What I learned in Madrid
On Monday evening just passed, me and one of my friends from home hopped on a plane from London to Madrid to go and meet other friends from home, who we had(for the most part) not seen in months. Five nights and, by a rough calculation, seventeen hours of sleep later, I was back in sunny ole’ London! (Sarcasm aside, the weather this week is actually amaaazing[for London standards…twenty-seven degrees whoop!)
It’s the sort of place you go to and come home from rethinking-why on Earth have I been living my life this way?
Madrid was the first time in my life I’ve ever been to a place where the dominant language spoken was not English. Although I had briefly holidayed in Fiji when I was younger with the family, Madrid was my first real experience of being in a place that wasn’t strictly under an American/British influence. And really, although I know Madrid doesn’t stand up to other places in the world like India or Brazil, it was the first time that I had ever actually been anywhere so influenced by poverty. And it wasn’t a rampant or sweeping poverty but just hundreds upon hundreds of beggars and buskers lining the street.
In the main plaza, the Puerto de Sol, every day from around eight in the morning until the wee hours of the morning, there would be a group of ten buskers dressed head to toe in thick Sesame Street and Disney outfits. This is how these people made a living-they hung out in the square in these huge costumes all day and had tourists and kids take photos with them in exchange for some loose change. On my last morning, I sat in the plaza, eating breakfast and just soaking in a bit more of the beauty of the city before I left. I was there for about an hour and not a single one of these buskers had any success.
It was around 11am at this point. And, at a rough estimate, I’d say it was thirty-three degrees. Easily that hot.
And I know that almost nobody at home I know would ever, EVER even dream of doing a job like that without any certainty of payment. And these guys were doing it day in, day out, every single night and day I was there, they were there.
Then on the train to the airport, a guy who would have been no older than my brother hops on with an accordion and a little set of speakers and tears into some Ray Charles, Hit the Road Jack. He took a full blasted solo in the middle of it and holy shit, this guy was like Chick Corea on a keytar except he was playing the accordion. And he probably had no job-this was how he made a living. He would’ve made about 4 or 5 euros on that train trip. If anybody even remotely as talented as him was busking on Pitt St Mall, they’d have pulled in hundreds of dollars. It was strange to see, I suppose. I could never imagine putting myself out there like that.
Then again, I guess that’s why I’m not Spanish.
Money aside, there was the most amazing energy! (Except during siesta when everybody slept) Yet the whole place was so calm and relaxed. Energetic, bustling but without stress. And everybody so cheerful and in each others faces, but not in at all of a bad way. When people would come up to you and talk to you, they would be fully in your face but terribly polite about the whole ordeal.
Walking through the streets and parks, listening to the language with the superb backdrop that is the architecture of Madrid, it felt like I was in some sort of musical…or dream. Everything and everyone was just bouncy and charming and ahh!
These locals wondering the streets seemed to be living life in a way that almost nobody I’ve ever met has before: for the sake of living it. I saw it, I soaked it in and I questioned why I hadn’t been following suit.
So now, I’m trying to. A genuine, conceited effort.
I’ve spent so much time in my life fucking about and it’s cause I feel like I don’t know what the meaning of my life is yet, what the fuck am I meant to be doing with myself? Where am I meant to be doing it? Who am I meant to be doing it with? And I’ve spent so much time over so many years trying to figure this out and on that sleepy Saturday morning just before I hopped a train to the airport, it sort of hit me.
“Hey bro, you’ve been doing this shit all wrong.” None of that junk really matters that much. Gotta stop being such a self-entwined little bitch and just enjoy myself. Do things with my life of course-but stop worrying too much over the who, the what and the where and more on the how.
So I’ma try.
Next blog will probably be about how that’s all going. Truly ravishing stuff huh?
Peace out, have a good week everybody!