Respira. This is the Spanish word for “breathe,” and it’s the opposite of what I normally do. I go from place to place and sentence to sentence without stopping to pause, think, reflect and enjoy. I often feel like my life moves in a rapid-fire motion where I just hop from one station to the next like a never-ending Subway train.
To some extent, I think many Americans are like that. We live in a fast-paced world where we need everything now. We like our coffee to go, our bills to arrive the moment we drop our fork and our daily commute to be traffic-free. Even more interesting, we view this impatient and busy life as normal. To some extent, I’d go as far as to say we worship it.
However, Spain could not be more different. You sometimes have to go as far as to beg for the bill, since Spaniards are accustomed to spending two to four hours chatting over a meal in a restaurant. They’re typically late and never bothered if they need to wait for the other person to show up. Coffee is an event, rather than a necessity.
Though sometimes the hyper-relaxed nature annoys me, it’s also taught me to realize just how uptight my own culture is. That isn’t to say I’m going to stop being the Type-A person I am, but it is to say that I plan to try to stop and smell the roses a bit more. Instead of taking my coffee to go, I want to sit and enjoy the ambience. Instead of getting frustrated at the slow driver in front of me, I plan to thank God for the opportunity to think and reflect for a bit longer. When life gets too stressful, I’ll try to remember the life of Spaniards and take some time to respira a little.