As a storyteller, I have always preferred music that contained meaningful wording. I like lyrics that transport me to places off the emotional main drags. They are the lyrics that guide me into the dark corners of feelings once felt but forgotten. Musicians known to stir me with their calculated words have been Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan.
(A compilation of just some of the emotions I'm capable of feeling.)
When pondering a topic to write about this evening, I quickly jotted down the name of this song title. Sometimes I like doing that when I’m about to write. A blank stare, a quick pause, then running with the first thing that comes to mind.
It’s a Beatles song, but I always liked Johnny Cash's spin on it better. It's sung slower, and he had a way of making me ponder these particular lyrics in ways the original writers couldn't.
There is a verse in the song that goes:
"Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more"
Now is a time when we are introducing many new people and things into our lives. We moved to a country, cold turkey, where we knew nobody. And yet, in a matter of 2.5 months, we couldn't imagine life without many of the friends we've made and things we've experienced.
Yesterday we celebrated our daughter Columbia's, or as she is known here, "Rosalinda's" first birthday. First birthdays are kind of a big deal here.
Guys, it was something special! There were so many little traditions that I remembered from my childhood in Peru. While it's cool to see the number of similarities, I also really enjoy learning about the things that are distinctly Guatemalan.
One of the highlights was watching the women jam Columbia's face into the cake after the birthday song. As traditional and ceremonial as a baptism, it was done with all seriousness until completed. (I remember this in Peru too!) However, once completed, the cheering ensued.
I was intentional about looking around every few minutes and taking in the moment, enjoying the present. Here we were, with all our neighbors, new friends, all of whom we genuinely love.
The whole day was a party!
We were beyond honored earlier in the day to be invited into the home of a local family to celebrate the birthday. Mari and Domi, the two sisters who lead the "Niños para un Mejor San Juan" committee, had us over to meet some of their siblings and share a meal. Their parent's greeted us with kind hearts. They only speak the local Mayan indigenous language of Tz'utujil, but hugs and laughter were very present. The oldest sister had even prepared a speech. It was humbling, and we are grateful for these opportunities for both ourselves and our children. The family served us a HUGE meal and presented us with a local traditional hand-stitched outfit made by the family for Columbia.
We celebrated the birthday party at Jose's gallery, where the boys have been taking art lessons. During the party, every local person that showed up took us aside and gave us a formal speech, blessing Rosalinda's life and upcoming year, followed by them taking her into their arms and walking around with her. It was beautiful.
We have much to learn from our time here in this gorgeous community.
We haven't been here long, and we certainly have a long road ahead of us in fulfilling the projects we are supporting in this little town. We are noticing that "comfortable" is starting to lose its attachment to the word "home" for us. We will never lose affection for people and things that have gone before; we often stop and think about them. But right now, we love this *just a bit* more.
Owen is a Canadian writer living in Guatemala with his family. He has 5 kids, 1 wife. There are 3 or 4 dogs that hang out on his patio outside of his house, but they aren't actually his.
As a family they are learning about life outside of Canada and trying to lend a hand where they can.
For more about Owen and his family, click here.