Summer 2001 caught me spending a weekend in the cities of San Sebastian and Pamplona, Spain. I arrived there running from a sad feeling; looking for new things and some excitement.
Every July, thousands of people from all over the world, travel to Pamplona to feel the unique emotion of running with the bulls. The city is dressed in white and red. The word sleep is unknown. It is all about eating, drinking, partying, and of course, running and take a chance with the bulls every morning at eight.
I admit I was just a witness from a too close distance. My adventurous spirit would not go that far. Exciting? Yes. It is always exciting to perform such an act of running with more than a dozen, furious, huge bulls behind you. Adrenaline runs wild. It is one of those amazing tales to tell our children and grandchildren. That was one of my longest nights ever. The real excitement though was to watch hundreds of brothers and sisters gathered in sheers and laughter under the same sky.
A day later and too many hours of sleep wasted, I was walking down the streets of San Sebastian. This city in northern Spain and just two hours from the Pyrenees is a majestic place that literally offers everything one’s heart could desire. Situated on the Bay of Biscay, and surrounded by mountains, is the ideal site to explore the smells, sights, and sounds of life.
It was there where I discovered another meaning for the word excitement. It came from the tones of an old guitar and its owner. He was playing one of my favorite songs. I could not see him at first but the song would guide me to him. He was a tiny, brown skin man, sitting on the floor. His bright eyes welcomed me as I dare to ask him how come he was able to play such a beautiful music and with so much joy under his physical condition. He was missing both legs. “My legs do not determine who I am or the excitement I feel for been here. I am alive and I show my gratitude for all my blessings through my music and the way I give back to people just like you.”
I have never heard a better meaning for that word since. Expressing gratitude through the gifts and blessings life give us, that’s excitement. It is a shame I had to travel so far to found out such a simple truth.