Thursday, July 17, 2008

thursday july 17

Today is Thursday the 17th. I am sitting in Los Naranjos café in Burriana. My afternoon class today was cancelled for the second day in a row as I was riding my bike this direction and as a result I have 2 hour break during which I have nowhere to go and nothing specific to do. I have been quite busy during the last weeks preparing for classes and what not even though I have only 15 hours of classes in a week. I do not have enough language to walk into a class and wing it; therefore I must prepare material for my classes. I have a new class this week. I am teaching Daniel, a 4th year civil engineering student and his girlfriend Anna, a college graduate with a degree in early childhood education. They both speak passably good English, which makes the class much easier to teach. We spend the class mostly talking and practicing conversation and doing reading comprehension exercises. I teach them Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am to 12. Today I had them read aloud an article in TIME magazine and I asked them questions about the article to see if they had understood what they read. The article was about immigration issues in America. We then had a discussion about immigration issues in Spain. Spain is the gateway to Europe from Africa, and thereby has problems with illegal immigrants crossing the Straits of Gibraltar in shoddy boats. They have generally paid what amounts to their life savings just for the opportunity to attempt to come to Europe. I asked Daniel for his opinion about immigrants and policy concerning them. I was a bit surprised by his answer, probably because I am accustomed to staunch opposition to illegal immigrants back home, and because of the fact that here in Spain the cultural and national pride runs so high I expected an anti-immigrant attitude. However, he said that he believed that the best policy was to learn to live with immigrants and grant the illegals the asylum that they seek. When I asked him why he said that he guessed his reasoning was that 20 to 30 years ago the Spanish were in the same situation as the immigrants in that they were forced to look elsewhere in the world for gainful employment because of the lack of jobs and opportunities in their home country. The idea of a sense of national pride and strength that causes the bearer to desire to allow others a chance to make their own way in the framework of ones own culture is vaguely familiar… The poor, tired, and hungry. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I remember reading about a culture like that. I remember hearing about the land of opportunity, freedom, and equality, about a place that was a “melting pot” of cultures in which the cultural identity was the diversity of the culture. When did that idea start to develop a negative connotation? I must admit that I don’t like the idea of my personal history and the culture that I have known fading into a multinational oblivion. Yet, is a personal identity not stronger in the face of assimilation? When a way of life and traditions of a people start to fade, the people culturally revolt and cling fiercely to the way of life that they cherish. The ones who don’t like it are welcome to change. That is a right I want to have and would like to extend to others in order to retain it myself. Young people in any nation are prone to rebel against the ideals of their parents. Yet every generation returns at least in part to the values and traditions of their fathers. Otherwise there would never be a new generation of social conservatives. There is a happy medium in here somewhere… where it is, I do not know.

I’m not trying to have answers here. Just thinking in print. Thinking on a subject courtesy of an English class. This is why I love language. It is an all-encompassing medium for our opinions, thoughts and desires. Everything is fair game for a language class. I think in the next class we will read some poetry in English and see how the translation treats the artistically written word.

Speaking of poetry, I feel as though my musings have become less about the soul of this place and more about the daily routines, but no; I think i just changed my mind. There is poetry in daily life. Perhaps it simply takes the mindset of a poet to perceive it.

And as I sit here in the café, old men come and go. The same old men that I saw yesterday in this same place sit in the same chairs and talk about life. It is like a play, acted out every day, and the players move in and out of each others lives, each is his own character with his habits, flaws, demeanor, and actions, and I am the unimportant player, who changes the tone of the drama for an act, and then is gone, hardly remembered by the main characters, only significant for the reason that I am actually occupying a chair that is usually frequented by another. I am a topic of conversation. It works both ways,though. They are merely the setting for my life, fading out as the scene changes, possibly to return in the next scene, possibly to fade from my memory and the rising action of this drama that is my life.

Today I have the desire to tell it all, to know it all, to be everything, all of the hopes, dreams, plans, failures, successes, truth, lies, wisdom, folly, happiness, disappointment.

I am only limited by my ability to translate these things to the page.

In an email today to an old friend, I found myself telling him quite a bit of unsolicited information about my hopes and ideas for the future, things I haven’t voiced in quite a while.

It’s interesting how having to use your brain in new ways in a different environment reopens your neural pathways. Every time I go away and change my setting and my routine and mix up my life a bit, I find that things that I have forgotten resurface, sleeping thoughts awaken, and latent dreams are reanimated. I remember why it is that I love to go. It is not only about the destination but the therapeutic reawakening of the self that I remember exists beneath the things that I say and do. It is often, in the rut of daily life, crushed into the mud and gravel of a well-trod path, hidden beneath the moss that gathers on a sedentary stone.

Sometimes i can be a bit verbose. Thank you for wading through my musings today.


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