I am in Queens, New York tonight. Tomorrow I am presenting my Positive Psychology Changes Lives workshop, and next to the hotel is a Spanish restaurant.
Now Spanish food is not at all like Mexican or Central American food. I lived in South America, and have visited Central America and Mexico, but I’ve only been to Spain a couple of times. Spanish food is mild and subtle.
The waiter spoke English with a pretty thick accent, so I asked him in Spanish where he was from, and he said, “Queens.” We spoke in Spanish, but my ear is not nearly good enough to discern his origin. It sounded to me like the Castilian Spanish, someone from the north of Spain.
I ordered Chilean sea bass, and as an appetizer, they brought me a dish of olives, carrot sticks, and celery sticks. There were large green olives and small purple ones, and they tasted so good they almost brought tears to my eyes. I am trying to avoid white bread, but Spanish bread has such a robust crust, I had to try it, and again I was moved by the simple yet flavorful mouth-pleasing texture.
The sea bass was very mild, with three small clams and four small shrimp. There was a sauce featuring green peas and some unknown green base. It was, again, a very simple and direct meal. There was a white asparagus over the sea bass, a wonderful and gentle treat.
I slowly ate, feeling so grateful. The people who came in and sat at the next table were conversing with the waiter in what again seemed like Castilian Spanish. They knew each other well, and the waiter said how it had been a long time since he’d seen them.
What a delightful meal. I walked slowly back to the hotel. I am blessed that I can teach something so vital as how to flourish in a world where we forget who we are and what we should be about. I am doing my part, as are you, to awaken a sleeping planet.
AN UNUSUAL HOLIDAY MUSICAL TREAT/ My holiday present!
I stumbled across Misa Criolla on YouTube. Generally it is performed by Los Fronterizos, an Argentine folk group that is kind of the Kingston Trio of Argentina, but not so much sell-out-ness. Misa Criolla, translated Creole Mass, although our word Creole does not convey the same meaning at all. The criollos (pronounced with the hard ll of Castile, sounds like “Cree-Oh-Joes”) were the common people of northern Argentina, the people of farms, ranches, and most of all, horses.
Ariel Ramirez took the Catholic Mass and wrote it in Spanish vernacular and with traditional Argentine folk music themes, hence “Misa Criolla.”
Serendipity. Looking for something entirely different, I discovered Los Fronterizos performing the Misa at the cathedral of San Isidro, an wealthy area of Buenos Aires. I put on headphones, and relished the music.
It opens with the words, “Senor, ten piedad de nosotros,” or, “Lord have mercy on us.” Again, like eating the olives at the Spanish restaurant, I am transported above myself. I glimpse heaven.
Then I discovered a performance by the UCLA choir, directed by Rebecca Lord. I loved it, perhaps better than Los Fronterizos. Notice how she charges up “Gloria a Dios,” (Glory to God) and adds more syncopation to “y en la tierra . . .” (and on the earth, peace unto men).
I am not Catholic, but this music is wonderful and I encourage you to broaden your holiday music at this time, in the northern hemisphere with the long nights and days of snow and clouds.
It is wonderful to be a member of the human race, when we can do such wonderful performances, bringing beauty and awe. I am listening to it again as I write this. My heart is full.
May your new year be full of joy and progress. May your days be full of light, peace and love.