 minutes from now. They aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere or to be on time. They aren’t on much of a schedule most of the time. I’m sure they occasionally attempt to be on time, especially when dealing with us Uptight and stressed out gringos who are so crazy about being on time or doing what we say we will do or being someplace we say we will be. They must look at us and wonder what planet we came from.

Why would anyone be in such a hurry to have lunch? What’s the hurry! Why does it matter so much to you if you get someplace at a particular time? What’s so bad about being a little late! I mean, what if you need to chat with a neighbor on your way to an appointment? Or, what if you see a friend and they want to talk to you? What if your walking to an appointment and you run into a guy selling fish on the side of the road? You may decide that you want to buy some fish for dinner, or just ask the guy when he caught it or see what else he has in the cooler in the back of his truck and of course you’ll need to find out how his entire family is doing. No, there’s really no good reason to hurry to get to an appointment. There will be no life threatening consequences for not being on time. It’s just such a beautiful day and why pass up an opportunity to enjoy a moment, or a chat with a friend, a stranger or a neighbor?

I’ve been told on more than one occasion by Panamanians, “Tranquilo”, Which I’ve interpreted as, “Relax”. So…..I’ll Relax. And one day I may just find myself saying to someone…”Tranquilo”…when I see that they’re frustrated by the pace of life in this area of the world. It’s too bad this ’Tranquilo” state of mind isn’t just a normal way of being for humans in general. Wouldn’t it be such a wonderful world if we all just chilled out a little bit and let go of so many things that make us uptight and stressed? Of course then we’d have a lot more pot holes in the roads, and not much would get done in a day, and why bother even setting up appointments. It all seems to work for the Panamanians and shoot, they seem perfectly happy with some of the less than perfect things that they live with on a daily basis. Some things may be sort of falling apart and maybe not completely finished, but hey, they sure do smile a lot around here. So, whatcha think? Can you do it? Can you embrace this “Tranquilo” lifestyle? I’m giving it my best shot! And I gotta tell ya…its mighty refreshing to just chill a bit…

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3 responses »

  1. Sounds a lot like Northern New Mexico. After five years of living here, I’ve become somewhat accustomed to the “looseness” of the scheduling. When a local worker says “I’ll come by Saturday morning and finish that job,” it means he may get to it by and by. If he actually shows up on Saturday, I’m a bit shocked. Do you suppose most Hispanic cultures are like this?

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