Tuesday 7 March 2023

Finding Joy in a Busy World

Joy is perhaps the most elusive yet valuable human emotion.  Sometimes it is found in the most unexpected places.  For myself and my twin sister, it was found on the sun-kissed streets of Malaga. 

That first day we strolled down what we called the ‘Spanish Grafton Street’ and took in the atmosphere of the local people.  There were old men outside little cafes on the corners of each street, with a cold Spanish ‘Estrella’ beer in their hands, enjoying each other's company and playing cards. Their deep roaring laughs filled the streets, and I would catch myself giggling when one of them lost and threw an overly dramatic tantrum.  I fell in love with the local people and I admired their quality of life.  They were so full of love and passion, and they had this humour between them that made me want to join in. Seeing these old men still enjoying the little things brought me joy. 

As I wandered down the street further the smell of caramelized nuts took over any other smell in the street like a smoke bomb, but instead filled with a sweet aroma.  I have never smelt something so heavenly and sweet in my seventeen years of living.  It lured me over to the little crack in the wall where they had wine-stained wooden barrels filled with hundreds of shiny, glazed nuts just like diamonds in a pirate's treasure box.  They were hypnotic to look at and I just could not resist.  The first crunch, as the glaze film broke like shards of glass, made my mouth water, followed by a slight tang from the salt layer underneath.  I know it is crazy to think that food can make your day, but truly it brought me so much joy.  I bought seven more bags to bring home to my parents as they had to try this heavenly new obsession of mine. 

One of the nights we were there just happened to be the night of San Juan, a religious festival in Spain.  It was a festival that welcomed the summer and left the spring months behind.  The festival consisted of several rituals where at one o'clock in the morning you had to jump over a bonfire to get rid of all the bad spirits.  You also had to wash your hands in the sea to cleanse your soul for the upcoming summer months.  Hundreds of people gathered on this beach just below the centre of Malaga city beside the port.  I watched as parents showed their kids how to wash their little hands in the sea, splashing each other and I listened to the screams of laughter coming from teeny toddlers running about.  Teenagers gathered with their friends to make bonfires and listen to music whilst welcoming in the summer months with a ‘cheers’ of cold cans.  It was incredible. Not a patch of sand could be seen.  It was crazy to me that all these people young and old, where at this beach until 3 o'clock in the morning, sharing this moment with each other.  I felt consumed by the Spanish culture and the passion they had for life. It was truly so heartwarming, and I fell in love with the love they have for each other. Seeing how they treat each other and celebrate their life brought me joy. 

Ever since that holiday, the Spanish culture has stuck with me.  I find myself unwinding after a long day on the couch watching ‘La Casa De Papel’, or showering listening to music like ‘Vamos a la Playa’.  I watch these shows and listen to these songs as it satisfies my longing to immerse myself more into the culture and it truly brings me joy.  I feel free and I can let go, escape into a different culture, a different part of the world.  Spanish food, the scenery, the love, passion and music all bring me joy.  That's where I escape to when I'm sick of being in Ireland. That’s where I feel most at peace and happy.  Spain is what brings me joy! 
Rebecca Collins

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