This random bit invaded my thoughts today on my 5k jog through mostly dry sand: the world would be a better place if everyone used the same language.
Political leaders use translators for mutual understanding, but they have greedy agendas so I’m not talking about them. I mean everyone else. The common folk, the regular people, the masses. People like me. If we all spoke one language – whatever that was – I think there would be less confusion, more understanding, not as much fear.
My friend’s two young children in California are learning Spanish and Chinese. Good move. By the time they reach high school, they will be multi-lingual. (I tried to take French in high school because I wanted to go on the class trip to France, not because I wanted to learn the language. I wasn’t a mature kid, and I don’t know any French today.)
There was an effort in the last century to create a universal language for earthlings called Esperanto. Though it never went mainstream, groups still are promoting it around the world. Maybe one day people will overcome prideful nationalism and realize we’d all get along better if nothing was lost in translation.
Close-minded Caucasians might not be so fearful of non-English speaking immigrants (Muslim, Latin, etc.) if they could understand what was being said.
When I lived alone in Tulum, I was at an event with a group of people who spoke only Spanish, which I could not understand or speak. It wasn’t the kind of situation where I could just up and leave, but after some time, I was wishing I could do just that. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying and I was frustrated at not being able to participate – at not knowing what they were laughing at. After more time, my brain started a negative thought pattern: What were they laughing at? Surely they were saying things about me – surely they were wondering why I was even there, since I was the only gringa and I couldn’t understand or speak the language.
Full of fear, I was reaching my limit and plotting a way to leave without seeming too rude when young man appeared from nowhere and offered to translate some of the discussion. His English was basic at best, maybe the kindergarten level, but he was willing to try and I was grateful for his offer to help.
He started translating. I was inwardly ashamed. Turns out the group discussion was on topics like god, how they could each be better people and – love.
That taught me a valuable lesson that I carry with me to this day. Not only is it not always about me, but it’s often about what I least expect, so I should not to expect anything – I should instead simply be open to receive whatever message I’m supposed to get from the Universe.
I have carried that group around in my heart since I left Tulum. They were a wonderful bunch of people, just regular people, common folk, like me. I lived alone, but I wasn’t alone. I ended up seeing that group a few times a week for five months. When my husband joined me in Mexico, he met them.
Today when I become frustrated at not knowing the language as much as I’d like to (I have nearly a kindergarten level of Spanish by now), I remember that group and that experience with those kind people lifts me up. They taught me just because I don’t understand a spoken language, doesn’t mean I can’t share in language of the heart and spirit.
Today, with the right attitude and patience, comprehension eventually comes. Now, if only I could incorporate studying into my daily routine, comprehension would come faster.
Other cultural observations:
- What it was like to protest Donald Trump at the 2016 RNC
- Culture shocks of returning to the U.S. after world travel
- Culture-watching at Malaysian malls
- Beach etiquette so you’re not a bungling ass