Learning to be.
Saturday was a day trip to Toledo with students from other universities. It was impresionante to see the way three cultures (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim) mixed, mingled, and changed seats of authority in the city.
When I came to Spain, I didn’t have a whole lot of expectations. A whole lot of ideas of what my trip should/could/would be. I find it is better to just let these trips happen, hope for the best. My expectations included a lot about learning–learning more Spanish, learning about Spain, learning Madrid.
I’ve found I’m learning a lot more about myself than any of the above. While I hope I’m improving and learning in Spanish, I’ve found that this trip has been more about getting to know Michaela well. What she wants, what drives her, the way she operates the best. (On that note, pop on over here, sign up, and listen to this 1 1/2 hour podcast. Listen to it in sections, or all at once, but it is preciosa.)
A week and a half in, I started getting anxious. My Spanish hasn’t improved. I haven’t met friends from outside my university group. Am I taking advantage of all that Madrid has to offer?
Sometimes I forget that I’m not the only person who gets anxious, and scared, and feels lonely or out of the group. I look around and think that everyone else has their shit together, and somehow I just missed the class that taught them how to have meaningful relationships and be content and not feel insecure. But then I remember that we’re people, and we all have our ‘thing.’ Or things. That make us feel less than. And that, in turn, reminds me that 1) it is ok to have these feelings, that I am not alone, and that 2) I have a part in making others feel fuller and less alone.
I got shiny again this past summer in Ecuador, and I found that I was putting up mental boxes for my experience here in Madrid and getting un-shiny. I felt a series of expectations from other people (real or imagined) and confined myself to my own mental constructions and others’ perceptions. Following some journaling, some writing, and a good conversation with one of my mentors, I realized I needed to return to realizing myself. Realize in the sense of the Spanish verb realizar, which means to fill, to do, to fulfill, to come true. I hadn’t been true to who my deeper, higher self is.
Isn’t it frustrating that we have to be almost constantly reminded to listen to that self? I go through weeks where we are in daily communication, and then, poco a poco, I forget again until I am smacked by an occasion in which I have to return to her voice. I’m listening, ok?
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” –Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist
To that end, I put my wants out to God and to the universe. God, I desire Spanish friends. Friends from other countries. From other universities, I asked. Please. And then, listening to the divine inside, I put myself in situations to meet new people. I introduced myself. And though I don’t know that these will be lasting friendships, I’ve given them over the universe again. And I’ve shown myself that it isn’t to scary to climb over those mental obstacles I’d constructed, which was really I think the lesson I needed to learn.
Those friends have begun to show, and thus I am animated for the next series of súplicas (petitions) to be realizadas, for I also have asked God for these friendships to be relationships that are spaces for learning, and learning how to love others well.
- Aprender – to learn (amberinspain.wordpress.com)
- Growing, learning, enjoying… (claudiahaganphoto.wordpress.com)