Monday, July 1, 2013

¡Viva la España!

 "I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it."
"Nobody ever lives their life all the way up except bullfighters."

After I made the decision to spend my summer in Spain (you can view the back story here), I started to research all the cool things I could see and do during my free time. At one point in my internet prowling, I discovered that Madrid, the city I would be living in, regularly hosted bullfights. I excitedly told my father.

This Looney Tunes episode did not provide
me with an accurate portrayal
"Are you sure you want to go to a bullfight?" he asked me, raising an eyebrow. "They're pretty gruesome."
"What are you talking about?" I answered, with genuine confusion. "Doesn't the matador just tease the bull until it charges at him, then jumps out of the way?"
"Not exactly." 
He went on to explain the spearing process and the color drained from my face.

Fast forward to present time: I am living in the home of the bullfight; still uncertain if I will see one, but absolute in the assertion that I will live as though I am in one.

The quote above, said by Jake Barnes to Robert Cohn in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, is literal. Bullfighters are put at risk each time they step foot into the arena. An inexperienced torero could easily fall victim to the horns of the bull he is trying to defeat. Bullfighters regularly dance with death, and therefore are experts on living life to the fullest (according to Jake, at least).

There is a neverending list of quotes, expressions, and anecdotes inspiring people to "live their life all the way up," ranging from the classic "Carpe diem" to pop culture's newest acronym, "YOLO" (of which I have no positive opinion... Sublime suits me fine for casual inspiration). Even though I am not interested in a life as risky as that of a bullfighter's, I can relate to Cohn's worry: I can't stand it to think my life is going so fast and I'm not really living it.

My decision to come to Spain this summer had its own risks. I came completely alone, without friends or family. I had only a vague idea of where I would be living, and with whom. Everyone here speaks a different language and has different customs. In theory, there are a million things that could have gone (and could still go) wrong. But, by stepping out of my comfort zone and embarking on this journey, I am getting to experience a part of the world and a part of my youth that many people don't. While I'm here, I intend to make the most of every minute. Exploring strange places, learning new things, making friends and memories... that is how I plan to channel my inner bullfighter this summer. ¡Olé!