Change is the only constant. That is what I consistently am learning, what I constantly forget, and what I am continually reminded of with each passing day.
Spain has taught me how to adapt to that change. I came here a ball of nerves and stress, unsure of the choice I was making. I wrote in the airport upon arriving to Madrid about wanting to get to know people. Their stories, what made them have a taste for life. While living in Madrid for these first 4 months, I have found some answers to that question in multiple forms.
I’ve met Americans here who thrive off of experience. Who travel boldly on their own to new locations, who throw themselves into scary, but intriguing situations. They grow from the challenge and I respect it. I also have met amazing families. Parents who live for their children and their families. The daughter I tutor who’s mother is battling cancer — who’s only requirement is that Inés has fun during the two and a half hours I spend at their home. Her daughters are joyful in spite of a tough situation and I see the parents instilling that spirit in them. That mother wakes up every morning for her children.
I also have been shaken by coming home for the last 10 days and being reminded of what I left behind. My solid and steady friends and family, with lives that I respected but never really understood or thought I wanted for myself. I judged instead of listened. Their reasons for living are just as valid as mine.
But as I sit in this airport getting ready to go back to Madrid, I am shaken by the realization that all of these people that I have known for my entire life, and others that I have known for only a few months, are all so keenly aware of what they’re living for... and I’m not so sure what I care about.
Loyalty, friendship, family — things that I have truly taken for granted. Character traits and relationships that are not always so easy to hold on to, that are constantly put to the test, that will change whether I want them to or not.
That change, it follows me. Possibly even haunts me, and while in a conversation with my friend this afternoon over lunch before heading to the airport, I was reminded again that it’s not ever going to stop.
Our character, I believe, is shaped by how we handle this wave of change when it comes. When the tide is turning and crashing over us, if we’ve learned how to swim. How we try to stay afloat.
And the people we choose to take with us, who can save us from drowning, they’re important and so essential to our stories. Because without them we are stuck in the wave alone.
So I’m learning how to choose my people. How to take responsibility for my character and my choices. How to move forward once change wrecks and reshapes my life. How to rebuild and keep going.
My goal then, for the rest of my time in Madrid, has changed a bit. I believe I’ve been shown what those around me value and what they live for, but while being aware of them, I’ve lost sight of what it is I live for myself.
I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions, honestly not sure if I’ve ever made one. But as I sit here waiting for this plane I think of this phrase one of the moms I tutor for says to me when I’m struggling with my spanish... “Poco a poco”
“Little by Little”
You will learn. You will grow. You will change and adapt. Little by little I hope to learn what I live for, I hope to learn my own strength.
This year I’m trying a little harder to be a little better. Let’s see how it goes.
See ya soon, Madrid.