Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ying and Yang Effect

I feel lighter than air.  Is it unnatural to have this many increasingly good days in a row?  For the past week goodness has just come flooding in out of nowhere and things are changing faster than I can process them.  I've been pining for answers about the future and that "feeling" that points me in the direction of what is next.  For several months- nothing, which had me questioning this move all together.  But now suddenly a last minute opportunity to enroll in a masters program for teaching here in Madrid for an additional year magically popped up just as I began feeling quite positive about being here.  The weather is perfect, my classes are going great, and my schedule is littered with epic trips special visitors.  It also doesn't hurt that you came along... you know who you are. 

As all this happens, I am resisting the tendency to be a little concerned in the dreaded ying/ yang effect.  You know that Chineese philosophie that says when lots of good things happen back to back, you are doomed for bad things to arise?  It reminds me of that classic episode of Sienfeild when George is terrified and in an awful way because of all the good happening in his life.  But I figure, I've endured plenty of bad fortune over the last several months and that should cover me on the yang.  Dramatic first roommates, a disappointing end to a built up relationship, a slew of illnesses, all of my accounts being hacked, the famous night of the tripple pick-pocket... They all had me on the brink of packing my bags in a jiffy and getting the hell out of here. Yes, I think it's time to enjoy all of this and finally, after 6 months (to the day) of being here, I think it is time to exhail.  I don't really believe that life is perfectly balanced with ying and yang, but if it is, keep the ying coming...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Falling in Love Again

With the sunny skies greeting me every morning and accompanying my day, I am suddenly remembering again why I came here in the first place.  Yesterday between my class commutes, I spotted a tiny gravel park near my bus stop and decided my lunch would be much better if eaten on one of the little benches, doused in patches of sun.  As I sat, doing nothing but quietly watching the passer-byers and enjoying a late day meal, it dawned on me that this is what it is to be here doing this.  All winter long I felt so isolated and cooped up in my little apartment or escaping into various smoky cafes.  But all of that has completely changed as Spain finally gets to show me what she's all about.  It's even visible on the faces of people on the metro and in the streets as their blank looks now have a touch of easiness and contentment to them.  Spain has come alive in the most remarkable way and finally I'm no longer scrounging for reasons to stay and plans to leave.  I want to be here and nowhere else in this moment.  It still frustrates me to not be able to clearly communicate and to feel like a silly foreigner most of the time, but something has shifted inside of me and I've come to accept, even appreciate, this role I have here.  I'm not Spanish and therefore I certainly do not fit in.  Yet at this point in time I'm not American either.  I'm just a visitor, embracing the beauty of another land that is still quite foreign to me and falling in love with all the wonderful subtleties that make Spain such a uniquely special place.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunny Days in Spain

It's quite remarkable what weather can do for the mood.  As the grassy parks are flooded with sunlight and the cafes poor into the streets, the city becomes absolutely alive.  Suddenly little nooks and crannies of the city are popping up as if the sun is revealed them from their secret winter hideaways.  The street performers hit the sidewalks filling the air with jovial music from the trombone and the accordion and the budding flowers give the entire city a sweet, fresh smell of spring.  With weather in the 70s, people are suddenly sporting their sundresses and sandals, thrilled to pack away those bulky sweaters and clunky boots. 

I've been soaking up the rays as much as possible to get every ounce of good feeling as I can from these pleasant days.  Since I got back from my crazy week at camp, things seem so relaxed and clear.  I don't attribute the weather to this solely, but it certainly doesn't hurt.  Ideas are beginning to come together and life is finally beginning to flow, giving me that balance I've been seeking.  New people are popping into my life unexpectedly and opportunities for the future seem to be revealing themselves in a new light.  Suddently the idea of staying here in Spain seems like a very practical and realistic vision.  Part of my departure from the states was a move of rebellion, pulling away from the comfort of home in order to push my limits and try new places.  But there must be a balance.  I am beginning to see the harm in being a perpetual nomad as well. Maybe it would behoove me to sit still here long enough to feel settled, long enough for it to at least somewhat resemble home.  With things suddenly going well and good opportunities at last on the horizon, why toss it all away on a whim that something better awaits in some far off, unknown land?  Sure I still want to see Asia and Australia and all the other continents I am yet to explore, but that will all happen in time.  More real challenges like having an income and health insurance and gaining valuable work expierence also have their place.

So as the sun shines on this city and it begins to take on a much more pleasant vibe, I welcome the possibility of investing more time in this great country.  Finally my Spanish is beginning to feel natural and life here is quite normal.  This is not a time to run from the stability, it is a time to embrace it and that is just what I'll do.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Camp Ridiculousness

One minute I'm day dreaming of home, the next I'm considering the potential to live another year in Spain...  Somehow an exhausting week of Camp Ridiculous has me contemplating more possible options of staying here in Spain and embracing this teaching path.  Despite all the drama and chaos, I somehow came out of this past week's experience feeling more confident than ever about my ability to lead and with a new found love for working with these adorable Spanish little ones.

Trying to organize anything in Spain is a much different beast than in the United States.  Constantly battling the perpetual laziness and lack of any sort of solid structure, I found myself longing for the discipline of how things work back at home.  There are so many blatant problems with the system when trying to run an effective business, yet for some reason, the people who need to care simply don't.  This all adds up to a lot of stress and confusion for the people trying to create an exciting and enjoyable experience for paying customers.  With no prior warning, I was thrusted into this environment as the sole heart beat of the entire camp, running, shouting, and thinking on my toes nonstop.  Myself and my peers who I trained came dangerously close to losing our minds in the end as two groups of Spanish children, their teachers, and the staff of the camp looked to us to provide them with entertainment, sustenance, answers, and to relay complaints. 

With all the madness, I still returned feeling positive about the experience.  Never before have I had a group of 20 10 year olds clinging to my arm, looking up at me with those adorable doughy eyes and giant, enthusiastic smiles, hanging on to my every word and mimicking every action.  I never realized the simple joy that these little ones can bring into my day, regardless of all the drama occuring behind the scenes.  They fed me this incredible energy and suddenly I knew what it was to be a kid again.  It didn't seem to matter how badly my muscles were aching or how horse my throat was, I was able to dive into activity after activity with my only break being to chug some water and scarf down a quick meal. 

So now that I'm back in Madrid, feeling a bit dazed from the roller coaster ride I just got off of, I am trying to put the experience in perspective and reevaluate what I want to do here.  Suddenly I have this new confidence in working with kids and reminder of what it was to work hard, really hard, for the sake of others.  Now I can add all of this to my contemplation of what to do next... Stay in Spain and embrace this experience or still try my luck at a completely different route.  The biggest problem with finding my   way here is that most of us following the track are not permanently going to do this or live here.  I am still fighting that internal struggle of to stay or go somewhere different or return to "normal" life, but at least getting closer to figuring out what I will be good for in the future and, more importantly, embracing the moments in my time here in Spain.