finely-grained sand, transparent water, comfortable sun rays, and gentle breezes I felt. After enjoying the relaxing waves of the bay, I noticed an elderly woman experiencing the beach and appreciating its beauty just as much as I was. The only difference was that as she stood in the refreshing water, she had a cane in each of her hands.
The older we get the more we are presented with challenges. Each challenge presents us with a valid excuse to stop fully living. After leaving the beach I rode a bus through town and noticed two young girls fixated on me and my obvious skin discoloration. One whispered to the other, as they kept their gaze on me, and then burst into laughter. I told myself not to be concerned, but there was a moment when I felt they were discounting me. It felt like an injury to my soul. How could someone who didn't know my name, my history, my story, or anything about my character find my skin condition, something I have no control over, laughable and amusing? How could someone take one minute part of me and decide that it was the only defining part of me? Sadly, I told myself that I was done riding the bus in Spain. I was convinced that I did not have to subject myself to the ridicule of someone else's laughter while having to watch. I could walk wherever I needed to go.
You may not be the "right" age, race, ethnicity, religion, or weight by someone else's standards. You may have a health condition, physical disability, or unique appearance. As much as it may be a part of who you are, none of that defines you in your totality because none of it is your only characteristic. You are still a person with dreams, kindness, laughter, and worth. You still have a heart that can give and receive love. You are made up of more than your challenges, heartaches, mistakes, and physical attributes. You are a total being, comprised of more than what can be seen. You are someone whose totality can only be felt after numerous transparent and open interactions. You are not defined solely by any one characteristic.
If an elderly woman can take her walking canes to a beach and allow the refreshing water to cleanse her soul, I can go out and get on a bus in an unfamiliar country. The elderly woman may have been told or even felt that she was too old, too needy, or too weak to experience all that the beach had to offer. However, she did not let that stop her from feeling all the benefits of the sun, sand, and water. Those girls on the bus may have hurt my feelings, but I cannot let their youthful insensitivity stop me from feeling all of the benefits that exploring the beautiful and rich culture that Spain has to offer. I challenge you to get back on your bus or force yourself in your ocean, even if you have to take your walking sticks with you. Life is much fuller and richer if you experience it completely, just as you have to accet that you are much fuller and richer than what others can see.
Read next week's post, Spanish 101.