I love a good siesta. Actually, next semester, I am willing to host daily naps in the susty coop. We can coordinate times soon, and I will provide tea and pillows. I haven’t written in a while, but I’m constantly thinking about this experience and the two of you. I don’t even know how to summarize the last week or so, but I will try.
Today in class, our professor discussed the differences between the Spanish phrase “A quien madruga Dios le ayuda” and the English phrase “the early bird gets the worm”. The Spanish phrase translates to: “To whom rises early God helps” or “God helps those who rise early.” The professor then used the phrases to explain cultural differences between the United States and Spain. In the United States, life, specifically success or failure, is seen as a direct object of individual action–the early bird gets the worm, there is a certainty in cause and effect. In contrast, in Spanish culture, there is still individual action–the word madruga calling one to rise early and act–, but there is a higher power that has a greater influence on life. According to our professor, this higher power isn’t necessarily “capital G” God for people in Spain (many are catholic, but not everyone practices). Instead, the higher power can be understood as luck, chance, fate, the tendency for our world to spin into disorder.
This tendency to recognize the power of luck and disorder is evident in other Spanish words. Ojála, my favorite Spanish word, translates to “God willing” but the word literally stems from the phrase “Allah, lo quiere” or “what God wants”. (The Islamic influence in Spain is strong, and I appreciate the bits of Arabic that make me think of Catherine and the rest of our people across the Mediterranean). Again, not strictly religious, though that history is there. There is an tendency in the language to recognize that which is beyond human control.
At the end of the lesson, our professor said what basically translates to “learn to dance with the chaos” or “aprende a bailar con caos”. (I spent several minutes in class not remembering how to spell chaos, and I’m going to take that as a sign that my Spanish is improving and I’m forgetting English).
Dance with the chaos.
If there was ever a lesson I needed to internalize it’s that one. And I thought of Jules shivering in a Chilean military facility. And I thought of Catherine shuffling between homes. And I think we all knew this summer wasn’t going to be perfectly easy–I know we have people we look up to who seem to travel with such ease–and still I was and continue to be shocked about how much I am learning. About myself, about relationships, about responsibility, about chaos.
After a week of panicking about being here, I am realizing that I am very much alive and still have four weeks to continuously build this experience. I am sure there will be more chaos–for all of us. But y’know, we will deal.
A note on missing people:
I more or less decided to go one this program without any of my closest friends (thanks @julian)–there are definitely people on the program who are here with their Davidson best friends. I don’t think there is a “right” choice, but I am challenging myself and my thoughts in a way that would be impossible if Jules or anyone else were here.
Also, I have traveled without my family for more than a month before, and I have never really developed the traditional “homesickness”. With phones, its actually much easier to be connected. (At Davidson, I’m lucky if Kelsey texts me once every 7 weeks ha ha ha ajidjod).
However, I definitely miss having people I can easily trust physically close to me. And so, I’m also learning to trust others and trust myself when necessary. And I don’t ever think there will be a “right” balance between missing people, staying in contact, enjoying your time alone, etc. Life is a lot of chaos, and we assign meaning to experiences and relationships. I think we can continue to push ourselves, but also be shameless in our need for friends and familiar things and attention.
more photos and daily things in the next post x