Saturday, May 2, 2009

Leaving Today

So this is it. Today we leave for our Guatemalan adventure. We fly this afternoon to Houston, sleep there overnight, and in the morning on to Guatemala City. From there we will take a bus for the 5 or 6 hours it takes to get to Xela (shel-lah), the 2nd largest city in Guatemala and our final destination.

Xela is the more common name for the city of Quetzaltenango. The name Xela comes from Xelaju', the old Mayan name for the city, which according to wikipedia was derived from "Xe laju' noj" meaning "under ten mountains". The city is in the western highlands of Guatemala, surrounded by volcanos and near to the deepest lake in Central America, described by Lonely Planet Guatemala as one of the most beautiful in the world, Lake Atitlan.

We are looking forward to studying Spanish, living with a local family, learning about the culture, meeting people, hiking, and otherwise learning what it is like to live in a place so different from where we have lived. We will be there for three months, returning at the end of July.


One thing I've noticed as we've gotten closer and closer to the trip is how my focus and ability to write, meditate, etc has varied inversely to my stress and antsiness about the impending change. As I get antsier and antsier, my attention span shrinks and I find myself clinging to distractions more and more. In the last day or two, I have regressed on my political blogs bad habit, reading a number of articles about Specter's switch and Justice Souter's retirement. I also have had difficulty meditating, and gotten barely any writing done.

I think this is a good reminder that the idea that stress is a good thing for productivity is misleading. It's common to hear this said as an argument for having deadlines even for things that don't have any external pressure. The idea is that by adding urgency, you make yourself or the people working for you more productive. While this may be true for non-creative things (we got a heck of a lot of errands done yesterday), for creative things stress is inhibitory.

This also implies that procrastinating creative projects is a double whammy. You feel guilty for delaying, and if there is a deadline as you get closer and closer you not only get more stressed, but that actively inhibits your ability to work on the project and makes you more likely to procrastinate. Yikes! I don't think this will help me remember to timebox or use some of the other tricks I've found, but it should provide some additional motivation!

Going Forward

I'm going to try to use this blog to write updates about our time in Guatemala, as well as writing other things that are on my mind. We don't know much about what our situation will be like in Xela, but we do know there are plenty of internet cafe's, so I should be able to post reasonably regularly. The next post you see should be coming from Guatemala! Hasta luego!

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