We like to think we are all unique. Individual unicorns. One of a kind. But we are not.
No matter where we are from we are all the same. And this week has proven that to me, yet again. There may be language barriers. Perhaps cultural differences. But, in the end, we all care about the same things. We have the same hopes and dreams.
During this program I have hours of one-on-one sessions with Spanish students practicing their ingles. Both speaking and listening. Most of the students are younger than I am. A few are the same age. But no matter the age, we see ourselves in others. They are mirrors back to us.
Mothers with young children who are missing them. They talk of the mother’s guilt of working so much and we share photos of our kids as they express themselves in a language that is not their own.
Fathers who tell you about their parents and families, before telling you about their high-powered job. Defined more by those they love than by how they earn a living.
Then, there are young people, just starting out and finding their way. We have all been there.
Over the course of the past five days we have all bonded. I think humor breaks down barriers. Self consciousness is the killer of language fluency. And all the egos have begun to fall away. Silliness has been very effectively used to get us all to lighten up and not take ourselves so seriously. Alcohol helps.
Last evening we had a Queimada. It’s a Galician tradition made in a clay pot with 100 proof alcohol, a few pounds of sugar, cinnamon sticks, coffee beans, and a large lemon rind. Then it is set ablaze. As the alcohol burns off, incantations are recited to ward off bad spirits and negative energy. When the flames turn green it’s ready to drink. One sip turned my head inside out. But it was great fun. I realize I have one of these bowls in the kitchen at home in Galicia, left for me by the sellers. I had no idea what it was until now. Thought it was a punch bowl. I am anxious to experiment.
Woke up this morning and it had snowed over night. A beautiful sunrise. Enjoy.